Berkey Water Filter

Big Berkey Water Filter Review (2022)

If you’re making strides into the world of off-grid living, comprehensive water filtration can seem daunting. After all, you turn on the tap, and crystal clear water flows like clockwork. However, when you’re on your own, you must take precautions to guarantee you have safe drinking water.

Here’s where a home water filter comes into play. The Big Berkey, for instance, is a great option, and for good reason. In this Big Berkey water filter review, we’ll cover everything you need to know to determine whether or not it’s ideal for family use. Read on!

Big Berkey® Gravity-Fed Water Filter with 2 Black Berkey® Purification Elements
3,074 Reviews
Big Berkey® Gravity-Fed Water Filter with 2 Black Berkey® Purification Elements
  • 2.25 GALLON CAPACITY- The portable Big Berkey Purification System effortlessly purifies water for about 1-4 people each day. Add additional Black Berkey Purification Elements (the Big Berkey System...

The Big Berkey Water Filter Review: Features

Here’s what the filter has in store for you.

A Stainless Steel Filter Unit

The Berkey is about four times the size of a standard water pitcher and is designed to sit on your kitchen counter. Constructed from stainless steel means it can mesh well with most kitchens.

Two Black Berkey Elements

As a larger filter unit, the water filter comes with two black Berkey filtration elements that have undergone rigorous testing in an EPA-approved laboratory and were found to meet the ANSI/NSF Standard 53. Therefore, the Big Berkey is a beast at eliminating pathogenic bacteria, heavy metals, viruses, protozoa, inorganic minerals, Trihalomethanes, and other contaminants lurking in the water.

User Manual

You’ll be pleased to learn that the Big Berkey doesn’t need major installation, which means you can do it yourself without roping in a plumber. The user manual comes with step-by-step instructions on how to get the ball rolling, which comes in handy after unboxing. It also has fundamental information about taking care of the unit, confirming that the filters are functional, and replacing the components as need be.

Four Filter Slots

When employing these slots, the unit’s optimum flow rate is about 7 gallons per hour which only implies when the upper chamber is filled to the brim. Given that the Big Berkey solely relies on gravity to propel the water from the source through the filter components, the more water you pour inside, the greater the pressure and flow rate. The lower reservoir that accumulates the purified water can hold up to 2.25 gallons.

The Big Berkey Water Filter Review: Performance

If you’re familiar with counter water filtration systems, you’ll understand why Berkey is one of a kind. The unit has components that work together concurrently to filter water. If you’re on the quest for a water filter system that eliminates a vast assortment of impurities but can’t afford to shell out tens of thousands on a reverse osmosis system, then the Big Berkey was designed with you in mind.

Nonetheless, it’s worth noting that this unit lacks the advantage of water pressure. Upon comparing the system to a faucet water filter, you’ll notice unsurprisingly that the faucet filter delivers a significantly faster outcome, which means you have instant access to clean water. That’s because the pressure of the water that flows through your pipes makes its way through the filters, purifying it faster.

Given that the Big Berkey depends on gravity to purify drinking water, you’ll have to tolerate a more delayed filtration process. Nevertheless, that won’t impact the quality of water purification. A gravity filter can usually afford to be more thorough due to its slow functionality. Therefore, it’s a no-brainer that you won’t have instant access to clean drinking water immediately after you fill the Big Berkey water filter.

You’ll have to wait 3 to 4 hours for the unit to diminish the contaminants in the water. With that in mind, the tank has an excellent capacity of up 2.25 gallons. To put that into perspective, one person is advised to consume ½ a gallon of water daily. That means a household of 4 can drink purified water slightly over a day before the tank requires refilling.

The Big Berkey Water Filter Review: Filter Elements

While you might only be familiar with the Black Berkey filters, you may not know another type known as the Berkey Earth filters. We’ve compared their features below.

1. Black Berkey Filters

Black Berkey Filters

The elements of this filter are the most popular, with an impressive lifespan of 3000 gallons. It’s also undergone rigorous third-party testing to exceed filtration standards. Marked as a leader in gravity-fed water purification, the Black Berkey filter is one of the best on the market. Its uncanny ability to eliminate a wealth of contaminants is unmatched.

The impressive efficiency of this filter boils down to its design. The Black Berkey filter is peppered with tiny pores that only allow the smallest particles in water to pass through. Therefore, they are your best bet for fighting bacteria, heavy metals, and other common contaminants in drinking water.

2. Berkey Earth Filters

Most people gravitate towards the Berkey Earth filters because they’re the most durable and efficient. However, if you’re on a budget or prefer trying out one of the Berkey filtration systems with a more affordable option before investing in the brand’s pricier and more popular filters, then Berkey Earth is a great place to start.

Like the Black Berkey filter elements, the Berkey Earth filters have a lifespan of 3000 gallons that translates to 3 years. Their lower price point means they’re less powerful than the Black Berkey elements with a slower flow rate.

While the Berkey Earth elements can generate up to 18 gallons per 24 hours, the Black Berkey can produce a maximum of 168 gallons in the same timeframe. That’s the biggest variation between both filters.

3. PF2 Fluoride Filters

PF2 Fluoride Filters

These Berkey elements function differently from the unit’s main filtration components. Although the Berkey Earth or Black Berkey is a mandatory inclusion which means you have to install either for a fully functional system, the PF2 Fluoride filter elements are a bonus if you want to give the unit that extra edge.

While the Black Berkey water filters can eliminate fluoride by up to 99.9%, there’s a reason why the manufacturer recommends purchasing the extra fluoride elements if your water has a fluoride level that surpasses 0.5 mg per liter.

The PF2 Fluoride filters can eliminate up to 99.99% of fluoride in water. Furthermore, it gets the job done for up to 12 months (1000 gallons), after which a filter replacement is due.

Which Contaminants Does the Big Berkey Water Filter Remove?

The selling point of the Big Berkey water filter is that it also doubles as a purification system. As a result, it has the uncanny ability to diminish most pathogenic bacteria and viruses from water. Additionally, it can remove pesticides, larger sediment (silt and rust), protozoa, heavy metals, inorganic materials, and chlorine. Here’s an overview of the contaminants that the Big Berkey water filter system can remove.

  • 99.9999% of pathogenic bacteria
  • 99.8% of Trihalomethanes
  • 6% of chlorine
  • 9% of chloramine and chlorine
  • Heavy metals such as lead, aluminum, chromium, lead, and copper
  • 99.9% of pharmaceutical drugs
  • Pesticides and VOCs
  • 9% of total coliform, fecal coliform, and other microorganisms that lurk in the water.

The Big Berkey Water Filter Review: Maintenance and Assembly

Assembling the unit from start to finish takes up to 15 minutes, including priming the filters. The biggest task you’ll require is priming, which entails flushing the filters to remove any lingering sediment that may give water an unpleasant odor and taste. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll quickly realize that priming the filters is quick and easy.

The Berkey filters have a lifespan of up to 6,000 per pair. As a result, this minimizes the frequency of maintenance required compared to other filters with a lifespan of up to 700 gallons before a replacement is due. Therefore, Berkey is an ideal option to consider if you’re looking for minimal maintenance.

Additionally, it’s advisable to clean the stainless steel Berkey chamber monthly and the filters every 4 to 6 months.

Big Berkey® Gravity-Fed Water Filter with 2 Black Berkey® Purification Elements
3,074 Reviews
Big Berkey® Gravity-Fed Water Filter with 2 Black Berkey® Purification Elements
  • 2.25 GALLON CAPACITY- The portable Big Berkey Purification System effortlessly purifies water for about 1-4 people each day. Add additional Black Berkey Purification Elements (the Big Berkey System...

How to Assemble the Big Berkey Water Filter

As with any new appliance or tool, learning how to assembly it perfectly can be a tad bit daunting. Nonetheless, assembling the Berkey system is a straightforward process that you can conduct in the following steps.

  1. Wash your hands thoroughly before cleaning the unit and its components (except the filters) to prevent contamination during assembly.
  2. Remove the Black Berkey purification elements and put them on a clean surface.
  3. After inserting the lid knob screw onto the lid and fitting it securely in position, tighten it with a hand. Avoid using a tool to do so.
  4. Prime the elements of your Black Berkey filter.
  5. Insert the sealing washer onto the threaded section of each filter element.
  6. Use the wing nuts to tightly screw every element to the base of the upper chamber.
  7. If you have empty element holes (for instance, if you purchased two filters yet your unit is big enough to accommodate four), insert the clocking plugs into the holes to curb water from seeping through.
  8. After inserting a rubber washer onto the threaded section of the spigot or outlet tap, that’s your cue to connect it to the unit at the side of the lower chamber.
  9. Connect the second washer on the spigot thread before adding a nut to hold it firmly in place.
  10. Lastly, stack the upper chamber and lower chamber together before adding the lid.
  11. Now you’re good to go.

Priming the Filter Components

It’s crucial to prime the elements for the Big Berkey before you start using it. After purchasing the elements, there’s no denying that they contain trapped air that increases surface tension. 

As a result, anything passing through the filter will be an uphill battle because the pull of gravity isn’t sufficient to release the trapped air, which is why priming is crucial.

The Big Berkey Water Filter Review: Pros and Cons

Despite being a reputable gravity-fed water purification and filtration solution, the Big Berkey still has a few drawbacks that are worth mentioning.

The Pros
  • The filter elements of this unit have an impressive lifespan of 6000 gallons per pair. That translates to at least three years of use before you need to consider a replacement. Compared to other filters that last up to four months, the Big Berkey takes the cake when it comes to longevity.
  • Regarding eliminating contaminants, Berkey can get rid of more than 200, including arsenic, herbicides, bacteria (the most difficult), lead, and pesticides. Finding a counter filter that can effectively remove pathogens is no easy feat.
  • Berkey filters have an impressive capacity that saves you the hassle of constant refills. Moreover, they’re also plastic-free, making the filtered water safe for consumption.
  • You don’t require connecting Big Berkey to a faucet which is a plus if you intend to use the system on your travels, lack the space around your sink to install a filtration system or reside in a rental property.
  • The Big Berkey is perfect for well water use, making it perfect for anyone who lives off the grid and is on the quest for a straightforward, pocket-friendly solution to filter their private supply.
  • The optional fluoride filter elements come in handy. Unfortunately, finding a filter that tackles fluoride exclusively is a rarity. Therefore, Berkey is a no-brainer if you’re experiencing major fluoride-related problems in your home.
  • Regardless of the Berkey system, you opt for, they are all relatively large. Therefore, storing it can be a challenge if space is lacking. In addition, its large footprint makes the filtration system unsuitable for kitchens with limited countertop space.
  • As a gravity filter, the Big Berkey doesn’t filter tap water immediately. Instead, it filters about 1 gallon hourly. Nonetheless, you have free rein to dispense water from the bottom chamber once it becomes available to quench your thirst.

Closing Remarks

The market is saturated with a wealth of models and suppliers. Nonetheless, if you conduct your due diligence, one constant name pops up; Berkey. Despite a couple of minor flaws, the filters from this brand have developed a stellar reputation which is why they have become the go-to for homesteaders, small households, and large households across the globe.

Big Berkey® Gravity-Fed Water Filter with 2 Black Berkey® Purification Elements
3,074 Reviews
Big Berkey® Gravity-Fed Water Filter with 2 Black Berkey® Purification Elements
  • 2.25 GALLON CAPACITY- The portable Big Berkey Purification System effortlessly purifies water for about 1-4 people each day. Add additional Black Berkey Purification Elements (the Big Berkey System...

Amanda Perkins

Amanda began her career as a technical writer for a healthcare group in 2008. Years after getting married and starting a family, she joined her husband Joshua on the Water Filter Authority journey to educate other families and households about safe, affordable, and effective water filtration systems.