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Frequently Asked Questions About Berkey Products

Thank you for your interest in the Berkey Water Filters.
We have summarized most frequently asked questions on this page.

Laboratory Testing Results of Berkey water filters are here.

<Effectiveness of Berkey Filters>

Q: What does Berkey Water Filters remove? 
A: Berkey Water Filters can remove 
  • Lead - Removed to greater than 99.9%.
  • Arsenic - Removed to greater than 99.9%
  • Iron - Removed to greater than 99.9%.
  • Mercury - Removed to greater than 99.9%.
  • Chlorine - Removed to greater than 99.9%.
  • Bisphenol-A - Removed to greater than 99.9%. 
  • Chloramines - Removed to greater than 99.9%. 
  • Pharmaceuticals - Removed to greater than 99.5%. 
  • Petroleum Contaminants - Removed to greater than 99.9%. 
  • Methylcycohexane-methane - Removed to greater than 99.9%. 
  • Pesticides - Removed to greater than 99.9%. 
  • Heavy Metals - Removed to greater than 99.1%. 
  • Coliform and e-Coli - Removed to greater than 99.9%.
  • Atrazine - Removed to greater than 99.9%.
  • Fluoride - Removed to greater than 99.9%.

    And many more. See the Laboratory Testing Results for more details.

    Q: Do your Black Berkey elements reduce fluoride in the water?
    A: Yes, the Black Berkey Purification Elements can initially reduce Fluoride up to 99.9%.
    However, the efficiency of removing Fluoride begins to lose
    after a few hundred gallons. So, in order to reduce fluoride in your water effectively, you will still need to use post filters that work in conjunction with the filters in your system which is called the Berkey PF-2 Elements. A set of Berkey PF-2 elements can remove Fluoride for up to 1,000 gallons.

    Q: Do the Black Berkey Purification Elements remove Chloramine?
    A: Yes, our Black Berkey Purification Elements do remove Chloramine. Please click here to see the attached test results.

    Q: How does the filter element in the Berkey system deal with viruses?
    A: The micro fine pores are so small that they prevent micro fine particulate such as bacteria, viruses and even food coloring particulate from passing through the tortuous path that water is able to pass through. These contaminates are trapped in the micro fine pores while the much smaller H2O molecules are not. This method separates the contaminates from the purified water.

    Q: Do your filters take out plastic from the water?
    A: There are various plastic materials that can be leeched into water and the most common are BPA ( Bisphenol A) and 1,1-Dichloroethane (11-DCA). The Black Berkey elements have been tested to remove both of these plastic materials.

    Q: Will the Black Berkey Purification Elements remove kerosene?
    A: Petroleum based products are some of the easiest to remove from water. The Black Berkey® Purification Elements have been tested to remove the following petroleum contaminants up to 99.9%: Gasoline, Diesel, Crude Oil, Kerosene, Mineral Spirits, Refine Oil. However, please keep in mind that it is possible to overwhelm filtration elements. For example, removing a gallon of kerosene from a 1,000 gallon pool should not be problem (time consuming, but not a problem). Removing a gallon of kerosene from 2 gallons of water & kerosene mixed would probably overwhelm any gravity fed element.

    Q: How do the Black Berkey Elements handle beneficial minerals in the water?
    A: The technology utilized in the Black Berkey purification elements is designed not to remove ionic
    minerals from the water. The elements are however, designed to remove sedimentary minerals.
    Additionally, in order to reduce heavy metals, there are several types of media used in the proprietary
    formulation that have a specific affinity for heavy metals. The best part is that the media used in the Black
    Berkey elements is designed to not remove beneficial minerals. Because the media formulation does
    not have an affinity for beneficial minerals such as calcium and magnesium, these minerals should pass
    right on through the elements.

    Q: Do the Black Berkey Purification Elements remove lithium?
    A: No. It is our understanding that Lithium is a mineral. The Black Berkey Purification Elements do NOT remove minerals.

    Q: Do your Black Berkey Purification Elements remove Glyphosate?
    A: Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide and pesticide. Glyphosate is primarily released into the environment via runoff water and predominately applied as a spray for agricultural purposes. This contaminant has recently become the topic of discussion because of its association with acute or chronic exposure leading to various potential health issues or concerns. Black Berkey Purification Elements will reduce Glyphosate in your water by greater than 75%, exceeding the laboratories reporting limits.

    Q: What does Sport Berkey Filter remove?
    A: There are so many health-threatening contaminants that sport berkey can remove and/or dramatically reduce. Just to list a few, sport berkey can reduces up to 99.9% of the following:

    • Toxic Chemicals
    • Volatile Organic Compounds
    • Trihalomathanes
    • Heavy Metals
    • Detergents
    • Pesticides
    • Unpleasant taste and odors, cloudiness, silt, sediment and chlorine
    The Sport Berkey are as effective as the Black Berkey purification elements.
    For the complete list for what Sport Berkey can remove: please go to the 

    Laboratory Testing Results for more details.

    Q: Does the Berkey water filter remove Chromium-6?
    A: Yes, Black Berkey Filters can remove Chromium 6 for over 99.85% from water.
         Berkey can also remove other HEAVY METALS such as

    •     Aluminum (>99%) 
    •     Antimony (>99.9%) 
    •     Barium (>80%)
    •     Beryllium (>99.9%) 
    •     Bismuth (>99.9%)
    •     Cadmium (>99.7%) 
    •     Cobalt (>95%)
    •     Chromium (>99.9%) 
    •     Chromium 6 (>99.85%) 
    •     Copper (>99.9%)
    •     Iron (>99.9%)
    •     Lead (>99.9%) 
    •     Mercury (>99.9%) 
    •     Molybdenum (>90%) 
    •     Nickel (>99.9%)
    •     Vanadium (>87.5%) 
    •     Zinc (>99.9%)

    Inorganic Minerals, Pesticides, Petroleum, Pharmaceuticals, Semi-VOC’s, THM’s, VOC’s; reduction exceeded lab detection limits.

    <Questions About Daily Usage>

    Q: Can I use the Berkey system with softened water?
    A: The Black Berkey purification elements are designed to remove heavy metals, but will not remove mineral salts, which are added by a water softener. The salt in softened water has the tendency to clog the pores of the BlackBerkey element. You can use one of our purification systems on a regular basis by bypassing your water softener to get your drinking water. Most water softeners have a bypass valve or way to get water before it passes through your softener. Therefore, we highly recommend that you obtain pre-softened water directly from the source rather than run softened water through your Black Berkey Elements.

    Q: The water in the upper chamber of my Berkey system does not drain all the way. Is this normal?
    A: Yes it is normal and not unusual for the last 1.3 cm. to 2.5 cm. of water to remain in the upper chamber. By design the water must pass through very fine micro pores within the elements in order to pass from the upper chamber to the lower. The lower the water level in the upper chamber, the lower the pressure available to force the water through the micro pores. You may have noticed that the system purifies much faster when full than when half full. That’s because there is more water pressure. The only way to remedy this problem would be to enlarge the pores of the filter elements. This would of course, reduce the efficiency of the Berkey purification system. During each cycle the water left from the previous cycle mixes with the water from the current cycle and is then purified. There is no need to be concerned about the excess water during normal use. Should you however discontinue using your filter for a period of time such as during a vacation, it would be best to empty both chambers before departing and leave them upside down to dry on the dish rack.

    Q: I heard that it is recommended to replace my Berkey water after three days. Is this true if it is refrigerated?
    A: We do recommend replacing your Berkey water after three days. If the water is in a cold environment, the length can be extended to a week. This is a conservative estimate for caution. The reason for this is because when you filter your water, the chemicals that inhibit bacteria growth are removed. In more humid environments, bacteria growth can occur more quickly.

    Q: Why do your instructions say : “Do not allow filter to freeze?”
    A: We strongly advise against freezing your elements as a general rule of caution. We also advise against storing the elements (even unused) in sub-freezing climates. The concern with freezing the elements is that any cold or freezing water will expand inside in the element, thereby increasing the pore size and ruining the element. Whether the elements are unused or used and fully dried out, a small amount of moisture could still exist inside the element, especially in predominately humid climates. This moisture could expand inside the element and render them unusable. Please note that this recommendation applies to ALL our Berkey elements, including the Sport Berkey water filter bottle element. Freezing your element and rendering it unusable will also void your warranty coverage.

    Q: Why does my filtered water have a bad taste? 
    A: The reason of having a bad taste in your filtered water is generally comes from not having enough priming filters. The unpleasant taste is from process dust that may have remained from the initial priming process. Please try priming your filters a couple of more times throughout. Please refer these videos for priming filters.

    This is the video of how to prime the black berkey filters.
    And this is the video of priming fluoride filters. 

    <Replacing/Cleaning the Berkey filters>

    Q: How often do the Black Berkey Purification Elements need to be replaced?
    A: Each Black Berkey Purification Element is designed to purify approximately 3000 gallons of water before needing to be replaced. A set of two elements will last approximately 6000 gallons of water before needing replacement.

    Q: What happens if I use my Black Berkey Purification Elements after 3,000 gallons?
    A: We determine the typical lifespan of the Black Berkey Purification Elements by their ability to reduce heavy metals. The breakthrough of heavy minerals can occur at about 3,000 gallons. Heavy metals can leach through beyond 3,000 gallons. However, the elements can be used beyond that point because other reductions continue well beyond 3,000 gallons.

    Q: Since the filter has pores fine enough to remove viruses, does it get clogged frequently?
    A: The proprietary filter formulation used in Black Berkey Purification Elements makes up for the incredibly small pore size by utilizing an exponentially greater number of micro pores in each purification element than that found in other filter elements. This is the reason Black Berkey Purification Elements produce approximately 8 times more water per hour than other elements. While some of the surface pores will clog up from contaminates, it is difficult for such contamination to overwhelm all of the pores and thus clog up the filter. Eventually the majority of surface pores may clog up slowing down the flow rate of the Black Berkey Purification Elements. When this happens the filter can be refreshed by simply brushing the outside of the element with a ScotchBrite pad or toothbrush. This will remove the surface pores that have become clogged. Therefore, even though the filters have such small micro fine pores, the element will not clog up prematurely.

    Q: How should I clean my stainless steel chambers?
    A: Wash lower chamber once per month with soapy dishwater.
    In areas with hard water, calcium scale may build up on spigot and chambers after prolonged use. To remove, soak affected part(s) in vinegar or a 50-50% mix of vinegar and water for about 15 minutes. Wipe away calcium scale with a ScotchBrite pad or soft brush then wash with soapy dishwater and rinse.

    Q: When and how do I clean the Black Berkey Purification Elements?
    A: Cleaning the elements should be done when you experience a drastic slow down in your flow rate. You may consider cleaning your elements on a consistent basis. For example, every 6 months. The benefit to doing so is that you won’t experience a slow flow rate. For how to clean the filters, please refer to this post.

    Q: Are the Black Filters or PF-2 Filters recyclable? 
    A: No. We actually don’t recommend the recycling of the Black Berkey filters, PF-2s or PF-4s. The shells of the Berkey PF-2 and PF-4 are made of Polypropylene, which is Recycle Code 5. Uses of Polypro include catsup bottles, yogurt containers, margarine tubs & medicine bottles. However, there is no recycle code for the Berkey PF elements. As we understand it, a recycle code cannot be assigned since the element is sealed and contains material inside for arsenic & fluoride reduction. To recycle, you would have to cut the element open and remove the material before recycling the plastic shell. The same issue applies to the Black Berkey filters. The complex matrix of materials involved in the manufacture of the BB9 elements does not allow the elements to be easily classified by a single recycle code. In addition, with both of these types of elements, there is no way of knowing what contaminants are in the media after use. That is why we are not recommending to recycle our filters.

    Q: The filtering flow rate in my system is slow. What Should I do?
    A:  If the flow rate slows down considerably at any time during the life span of the filter elements, the problem can be easily remedied by re-cleaning the elements. What typically causes the elements to drip slowly is turbidity and sediment clogging the micro- pores of the purification elements. Simply remove the elements from your system and scrub the exterior of each element with a ScotchBrite Pad or stiff toothbrush. Scrub a section of the element until you see a bit of black on the pads and then move to the next section. This simple process should take only a few minutes. Re-prime each element and then reinstall it in your unit. Your flow rate should be restored. Never use soap or detergents.

    If you just purchased your Berkey system and the filters are hardly filtering water, the problem is typically due to high water tension. This high water tension prevents the air from being purged from the micro pores of the new purification elements. Your Black Berkey elements need to be primed to purge this air out and allow water to flow through them. Included with your Black Berkey elements is a tan priming button and instructions for priming. Please remove your elements from the unit, prime your elements and then install them back in your unit. This should fix the slow flow rate problem.

    <Storing the Berkey System>

    Q: How should I store my Black Berkey Purification Elements and how long is their shelf-life?
    A: It is best to empty both chambers before storing because anytime water is still it becomes stagnant, which means it can produce bacteria. You may consider washing your chambers with soapy water before leaving them to dry. If you have used your elements, you should fully dry them before storing. We offer a tool to assist in both priming and purging. This tool is called a Black Berkey Primer. The benefit to purging the Black Berkey Purification Elements is that they are dried very quickly and cleaned at the same time. Another option for drying your elements is to leave them on a window sill for one to three day and allow them to air-dry. The key is to ensure they are bone-dry before storing them, to prevent any bacterial growth.

    For long term storage, we recommend sealing the purification elements. This can be done with a storage bag such as a sealable sandwich bag. The elements are extremely powerful and can absorb odors and smoke from the air. By sealing them in a storage bag, they will not absorb any odors from the air. When you are ready to use use your elements, they will need to be re-primed by scrubbing them clean with a scotch brite pad or stiff brush. In theory, the shelf life of the elements is indefinite.

    Q: How long can Berkey water be stored and what is the best method?
    A: The length of storage depends on the treatment of the water. When using the Berkey Biofilm Drops, water can be stored for up to 5 years. It is recommended for long term storage to use 16 drops (1/2 tablespoon) of chlorinated bleach per gallon of water. Both treatments will inhibit bacteria growth. Once you are ready to use the water, purify it by using your Berkey system.

    It is okay to use a plastic storage container for short term storage. However, it’s best to use a sterilized glass container. We recommend storing your water in a cool and dry place.

    <Size/Materials of Berkey Products>

    Q: What is the thread size for the Black Berkey Purification Element’s Stem?
    A: The thread size on the stem of the Berkey Purification Elements is 11 mm.The outer diameter is about 3/8 of an inch and the inner is about 2/8 of an inch.

    Q: What type of steel is used for the housing of Berkey systems?
    A: Berkey Water systems use only the highest quality highly polished AISI 304 grade stainless steel, known for its high corrosion and heat-resistant properties. These stainless steel chambers are durable enough to handle camping trips and college dorms, yet elegant enough to complement your finest decor.

    Q: What are the Black Berkey Purification elements made of?
    A: Our Black Berkey Purification elements are composed of a proprietary formulation of more than six different media types including high grade coconut shell carbon, all constructed into a very compact matrix containing millions of microscopic pores.

    Q: What are the Blocking Plugs made of?
    A: There are two different types of Blocking Plugs: Black Blocking Plugs come standard in all Berkey Light systems and some stainless steel systems. The black plugs are made of FDA approved Buna rubber. White blocking plugs may be used in some stainless steel systems. These include a nut and bolt that are made of Polypropylene. The washers are made of food- grade silicone. Please keep in mind that the water in the bottom chamber will not touch either type of Blocking Plug. The water will be purified before it reaches the bottom chamber.

    Q: What are spigots made out of?
    A: We carry different types of spigots. 

    Standard Spigots and Sight Glass Spigots are made of the following materials:
    • The stopper inside is “FDA grade silicone”
    • The shell/nut is FDA grade polypropylene.
    • The washers are FDA grade rubber.
    • The Sight Glass Spigot tubes are a buffed aluminum gauge shield with a glass insert tube.
    • The small washers in the top and bottom of the tube to the Sight Glass Spigot are FDA grade Rubber.

    Vino Spigot is built a little differently. 
    • Washer – EPDM + Black Rubber
    • Back Nut- High Density Polyethylene
    • Body – Polypropylene
    • Spigot – Polypropylene



    Q: How much is the shipping fee?
    A: We offer free shipping on orders over $99 shipped within the continental US lower 48 states.