Aquacera gravity filter parts

Several of my readers asked me about the AquaCera water filter in the comments on my review of the best countertop gravity water filters.

When I first wrote that review, I wasn't really familiar with AquaCera, but it was on my list of filters to check out.

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Well, AquaCera sent me a Pioneer SS4 water filter system gratis so I could give it a test run. They're not paying me anything for this review, and they didn't even ask me to write one.

But I want to pass on this information to help out anyone who is looking for a gravity filter and/or considering buying an AquaCera. 

We'll take a look the features, as well as how effective it is in removing contaminants from drinking water. And I'll discuss how it compares to the Berkey water filter, which I also own.

You'll find a video, too, of me unboxing the AquaCera, assembling it, and using it for the first time.

If you'd like to do a quick check of the price at Amazon, click here.

Use this quick navigation to skip to the parts that interest you the most. Or just keep scrolling to read the whole review.

How It Works

All countertop gravity water filters work in the same way.

There are two containers, stacked on top of each other.

The top one holds the filter elements. You fill it up with unfiltered water, and gravity pulls the water down through the filters and into the bottom container.

A spigot in the bottom part allows you to dispense the purified water.

AquaCera Pioneer SS4 water filter system

AquaCera Pioneer SS4 Gravity Water Filter System

AquaCera Gravity Filter Features

You'll be glad to know that this water filter is not at all complicated. Here are the main things you need to know about it.

Stainless Steel Container

The two containers and lid are made of grade 304 stainless steel.

That makes the AquaCera lightweight, durable, and resistant to corrosion - pretty important for something that's constantly in contact with water.

It's also easy to transport, so you can easily take it with you when you travel.

Choice of Size

This system comes in two sizes:

Pioneer SS4

Total capacity: 4.75 gallons

Dimensions: 20" h x 9" diam

Traveler XL

Total capacity: 3.75 gallons

Dimensions: 16" h x 8.25" diam

Note that the capacity includes both the unfiltered and filtered water. So, with the Pioneer, you can have about 2 gallons of filtered water in the bottom, ready to drink.

Of course, as the water level goes down in the bottom, you can keep refilling the top so that you have a constant supply.

Choice of Filters

If there's anything at all complicated about Aquacera, it's in the filter element options. Let me break it down for you.

When you buy a system, you'll order it with either 2 or 4 of the same filter type. The advantage of buying 4 is that the water will filter through faster.

There are 2 basic types of filters, and 2 variations of each type, so you have 4 to choose from:

QuickDrip Filters

These are block filters that don't need to be primed. You can use them right out of the box. They are designed only for municipal water supplies because they do not reduce biological contaminants.

AquaMetix

AquaMetix reduces VOCs, heavy metals, lead, pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceuticals, chlorine, chloramine, fluoride, nitrates, nitrites, and more.

AquaCera AquaMetix water filter element

AquaMetix Quick Drip Filter

Chemix

Chemix looks like the AquaMetix, except it's red instead of blue. It reduces chlorine, lead, mercury, and VOCs.

Ceramic Filters

These filters have a core encased by a silver impregnated ceramic shell. The shell reduces biological contaminants like bacteria and cysts.

CeraMetix

Inside the ceramic shell of the CeraMetix is an AquaMetix core. That means it can reduce all the same chemicals that the AquaMetix Quick Drip does, plus biologicals such as bacteria and cysts. This is the one to choose if you want a survival type filter.

AquaCera CeraMetix filter

CeraMetix Filter Photo Credit: AquaCera

CeraPlus

CeraPlus has a coconut shell granulated activated carbon core with the same ceramic shell. It reduces bacteria, cysts, some organic chemicals and chlorine, but not much else. 

Easy Assembly

AquaCera systems are super easy to put together in just minutes. You can watch me do it in this video.

Something I like about the AquaCera filters is that they don't need to be primed before you use them. Just put them in, add water to the top container, and the water starts flowing through immediately.

Contaminant Reduction Performance

Since the four filter elements are all different, I thought it would be easiest to make a chart comparing how much they reduce a variety of contaminants.

The numbers come from spec sheets and lab test results. Unfortunately, they're not all specific. If the spec sheet claims that it reduces a contaminant, but doesn't give the amount, you'll see "amount unknown" in the chart.

If the spec sheet doesn't say anything about a particular contaminant, the chart shows "0%". It's possible that the filter does reduce that contaminant, but there's no way of knowing for sure from the published information.

comparison chart

You might have noticed the absence of minerals in this chart. None of the AquaCera filters remove beneficial minerals from your drinking water.

Filter Life

The manufacturer recommends replacing all four kinds of filters after 12 months of use. You can check availability at Amazon by clicking here.

I want to point out that the two Quick Drip filters have varying capacities for certain contaminants.

For example, the Chemix filter is rated to 2500 gallons for chlorine, but only to 450 gallons for lead, mercury, and VOCs.

And the AquaMetix reduces lead for up to 750 gallons and chloramines up to 1150 gallons.

There are also different sizes of the CeraMetix and CeraPlus, and that affects the capacity as well.

CeraMetix comes in two diameters: Slimline and Imperial. The Imperial is larger, giving it a longer life and faster flow rate than the Slimline. They're almost the same price, so I'd go for the Imperial if I were buying CeraMetix filters.

Click here to check the price of the AquaCera Pioneer SS with four CeraMetix Imperial 7" filters at Amazon.

What's in the Box

AquaCera Pioneer SS4 water filter with AquaMetix

AquaCera Pioneer SS with AquaMetix Filters

When you buy an AquaCera system, you'll get everything you need to get your filter up and running in no time. That includes:

  • Upper and lower chambers
  • Filter elements (2 to 4, depending on how many you order)
  • Lid with knob
  • Spigot
  • Rubber base
  • Washers and wingnuts
  • Instructions

You'll just need a screwdriver to attach the knob to the lid.

Warranty 

There's a one year manufacturer warranty on the housing and the filter elements, no matter which version you buy.

AquaCera vs Berkey: How They Compare

You may be familiar with Berkey gravity filters. They're very popular, and they're similar to the AquaCera filters. Because I've used both, I can give you a little insight into how they're alike and how they're different.

The AquaCera Pioneer SS4 and Big Berkey models are similar in size - both hold about 2 gallons of filtered water in the bottom container - so we'll compare those two.

Materials:

  • Both have containers made of stainless steel.
  • Both come with a plastic spigot.
  • Berkey has two other spigot options: a stainless steel spigot and sight glass spigot. AquaCera does not have these, although you could probably use the Berkey ones in it.
  • Both come with non-skid rubber rings for the bottom of the unit.

Available Sizes:

  • Aquacera comes in two sizes.
  • Berkey comes in six sizes. Three of those sizes are larger than the Big Berkey and AquaCera Pioneer.

Filter Elements:

  • Although Berkey does have a ceramic filter available, the Black Berkey filter element is far more popular because it reduces a wider array of contaminants.
  • Of the four AquaCera filters, the CeraMetix comes the closest to the Black Berkey filter in terms of contaminant reduction.
  • CeraMetix and Black Berkey are almost equal in the reduction of the contaminants that most people would be concerned about - chlorine, chloramine, lead, VOCs, bacteria, and others.
  • When it comes to fluoride, Berkey has a slight edge over AquaCera - 99% to 97%.  
  • CeraMetix is an all-in-one filter; Berkey requires an additional fluoride filter.
  • Berkey filter elements cost more, but they last much longer than the AquaCera filters - three to five years (Berkey) versus one year (AquaCera).
  • Black Berkey filters and fluoride filters have to be primed before you can use them. AquaCera filters don't require priming.

By the way, the AquaCera and Berkey filter elements are interchangeable, along with other similar systems like ProOne (formerly Propur) and Alexapure. Just make sure you have the right height filter to fit in the container.

Verdict

If you're looking a portable stainless steel gravity water filter, the AquaCera is definitely worth considering.

Although it's not as well known as the Berkey, AquaCera can hold its own in a side by side comparison. That is, if you use the CeraMetix filter elements with it.

The Pioneer SS4 is the right size for a small household of one to four people. If you have a large family, you'll want to go with another brand like Berkey that makes larger systems.

If you're on city water and don't need a filter for survival or emergency situations, then the AquaMetix filters would be sufficient. The cost is significantly less than Berkey and somewhat less than the CeraMetix filters. 

The system with four AquaMetix filters is available from the manufacturer, Aquacera

To check the current price and availability of the AquaCera Pioneer SS4 with two Slimline CeraMetix filters at Amazon, click here.

And for the Pioneer with four Imperial CeraMetix filters, click here.

Last Updated on April 4, 2022

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  1. Hi Marge –

    Super grateful for your site and all the thoughtful research you so generously share.

    Wondering your opinion on stainless steel vs. ceramic water dispensers?

    Thank you!!

    1. Hi, Glen! I prefer stainless steel because it’s lightweight and easy to transport, and it’s less likely to break.

  2. The requirements to be NSF certified are no joke. The fact that AquaCera is NSF certified and is transparent with testing available on their website makes them a WAY more legitimate company than Berkey. Plus AquaCera is a lot more affordable too, which leads me to ask, why does Berkey charge so much for such a crappy, illegitimate product? 200 dollars for carbon filters? Are you kidding me? I think people think they're getting what they pay for, but in reality they're being duped.

    Berkey is not in AquaCera's league, you can't compare the results from Berkey's website because they didn't use the testing standards AquaCera did. If they both followed the same testing standards then you can compare that data. Berkey did not filter anywhere close to the amount of water required by NSF protocols and refuses to get certified to these requirements! They claim the cost for certification is prohibitively expensive, but then they try to state they exceed these requirements. If a car company tried to sell a vehicle advertised as getting 50 mpg based off of cherrypicked data, then they would be sued.

    AquaCera all the way on this one.

    https://www.nytimes.com/wirecutter/reviews/big-berkey-water-filter-system/

  3. I have owned this filter system for about 4 years. I only used it for about a month when I got it. It became too much trouble making sure the bottom assembly had enough room for the water from the top assembly. If you fill the top without using or emptying the bottom it will overflow. I even bought the sight gauge spigot and it still is too much trouble. The top section would remain without water for days while I slowly use the bottom. If the 2 halves could be threaded together and had an o ring to seal it then it would be a much better design. The filters would remain wet and you could keep the upper chamber topped off. Then unscrew them when the time came around to clean the bottom. As it is I don’t recommend these type filter systems unless you use enough water to drain it daily or transfer the water to another container daily to make room for the next batch.

    1. Hi, Brian! That’s definitely one of the cons of this type of filter system. I’ve overflowed mine once or twice, but I learned from experience how to gauge the amount of water to put in the top to keep that from happening. And I’ve never used a sight gauge spigot.

  4. Hi Marge – Does the CeraMetix element have to be changed after a certain amount of time or does it only have to be changed after a certain amount of gallons? This concerns me as I don’t drink all that much water. Also, is there any problem with just using one element; I’m in no rush?

    1. Hi, Steve! The manufacturer recommends replacing the filters annually. They don’t give a gallon capacity. Each model comes with a certain number of filter elements, and you have to use that number since the holes are already drilled. I looked at the website and didn’t see any plugs available for purchase. You might want to contact them and ask them if they have them. You could consider getting the smallest version, the Excursion. It only uses one filter, but it doesn’t have a spigot. You can see it here: https://www.aquaceradirect.com/collections/gravity-systems/products/excursion-mini-gravity-filter

    2. Thanks Marge –
      I think I’ll just buy one of the mini 5″ CeraMetix elements from them for $35., drill a hole in a stainless pot and have it filter into a stoneware crock with a spigot that I already have plus while I have the drill out might as well turn a couple of quart size Tupperware type water containers into a filter for travelling.

      1. Sounds like a good plan, Steve! I’d be interested to hear how it works out. Make sure you have good rubber washers to keep the unfiltered water from leaking into the filtered water around the hole.

    1. Hi, Joy! Yes, the CeraMetix does remove 99% of microplastics, according to their website. The spigot should last at least a few years. I’ve been using a similar one on my Berkey, and haven’t had to replace it yet, and it’s gotten a lot of use. You could always upgrade to a stainless steel spigot if you like. Most of the parts on these stainless steel gravity filters are interchangeable.

    1. Hi, Marian! My experience has been that the water stays at about room temperature. So if you want cool or cold filtered drinking water, you’ll want to dispense it into another container and keep it in the fridge.

  5. Do you have to keep the filters moist to keep them from drying out? I’ve read (rumor) you have to do that for the Alexa pure and for the Berkey fluoride filters or else they’ll dry up and go bad (also rumors).

    1. Hi, Jimmy! I have also heard that about the Alexapure filters, but not the Berkey fluoride filters. My Berkey fluoride filters never dried out while I was using them. I think it would take a long time for them to dry out if you’re using it on a daily basis. But it’s always best to keep water in the upper chamber. The filters work more efficiently that way.

  6. Hi, Marge,
    What I would like to know is if the CeraMetix filter retains electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium, etc. or if it removes them along with everything else.
    Thanks,
    Tom Herman

    1. Hi, Tom! Great question. Yes, it retains the electrolytes. CeraMetix does not remove beneficial minerals from the water. None of the gravity type filters do, nor do any others that use carbon. To remove minerals, you need to use a distiller or reverse osmosis.

      I’m glad you asked this because I forgot to include that information in the post, and I will add it.

  7. Hi again Marge,

    I guess I don’t fully understand why a company that is bigger like Berkey wouldn’t want to invest in the NSF certification because if they pass, then it would allow them to apply the seal plus have more credibility.

    The non-profit NSF was set in place to protect consumers from fraud in California.

    Have you happened to use a water testing kit on your water treated by the Berkey or AquaCera systems to see if the results match up with theirs?

    Thanks for your time.

    1. No, I haven’t, but maybe I will. The problem is that home water test kits only indicate the presence of certain substances, not how much there is. So you wouldn’t be able to compare the reduction percentage. Home testing and laboratory testing aren’t really comparable.

  8. Hi Marge,

    I went to AuaCera’s website looking for lab testing data and it is nowhere to be found. Why don’t they freely display this?
    Also, neither of these systems are NSF certified so how can you truly trust them?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi, Nicky! I don’t know why the lab test results aren’t available at AquaCera’s website. Some of the other manufacturers do, so I think they would do well to follow suit. I do have copies of the Envirotek Laboratories test results for the AquaMetix and CeraMetix filters in my possession which they sent me with the unit I tried out. They might provide them to you if you were to contact them.

      As far as NSF certification goes, I’ll refer you to another post for my explanation about why some companies don’t go the certification route and why NSF certification isn’t all that important. Here’s the link directly to that section of the post: https://thesafehealthyhome.com/best-home-water-filter/#tab-con-7

      Thanks for stopping by and for your great questions!

  9. Hi Marge! Thank you for your extremely thorough reviews of this system as well as the four previous ones. These are so, so helpful!

    I’m wondering a couple of things, though:

    1) The chart above shows that the CeraMetix filter does not reduce nitrites at all, while the AquaMetix filter (which I think is the core of the CeraMetix filter) reduces them by 99.9%. Is this a typo in the table?

    2) What is the AquaMetix filter made of? I see that the CeraPlus is a coconut shell granulated activated carbon core with a ceramic shell. Is the AquaMetix filter a solid block carbon filter? If so, is the carbon from coconut shell, or something else?

    Thank you so much for all of your hard work!!

    1. Hi, Jewelwing!

      Aack! Yes, the CeraMetix does reduce nitrites. Thanks very much for pointing out that discrepancy. It is a typo in the table, and I’m going to fix it right away.

      According to the AquaMetix data sheet, the filter is made of “A proprietary matrix comprising of at least two types of activated carbon, combined with proprietary Zeolite minerals, structurally bound with polymers into a highly porous block filter form.”

      I’m not sure if the carbon is coconut shell, but that’s generally what carbon water filters are made from. I’ll try to find out and give an update here.

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About the Author

I'm a healthy living blogger who loves to help people who care about having a healthy home environment make smart choices and save money. Read more