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Big Berkey Water Filters

  • Safe Drinking Water Act No Longer Protecting Our Drinking Water

    In another damning blow to our US drinking water quality, the New York Times printed another article today as part of their "Toxic Waters, Outdated Laws", series.  (Last week's drinking water article commentary here) I stumbled across this as I raced through the airport trying to catch a flight to Nashville. There I see it, at the airport mini-mart kiosk on the front page of the NYT; That tap water is legal, but may be unhealthy. As I read these sorts of articles and scientific reports often, I was expecting some more rehashing of the usual dismal conditions of our municipal water systems. This was the case, however there was an important connection made relating the growing problem of our water quality to the shrinking amount of funds to fix it.

    Drinking Water Quality Downtrend

    Not only are we failing miserably in keeping pace by defining and categorizing all the chemicals that continue to show up in our drinking water.  But, even if we do, the majority of municipalities are going to be unable to afford the type of upgrades or replacement treatment facilities that would be needed to remove these chemicals. This is a scary thought, trying to fix a behemoth of a problem that continues to grow fast, with limited funds and resources to do so. The reality is that the water quality challenges the US and most other developed countries are facing would be intimidating if we had unlimited funds and finances. As a society are we really ready to acknowledge the severity of this problem and fight this uphill battle? Home water filters are only a short term solution to a long term problem. Here are some of my favorite quotes that appear in the article.

    "Only 91 contaminants are regulated by the Safe Water Drinking Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used withing the United States according to the Environmental Protection Agency." Mind you, the Safe Water Drinking Act is 35 years old and no additional chemicals have been added to the regulated list since 2000!

    "People don't understand that just because water is technically legal, it can still present health risks" Dr. Pankaj Parekh - Director of the water quality division for LA, California. - Speaking in regard to challenges he's faced in trying to reduce/remove chemicals that are not on the SDWA watch list.

    "For years, people said that America has the cleanest drinking water in the world.  That was true 20 years ago.  But, people don't realize how many new chemicals have emerged and how much more pollution has occurred.  If they did, we would see very different attitudes." William K Reilly, EPA administrator under President George H. W. Bush

    "Government scientists have evaluated 830 contaminants most often found in water supplies...and they have determined that many of them are associated with cancer or other diseases, even at small concentrations. Yet, almost none of these assessments have been incorporated into the SWDA or other federal laws"

    "In May, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed the Water Infrastructure Financing Act which, if approved by congress and signed by President Obama, would authorize $14.7 Billion in loans to help states improve their systems." A step in the right direction, but the article also quotes that a new system for LA could be upwards of $800M.  We simply need to move faster and act with more urgency.

  • 20% of Municipalities Violate Safe Drinking Water Act - NYT Reports

    This week, the New York Times reported on it's disturbing findings of an investigation into the US municipal water systems that serve millions of Americans. It highlights failures and obvious enforcement gaps in current government regulations that we've assumed are protecting our drinking water, including the realization that 20 percent of the nation’s water treatment systems have violated key provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

    Water Quality (Un)enforcement

    The discovery that municipalities fail water quality reports is nothing new, but what's a little surprising is that the majority of  municipalities that received violations were never penalized for their failures in meeting water safety requirements. Many were given a pass under the impression that fining would be counterproductive to cash-strapped municipalities. This has serious ramifications to our public health and needs to be regarded as such.

    Contaminants in our Drinking Water

    As I've written about in earlier articles, this is partly a byproduct of the public's assumption that our drinking water is safe with no spotlight being placed on the regulators. The American people are coping with many other personal and financial issues, and unless it makes headlines, they are unaware of the continuing destruction of our water sources thanks to human pollution.  As the NYT points out, water treatment facilities are struggling with the current identified list of monitored contaminants, but this is only half the story. The cold hard fact is that there exists an inability for private and government organizations to keep pace in identifying and filtering out the swelling number of chemicals that continue to show up in our water supply. As long as we continue to increase our use of chemicals in products and manufacturing, then it's a safe bet to assume that the chemicals and contaminants found in our water will continue to increase in lockstep.

    water_treatment_facility

    We Must Improve Our Drinking Water Quality Regulations

    In this New York Times report, many of the water contaminants that show links to cancer were the very same contaminants that these towns were found to be in violation of.  In one referenced example, "the E.P.A. has reported that more than three million Americans have been exposed since 2005 to drinking water with illegal concentrations of arsenic and radioactive elements, both of which have been linked to cancer at small doses." As was mentioned in our lead in our drinking water post, schools are far from exempt from this poor water quality problem, as a more recent article by the NYT on Dec 8th covers; Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hearing on EPA School Water Quality We need to continue to increase out awareness of how we affect the water supply through pollution and daily living habits, but we must also be aware that water we had originally assumed was healthy for consumption may require a run through a quality water filter prior to drinking.

  • Lead in Our Drinking Water

    While we should all be aware of the dangers of lead poisoning; Let's recap:

    1. Lead affects every organ and system in the body causing permanent brain, kidney, liver, spleen, and nervous system damage.
    2. Children and infants are at a significantly higher risk to lead poisoning at smaller doses.
    3. High lead levels damages the male reproductive system and can cause a blood disorder called Anemia.
    4. Even at relatively low exposures, decreased intelligence, short-term memory loss, reading under-achievement, impairment of visual-motor function, loss of auditory memory, poor perceptual integration, and impaired reaction time occurs.

    Beyond lead paint, one of our primary exposures to lead poisoning comes from our drinking water.  Lead pipes and/or lead soldering is still prevalent in many older homes, bldgs, and distribution systems. Water filters are required for protection in such circumstances.  Dr. Marc Edwards of Environmental Engineering at Virginia Tech spoke this past summer at the Yale University Drinking Water Symposium.   Following up on Dr. Oz's water filter segment, this is a great clip of Dr. Edward's presentation on the dangers of lead in our municipal water and school buildings.

  • Berkey Home Water Filters - Higher Quality for Less Money

    The general public is slowly beginning to understand that our water supply has been compromised.  Whether it be our well water that is being affected by general pollution, or our municipal water that is being heavily treated with disinfectants, our water is not as pure and pristine as we would hope.  In response, much of the population has turned to bottled water and home water filters.  Unfortunately, bottled water adds to pollution, it can get expensive, and in some cases is simply municipal water that's been bottled in a city like Atlanta.  When it comes to home water filters, all water filter systems are not created equal.  Many of the most popular water filters on the market remove or reduce some chemicals and contaminants, but leave gaping holes for other contaminants to pass through to our drinking glass.  As I mentioned in my last home water filter post, I will be evaluating many of the other water filter solutions on the market over the next couple months, but would like to begin this journey comparing the berkey water filter against the models; Aquasana, Pur, and Brita.  We'll call them the big three.

    The High Quality of the Black Berkey Filter

    It seems nowadays health is a topic of conversation on everybody's mind.  The nutritional supplement and organic foods markets continue to grow by double digits year over year and is a testament to the customer's search for higher quality and better health.  Water filtration seems to be slightly behind this awareness curve and is most likely due in large part to the public just recently coming to terms with what's really happening with our water supply.  Just turn on the TV or go out on the internet and you'll see some other type of contaminant or chemical that's now being found in our drinking water.

    The big three of Pur, Aquasana, and Brita are decent at filtering out some of the more well known disinfectants such as chlorine, but they do so only at ranges between 96-99%.  Comparably, berkey water filters remove chlorine to beyond detectable levels.  The Berkey also reduces heavy metals such as aluminum and lead, removes pathogenic bacteria and E-coli, nitrates and nitrites, and radon.  The other water filters fail to address these contaminants and instead pass them through to your drinking glass completely.  Even when it comes to very dangerous VOC's and THM's, that have been shown to have correlations to increases in illnesses such as cancer, only Aquasana and Pur have some impact at the 98-99% level.  Yet these levels are well below the reduction levels of the Berkey which reduces both VOC's and THM's to beyond detectable limits.  Finally, it's important to note that one of the fastest growing water concerns of the public is the fluoridation, or the addition of fluoride, to our municipal water supplies.  Again, none of the big three water filters address fluoride.  Conversely, Berkey systems have an add-on filter option for the black berkey filter elements called the PF-2 filter that specifically targets both fluoride and arsenic to reduce it by over 99.75%.

    Save Money When You Buy a Berkey Home Water Filter

    I don't think there's anyone in the US or Canada that hasn't been impacted by the economic depression.  It's been a tough couple years, and while wall street and the government talk about a recovery underway, many of us on main street simply don't see it.  Every decision we make needs to be one that maximizes that value of our hard earned dollar.  That leaves many of us spending our time trying to determine how to get the highest quality the for the least amount of money.  When it comes to water filtration, if you start to do the math, Aquasana, Pur, and Brita are simply not the most cost effective.  A one-time investment in a standard Berkey home water filter such as the Berkey Light or the Big Berkey will cost the consumer $209 or $250 respectively, and provide at least 5 years of high quality filtration.  Comparably, the big three require many filter replacements across this 5 year period and result in a total cost ranging between $560 and $658.  That's more than twice the cost for inferior water filtration.  Even when the Berkey secondary fluoride filters are added on, the black berkey / PF-2 combination is still cheaper.  (chart below)  Addt'l details can be found at berkey home water filters comparison chart.

    ModelBig Berkey w/ 2 BB (Black Berkey Filters)Big Berkey w/ 2 CF (Ceramic Filters)PF-2 Fluoride and Arsenic Filters (For use w/ Black Berkey FilterPF-4 Fluoride and Arsenic Filters (For use with Ceramic Filters)Aquasana Countertop (AQ-4000)Pur 3 Stage Faucet Filter (FM9700)Brita Faucet Filter w/ advanced featuresBrita Pitcher Filter
    1st Yr Cost 2$250 $250 $55 $95 $170 $190 $170 $177
    2nd Yr Cost$0 $0 $55 $95 $78 $156 $156 $160
    3rd Yr Cost$0 $0 $0 $95 $156 $156 $156 $160
    4th Yr Cost$0 $0 $55 $95 $156 $156 $156 $160
    5th Yr Cost$0 $0 $55 $95 $156 $156 $156 $160
    5 Year Total Investment$250 $250 $220 $475 $560 $658 $638 $657

    Making choices that affect the health of you and your family are some of the most important choices that you can ever make.  Berkey water filters are considered one of the highest quality filtration systems on the market, and they'll save you money while providing you the healthy drinking water your family needs.  To learn more about which water filter system will suit you best, please read this article on how to choose a berkey filter system.

  • Dr Oz on Home Water Filters

    Just recently on Oct. 20th, 2009, Dr Oz did a segment on water quality showcasing some options for filtering your water.  This is a great primer for understanding why home water filters, including a quality shower filter, are critical for the health of you and your family.

    Home Water Filters Comparison

    Given this is only a 7 minute segment, Dr Oz is unable to explore in detail some of the other water filtration solutions on the market.  He covers filters representative of top consumer brands such as Pur, Aquasana, and Reverse Osmosis. While these are quality water filters, they do lack some filtration capabilities, and their yearly costs are significantly higher than a basic Berkey water filter.  I've gone ahead and created a berkey water filter comparison chart to stack up some of the more common and highly advertised water filters such as Pur, Aquasana, and Brita filters to our own Berkey filter.  In a follow-up post, I will go into a more detailed analysis on this comparison.

  • Introducing the New Go Berkey Kit

    It's been a few years since a new Berkey Filter System had been launched, but this week we have the release of the New Go Berkey Kit. This kit includes a  new small and compact stainless steel housing that comes with 1 Black Berkey Element, 1 Sport Berkey Bottle, and a Vinyl carrying case. This water filter system becomes the smallest of the line-up with a volume of 1 Quart.  It's perfect for our customers who are looking for the highest quality in filtration in a small compact form that can be carried in a backpack, suitcase, or even a laptop bag.

    The New Go Berkey Kit

    The

    Go Berkey Kit Specifications

    • Kit Includes = Compact Berkey System w/ 1 Black Berkey (details below), 1 Sport Berkey Bottle, and Vinyl Carrying Case(w/ pockets)
    • System Storage Capacity = 1 Quart (.95 Liters / .25 Gallons)
    • System Height = 14"
    • System Diameter = 4"
    • System Weight = 2.4 lbs
    • Life of Black Berky Filter = 3000 Gallons
    • Portability = The upper chamber nests within the lower chamber for transport and stands only 10" in height
    • Flow Rate = Configured with 1 Black Berkey Element, the system can purify one gallon per hour with the upper chamber full the entire time

    Review of The Go Berkey Kit

    The Go Berkey Kit provides a long-awaited solution for many of our "on the go" customers.  The sport berkey bottle is great for hiking or backpacking, and the new Berkey system allows for a personal continuous passive filtration setup at base camp.  For those who travel often, this lightweight and portable system can be used in the car, hotel room, or remote office.  The Go Berkey Kit is also valuable for vacation destinations where the bacteria in the water is known to be disruptive to non-natives.  No matter how it's used, it's apparent that this new Go Berkey will be welcomed in many environments.

    Customers must keep in mind that this is only a 1 Qt (,95 Liters/ .25 Gallons) system and would support only one person on a daily basis.  However, keeping that upper chamber full the entire time will result in 1 gallon/hour.  In the event of an emergency or disaster, this would be sufficient to support a 2-3 individuals over an extended period of time.

  • Commonly-Used Pesticide Atrazine Discovered in Drinking Water

    The Huffington Post is reporting that a pesticide commonly used by farmers in the US called atrazine was found to exceed EPA limits in drinking water within the four states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and Kansas.  The dilemma:  The customers were not told about the contamination, the EPA has not published the results, and misleading concentration levels were ultimately reported on water bills.

    What is Atrazine?

    Atrazine is a herbicide that was approved for use in 1958 and is used in the control of broadleaf weeds and some grassy weeds.  It's estimated to be the most heavily used herbicide in the U.S.  with the majority of agricultural use areas in being the midwest, particularly Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Nebraska, and Delaware.

    What are the Effects of Atrazine?

    The primary concern with atrazine has been from animal studies results showing that it affects hormone levels.  In one study, male frogs that were exposed to high Altrazine levels were shown to grow eggs.  Another study by the Biology or Reproduction released results this summer finding that exposure to atrazine in adult rats disrupted hormone production and triggered ovulation.  In the US, atrazine has the green light to be used across the nation, but in 2004 the European Union banned the use of atrazine as health officials were unable to prove it's safety in drinking water.

    Removing and Filtering Atrazine

    Many water filters are not designed to remove atrazine. The Black Berkey purification elements however are able to remove atrazine contamination from water to below detectable levels. The Black Berkeys come standard in any of the available sizes of Berkey Filter Systems.

    Watch This Video on Atrazine

  • Help Me Choose a Berkey Water Filter System

    Intimidated by the Berkey decision? Don't be! It's actually pretty straight forward once you understand the basics. We'll bring you up to speed fast with these 3 easy steps (approx read time = 10 minutes), and you'll magically become a junior expert! :) For you anti-readers out there, this video version is great too.

    Step 1: Understanding the Berkey Gravity Filtration System

    Berkey water filter systems have an upper and a lower chamber and work via gravity similar to a Brita, Pur, or Zerowater. Your source water (tap, well, pond, river, etc) is poured into the upper chamber where it gets forced through the filters via gravity, making its way into the lower, "purified water" chamber.

    The Berkey difference is a result of it's superior filter ingredients and the extended time each water droplet is in contact with the filters. This allows for high performance filtration results that other filter systems simply cannot match.

    These are counter top systems only, starting from the smallest Travel Berkey at 1.5 gallons (17" height) to the largest Crown Berkey at 6 gallons (30" height). The internal filtration elements, the Black Berkeys and the PF-2 fluoride filters (links list the contaminants removed), work in any of the system housing models we sell. This allows you to achieve the same high quality filtration results for any size you choose.

    There are 6 system sizes in total (below), and all systems come standard with 2 of our  black berkey filters in the upper chamber. Larger systems have the capacity to accommodate more upper and lower chamber filters thus increasing the speed of filtration. (See Flow Rate @ Full  Expansion)

    SystemHolding CapacityFully ExpandedFlow Rate @ Full Expansion
    Travel Berkey~ 1.5 Gallons2 Elements(Filters)~ 2.75 Gallons / Hr
    Berkey Light~ 2.75 Gallons4 Elements(Filters)~ 7.5 Gallons / Hr
    Big Berkey~ 2.25 Gallons4 Elements(Filters)~ 7.0 Gallons / Hr
    Royal Berkey ~ 3.25 Gallons4 Elements(Filters)~ 8.0 Gallons / Hr
    Imperial Berkey~ 4.5 Gallons6 Elements(Filters)~ 16.5 Gallons / Hr
    Crown Berkey~ 6.0 Gallons8 Elements(Filters)~ 26.0 Gallons / Hr
    The lineup gives an example of how the filters stack up against each other in terms of height. The 1 quart stainless Go Berkey system and the Sport Berkey portable filter are shown on the right.
    help me choose berkey filter system All systems come standard with 2 filters (go berkey excluded), represented by the shaded blue circle. White holes are stopped using blocking plugs (these come standard with your system), and additional filters can be inserted into these.

    Step 2:  Choosing a Berkey Water Filter Size

    The golden rule for choosing a size is that bigger is usually better if you have the room in your home (kitchen counter, table, plant stand) or storage space. Put simply, the larger the system, the less often you need to refill it, which ultimately translates into convenience.

    In addition, the higher water volume in the upper chamber increases the pressure that is placed on the filters helping to push water through the filters faster while still maintaining the same high quality filtration results.

    The differences in cost between the various housing sizes is small when you consider that you will be using the same housing for 10-20+ years. Assuming a person drinks 8 eight ounce glasses of water/day, they will consume approximately 64 ounces/day (1/2 gallon). If you plan to use the system for cooking, you would also want to take this into account when sizing.

    Here are some sizing guidelines:

    Travel Berkey (1.5g) ~ 1-3 ppl

    Big Berkey (2.25g) ~ 1-4 ppl

    Berkey Light (2.75g) ~ 2-5 ppl

    Royal Berkey (3.25g) ~ 2-6 ppl

    Imperial Berkey (4.5g) ~ 4-8+ ppl

    Crown Berkey (6g) ~ 6-12+ ppl

    Big Berkey outside next to the sport Berkey portable water filter. Big Berkey outside next to the sport Berkey portable water filter.

    Step 3:  Choosing Your Berkey Filters

    Upper Chamber Filters

    As mentioned above, all Berkey Water Filter systems require 2 upper chamber filters to operate and these come standard with each system purchase (2 Black Berkey filters). Increasing the amount of filters utilized in the upper chamber will not improve filtration quality, but will increase filtration speed and the volume of water that can be filtered.

    For example, increasing from 2 Black Berkey elements to 4 Black Berkey elements will approximately double your filtration speed and double the amount of total life volume that can be filtered; 6000 total gallons up to 12000 total gallons.

    The Black Berkey filters are our flagship filters, removing contaminants to the highest of degrees, and are available with all of our systems. The Black Berkey's also meet high ANSI/NSF log 7 standards as water purifiers and show off their prowess by being able to remove red food coloring from water.

    We also now carry the brand new Berkey Earth ceramic filters. (Released Dec. 2015) These are designed to be the best ceramic filters on the market, providing Berkey quality at a lower price point. They are only available with the Berkey Light BPA-free plastic system.

    The 3 primary advantages of the Black Berkeys over the Berkey Earths is the Black Berkey's ability to remove viruses, a faster filtration rate, and a lower long-term cost for removing fluoride as they utilize the more cost-efficient PF-2 filter in the lower chamber.  For a more detailed comparison of the Black Berkeys and the Berkey Earth Filters, please see the Berkey Earth page, or watch this video below.

    * Black Berkey last approx 6000 gallons for a set of 2

    * Berkey Earth Ceramic Filters last approx 6000 gallons per set of 2

    * Older Super Sterasyl Ceramics last approx 1200 gallons per set of 2, or 6 months, whichever comes first. (We no longer sell these filters and they've been replaced by the Berkey Earth Filters)

    Lower Chamber Filters (Fluoride and Arsenic Removal)

    The lower chamber filters are referred to as PF filters. PF = Post Filtration. There are 2 types of PF filters. The PF-2's are specifically designed to work with the Black Berkeys, and the PF-4's are designed specifically to work with the Ceramic Filters. The PF filters are easily installed by screwing them onto the stem of the upper chamber elements so that they hang down into the lower chamber of any multi-filter Berkey Water Filter system.

    PF filters are optional. If your municipality adds fluoride to your water, then adding the PF-2 Filters onto your Black Berkeys or PF-4's to your Berkey Earths would be the choice to make.

    * PF-2 Filters (Black Berkeys) last 1000 Gallons per set of 2

    * PF-4 Filters (Berkey Earth or white Super Sterasyl Ceramic Filters) last 6 months



     

    So, that's it!  You're officially a junior Berkey expert!! Be sure to brag to all your friends at the next dinner party. :)  Here's a couple other videos you may like:

     

     Begin Choosing Your Berkey Filter System HERE

    or

    Try Our Berkey System Calculator

     

    About BigBerkeyWaterFilters.com: We are the largest, and one of the oldest licensed dealers of Berkey products in the world with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Don't be fooled by recent opportunistic newcomers and imitators. We offer:

    1. Same / Next Day Shipping
    2. Lifetime Warranty - For Stainless chambers and Hardware exclusive only to BigBerkeyWaterFilters.com customers
    3. 30 Day 100% Return Policy
    4. Full Time Support Staff  - We are dedicated to foster a lifetime relationship with our customers; from helping you choose your first Berkey system to assisting you in maintaining it throughout the years.
    5. VIP Discount Program - Receive exclusive discount offers and save money on future purchases such as replacement filters.
  • Fluoride Linked to Bone Cancer - Study Finds

    In what appears to be another damning blow to water fluoridation, a recent study found blood fluoride levels significantly higher in patients with a rare bone cancer called Osteosarcoma when compared to control groups. Prior studies have made similar claims and seem to reinforce these findings. Let's hope this makes more people aware of the critically important fluoride debate.

    Read the Reuters Fluoride Article here.

  • Using a Berkey Filter for Rainwater Collection

    Rainwater collection for drinking is a growing trend in the United States. Many seem to be experimenting with rainwater collection as part of their own crusade for self sustainability and emergency preparedness. Others give it a try as an alternative to their main water source and and to take advantage of the potential money savings.  However, in many parts of the US and the world, rainwater collection is the primary and sometimes only source of drinking water. It's a rather straightforward design you can build yourself, but some basic guidelines should be followed for guaranteed success. Most importantly, if you'll be drinking your collected rainwater, you must ensure that your water flows through a filtration system. Fortunately, filtering through a Berkey Filter system or just the Black Berkeys prior to ingestion is a cheap, easy, and effective method that protects you from potential risks.

    Why Collect Rainwater?

    For many who are supplied with water from a well or their local municipality, collecting rainwater may seem like an overkill or simply unnecessary. But with the always existing threat of a natural disaster, peace of mind is gained by knowing that a backup water source is available in the case of broken municipal feeder pipes or damaged well systems. In the case of a severe drought, wells and water sources to can completely dry up. More often than not, when rain does come it is not nearly enough to reactivate these sources.  Rainwater collection may not solve all your water needs when a drought hits, but it can provide critical supply in the rare instances of rain.  Camping or remote living locations that do not have access to a water source are also great candidates for rainwater collection systems.

    Precautions To Consider When Collecting Rainwater

    As water is harvested through a catchment and into the collection system, it will come in contact with surfaces that are unclean. Typical contamination can come from sources such as animal fecal matter(birds, squirrels, etc), roof material chemicals, and other bacteria. To combat this, rainwater collection systems utilize a filtering device to make the water potable. Systems can either run directly through a filter system into a storage tank, or can be collected in a tank to be filtered at a later date. We have some customers who have built a 2 stage system where a 1st stage 5-10 gallon catchment bucket is modified and equipped with 4 to 8 Black Berkey filter elements that drip filtered water into a lower 55 gallon storage catchment. Even though the Black Berkey elements are water purifiers, customers are advised to add drops of unscented chlorine bleach at the first stage prior to filtration if they suspect high levels of E-Coli contamination. Creativity works well when designing such systems, and the options to suit many homeowners needs are endless.

    This link may help you generate some ideas on how to build your own rainwater collection system.

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