Wondering how well a Berkey water filter works? Our family reviewed a new Berkey filter starting in 2011, and we still love it in 2020! We can tell when we’re drinking unfiltered water by taste and smell, and it’s easy to test. There is some work involved refilling it, so we may add an under-counter and/or whole house water filter soon, but nothing beats the Berkey when it comes to emergency preparedness for water, so we’ll never completely get rid of it!
I’ve been waiting for almost a year to have a Berkey counter top water filter in our home. When we were selling our house, it just didn’t seem like a good idea to invite one more large appliance in, since clearing the counters is a priority for house showings.
Of course, I’m not sure “appliance” is exactly the right term, since it doesn’t need to be plugged in (a huge bonus!).
The Berkey filters 99% of everything (a technical term).
I’m thrilled to get the chlorine, pathogens (including viruses, wow!), heavy metals, and other toxins out of my water.
The only contaminant I know of that it cannot touch is hormones, which are sadly rampant in our water supply because of artificial birth control and hormone replacement. However, from what I understand, nothing can touch that stuff. Great news! As of 2019, many filters, including the Berkey, now ARE rated for removal of pharmaceuticals, called “emerging contaminants” basically because there wasn’t a standardized test for them previously so no one could really claim their filters removed them.
Our Honest Berkey Water Filter Review
So far, I love the Berkey Filter.
You definitely need a dedicated place for it that won’t be under a cupboard, because it’s tall, maybe two-and-a-half feet, but it’s not quite as wide as I was expecting, only about a foot diameter. Our Berkey holds 3 gallons at a time, which has been enough without problem, even with making chicken stock, oatmeal, and company over (as long as we remember to fill it).
We had a piece of furniture our microwave sat on in our old house, and it’s the perfect spot for the Berkey. I can serve myself water from the table without even standing up (or stopping nursing, if that be the case).
Beyond feeling really, really good about the clean water, my absolute favorite part is that my kids can now serve themselves water. It’s awesome to have one more thing in the kitchen that’s easy for them to do, since we’re really working on increasing responsibility around here.
It does need to be filled, but I’ve figured out some strategies for that:
- It’s usually the 6yo’s job, with a 1/2 gallon plastic pitcher and a chair. He loves doing it. Here’s hoping that enthusiasm doesn’t wear off any time soon.
- When I realize I forgot to ask Paul to fill the Berkey, I just run the water into the pitcher while putting away dishes or something, then pour it in.
The worst part about the filter is that it takes a really long time to fill a pot for something like cooking with dry beans. Holding the pot underneath the spout is much more involved than plunking it in the sink and letting the water run. However – the microwave cart has a little shelf, and I’ve learned that a big heavy pot will sit there while the water runs into it. Score!
The flow of the water is actually better than I thought it might be, too. I’m a busy, hurried person, and I like everything to be FAST. I don’t get annoyed while waiting for my 16-ounce glass to fill up. You can set the spout to continue pouring or just push the lever backward and it stops when you release it. That second method allows me to fill a glass with one hand, another HUGE benefit for the mom of a 5-month-old!
We did have an 18-month-old visit, who quickly reminded us that the water filter is NOT childproof, and it IS fun to pour water on the floor!!! I didn’t think in the moment of any way to keep the filter away from a child (it’s much too heavy to move around when full), so we just had to train the child to stay away from the filter. It took two timeouts, and he never went near it again. Great parenting!
Now, I would lift the Berkey filter onto a plant stand or purchase Berkey’s water filter stand to keep the spigot out of reach for toddlers.
RELATED: Dehydration Signs in Kids
Does the Berkey Filter Fluoride in Water?
Yes! I have extra filters to get the fluoride out (white filters pictured on the right) that simply screw onto the bottom of the black Berkey filters.
Fluoride is, in my opinion, a weird additive that we don’t need to ingest. Fluoride is a byproduct of some industrial process, and really, people who ate well a hundred years ago did not lose all their teeth.
My dental hygienist got a little uptight when I started talking about avoiding fluoride. She basically told us we’d get cavities, and when I said I grew up on well water and have pretty good teeth, she said unequivocally, “You were lucky then.”
A bit lucky, I suppose, since I ate a fairly standard American diet, but I’m not too worried about our teeth. If I want the kids to have fluoride, it will be in their toothpaste (and oh, isn’t toothpaste another story entirely! One I’m still working on…).
Fluoride is a known endocrine disrupter (source). Studies show that in children “fluoride exposure was associated with lower intelligence levels” (source). In both children and adults, fluoride can cause thyroid issues because of how it interacts with iodine (source).
Berkey Water Filter Replacement and Assembly – Easy to Put Together?
Putting the Berkey together was a job delegated to my husband, and he gives one word of caution: you have to tighten the spigot incredibly hard, so hard you think you might break it. Fill with just a 1/2 gallon of water the first time and let it sit on a counter with a towel nearby.
You’ll probably have a leak and some troubleshooting, but it wasn’t too much of a pain, and now that it’s put together properly, we don’t even get one drop on the floor.
UPDATED Berkey Review After 8 Years! Does a Berkey Work for a Large Family?
How do we like it now?
We’re soooo grateful for incredible tasting water (that tastes like nothing) and have not found the Berkey water filter to be very expensive to upkeep. Some say you’ll have to buy new Berkey replacement filters 1-2 times a year, but we haven’t even had to do it that often (and we go through a LOT of water!). We know when we have to actually change the black filters using the testing method below (fluoride filters get changed every 9 months).
HUGE best feature? I’m always aware that in an emergency, we’ll have water we can drink, even if we have to filter melted snow or my neighbor’s pool. That’s amazing, and we’ll never get rid of our Berkey because of that.
We are a little weary about how often it needs to be filled, and as we consider remodeling our kitchen, we’re looking at a whole-house filter plus an additional 3-stage filter on the kitchen sink, but for anyone who doesn’t want to call a plumber or who’s on a budget, the Berkey would still be my first recommendation. (We’ve convinced a couple family members and friends to buy them because of preparedness or filtering icky tasting water at cottages on local lakes!)
You can check sales on various sized Berkey filters directly from the company right HERE, although yes, they’re also available on Amazon. Always good to compare!
The Amazing Color Disappearance Trick (How to Test Black Berkey Filters)
This is the part I’ve been super excited to share with you in pictures. I just can’t even believe it. This filter rocks. Watch how you’re supposed to test to make sure the filters are working properly:
And then this happens on the other end:
I kid you not. This thing takes the color out of water.
I couldn’t get the red off my fingers for three days, and in only a few hours, all the food coloring came out. A. Maze. Ing.
I feel pretty confident that the Berkey also took out the nasty parabens that I discovered were in the food coloring!
If I could filter rice, I bet this Berkey could get the white off.
And you know what they say about white on rice…
If not, check out sales on various sized Berkey filters directly from the company, or on Amazon. They have a nifty Water Quality Assessment tool now that can tell you what’s in your municipal water supply, and a little quiz that can help you decide what size of a Berkey water system fits your family’s water needs!