Berkey Water Filters Rule!
There are 3 critical items you need for survival: air, water, shelter. Food is of course required but can be delayed for weeks.
You have 48 hours to get your hands on clean water during an emergency. That's not a whole lot of time.
Luckily there's water around most of us most of the time, but in many places it's cleanliness and potability is suspect. Especially if collected from the wild or and untested source.
So what can you do about it? The easiest way: get a Berkey Water Filter.
BTW If you buy anything from links we provide on this page we might get a small percentage of the sale. For more info click here.
Always Drink Safe Water
According to the folks over at Berkey, nearly 21 million Americans drink water that violates U.S. health standards.
If you want to find out if the tap water where you live has any contaminants, enter your zip code at ewg.org.
(If you aren't familiar with the Environmental Working Group, they are a non-profit that does amazing work on all sorts of products, and the chemicals they contain. Fantastic consumer choice information site.)
If you have well water then your water quality is not subject to EPA standards under the Safe Drinking Water Act or to regular monitoring by other entities. That's probably fine since you are treating it, but are you testing it regularly? That can be expensive and time consuming.
The answer for our family has been easy: we put all water that will go into our bodies (or that we are going to cook with) into a Berkey filter and let it do its magic.
What Does a Berkey Filter Do?
The easier question to probably answer, is what can't they do?
Berkey filters can remove 200+ contaminants! See the full list of contaminant removals here.
Here's a summary:
- Viruses: Removed to >99.999% (Log 5)
- MS2 Coliphage - FR Coliphage
- *Exceeds purification standards (Log 4)
- Pathogenic Bacteria (And Surrogates): Removed to >99.9999%
- Raoultella terrigena (Pathogenic Bacteria Surrogate); Bacillus atrophaues (Anthrax Surrogate); Salmonella Enterica
- *Exceeds purification standard (Log 6)
- Trihalomethanes: Removed to >99.8%
- Bromodichloromethane; Bromoform; Chloroform: Dibromochloromethane
- *Below Lab Detectable Limits
- Inorganic Minerals
- Chloramines; Chlorine Residual (Total Residual Chlorine); & Free Chlorine >99.9%
- Chloride >99.6%
- *Removed to Below Lab Detectable Limits
- Heavy Metals (High & Low pH Levels)
- Aluminum (>99%); Antimony (>99.9%); Barium (>80%); Beryllium (>99.9%); Bismuth (>99.9%); Cadmium (>99.7%); Cobalt (>95%); Chromium (>99.9%); Chromium 6 (>99.85%); Copper (>99.9%); Iron (>99.9%); Lead (>99.9%); Mercury (>99.9%); Molybdenum (>90%); Nickel (>99.9%); Vanadium (>87.5%); Zinc (>99.9%)
- Micro-Organisms: Removed to >99.9%
- Including: Total Coliform, Fecal Coliform, e.Coli
- Pharmaceutical Drug Contaminants: Removed to >99.9%
- Acetaminophen; Caffeine; Carbamazepine; Ciprofloxacin HCl; Erythromycin USP; Sulfamethoxazole; Trimethoprim; Bisphenol A; Diclofenac Sodium; 4-para-Nonylphenol; 4-tert-Octylphenol; Primidone; Progestrone; Gemfibrozil; Ibuprofen; Naproxen Sodium; Triclosan.
- Also removes or reduces:
- Arsenic (>99.9%); Escherichia coli (E. Coli) (>99.999%); Fluorene (>99.9%); Manganese (>99.9%); MBAS (>96.67%); Nitrites (>95%); PCB s (>99.9%); Petroleum Products (Gasoline, Diesel, Crude Oil, Kerosene, Mineral Spirits, Refined Oil- All >99.9%); Selenium (>99.9%); Thallium (>99.5%); Rust; Silt; Sediment; Turbidity; Foul Tastes and Odors.
What About Fluoride?
If you want to get Fluoride out of your water, you can but you'll need to add a Berkey Fluoride Water Filter to the bottom of each of the Black Filters.
Remember if you are using more than 2 Black filters (as some of the larger kits can handle) then you will need more Fluoride filters.
How Does it Work?
Berkey filters are super easy to use. You just fill up the top half with water. We use a large pot to get water from the sink to fill it. If you have room to keep the whole setup next to your sink, fill it from there.
The water be absorbed by the Black Filters which use gravity to drip the purified water into the bottom container.
The rate at which this happens depends on how much water you have and how many filters you are using, we'll discuss this more in the next section.
You can read all about how their filters work here.
What Size Do You Need?
We have a Royal Berkey we've been using for the last 6 years. Ours has 3 filters (it can take 4, but we have a couple set aside as backups) when we fill it up it typically takes about 45 minutes to filter all the water.
This is important to note based on the amount of people you are supplying water for.
My suggestion is to go bigger than you think, by at least by one size otherwise you might be filling it everyday, which gets old quick.
So for that reason the smallest we would get (for home use) is the Royal. The Imperial is a good size for a family of 4.
You can see the complete list of the filters they offer here.
Maintenance & Accessories
There are a couple of practices and accessories worth considering getting in order to make your Berkey experience better.
Scotch-Brite Non-Scratch Scrub Sponges: once or twice a year (maybe more, depending on your water source) you will want to clean the Berkey top to bottom. In order to properly clean outside of the Black Filters (to get them flowing again at full speed) you'll want to gently clean the surface off. Berkey recommends using the Scotch-Brite No-Scratch Sponges.
Clean the inside and outside of the stainless steel containers with the soft side of the sponge with regular dish-washing liquid.
Stainless Steel Spigot: We don't like relying on plastic, especially on something mission critical like a fresh water source. We replaced the plastic spigot which came with the unit with a Stainless Steel one, and are keeping it as a backup.
Black Berkey Primer: If you want to be able to use your Berkey in the field and you don't have access to a pressurized water source, then consider grabbing a Primer pump. It does 2 things: helps you prime new filters, and helps you clean existing ones.
They have a bunch of other accessories available you might be interested in, these are the ones we think are the most useful.
Where to Get One
You can purchase them directly from Berkey at berkeyfilters.com
Amazon also has them and some of the accessories as well.