Big Berkey gravity water filter

I've owned a Berkey water filter for years, and I'm a big fan.

Earlier, I wrote the Berkey Water Filter Buyers Guide covering all six models and how to choose the right one. But since the Big Berkey is the most popular one, I thought it should get its own post.


Don't have time to read, and just want to know the price? Check at Amazon here or at The Berkey here.

If you're thinking about buying a Big Berkey water filter, you probably have some questions you want answered. Well, you're not the only one! 

I took a look around the Internet and found what people are asking about it. Then I picked some of the best questions and listed them below along with the answers. You'll find a lot of information here that will help you decide if you want to invest in a Big Berkey.

1. Who makes Berkey water filters?

Berkey water filters are manufactured by New Millennium Concepts, Ltd. in Arlington, Texas. The black Berkey filters are made in the USA. The stainless steel housings are assembled from US parts and imported parts. None of the parts are made in China.

2. How does a Berkey filter work?

disassembled stainless steel Berkey gravity filter

The basic Berkey water filter comes with what you see here. Shop at for systems, accessories, and special deals.

Berkey filters work primarily by using two technologies: microfiltration and adsorption.

Each filter has millions of microscopic pores that are big enough to allow water molecules to pass through but small enough to block many contaminants. That's the microfiltration part.

Adsorption (to quote Simple English Wikipediais the sticking of atoms or molecules to a surface. Molecules of contaminants that are smaller than the pores get stuck onto the filtration media, and they can't pass through with the water. So, microfiltration and adsorption work together to eliminate a wide variety of contaminants from the water as gravity pulls it down through the system.

To use it, all you have to do it take off the lid and fill the upper chamber with water. The water drips down to the lower chamber, and you dispense it through a spigot.

3. What contaminants does it remove?

A Berkey water filter system reduces way too many contaminants to list. For starters, though, it works on sediment and rust as well as all kinds of organic and inorganic contaminants like bacteria and viruses, parasites, cysts, heavy metals, radiological contaminants, and chemicals. It also eliminates bad tastes and smells

The Black Berkey water filters remove both chlorine and chloramine. This is especially important if you're on city water. (Suggested Reading: Chlorine vs Chloramine in Drinking Water: What’s the Difference and Why Does It Matter?)

A Berkey water filter can reduce fluoride if you add the optional PF-2 fluoride and arsenic filters. They will reduce the fluoride by 98%. Please note that the black Berkey water filters can't remove fluoride on their own.

See my article Quick Guide to Berkey Water Filter Contaminant Removal for an easy to understand infographic about the kinds of contaminants the Berkey can filter out. 

And, if you'd like to see the independent lab test results for Berkey filters, you can access them here. You'll see why I haven't listed everything the purification elements can do!

4. Does a Berkey system remove minerals?

No. Healthy minerals are not filtered out. That's true of any carbon based water filter. 

5. Does a Berkey filter increase alkalinity?

Yes, it does raise it a little because it eliminates contaminants that tend to make water more acidic. Several factors play into the pH level of the filtered water, including the pH of the prefiltered water.

6. How many filters does Big Berkey have?

It comes with two black Berkey filter elements, but it can hold up to four. You can also add up to four PF-2 fluoride and arsenic filters, corresponding to the number of black Berkey filters you're using.

7. How big is it and how many gallons does it hold?

When assembled, the Big Berkey is 19" tall and has a diameter of 8.5". It has a total capacity of 2.25 gallons and is recommended for individuals or groups of up to 4 people.

8. How long does it take to filter water?

If it has 2 black Berkey filters and if the upper chamber is filled to the top, it can theoretically filter 3.5 gallons per hour. However, as the water level in the top goes down, the flow rate also decreases. That's why it's best to fill it all the way to the top and keep refilling it often. You can also speed up the process by adding more filters.

9. How do you assemble a Berkey system?

It's very simple. First you prime the filters by flushing them with water. Then you place the black filters in the upper chamber and secure them with the provided wingnuts and washers. The optional fluoride filters screw right on to them. Attach the spigot to the lower chamber, place the top chamber on the lower one, and you're good to go.

10. How do you prime the filters?

You do this by flushing them with water from kitchen faucet. Warning: Prepare to get wet! I've never succeeded at priming the filters without spraying water all over myself and the kitchen. This is the only gripe I have with Berkey.

Good News! -

Berkey has introduced a new hand pump to make the job much easier and to keep you dry. You don't have to be at the kitchen sink to prime the filters, either. You just need to have a container of water to put the filter in while you prime it.

The pump is made for the black filters only. It won't work with the optional fluoride filters. 

Black Berkey Primer

Stay dry with a Black Berkey Primer from

So do yourself a favor and get yourself a Black Berkey Primer to go along with the filters. Check the price at Amazon or at The Berkey.

11. How long do the filters last?

It depends on your usage. Each Black Berkey filter has a life of 3,000 gallons. That means that if you have 2 filter elements and use 3 gallons a day, they will last over 5 years. A pair of fluoride filters should be replaced every 1,000 gallons. At 3 gallons a day that's about once every 11 months.

When you calculate the cost per gallon based on the price of the replacement filters, you get a cost of about 2¢ per gallon of filtered water with the Black Berkey filters only. If you want add on the PF-2 fluoride/arsenic filters, the cost increases to about 7¢ per gallon.

12. How do you clean it?

Your Berkey water filter will need a little bit of maintenance. You can clean the stainless steel container with some mild soap and water or diluted white vinegar.

When the black Berkey filters need a cleaning, you just scrub them with plain water, using one of those scratchy green scrubbing pads. And by the way, if the flow rate slows way down, there's a good chance that you need to clean those filters. Always try that first before assuming that they're worn out.

The fluoride filters aren't washable, in case you're wondering. When they've come to the end of their life, they should be replaced.

13. What kind of water can you use?

Besides tap water, you can use water from rivers, ponds and lakes. This is really great for people who want to be prepared for emergencies. It also makes it ideal for camping or for off-grid living.

But it doesn't desalinate, so don't try to use a Berkey filter with ocean water. If you put salt water into it you will ruin the filters. Don't put water from a saltwater pool into a Berkey, either.

You can filter hard water, but it won't soften the water. Hard water results from minerals in the water. Berkey doesn't remove healthy minerals, so if you put hard water in, it's going to stay hard. 

If you have a problem with sulfur or iron in well water, you'll be interested to know that it will reduce those elements quite a bit. It won't remove them completely, but the taste and smell will be noticeably better.

14. What warranty does Berkey have?

The manufacturer warranty is 12 months on the system and PF-2 fluoride/arsenic filters and 2 years on black Berkey filters.

15. Where can I buy a Big Berkey?

Last time I checked, the manufacturer, New Millenium Concepts, was no longer selling their products directly. This happened, I believe, in late 2018. If you go there, you'll see that they tell you to buy from other online retailers or authorized distributors. 

Speaking of authorized distributors - I recommend one called The Berkey. They often have special offers on systems, replacement filters and parts, and accessories.

Click here to check out the offers at The Berkey.

Click here to see the current price of the Big Berkey and any available discounts at Amazon.

I hope these Q&As covered what you need to know about the Big Berkey in order to make an informed decision. But if there's something I missed, leave a comment and I'll try to find the answer for you.

For more information, you can read my Berkey water filter review and buyers guide.

If you'd like to see how the Big Berkey filter stacks up against its competitors, please see Best Countertop Gravity Water Filters

Last Updated on January 19, 2024

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  1. Since last summer, my Berky bottom container for some reason smells very chemical. I am changed both the fluoride filters and the black filters.
    And washed it thoroughly???

  2. Hello,
    I purchased a Royal Berkey with the Black Filters back in March, 2022. It seemed to be working fine. In October I added to PF-Flouride filters, and now it seems that every couple of weeks, the Berkey stops filtering the lower half of the top chamber. I have broken it down, scrubbed and re-primed all filters a few times now, but as I sit here…there is still about 1/2 water filled in the top chamber, and the lower chamber is very low, and the water from the top chamber should have filtered completely over night. Is it normal to have to break it down, clean the filters, re-prime the filters, and put it back together every few weeks? Is there something wrong? Please advise.

  3. I am having a stressful time first use ,
    the white pf2 filters ,
    I took of the plastic wrapping around them ,
    and on a video I watched ,they left them on
    have I ruined them

    1. Hi Liz! I don’t know what video you watched, but you should take the outer wrapper off. I don’t know how you could use them otherwise. And the instructions are to wash the PF2 filters with mild dish soap before priming and using. Hope this helps!

  4. My Big Berkey came qith 2 plugs that look like ear plugs for the extra holes. This does not seem sanitary to me. How can I get the white plugs? Were they just left out or is this the new way to plug the extra holes? I'm not a happy camper right now. Please enlighten me.

  5. What do I do with Berkey if I’m gone for two weeks and not able fill it?
    Will the filters get moldy?
    How long can I safely leave it without filling it?

    1. Copying and pasting from the Berkey Filters website:

      We recommended storing the Black Berkey Filters for four or more days if they will not be in use. Below you will find the proper method of storing the Black Berkey Filters depending on the time the filters will not be used. It is best to empty both chambers before storing because anytime water sits, it becomes stagnant, which can grow bacteria. You may consider washing your chambers with soapy water before leaving them to dry. Unused and unopened Black Berkey Purification Elements theoretically have an indefinite shelf-life. We recommend storing them in a dry area away from anything fragrant (laundry rooms or the garage). The filters are very powerful and can absorb odors in the air. After Use Short Term: If the filters are not used between 4 and 15 days, we advise removing them from the system, placing them into a sealable sandwich bag or container, and placing the filters in the refrigerator towards the front to ensure they do not freeze. This will allow the filters to stay primarily saturated, so minimal priming is required when they are ready to be used again.

      When you are ready to use the Black Berkey Filters again, re-prime until the exterior wall of the filter begins to sweat beads of water for 10 seconds. Long Term: If you have used your Black Berkey Filters, you should fully dry them before storing them. We offer a tool to assist in both priming and purging. This tool is called a Black Berkey Primer. The benefit of purging the Black Berkey Purification Elements is that they are dried very quickly and cleaned to a degree simultaneously. Alternatively, the filters can be dried by leaving them on a windowsill for one to three days allowing them to air-dry. The key is to ensure they are bone-dry before storing them to prevent any bacterial growth. The filtration elements are extremely powerful and can absorb odors and smoke from the air. Once dry, we recommend sealing the purification elements. This can be done with a storage bag such as a sealable sandwich bag. Packing them in a storage bag will aid in preventing the filter from absorbing any odors from the air. When you are ready to use your elements, they will need to be re-primed by scrubbing them clean with a 3M Scotch-Brite (TM) pad or stiff brush. In theory, the shelf life of the elements is indefinite. **Please note that the storage methods above apply only to the Black Berkey Purification Elements. ** When storing the chambers of your Berkey system, it is best to empty both chambers before storing them because anytime water is still, it becomes stagnant and can produce bacteria. We recommend washing your Berkey system with soapy water before leaving it to dry.

    1. Hi Dawnielle! I imagine if you dropped it or hit it with something it would dent. But under normal circumstances, no, they don’t dent easily. I’ve never dented mine.

  6. I have a Big Berkey with two Black Berkey filters and also the PF-2 filters… I have tested my regular tap water for PPM and also the Berkey filtered water and they are about the same number.. does that sound right..?.. is the the Berkey system supposed to reduce the overall PPM number after filtering it…?…Thanks

    1. Hi Randall! I assume you’re talking about TDS (total dissolved solids)? TDS is not a good measurement of water quality. TDS includes beneficial minerals, which Berkey and similar filters do not remove from the water. “When a TDS meter is used on Berkey Water, the reading both before and after the water has gone through the system is about the same. This is because the Berkey filters leave beneficial minerals (a TDS) in your water. This will be the case unless you have a significant amount of heavy metals or sedimentary minerals in your pre-filtered water.” (quoted from FAQs at Berkey

  7. If you use water from a pond what doe’s the filters remove. Is it safe to drink or do you have to boil it first?
    Are there certain types of filters that work better for this application?

    1. Hi Kevin! The filters remove the contaminants mentioned in the article. There is no need to boil it first. However, if the water is silty or has other debris in it, it would be best to run it through cheesecloth or some other kind of pre-filter first. That’s just to keep the filters from quickly clogging up. The Black Berkey filters are perfect for this application.

  8. Hello. I want to ask if there are any tests of the effectiveness of the filters after a long period of use. Is it certain that the filters are working properly after a year, for example? Thank you for answer.

    1. Hi, George! That’s a good question. I would think that the manufacturer has done this kind of testing, and that’s how they come up with the estimated filter life and recommendations for when to replace them. I’ve never come across any information about independent parties doing their own testing after a long period of time.

  9. Hi, I live in an area where my tap water is around Ph 7.7. Apparently that Ph is fairly typical in cities.
    Do you know how much % fluoride would be filtered out of my water. I know that the fluoride filter becomes less effective once the Ph goes up above 5-7. When the water is at Ph 5 there is roughly a 98% removal. How much removal would there be in the Ph 7.7 range do you think? Any insight would be appreciated!

    1. Hi, Nancy! I can’t say exactly, but I would think it will reduce a good bit of the fluoride. The only way for you to be sure is to test your water. I suppose you could treat your water somehow to make it more acidic before putting it in the Berkey, but that isn’t very practical. Have you thought about using reverse osmosis instead? That’s another option that might work for you.

  10. Once the top chamber is low, can I refill it even if I have not used water from the bottom chamber? I guess what I, asking is can the bottom chamber and top chamber both be full?

    1. Hi, Karen! Yes, you want to add more to the top before the bottom is completely empty. The filters work more efficiently if the top is full. Just don’t overfill it, or it might overflow. You can’t have both chambers full at the same time. I’ve done that before! As you use your Berkey, you’ll get a feel for how much water is the right balance between the top and bottom.

  11. I am planning on having this on a shelf and using continuously. Can i just keep re filling and use it this way or are you suppose to empty into a separate container? Thank you 🙂

    1. Hi, Jill! Yes, just keep refilling it and dispense it out of the bottom via the spigot as you need it. Of course, you can always put the filtered water in another container, especially if you want it chilled. Also, remember that it’s very slow filtering, so don’t wait until the bottom is empty to refill it.

  12. Hi Ms. Sweigart: Your hard work is evident from not just the filter details you have provided but also from the patient/complete and helpful replies to readers’ questions.

    Thanks and best wishes for this site to succeed,


    1. Hi, Nancy! There’s no set time limit to how long you can keep water in the bottom chamber. But I wouldn’t keep it in there any longer than any other kind of container that’s not sealed. If you’re continually using the water and refilling, this shouldn’t be an issue.

      You don’t need to run it dry before refilling. In fact, that is counterproductive. It works most efficiently when the top chamber is full. I recommend refilling it at least daily.

  13. Wonderful review, thank you so much. Helped me choose and buy (via your link) within about 30 minutes. I had heard of Berkey but didn’t really understand the benefits. I love the fact that it is very easy to use, has no installation and can be used in emergencies. Great work. 🙂

  14. Hello,

    Thanks for running a great site. I just got a Big Berkey and primed the 2 black filters until they beaded (sweated) out from the filters for at least 5 seconds. I then filled the uni to the top, but the top tank is now 2/3rds empty after just 10 -12 minutes. Is this too fast? I have the two plugs firmly pressed into the other filter holes so I dont think water can be getting through there. Any advice would be appreciated.


    Geoffrey Smith

    1. Hi, Geoffrey! Yeah, that seems way too fast. It should just be a slow drip. Lift the top chamber up and see if there’s water escaping around the filters. Maybe they’re not tight enough. And check to make sure you have the filter installed properly, with the washer in the right location. It should be on the upper chamber side. If you’re still having problems, contact the manufacturer.

      1. Dear Marge,

        Thanks for the answer. Checked the filters for leakage – none, and washers in the right way. Reassembled it all, and did a flow test. At 0 minutes with a full tank it was 1/2 gone 22mins later (a steady flow not slow drops), 23/rds gone at 32 mins (slightly slower flow, but still a flow) but then slowed right down to a slow drip so that we reached 3/4 a full 20 minutes later at 52 mins, then effectively empty (about 1′ remaining) at 1 hour 17 mins.
        How does this flow rate sound to you? Much faster at the front due to water pressure of course, but still too fast?



  15. I was so looking forward to using by Berkey. Unfortunately it has failed the red dye test multiple times despite my having followed the online directions and help from customer representative. BOth of my carbon filters are defective! The manufacturers system to receive replacement filters is designed to discourage problem solving. So far i have invested much time with no resolution in sight. I am so disappointed!

    1. Hi, Nancy! I’m sorry you’re having problems with your filters. That’s not typical. I hope you’re able to get it resolved.

  16. I live in Texas and have very hard water, I am ready to use the Berkey for all my water use. Will the water work for my coffee maker which I have been using distilled water or can I use the Berkey water instead and not have the problem with the calcium which gets our coffee maker, and Keurig clogged up. Thank you.

    1. Hi, Connie! Berkey does not remove minerals, so you’d still have the same problem with mineral buildup on your appliances. You’d be better off sticking with distilled water for those. Maybe you’d want to consider buying a home water distiller so you don’t have to buy it in jugs.

  17. I would like to know if the filters( black ones) contain salt? Funny thing is every time I decide to use the Berkey and drink the water, my blood pressure shoots up, so wondering what the filters are made of. I usually have a low blood pressure.

    1. Hi, Anke! Well, that’s a new one! But, as they say, “Correlation is not causation.” says the Black Berkey elements are a “Carbon composite containing high-grade coconut shell carbon combined with a proprietary blend of 5 other types of media.”

    1. Hi, Connie! It’s hard to say without knowing more details. What do you mean by “forever”? How long have you had your Berkey? Is this the first time you’ve scrubbed the filters? How old are they? Maybe they need to be replaced. You might want to contact the manufacturer if you think there’s a problem with them. Or take a look at the FAQs at

  18. Hi Marge, we started using our Berkey a few months ago. Today, I accidentally filled it with hot water from the tap. Do you think the filters will be ok or should we replace? Thanks

    1. Hi, Phyllis! I’m sorry that happened. I know you’re not supposed to put hot water in the Berkey because it can damage the filters. But I’d suggest trying to use them and see how they do. Maybe your hot tap water isn’t so hot that it would ruin them. You could try the red food color test to make sure they’re still working ok. It tells you how to do that in the user manual. You also might want to contact Berkey and see what they say. Let me know how it works out.

  19. Hi Marge,
    I have an Opal Ice Maker and it recommends distilled water. I am tired of buying, hauling, and disposing of plastic bottles. I was looking at countertop distilled waters, but I was wondering if the Berkey water is as pure as the distilled water. My brains are fried trying to compare so many different ones and this sounds like it would be so much easier.

    Thank you,

    1. Hi, Chery! The biggest difference between the Berkey and a distiller is that the Berkey leaves minerals in the water, while a distiller removes absolutely everything. I’m guessing that the ice maker manufacturer recommends distilled water because the minerals can build up in the appliance.

  20. I need to know if silver ends up in the filtered water. Ingesting silver on a daily basis is against health. While using a ceramic silver infused filter I have observed some indications that there could be silver in the water. I think we all need to know the answer to this question. thank you.
    that could be a result of silver in the water

  21. I bought the Berkley Filter about a year and a half ago. My filters have already stopped working. They both failed the red dye test. I replaced them and I can’t get the new ones to filter enough water to fill the lower tank. I primed them before using. Do you have any suggestions?

    1. Wow, Alicia, I’m sorry to hear you’re having problems with your Berkey. It’s hard to say what’s causing it without knowing more about your situation. Are you using the Black Berkey filter elements? Fluoride filters? What kind of water source are you using? Are you keeping the top chamber full of water? It works best if it’s at least half full. Did you try priming a second time? Your new filters should be under warranty for 12 months. I would suggest contacting the manufacturer or distributor that you bought them from because difficulty like this is not normal. Where did you buy them?

  22. Hi Marge,
    Thank you for all your great answers.
    I just bought a Big Berkey for a lake cottage. Is it possible to leave water for up to 10 days between trips to the cottage?
    Should we dump the water and run fresh water? Berkey says to do that if it sits for 3 days.

    1. Hi, Lauren! Yes, I would empty it if you’re not going to be using it for that long. It’s always best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions. At, they say this:

      Short Term: If the filters will not be used between 4 and 15 days we advise removing them from the system and placing them into a sealable sandwich bag or container and placing the filters in the refrigerator towards the front to ensure they do not freeze. This will allow the filters to stay mostly saturated so that minimal priming is required when they are ready to be used again. When you are ready to use the Black Berkey Filters again, re-prime until the exterior wall of the filter begins to sweat beads of water for 10 seconds. (source)

  23. Hello,
    I believe you have the Imperial Berkey.. How do you travel with it to always have clean water on hand? I’m debating whether to get a Royal or Imperial but I would also like one that I can travel with. Do you know which size is the largest that fits in carry-on ha 🙂
    Is the Imperial as intimidating as it seems or would you still stick with that large size after having it for years now? – any negatives to having a large size?

    Also, any tips on how to make the Berkey last a long time – how many times do you clean the interior, do you use a natural soap, etc?
    Thank you x

    1. Hi, Ive!

      I don’t travel with the Imperial Berkey. When I travel by car, I take along a pitcher style filter, like the Clearly Filtered or Aquagear. Normally I’m staying somewhere that’s on a municipal water supply, so I don’t need a survival type filter like Berkey. The Travel Berkey (link here) holds a gallon of water and would be good for taking on trips, but not if you’re flying.

      For true portability, you might want to check out the Go Berkey (link here). It holds a quart and can fit in a backpack or carry-on. It uses the same Black Berkey filter as the big systems, but it can’t accommodate a fluoride filter.

      The Imperial is big, and it’s what we needed when all our kids were still at home. Now that it’s just my husband and me, it’s more than I need, but that’s okay. I’d rather err on the side of having too much than not enough. If I were buying one today, I’d probably buy the Big Berkey. The only negative with the bigger sizes is that you might not have the space. You have to consider both the diameter and the height, and you need to have space beneath the spigot for filling your glasses and containers.

      For cleaning the interior, I just use dish soap on occasion. You could use a mild vinegar solution, too. To be honest, I don’t clean it very often – just on an as needed basis.

      Thanks for stopping by, and for the great questions!

  24. Hello!!
    Your reviews on gravity filters have been extremely helpful, I can’t quite decide on a Big Berkey or an Alexapure…I have a couple questions if you don’t mind.
    I heard something about never allowing the black berkey filters to dry out, not sure what that means, what happens when the water has filtered to the lower chamber, must you keep putting water in the upper so they’re always wet?
    If you have Pf2 filters how do you know when those need to be replaced if the black berkey filters will keep going for years? definitely don’t want to accidentally drink fluoride..
    The Alexapure uses rubber stoppers does the Berkey as well? Not sure if the rubber will leach into the water…
    Can the stainless steel spigot from berkey be used on the Alexapure?
    Lastly, any way to prevent rusting on the inside of the chambers, read many reviews on how this problem develops but given that both types use stainless steel is this preventable?

    I would GREATLY appreciate any advice 🙂
    Thank you

    1. Hi, Ivy! Great questions. I’ll try to answer as best I can.

      The Black Berkey filters work best if you keep the top chamber full. It takes quite a while for them to dry out, so I wouldn’t worry about it if you’re using it on a daily basis. I have never had mine dry out while it’s been in use. If you store it away for a while, they will dry out. But all you need to do is prime them again, like when they are new.

      The PF2 fluoride filters should be replaced every 6 months. I’d suggest just putting it on your calendar, or put a sticky note on the unit reminding you of the replacement date.

      The Berkey stoppers are plastic with rubber washers. I’m calling them “rubber”, but I’m not sure exactly what the material is. Whatever it is, I’m sure it’s safe to use.

      I think the Berkey spigot will work on the Alexapure, but I’m not absolutely positive. I’m pretty sure all those spigots are interchangeable. You might be able to compare the measurements by checking the Amazon listings. If the openings are the same size, then you’ll be able to use it.

      I don’t know what to tell you about rust. Mine has never developed rust in all the years. I’ve owned it. If it did, I would contact the manufacturer because this should not happen.

      Hope this helps!

  25. Hi Marge, thanks for all the information on your site. How long does Berkey water keep, once filtered (how many days?) Do I need to refrigerate it in any circumstance? We would use a Big Berkey and refill it once a week I guess…is water safe to drink for a few days once filtered?

    1. Hi, Marie-Béatrice! I think it depends on environmental factors where you’re using the Berkey. I have never had filtered water in the Berkey go bad, but we have always put. at least some fresh water in every day. Because the storage chamber is stainless steel, I would think you could leave it in there for a week with no problem in most cases. I do recommend topping it off daily, though, so you don’t run out. There’s no need to wait to use all the filtered water before refilling the top chamber.

  26. Hi Marge,
    I bought a Big Berkey three years ago. It’s been in storage for a little over two years. I’m wondering if I can try to prime the black filters and still use them? As long as water is running through, are there any other concerns one might have?

    1. Hi, Chase! Yes, you should be able to reuse the filters if you prime them first. If you have any doubts about whether it’s working properly, you can do the red dye test. Instructions are in your users manual.

  27. Hi Marge and thanks for taking the time to answer my questions regarding the Berkey, Propur and Nikken.

    From what I gather from your response, you must use up ALL the water in the Berkey before refilling? Versus the Propur can be topped off at any time? And what is it that I can do to make the Propur filter faster (1 hour)?

    Nikken seemed shady to me as well because they don’t publish any concrete lab results of what their purifiers take out. They focus on the mineral rocks and making the water more alkaline. Is that something I want in my water? And I’m also not a fan of keeping food or drink products in plastic.

    Thanks again for your opinions/responses!


    1. Hi Andrea! No, you don’t have to wait to use up the filtered water before refilling the Berkey. Any of the gravity filters can be topped off throughout the day. What I said applies to all brands.

      To make the Propur faster, you could add more filter elements. Same as the Berkey. But even with more filters it can only work so fast.

      For both Propur and Berkey, scrubbing the filters every now and then will help keep the water flowing.

      I personally don’t want more minerals in my water, but some people think it’s great. We get most of the minerals we need from our food, anyway.

  28. Hi again, I forgot to mention that I live in Mexico and would be using this to filter municipal water. Another brand they offer here is Nikken. Ever hear of it? Thoughts?

    1. Hi again, Andrea! I’ve heard of Nikken, but I’m not impressed. I can’t find any documentation about what contaminants it actually removes, even at the Nikken website. The seller at Amazon doesn’t seem to know much about it, either. The seller does say that you should only use it with treated water, so it doesn’t come anywhere near Berkey in terms of contaminant reduction. I does add minerals to the water, which seems to be the main feature, along with removing chlorine.

  29. Hello, I noticed that the ProPur takes a LONG time (6-7 hours) to filter the water. Whereas it seems like the Berkey can do 3.5 gallons per hour. Why such a huge discrepancy? I’d think this point alone would sway most buyers towards a Berkey, because no one has the time to wait that long for water to filter if they don’t fill up at night. Or use it all and need to wait for it to refill during the day. Am I understanding correctly?


    1. Hi Andrea! It probably takes longer for Propur because of the ceramic shell. It’s quite different from the Black Berkey filter. Also, you don’t have to wait for all the water to filter through before refilling it. The best practice is to add water throughout the day if you’re using it a lot. Or refill it with the amount that you took out. So, if you use a quart to make coffee, go ahead and put a quart of water back in at the same time. You can also increase the flow rate by adding more filter elements. The same is true with Berkey.

  30. Is there any issue with putting ice in the top chamber with the water to be filter so that it will be cold (at least for a short while)?

    1. Hi Richard! I don’t think that putting ice in the top would damage the filters, but I wouldn’t advise doing it. For one thing, it would cause condensation to form on the outside of the unit, which you might not like. And it takes a fairly long time for water to filter through a Berkey, so it probably wouldn’t be very cold anyway by the time it’s done. What I’ve always done is use filtered water to make ice cubes the old fashioned way, with ice cube trays in the freezer. If you prefer not to drink room temperature water, that’s what I’d suggest.

  31. We have the Big Berkey for 3 years and replaced the 2 black filters (we have well water). The water seems to run through rather quickly. As soon as we fill the upper chamber, you can hear it trickling into the lower chamber. Is this correct? We were worried that it’s not filtering correctly.

    1. Hi Bonnie! That’s normal when you have brand new filters and the top chamber is full. The flow tends to slow down as the filters age. Sometimes a good scrubbing will speed it up again. You can always do the red dye test if you want to make sure it’s working properly. Here are the instructions.

  32. Is it true that a certain pH is needed in the original water to see the benefits of the Berkey? I read an article that showed tap water results versus Berkey results measured at an independent lab and there was no significant change with the Berkey.

    1. Hey, Maureen! I’m not sure I can answer that question, not knowing the specifics. What kind of water did you previously put in your coffee maker? How long have you been using your Berkey? What exactly is happening with your coffee maker? Have you noticed changes in anything else where you’re using filtered water?

  33. Does the filter close tightly? I am planning on giving this as a gift and their home has ants and other small critters all around their kitchen. Would it be safe to assume no ants or roaches could get in the tank?

    1. Hi, Emma! No, the lid doesn’t have a tight fit. It’s made to just lift on and off – no threads or seal. But it’s hard to imagine ants or roaches trying to get into it since all it holds is water. There’s no food to attract them. In all my years of using a Berkey, I never had any insects getting into it. And we’ve had ant invasions and other insect pests in our house on occasion.

  34. Is it safe to boil the filtered water when using the fluoride filter because the instruction manual for the fluoride filter says not to boil elements, but I am wondering if that extends to filtered water because I would assume it contains trace elements.

    1. Hi David! The instructions say not to boil the filter elements in reference to purging them before you use them the first time. I guess they had to put that in the instructions because somewhere along the line someone must’ve thought it would be a good idea. It’s not. It will damage the filter. You should never put hot water into the system, either, for the same reason.

      It’s perfectly fine to boil the filtered water. You can use it for cooking, making coffee and tea, etc.

      Thanks for stopping by and for your question.

  35. Hello!

    This might be a silly question but would it make any sense to use filtered water in the Berkey system? I have a GE fridge with a water filter and just purchased a Big Berkey. I wanted to pour filtered water into the Berkey. Would that essentially make the water double filtered or is this idea pointless?



    1. Hi Anna! No, I don’t think there’s any point in putting filtered water into the Berkey. Berkey is going to do a more thorough job than your fridge filter. And you’ll be wearing out your fridge filter faster than you need too.

  36. Nowhere on any Berkey websites does it say “made in USA”, except for this one! When I call, they do claim “made in USA”, but they refuse to tell me WHERE. Suspicious!

    1. Hi, Nicole! Did you check the manufacturer’s website? It’s called New Millenium Concepts. On the Big Berkey page, it states clearly, “The Berkey® stainless steel chambers are assembled in the USA from US and imported parts. The Black Berkey® Purification Elements are made and assembled in the USA.” Here is the link: That’s where I got my information for this review – from the manufacturer, not a distributor. Thanks for stopping by!

  37. I live on a barrier island in Florida (Upper Captivia) it has a high sulfur content in the well water can this unit make the water safe to drink Thanks

    1. Hi Greg! I asked the manufacturer and got an answer from them.

      My question: Does the Black Berkey filter reduce sulfur in the water?

      Answer: The Black Elements are designed to leave all ionic minerals in the water, as these are generally considered to be beneficial. Sulfur is an ionic mineral, so it will be left in.

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