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Friday Favorite: The Big Berkey

June 8th, 2012

For a few years now we’ve been using a Big Berkey Water Filter for all of our drinking/cooking water. It’s one of those workhorses in the house that you don’t notice, but you’re so glad it’s there. It’s my Friday Favorite because I got my water test report from our water supplier yesterday.

This filter is great because it filters just about everything out of the water, heavy metals, VOC’s, radon, etc. They are very similar to the filters we used in Colombia growing up to filter our collected rain water for drinking.

In our Big Berkey we use the Black Berkey filtering elements and they remove or reduce the following:
Pathogenic Bacteria and Cysts (E. Coli, Klebsiella, Pseudomonas Aeruginosa, Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Raoltella Terrigena) – Reduced to > 99.9999%
Viruses (MS2 – Fr Coliphage) – Reduced to > 99.999%
Parasites – Reduced to > 99.9999%
Harmful or unwanted chemicals such as herbicides and pesticides
Chlorine – Removed to Below Detectable Limits
Organic solvents
THM’s (Trihalomethanes – Bromodichloromethane, Bromoform, Chloroform, Dibromochloromethane) – Removed to Below Detectable Limits
MTBE’s (Methyl tert-Butyl Ehter) – Removed to Below Detectable Limits
Other VOC’s – Removed to Below Detectable Limits
Radiologicals: Radon 222, Removed to Below Detectable Limits
Nitrates & Nitrites
Heavy metals – Up to 95%
Foul tastes and odor

Our water here is drawn from very shallow sources, and thus there are a lot of contaminates in it. Most of them are reduced to “levels below that which would harm a healthy person” but that doesn’t give me much consolation. Some of them are quite high and above the limit listed as “safe”. I’d rather filter my water so I’m not drinking all these baddies! Since our water also contains arsenic and fluoride we use the additional Fluoride/Arsenic filters in addition to the Black filters. I really don’t want to take any chances with the arsenic.

One of the things I love about the Berkey is that it’s a gravity filter. I fill the top chamber and it filters down into the bottom. It will store about a gallon of water in the bottom reservoir. We also keep a gallon pitcher of filtered water on the counter. That way, whenever I need a lot of water for making soup or pasta I’ve got it ready.

We love our Berkey so much and the great water it provides us that it always travels with us when we hit the open road. There’s nothing better than having good, tasteless, odorless water wherever you are!

Even if you have great water, keeping a good filter in the house for emergencies is a good idea, it can be a small camping type one or a gravity feed one like the Berkey. If there’s ever a natural disaster or a water main break that disrupts or contaminates your water supply you can use it to filter water to drink. I like knowing that it doesn’t matter what happens, I can put the water from my rain barrels or from the lake through my Berkey and have safe drinking water.

Do you have well water or city water? Do you keep a water filter for emergencies?

18 Comments to “Friday Favorite: The Big Berkey”
  1. kristin @ going country on June 8, 2012 at 5:52 am

    Lake water. The best thing we have ever done in this house was installing a UV water filter so that we have safe drinking water from any faucet in the house. Brushing one’s teeth with water from the lake that’s been sitting in the cisterns–from which I have fished out more than one creature–is not a clean feeling.

    We don’t have an emergency filter. Unless there’s something in my husband’s camping gear, which is entirely possible.

    Reply to kristin @ going country's comment

  2. jennifer fisk on June 8, 2012 at 6:28 am

    I have a filter on my line between the well and pressure tank to filter out iron. My well is 450′ deep and tests 0 contamination but I like my white laundry to stay that way. I have lots of gallons of water stored for power outages for flushing, drinking, cooking and animals. I may invest in a generator in the future.

    Reply to jennifer fisk's comment

  3. goatpod2 on June 8, 2012 at 6:39 am

    We have well water, we always run it through our Brita water filter though. My Uncle has a Berkey.


    Reply to goatpod2's comment

  4. Andrea Duke on June 8, 2012 at 7:24 am

    My Grandparents have well water and have a filtration system in their basement. When I visit, I usually change the filter for her and cannot believe how orange it is!

    I have city water and only have a brita for drinking. I’ve been thinking for awhile that I’d like something a little better.

    Reply to Andrea Duke's comment

  5. Rhonda on June 8, 2012 at 8:02 am

    We have city water. Our city is always bragging on how we have some of the cleanest water in the nation, which is great, but I’ve always thought it had a bleachy taste. I too have a Big Berkey and it’s great! I use it all the time I just wish there were an easier way to see the water level, it would prevent some overflow messes. I could get the “Light” version, but I’m trying to rid plastic in our kitchen. I also like when we have guests over and they see the Big Berkey for the first time. It’s unlike any other filter they’ve seen since its stainless steel.

    Reply to Rhonda's comment

    • Susy on June 8, 2012 at 8:10 am

      I’m with you on the stainless! That’s another reason we keep a glass pitcher nearby, we empty the Berkey and fill up the top. Then we know it won’t overflow. We’ve only have an overflow once.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  6. Allison on June 8, 2012 at 8:31 am

    We have a rain-fed cistern and when there is no rain, we have water shipped in to it. There is a filter that it passes through when it enters into our house, but I am highly doubting it is as good as a Berkey. I would love to get one of these…if I could just afford one!

    Reply to Allison's comment

  7. K.B. on June 8, 2012 at 8:53 am

    We’re on city water here (and oddly enough, our city water just won a water “taste test” – who knew there were such things??), and I have to admit, water is the lowest priority for my emergency preps – in my entire life, there is only once I’ve been without water (water main break), and that was for less than a day, and the city (previous city to the one I’m in now) provided potable water for the neighbourhood.

    I’m lucky enough to live less than 1/2 a block from Lake Erie, so I do have a decent source of emergency water, but I need a way to transport and filter the water. As much as I’d love a Berkey, I’m with Allison: they are just too expensive for me to justify. But yeah, I really should get a portable camping filter and stash it in the emergency bag!

    Reply to K.B.'s comment

  8. Misti on June 8, 2012 at 9:14 am

    We are going to be on a well at our new house. We had our well tested for coliforms and that came back negative but the test didn’t include heavy metals or things like that.

    Reply to Misti's comment

  9. Marsha on June 8, 2012 at 9:27 am

    We’re on city water and currently use the built-in filter that came with the refrigerator. I don’t think it does a great job at filtering though and I’ve been looking for a solution that filters out fluoride and this fits perfectly! I also like the portability. How often do the filters need replaced with daily use?

    Reply to Marsha's comment

    • Susy on June 8, 2012 at 9:34 am

      We replace the Arsenic/Fluoride filters once a year and the black filters get scrubbed every six months and last about 3 years before they need replaced.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  10. Texan on June 8, 2012 at 11:46 am

    This is most interesting, we use a counter top steam distiller, we have for years and years. I am curious about this filter. As it removes Chlorine and Fluoride. I did not know there was a filter that would remove fluoride short of distillation. I will have to read up on this filter system for sure! :O)

    Reply to Texan's comment

  11. Jodi Tork on June 8, 2012 at 11:50 am

    I Love my Big Berky!

    Reply to Jodi Tork's comment

  12. tj on June 8, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    …I think you’ve posted about this before as I went to Amazon to add it to my Wish List and it was already there. :o) I love this and want one for our home in the future.

    …And I have to add, it’s pretty too! :o)

    …Enjoy your evening!


    Reply to tj's comment

  13. Maybelline on June 8, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    A municipal water company delivers treated water to my property. The source of that water is typically the river. Groundwater is another source and so is surface water delivered from the California Aqueduct. We have a filter on the refrigerator but I slurp it from the tap. Delicious!

    Reply to Maybelline's comment

    • Susy on June 8, 2012 at 9:38 pm

      I knew you would!

      Reply to Susy's comment

  14. Wendy on June 9, 2012 at 8:23 am

    Hmmm your berkey doesn’t have little fingerprint smudges all over like mine does! :) Once in a while mine shines like that! We fill ours a couple times a day, all our drinking comes from the Berkey. I was used to lukewarm growing up – for drinking (as you know) so I still love it. I almost couldn’t drink my MIL’s water the other day it was SO cold from her fridge. It’s hard to drink water any where else after we got used to our Berkey! I need to get my flouride filters on. I did read on the information flier that the flouride filters put some alum into the water as they filter out the flouride.


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  15. KimH on June 9, 2012 at 2:06 pm

    I spent my teen years on one of the purest & deepest aquifers in North Texas and I really miss that clean pure water. I moved about 7 miles away & had the absolute worst water imaginable.. but I had turbidity filters & a water softener on that so it wasnt so bad..

    I have a Pur system on my faucet and we have a filter in our refrigerated water but I’d like to get a much better water system. I would just about gag when I’d turn the water one & all I could smell was chlorine. ugh.
    Its really strong to someone who was raised in the country & always lived on spring & well water.

    I was just looking at a reverse osmosis system from Costco yesterday.. I’ll have to check these out too.. The fact that its viable in the case of natural disasters and its portable makes it even more valuable.

    Reply to KimH's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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