Big Berkey Water Filter Review: Worth the Money in 2023?

We’ve set up, tested and reviewed the Big Berkey filter to create this guide. If you’re considering buying a water filter, this is the review you want to read. You’ll learn the features of the Big Berkey that you need to know, how this product compares to similar models, and where it’s best used.

  • Contaminants Removed: 200+
  • Certifications: –
  • Process: Carbon + Ion Exchange
  • Filtration Capacity: 3,000 gallons/ cartridge
  • Annual Cost: ~$40
  • Warranty: Lifetime

Overview of the Big Berkey Water Filter

The Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter is a stainless-steel portable water purification system designed for use by up to four people.  The Water Purifier System uses gravity to push water through filter media, removing more than 200 contaminants from your water supply.

Berkey’s countertop water filters are unlike any we’ve used before. It’s easy to use: just fill it with water, and wait for it to do the filtering. No matter where you decide to place it, the Big Berkey will never be more than an arm’s length away.

This Berkey water purifier is 19.25 inches tall, so it’s not very compact. This is a great product because you don’t need to connect the Big Berkey to your sink, so it? The Gravity Berkey filters are slow-moving, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The best seller is dependent on your preferences. A: Here’s a quick breakdown of how to do it.

Big Berkey water filter sitting on countertop


The Berkey filter comes in a variety of different sizes, from tiny travel units to larger counter systems. The most popular choice for buying a home carbon filter is the Big Berkey. It is the number one seller in the industry today. We start off by looking at the key features of the Big Berkey.

Stainless steel filter unit

The Big Berkey is around 4 times the size of your average water pitcher, and can hold up to 2.25 gallons in the lower reservoir. It’s made from stainless steel, so it’s durable and BPA-free (although some customers complained about rusting – more on that later).

2 Black Berkey elements

The Big Berkey comes with two black Berkey elements, which are tested in an EPA-approved laboratory and shown to meet the NSF/ANSI Standard 42 (for chlorine, tastes, and odors), and NSF/ANSI Standard 53 (for contaminants with health effects).

Your countertop drinking water filter needs to be rated for about 7 GPH. That’s bang-on average for a countertop drinking water system.

User manual

Berkey filters in top water chamber

The Big Berkey filter system is easy to set up and maintain, and provides many benefits, including filtering water for drinking and cooking, as well as making water safe for livestock and other animals. It also keeps bacteria from entering water.


Countertop filtration systems are evaluated based on their performance in three important areas: flow rate, contaminants removed, and filter lifespan. We know what to look for in a filter. Counter-top water filters are pretty popular, and the Berkey is one of the best-known brands. It’s easy to set up, easy to use, and easy to clean, so it should be at the top of your list.

To clean your drinking water, use a water filtration system that uses “elements.

If you’re looking for a water filter that removes a wide range of contaminants, but you don’t want to spend $1,000 on a reverse osmosis system, the Big Berkey is a great choice to consider. It isn’t the best option for removing arsenic or fluoride, though.

Berkey offers a separate PF2 fluoride filter that removes arsenic and fluoride up to 97%.

Berkey PF2 fluoride filters next to filter system

There are many home filtration systems available, and they all work by drawing water through the filter and down into the holding tank or sink using gravity. However, the Big Berkey system is different. It relies on a counter-pressure pump to create a negative pressure which pushes water from the water supply through the filter.

The best filter for reducing contaminants in a full batch of water is the Black Berkey filters. You should expect to wait up to three hours for them. The 7-GPH water flow rate is comparable to most other countertop systems, so it is not below average or excellent.

The tank has a good capacity of 2.25 gallons. It takes only one filling of the chamber each day to last all day long. A Berkey element filter can last anywhere from 3,000 to 6,000 gallons (1,500 to 3,000 gallons each) or 3 years. This is much longer than most water filters and is much better suited to the longer times between water changes, as Berkey recommends. The most-read post on Inc.

The number of people who have been killed by contaminated water varies tremendously and is dependent on a variety of factors, including the type of filter used and the amount of contaminants present.

We think this is an outstanding e-book that’s worth every penny and you’ll want to read it multiple times. Berkey filters check every box for flow rate, contaminant removal, and longevity. Although we wish you didn’t have to buy a separate filter for good fluoride and arsenic removal.

using berkey water filter with stream water

Berkey Model Variations

You have several options in terms of Berkey models. Some are variations on the Big Berkey – for instance, the Imperial Berkey is just a larger version of the Big Berkey. Different, however, such as the Travel Berkey and the Berkey Light, have slightly different designs, features, and purposes.

Filter Elements Info

Berkey’s best-selling filter element is the Black Berkey Elements. What do the three different sets of filters in the Berkey are, and which do you need?

Black Berkey Filters

The Black Berkey filtration system is one of the most effective, tested ways to filter your water, and has an impressive lifespan of up to 3,000 gallons. It has been tested to reduce more than 200 contaminants, including 2.9% of all bacteria and 3.999% of viruses.

This filter is one of the best water filters available because it can remove over 99% of bacteria and other contaminants. It is also one of the longest lasting, as it has a lifespan of around 10 years.

Our current number one gravity countertop water filtration device is the Berkey water filter system. It’s been on our top-10 list for almost 15 years now.Morphological changes in rat submandibular glands after irradiation with low-dose X rays.

You can find the best gravity water filter in our best gravity water filter guide. The Black Berkey elements have millions of tiny pores that allow only the smallest water particles to travel through.

Berkey claims that its filters use a combination of coconut shell carbon and five other types of media (the company doesn’t disclose what any of these media are), and this method keeps the filter free of pollutants and bacteria.

We’ve known for years that activated carbon removes chlorine from drinking water. And we know that pesticides in home tap water are harmful to our health. So we need a method to remove these chemicals in our drinking water. That’s why it makes sense to use a carbon filter in our homes.

Ion exchange is a great choice for gravity filters, and it is becoming a popular media choice. The Black Berkey elements can be bought as a set of two for around $170. A fair price to pay given their performance benefits and lifespan.

PF2 Fluoride Filters

If the Black Berkey water filters are a mandatory inclusion, then you need to get them right now. They are the best way to ensure that your tap water is clean and free of all contaminants. You must install them into your drinking water systems to have a working system. The Berkey filters are an added bonus if you’re looking for that little bit extra from your system.

If your water has a fluoride level of above 0.5mg/l, it may be beneficial to add more fluoride to your water as the amount in bottled water isn’t sufficient. This system actually filters 99.99999% fluoride, so pretty much all of it.

Berkey uses their carbon filters to remove up to 99.9% of arsenic from drinking water. It’s easy to set up your own home delivery program, and when you do, you can sell to customers in more than 90 countries worldwide.

Contaminants Removed

The Berkey water filtration system is one of the most effective filter options out there and can remove the majority of viruses and pathogenic bacteria from water. It’s one of the best ways to prevent the growth of algae, which is also a good way to keep your pool or spa crystal clear.

To find out more about the full benefits of Berkey’s filtration capabilities, check out this link. This is an overview of what these water filters remove. What are your thoughts? Do you have any recommendations for me to improve my content?

Assembly & Maintenance

It took us about an hour to assemble the Berkey system, including priming the filters. It’s definitely not the easiest system to use, but it’s also not the least expensive. Now that we know what we’re doing, we reckon we could probably do it faster in the future.

The biggest job you’ll have to do is the priming: flushing out the filters to get rid of any lingering particles. You can prime the Berkey filters if you need to, but it’s pretty easy. The Berkey filters have a life of up to 6,000 gallons per pair.

A Berkey water filter can last for up to 1,500 gallons, so if you’re planning to use this water for cooking, bathing or other household purposes, it’s a good option. Also, it’s recommended that you clean the stainless steel Berkey chamber once a month, and clean the filters once a year, or when they begin to filter water slowly.

The Berkey Filter Package: What’s Included?

When you buy a Berkey purified water filter system, you’ll get:

  • Upper and lower stainless steel chambers
  • Stainless steel lid
  • 2 Black Berkey purification elements
  • 2 washers
  • 2 wing nuts
  • Plastic spigot
  • Rubber gasket
  • Priming button

How to Assemble a Berkey Filter

If you have the Big Berkey water filtration system or one of the larger or smaller options, assembly follows the same process:

Wash your hands, then wash the unit. Wash the filters separately and wash them again later. Remove the Black Berkey’s filter elements and place them on a clean surface. Screw the lid knob in place. Fit the lid knob into place, tighten with your hand (don’t use tools for this!).

Prime your Black Berkey filter elements. Screw each element into its base using the wing nuts, and insert the sealing washer onto each element. If there are empty element holes, you must use blocking plugs to prevent water from passing through. If your filter is not large enough to fit all 4, use additional filters to increase the size of your filter.

Insert a rubber washer into the threaded section of the outlet tap or spigot, and then attach this threaded section to the unit at the side of the lower chamber. Screw in the second washer to the second hole in the water spigot.

Set the upper chamber on top of the lower chamber, and add the lid. The system is now ready for use.

Priming the Filter Elements

It’s essential that you prepare the elements for Berkey water filters before you start your installation. When you purchase the elements, they’re filled with trapped air that increases surface tension and makes them stickier. Gravity’s too weak to allow the trapped air to escape. So you’ll find that your bottle is stuck in the filter.

Cleaning the Filters

It’s just as important to clean your filters regularly as it is to prime them. We switched to using the Berkey filters to help maintain the efficiency of the Berkey Water Filter System. To learn more about how to clean the Berkey filters, check out our guide.

Compare Berkey vs. Other Top Gravity Filter Brands

Berkey is one of the most popular water filters, but it’s also one of the most popular because it does so much more than others. How to add items to an array using a variable? Yes, you will pay more for Berkey water filters, but their elements last longer, they filter a much broader range of contaminants, and their product testing has always proven them to be the best.

Pros & Cons

The Berkey is one of the best gravity-fed water filtration solutions we’ve seen, but it does still have some drawbacks that are worth noting. Here are the advantages and disadvantages to consider when choosing between the two companies.


We love that the Berkey filter element lasts 6,000 gallons / 3 years for a pair. The best gravity-fed filters are often made of a plastic material, and they usually last 20 weeks, maximum, while the Berkey will give you an average life of 35+ years.

Some of the most difficult contaminants to remove from water include herbicides, pesticides, lead, arsenic, and even bacteria! No other counter filter will remove pathogens as well as this one.

The Berkey filters are high quality, so you don’t need to be checking your water nearly as frequently as you do with your standard filtration system. They’re free of plastic, making them safer for your health.

While it does require connecting the Berkey system up to a faucet, this is a great benefit since it eliminates having to plug the Berkey into a sink. The Berkey is great for well water use. It’s suitable for well water use, which makes it ideal for those living off the grid.

The fluoride filter elements are a nice addition. Berkey water filters are the best option for anyone who is dealing with major fluoride issues. If you have a question about the fluoride issue in your water, you’ll find an answer here.


Although each Berkey system is bigger than others, they’re all pretty big. In most cases, you can easily reduce the size of your storage by half when it’s not in use. With its high price point, this gravity filter is probably not for most people, but if you have a few dollars to spend and want the best filtration possible.

We did a water displacement test, and it took about 120 minutes for all the water in the top chamber to get to the bottom chamber. We thought the filters were expensive and didn’t offer any benefit.

We noticed that when the upper chamber was full, water would continue to flow down into the lower chamber even after we’d removed the cap, so we were careful to remove the cap before filling the bottom chamber completely.

In fact, you can’t actually see how much water is left in the bottom chamber. You may think you can, but it’s not so easy to do.

If you don’t want to spend $50 on a sight glass, then check to make sure that the top chamber of your bucket filter is completely closed before you pour in the water. That’ll save you from having to dig it out later.

Cleaning your elements can be a drag. That’s why we developed the Element Flow Meter to make it easier for you to check your element flow on a regular basis. You’ll get a clear and accurate idea of what’s going on without having to spend time manually cleaning your elements.

We’re not so keen on the fact that the systems don’t have official NSF/ANSI testing or certifications.

In the end, we think the Berkey system is a good choice for most people. It has a few drawbacks and is not perfect, but it’s also pretty affordable, and it does the job well for most people.

The “Berkey Water Filter Scam”

berkey water filter reviews

Berkey water purification systems have received a good deal of criticism from those who believe they are not true purifiers. Some people think Berkey has nothing to do with pure water, and that they are just marketing hype.

Although Berkey claims that it doesn’t use NSF/ANSI certified testing, the company has been accused of scamming customers by using “independent” laboratories to certify its equipment, which in many cases it has.

While the Berkey systems have shown in tests that they remove impurities with health effects, they don’t have an official NSF/ANSI certification. Berkey has been sued by its competitors, and their claims are so convincing that California has banned the sale of certain Berkey products, and Iowa has no Berkey products at all.

Some states don’t allow Berkey units but this appears to be down to state law. Berkey offers an independent certification that tests its filters far more rigorously than the NSF/ANSI standard. Additionally, Berkey’s decision to not sell its products in California and Iowa is because of the high cost of NSF/ANSI certification (a requirement in those states).

Is a Berkey Filter Right for You?

While the Berkey systems are undoubtedly some of the best available, that doesn’t mean they’re the right fit for your family.

You should buy the Berkey if you get your water from a public water system, or if you live in a part of the world with known lead problems. If you have a smaller, cheaper countertop filter and are looking to upgrade, the Berkey is the system for you. It’s easy to install, use, and maintain, and it’s cheaper than bottled water.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often are filter changes required?

On average, you’ll need to replace your Berkey elements every 6,000 gallons. It depends on a few factors, including the quality and content of the source water, how many filters you are using (2 or 4), and how often you are refilling your filter.

How long can the water sit in the holding chamber after being filtered?

Berkey says not to let water sit in the system for more than three days. If the case is leaking, get rid of the old water and clean the filter.

Does the Berkey system affect the pH of the water?

There are three reasons why you wouldn’t want to use these filters in your household. They both remove acids and alkalis, but they also balance each other out by removing these contaminants.

Does this filter remove fluoride?

Of course, the Berkey Water Filters are able to remove fluoride, but if your water’s test results show that it has particularly high levels of fluoride, you will need to get some PF-2 fluoride filters to remove the fluoride from your water.

The three are available individually and each has a 1-year lifespan.

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