Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Lisa Professes Love for Berkey; Frugal Crunchy Catholic Tells All!

September 24th, 2010 · 22 Comments · Big Changes, Upgraded Nutrition

It’s been my goal for a while now to deal with our city water, which has the great distinction of being the first water in the U.S. to be fluoridated. I haven’t done a very good job with the process, but our recent health developments have increased my urgency about chlorine and fluoride.

I’m happy to have a little help from a friend, and I’m pleased to introduce you to Lisa from Mama Says, who was grateful enough to share this guest post with us:

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We bought our Berkey over a year ago, and it’s still going strong.  We purchased the Berkey Light model, which is made of BPA free plastic and can be nested for easy packing.  You know, in case Armageddon happens and we have to run for the hills.  Also I wanted it to be light, because I’m a weakling.

Can I just say I love this thing?  It’s so easy to use, even my eight year old helps fill it.  This is delightful, because that means I get to add refilling the Berkey to the chore chart and I don’t have to do it myself.  I’m all about delegation.

It doesn’t use any energy and just quietly works, day or night.  But I really love that it takes care of so many impurities in the water, things I can’t see or taste.

We got our Berkey for health reasons, and also for emergency preparedness.  We lived through Hurricane Ike, and when the electricity went off, all of the water was contaminated because the treatment plant pumps shut down.  If we had a Berkey, that wouldn’t have been a problem, but I hadn’t discovered it yet.  We boiled water, lots and lots of water.  Thank goodness I had a gas stove that worked without electricity.

After that experience, I began researching ways I could take care of my family’s needs during a power outage or water crisis.  I have little kids, and I can’t risk them getting dehydrated or dysentery from unhygienic water.  Believe me, the last thing you need during an emergency is a case of the pukes or a ride on the diarrhea-go-round.  Especially if you don’t have access to clean water!

We use it so much, that when we visited a friend’s house my 4 year old wanted to know how to get water, because she wasn’t used to getting it from the tap.  We’ve put the filter through the use and abuse of ten people, including all my eight children, for a year now and it’s held up beautifully.  My kids are hard on stuff, y’all, so THAT is a ringing endorsement.

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The Berkey filter is so good, you can even put creek water or rain water through it if there’s a major emergency and it will filter out all of the parasites and bacteria.

After Ike, there was water, water, everywhere but not a drop to drink.  Our area was flooded – with nasty, rank floodwater, with sewage, dead squirrels, and rotting fish in it.  Now that’s just nasty!  The Berkey is not just a filter, it is a purifier and removes 100% of pathogens from the water.  (Note: I do not recommend testing your Berkey out by adding dead animals to the tank. Just sayin’.)

Berkey will also filter out VOCs, volatile organic compounds, including chemical runoff and contamination from PVC.  It will also purify water of chlorine, benzene, and toluene along with a slew of other chemical nastiness that don’t even have real names, just numbers and letters (like 2,4,5-TP)

Berkey removes out 95% of heavy metals such as lead and mercury – and this matters.  Water is the second largest source of lead exposure in children, and even if you have plastic pipes your kids might not be safe.  Many glues used on PVC pipes contain lead.

85% of fertilizer runoff – nitrites and nitrates – are terminated with the Berkey. According to a reader who called the company, this part may not be accurate. :(

PVC contamination is a hot topic recently, and has been linked to birth defects, memory problems, and nervous system damage.  Trust me when I say the last thing I need is my drinking water giving me memory problems.  I’m already flighty enough, thankyouverymuch.

While most VOC exposure comes from toys or clothing, not indoor plumbing, it’s nice to know that our drinking water is extra safe.  We live in a hot climate, and often our cold tap water is merely lukewarm, so I know that water has been steeping in our PVC pipes since I last turned the tap on.

I’m all about doing things in the most frugal way possibleCheap would be my middle name, if it didn’t cost money to get it changed at the courthouse.  Berkey really shines here.  The model we purchased has two black filters, which each filter 3000 gallons (so I get 6000 until I need new filters.)  If the filters start to run slow, all you have to do is take them out and give them a quick once over with a Scotchbrite pad and they’ll be as good as new.

A new set of two filters costs $99, so each gallon of filtered water costs less than two cents.  No other filter on the market can beat that price!

For emergency use, FEMA recommends storing 1 gallon per person per day.  If my family used this amount, my first set of filters will last 20 months.  I only use it for cooking and drinking, not for dishwashing or bathing, so we use far less than that.

My husband isn’t the research nerd that I am.  I start spouting off about pathogenic bacteria and EPA standards and his eyes glaze over.  But, he loves our Berkey because it’s the only water he’s used that doesn’t give him little white flakes in his ice.  Our tap water is rated high grade, but it doesn’t make clear ice like our Berkey does.  Oh yes, my friends, at my house the quality of the water is based mainly on the Floatie Factor.

The only thing I don’t love about my Berkey is that it is tall, too tall to fit underneath a cabinet of stored on a countertop.  We had to put ours lower than countertop height, anyway, so the kids could reach it.  Just a little something to think about if you have a tiny kitchen.

I enthusiastically recommend a Berkey to anyone looking for better tasting or safer water.  I didn’t get paid for this post, it’s just my honest opinion.  Although if Berkey wants to sponsor me as their glamorous spokesmodel, well, I’m available.  I’m guest posting it for Katie because I just can’t tell enough people about my Berkey.  Also because I like her blog plus she played to my vanity by asking me to plaster my writing all over her site.

So tell me, have you ever thought about water safety?

Lisa Stauber is the mother of (almost) nine blogging from Houston, TX.  She’s disorganized and discombobulated, but she muddles her way through homeschooling and working from home without losing her mind.  Yet.  Read more from Lisa at Mama Says.

P.S. If you want more information about removing pharmaceuticals and hormones in our water, I got in touch with the makers of Berkey filters and this was their response:

To be specific about drugs in the water is very impractical because there are literally tens to hundreds of thousands of drugs on the market. Since the tests for each drug costs about $1,000.00 dollars per test, the best we can do is talk generalities.

Drug compounds typically fall into 3 categories. One is inorganic compounds, such as minerals. One is organic compounds. The last is a combination of the two (inorganic and organic compounds).

As you may know, pharmaceutical companies spend inordinate amount of money sending people around the world to collect various plants, which are obviously organic, to test them for their medicinal properties. This would indicate to us that most drugs are organic or combinations of organic and inorganic compounds.

The testing of our Black Berkey purification elements indicates that they are very powerful at extracting organic compounds which would give us the expectation that they should be effective at removing or reducing drugs derived from organic compounds. Further we would expect that they would reduce or remove the organic portion of compounds that are composed of both organic and inorganic materials.

Since it’s unlikely that anyone has specific testing results on all the drugs that are potentially out there in your water, it seems to us that the best strategy would be to obtain the most powerful water purification system available.  The most powerful systems are typically those that are capable of purifying raw, untreated water.

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Kitchen Stewardship is dedicated to balancing God’s gifts of time, health, earth and money.  If you feel called to such a mission, read more at Mission, Method, and Mary and Martha Moments.

Disclosure: Berkey is a sponsor of KS, and this is their complementary mention – clearly, however, Lisa wouldn’t talk them up if she didn’t believe in the product, and they wouldn’t be an advertiser here if they didn’t have something good going.

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22 Comments so far ↓

  • KathleenK

    We’ve had our Big Berkey for 10 months. We first purchased it in IN, where our water was fluoridated and so heavily chlorinated it smelled like a swimming pool. Berkey tasted much better and my husband and I felt better within days of switching. We moved to TX last spring and even though our rental kitchen is very small, I don’t begrudge the Berkey its needed counter space. We LOVE it, and highly recommend it.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Cherish

    I like distilled water and have a home distiller but this looks interesting too.

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  • Jay

    What about hormones? Can it filter out the hormones in the tap because that is my fear when I get pregnant. With all the women who are contracepting and then urinating , it was my understanding that the hormones that are in the water cannot be removed? is this true? because if BERKEY can do that I really just may have to invest in one of these!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Jay,
    Sadly, my research so far has found that nothing can get hormones out, either. Sigh. I have a friend who actually lugs water from her parents’ house (well water) every week just to avoid that. Good question, for sure – Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jan

    I’ve been looking for a filtration system for awhile and stumbled on the Berkey. I haven’t purchased it yet. It’s at the top of the list. Thank you for your review. I was wondering how people liked it.

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  • Jani Teeter

    Thank you SO much for this post. I have been looking at Berkey and others and trying to decide. The research I have done indicates a lot of not so accurate science so word of mouth means more to me.

    My one question/concern is about floride and related compounds.. is there a simple, portable system like this that will do all of the above and remove that yucky stuff?

    Thanks!

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    Milehimama Reply:

    Jani,
    They make portable Berkeys (I have a really big one) and even Berkey water bottles with the filter built in. However, the standard Berkey black filter does not remove flouride, you have to get a special add on filter for that.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Amy

    We have had a Berkey for about 7 years now. It is a great filter. We have very terrible water here. We just had testing done on our water; one from the facuet (well) and the other from the Berkey. We received the results yesterday. The good news, our facuet water had more bacteria then could be counted, our Berkey had no traces of bacteria. (is it because of the silver in the charcoal?) The bad news, our nitrate counts were the same in both. I am really upset by this and do not know what to do about it.

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    Greg Reply:

    Hi Amy,

    We have well water and decided to get the Berkey system(stainless steel). I am still sold on the Berkey just yet and was in process of sending our (berkey water) to get tested. Since your test came back with disappointing results, have you found a better product?

    Thanks,
    Greg

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    Fydder Reply:

    Hello,
    I call from France.
    I just contact BERKEY support FILTERS(Fev 25, 2014).
    Here is their response :
    “Yes, Using are black berkey filters,>95% of Nitrates are removed from the
    water. If you have any further questions, please feel free to get back into
    contact with us.”
    I do not understand.
    What is the nitrate levels in your water ?
    Thank you for your reply.
    Best regards.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • RG

    Interesting, we’ve been thinking about this topic alot as of late. Will look into the Berkey.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • I’m a Berkey Girl!

    [...] Read it the whole thing! Cancel reply [...]

  • Mommieeeee

    Has anyone tested the Berkey versus the Pi Magnet Water system from Nikken?

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Sarah W

    How does Berkey compare to reverse osmosis? Does anyone know?

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  • Milehimama

    Sarah W.,
    The Berkey is a purifier, and removes impurities and also bacterial contamination, organic compounds, etc.

    Based on my own research, you have to have a UV lamp operating with the reverse osmosis to get rid of bacteria.

    Reverse osmosis seems to me that it works best for very large quanitities of water, such as for a village or desalinzation plant, but the Berkey works better for household use. Reverse osmosis can mess up a septic system because it uses a lot of water. Most systems cost more than the Berkey and also use electricity, which is an added cost.

    The Berkey can be taken with you easily if you travel or move, and is not hooked into the house plumbing or electic plug.

    This article might help:
    http://www.ag.ndsu.edu/pubs/h2oqual/watsys/ae1047w.htm#disadvantage

    [Reply to this comment]

  • stacy

    I love my berkey light! We’ve had one for several years now and everyone in the family drinks mostly water now because it tastes so good! My only issue now is that they won’t sell in California anymore. It’s gonna be an issue to get replacement filters when we need them. ;(

    [Reply to this comment]

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  • Stacy

    Interesting. My only issue is that I’m spoiled and like to drink my water cold- I don’t like it at room temp. Although this is less “spoiled” in Phoenix in the summer!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Kathryn

    The Berkey is a great product, certainly one of the best. But she states that it can remove 85% of nitrates. I called the company and they said that they currently don’t have any filters to rid water of nitrates. It needs to be reverse osmosis, distilled, or ionized.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Yikes! Thanks for clarifying, Kathryn. I’ll edit the post – Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

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Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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