Disclaimer: Berkey Filters generously provided me with a Big Berkey Water Filter for review purposes. All opinions and ideas expressed are mine alone.
It’s been just over 2 months since Catalina and I received our Big Berkey filter. It’s become part of our day-to-day lives and, in the process, has virtually eliminated our consumption of disposable plastic water bottles. Not to mention the fact that we are drinking water that is 99.9999% free of pathogenic bacteria and 99.999% of viruses.
Most of us are well aware of the fact that drinking plenty of water is a fundamental part of our health and vitality. However, we rarely stop to consider the quality of our water. Depending on where you live, your drinking water may have a variety of contaminants or additives. Whether you collect water from a well or have it pumped to your home from a city water treatment plant, it is your right to know what’s in you’re drinking water. I encourage you to inform yourself as best you can.
In today’s digital age, the information is often laid out right before your eyes. For example, the City of Toronto website states that, “Before water is pumped for distribution to homes and businesses, the following is added:
- chlorine to destroy bacteria, algae and viruses
- fluoride to help prevent tooth decay
- ammonia to ensure chlorine levels remain consistent as water travels through the distribution system
- phosphoric acid, which is used for corrosion control to help create a barrier between residential lead pipes and drinking water” (Toronto, 2018).
Since I’m not qualified to give medical advice, I’ll spare you any quasi-authoritative discourse here. I will, however, say that I’m not entirely comfortable with the presence of fluoride and chlorine in my family’s drinking water. The way I see it, if you want to use fluoride to prevent tooth decay, purchase a toothpaste with fluoride. Also, filtered water makes for a far better cup of coffee!
As far as purity goes, we have not conducted independent tests. The Berkey site states that it can remove:
- >99.9% of viruses,
- >99.999% viruses
- >99.9999% pathogenic bacteria (and surrogates)
- >99.8% trihalomethanes (such as chloroform)
- inorganic minerals (such as chlorine)
- >80% heavy metals (such as aluminum, barium, lead, mercury, zinc, etc.)
- >99.9% micro organisms (such as e. Coli)
- >99.9% pharmaceutical drug contaminants (such as progesterone)
- >95% fluoride (only when using the PF-2 filter)
For more information on the specifications, visit this site.
In a nutshell, we are very happy with our Big Berkey filter. There are, however, a few things to consider if you are in the market for your own Berkey system. Things like cost, size, aesthetics, and water consumption are fairly subjective so it’s important to keep in mind that this review is a reflection of my personal thoughts, conditions and opinions.
As with my Instant Pot review, I’ve approached this Berkey Filter review from a non-scientific, practical perspective that I think will apply to the everyday, household user. There are, of course, many scientific reasons you may want to consider a Berkey filter. You can visit this site for more information.
Things to Consider When Purchasing a Berkey Water Filter:
1. Amount of Water Required:
If you have a large family (4 or more), you may require a larger unit so that there is enough water in the reservoir for the day. Otherwise, you will be required to refill the filter more regularly. This is not a huge inconvenience but it is something to consider if you would like to have more drinking water available.
2. Countertop and Cabinet Clearance:
The Big Berkey filter measures H21” x W8.5”. This is taller than the average kitchen cabinet clearance of 18”. You should also factor in the requirement of a stand for your Berkey filter if you do not want to have it perched over the edge of your counter or sink.
The solution to this is to purchase an aftermarket floor stand, such as these. Or, to store it on a counter or kitchen island where you have enough clearance.
Depending on your requirements, you may need a larger or smaller unit.
Travel Berkey Water Filter (1.5 gallons)
Berkey Water Filter Pros:
- Eliminates 9999999% of pathogenic bacteria and 99.999% of viruses in your drinking water.
- Easy to install
- Easy to use
- Lightweight and portable when empty
- The Big Berkey can store 2.1 gallons (8.5 liters) of filtered water at a time
- Ideal for a family of 2-4 people
- Filters have a very long lifetime (Black Berkey last approx 6000 gallons for a set of 2)
- Affordable cost over a long period of time
- Filters water relatively quickly
- The spout pours filtered water relatively quickly
- Has virtually eliminated our consumption of disposable plastic water bottles
- Reduces carbon footprint
Berkey Water Filter Cons:
- Unit is quite wide and tall, which makes it more suitable to larger kitchens with more countertop space and high cabinet clearance
- Requires a stand or must be perched on the edge of a counter to be used
- Aftermarket stands are expensive and limited in options (colour and design)
- Water pools at the bottom of the upper and lower tanks (in the former, the water pools below the spout. In the latter, the water pools below the filter insertion points)
- Initial cost is high (but this is offset by the longevity of the filters)
- Exterior needs to be cleaned or polished
In my opinion, the pros outweigh the cons and I would recommend a Berkey Water Filter for those who have the space for it. The downside, as mentioned, is finding a suitable spot for the filter. Ours currently lives on our countertop and until we can find a floor stand that we like, we have to continuously move it back and forth from the edge when not in use.
The other noticeable con is likely a flaw in the unit’s design. Since the spout of the reservoir is positioned slightly above the base of the unit, some water inevitably pools. The only way to dispense this water is by tilting the entire unit towards the spout. This is not ideal, especially considering the fact that the unit is either purchased over an edge or on a floor stand.
The same pooling actually occurs in the top canister as well since the insertion point of the filter is not porous and does not allow for water flow. Therefore, after each cycle, I have to empty the top canister before adding new water. This is a small inconvenience for me, but it requires consideration for elderly or impaired users that may require assistance with emptying the canisters.
I hope you found this Berkey Water Filter review helpful. As mentioned, it is meant to serve everyday, household users looking for water filtration options. If you feel as though I have left anything out or would like to ask a specific question, please leave a comment below!