One of the first “big ticket” prepping items that you should invest in is a quality water filter. The ideal water filter is one that removes as many contaminants as possible, works without electricity, and is easy to maintain.
The Berkey water filter is an excellent choice for anyone looking for a water filter, especially preppers. It is low-maintenance and will remove all sorts of biological and chemical contaminants. Berkey filters can give you and your family clean water in good times as well as during emergencies.
Ensuring that you and your family have access to clean water is one of the most important parts of being prepared. Waterborne diseases have been responsible for countless deaths and illnesses throughout history. Even in modern times, waterborne diseases run rampant in undeveloped countries.
Poor sanitation practices and pollution contaminate water sources in these areas, making them dangerous to use. In an emergency situation, water sources where you live could become contaminated as well. If this happens, any water meant for consumption will require purification.
People in developed countries can fall victim to contaminated water as well. There may not even be a wide-spread emergency when this occurs. The events in Flint, Michigan prove that improper city management can cause months or years of water-related problems. To prevent you and your family from falling victim to situations such as this, purchasing a grid-independent water purification system is a great idea. The Berkey water filter is one of the most recognized and popular water purifiers on the market today.
Berkey Design Features
Every Berkey water filter is gravity fed, and as such, it requires no electricity to operate. The filters consist of an upper and lower reservoir. The upper reservoir contains the filtering elements, while the lower reservoir holds the filtered water. You pour water into the top reservoir, which goes through the filters into the lower reservoir. The lower reservoir also features a spigot that allows you to pour water into a glass straight from the filter. It is a simple design that has been used for around 100 years.
This simple design would be a serious advantage in an emergency situation. Nearly any emergency situation will likely result in a breakdown of utility services, such as electricity and municipal water. A Berkey filter would be completely unaffected by a power outage since it relies on gravity to function. Also, Berkey’s special purification elements can filter almost any fresh (non-saltwater) water source.
Berkey Purification Elements
Berkey water filters come standard with “Black Berkey” purification elements. These elements consist of a special mix of materials formed into long cylinders. They contain millions of tiny, microscopic pores that remove all sorts of awful things from your water.
The list of contaminants that Black Berkey elements can filter out is enormous. They can remove pathogenic bacteria, parasites, and even viruses from your water. This means that any biological threat that may exist will be almost completely eliminated.
Black Berkey elements can also remove heavy metals, pesticides, sediment, and silt. Although Black Berkey elements do not remove fluoride, Berkey offers additional elements that will. These attach to the bottom of the Black Berkey elements and filter the water after it has passed through.
How Long do Black Berkey Filtering Elements Last?
Each Black Berkey element can filter 3,000 gallons of water, meaning that a set of two filtering elements will filter 6,000 gallons of water. The elements also come with a two year prorated warranty. The elements are self-sterilizing, and if necessary, cleanable.
As with any filter, pre-filtering will help make sure your filter elements do not wear out prematurely. This involves removing as much silt and large particles as possible before you pour water into the filter. This will help you get as much use as possible out of your purification elements. A good way to prefilter water is to pour the water into a separate container with scrap denim over the top. Do this a couple of times and then pour the water into the Berkey filter.
Do Berkey Water Filters Rust?
All Berkey water filters, with the exception of the Berkey Light, are constructed of polished stainless steel. This makes them durable, easy to clean, and corrosion-resistant. As long as you don’t drop it off the counter, your Berkey water filter should last a long time.
I have had my stainless steel Travel Berkey water filter for a little over two years. During this time I have not seen any sign of rust or corrosion on any part. It is easy to clean and shines up as well as it did the day I took it out of the box.
The Berkey Light is made of BPA-free plastic but functions the same as other Berkey filters. You can also purchase the Berkey Light with LED lighting. The main advantage that it has over other Berkey filters is its cost. It is less expensive than other models with similar capacities.
Berkey Water Filter Sizes
Berkey water filters come in several different sizes. The smallest is the Go Berkey, which is designed for hiking and camping. Although it is small enough to fit in a backpack, it still uses Black Berkey elements, just like the larger Berkey filters. The largest is the Crown Berkey. At 30 inches tall, it is absolutely huge. I went to a restaurant once that used it to serve filtered water to customers. It would be a great option if you have a really large family.
Larger filters can hold more filtering elements than smaller filters. This increases filtering speed, making them practical for larger groups of people. Below are the different Berkey water filter models and their capacities:
- Go Berkey
- 1 Quart
- Suitable for 1 person
- Travel Berkey
- 1.5 Gallons
- Suitable for 1-3 people
- Big Berkey
- 2.25 Gallons
- Suitable for 2-4 people
- Berkey Light
- 2.75 Gallons
- Suitable for 2-5 people
- Royal Berkey
- 3.25 Gallons
- Suitable for 2-6 people
- Imperial Berkey
- 4.5 Gallons
- Suitable for 4-8 people
- Crown Berkey
- 6 Gallons
- Suitable for 6-12 people or more.
Since my wife and I have a small kitchen, I decided to get the Travel Berkey filter. The filter has a capacity of 1.5 gallons, which is suitable for 1-3 people. It is 19 inches tall and will fit under our kitchen cabinets without the knob installed on top of the lid.
We can slide our Travel Berkey water filter to a corner of our countertop, under the cabinets and out of the way. However, if you have a larger family, you will want to get a larger model. The Big Berkey filter is suitable for 2-4 people, and the Royal Berkey is suitable for 2-6 people.
Aside from its ability to purify water, Berkey water purifiers look very good in the kitchen. The stainless steel design will blend in with most appliances and decor. My wife was hesitant about getting one due to the size, but even she was impressed with how aesthetically pleasing it is. Berkey filters are definitely an example of how prepping supplies can blend into your normal everyday life. If you need to store the filter long term, turn the top reservoir upside down, and place it inside of the lower reservoir.
My wife and I recently adopted our first son and have been using our Berkey water filter to purify the water we use when mixing his formula. Because of this, we are using our Berkey extensively. After this experience, I would strongly recommend that you purchase, at a minimum, a Big Berkey water filter. The Travel Berkey is too small for three people, in my opinion.
How Do You Clean and Maintain a Berkey Water Filter
Overall, Berkey water filters are pretty easy to take care of. As far as cleaning goes, I clean the bottom reservoir with soap and water around once every two weeks. I scrub the inside of the tank and run soapy water through the spigot. It is a good idea to clean the top reservoir every once in a while, but you don’t have to do it as often. However, if you do clean the top reservoir, be sure you carefully remove the filtering elements first.
Berkey says that you can clean the filtering elements themselves by gently scrubbing them with a toothbrush or cleaning pad. However, I would avoid using a cleaning pad that has cleaning chemicals in it. I have never cleaned my filtering elements in such a way because it hasn’t been necessary and I don’t want to reduce their useful lifespan. I would only recommend cleaning your filtering elements if they become too slow. If you do have to clean them, be sure to re-prime them afterward.
After using a Berkey filter for a couple of years, I am really impressed. Our tap water tastes truly awful. It is like a mix of chemicals put into a swamp. After putting our tap water through our Berkey filter, the bad taste is completely gone.
In addition, I am also still using the original purification elements that came with the filter. Even after using them for a while, there isn’t any noticeable difference in water quality from when they were new.
Adding a Berkey water filter to my supplies is one of the best prepping decisions that I have made. It gives me peace of mind that my wife and I will have clean water, even in an emergency. Since it is such an important prep, I do plan to store additional purification elements. It is wise to have spare parts for your equipment, especially when it involves something as important as water. If you need a long-term water filtration solution for your home or bug out location, a Berkey water filter is a great option.