Frequently Asked Questions
What are the Black Berkey purification elements made out of and how do they work?
How often do the Black Berkey purification elements need to be replaced?
Usually, replacement is suggested after 7-11 years. Filters need to be cleaned every 12 months with warm water and a soft brush and primed. (takes not more thฟn 10-15 minutes)
I heard that it is recommended to replace my Berkey water after three days. Is this true if it is refrigerated?
We do recommend replacing or at least ”topping up” your Berkey water after three days. If the water is in a cold environment, the length can be extended to a week and even a month or longer If water is kept in a Glass jug. This is a conservative estimate for caution. The reason for this is because when you filter your water, the chemicals that inhibit bacteria growth are removed. In more humid environments, bacteria growth can occur quicker.
Are your Black Berkey Purification Elements and Berkey® systems Vegan and/or Kosher?
Technically, in order for anything to be defined as Vegan or Kosher, it must be consumable for ingestion. Our Black Berkey™ elements and Berkey® systems are not consumable. Nonetheless, it is our understanding that these particular products may be considered to be both Vegan and Kosher, by answering the following questions:
- Is the product that is produced through the purification process consumable?YES. Purified water is the consumable product now in question.
- Does the purified water contain any life form or any derivatives of past or present life forms?NO
- Do the elements contain any content from any animal life, past or present?NO
- Bacteria are considered life forms. Is the Black Berkey™ element bacteriostatic and does it prevent any life forms from living within the element?YES. The elements are bacteriostatic and YES, the bacteriostasis does prevent mitosis and will not allow any life forms to colonize within the element. However, this is not true of all filter elements on the market today. Many filter elements will support microscopic life forms and have no ability to augment bacteria blooms within the catalysts. Always be sure your elements are bacteriostatic.
- Will the filter remove crustaceans and or any other animal life form that may be in source water prior to purification?YES
How do the Black Berkey Elements handle beneficial minerals in the water?
Click here to learn more about how the Black Berkey elements manage beneficial minerals in the water.
Should I be concerned about Coliform Bacteria?
Coliform bacteria are not pathogenic (disease causing) organisms but are a natural part of the microbiology of the intestinal tract of warm-blooded mammals, including man. Total coliform bacteria are a collection of relatively harmless microorganisms. Coliform bacteria can be found virtually everywhere – in soil, on skin, on animals, insects, in lakes and rivers, etc. Coliform bacteria are indicator organisms, which are used, in water microbiological analysis. When coliforms are present in unfiltered raw water, it is presumed that the larger disease causing organisms (pathogens) accompany them.
A specific subgroup of this collection is the fecal coliform bacteria, the most common member being Escherichia coli. These organisms may be separated from the total coliform and are associated only with the fecal material of warm-blooded animals. Fecal coliforms or E-Coli, is a particular type of coliform bacteria. Their presence in drinking water is more serious than other coliform bacteria because they are disease causing, and also indicate that drinking water has been contaminated by sewage or animal wastes that may contain other disease causing bacteria.
Black Berkey™ purification elements have been tested with over one billion E.coli microbes per liter (lawn growth). This contamination level is greater than 10,000 times the colony formation (number of pathogens) typically used when testing a filtration element for its ability to remove E-coli. The results showed no detectable pathogens present within the filtered water (effluent). The water was then incubated. Again, no pathogens propagated and none were detectable when inspected under an electron microscope.
For more information about coliform bacteria, please please click here
Are the Black Berkey™ Purification Elements or Berkey PF-2™ and PF-4™ recyclable?
We don’t recommend the recycling of the Black Berkey™ Purification Elements, PF-2s or PF-4s. The shells of the Berkey PF-2™ and PF-4™ are made of Polypropylene, which is Recycle Code 5. Uses of Polypro (for short) include catsup bottles, yogurt containers, margarine tubs & medicine bottles. However, there is no recycle code for the Berkey PF™ elements. As we understand it, a recycle code cannot be assigned since the element is sealed and contains material inside for arsenic & fluoride reduction. To recycle, one would have to cut the element open and remove the material before recycling the plastic shell.
The same issue applies to the Black Berkey™ Purification Elements. The complex matrix of materials involved in the manufacture of the BB9 elements does not allow the elements to be easily classified by a single recycle code. In addition, with both of these types of elements, there is no way of knowing what contaminants are in the media after use
How do the Black Berkey™ Purification Elements handle Chloramine over time?
At this time, NMCL does not have specific testing regarding Chloramine reduction, over time. However, the elements are far more than just standard carbon block or carbon-based elements. While their exact composition is a proprietary trade secret, it can be stated that one major component utilized is high grade coconut shell carbon, as opposed to regular or granulated activated carbon (GAC). Current research information indicates that Coconut Shell Carbon outperforms regular GAC for reduction of Chloramine and other potential contaminants.
Another very important factor in Chloramine reduction is contact time. Many regular home filter systems operate under pressure, significantly reducing the amount of time the water is in contact with the filtration media. Since gravity is used for water filtration in a Berkey system, the contact time with the media is much longer. This extended contact time has a direct impact on the media’s ability to reduce Chloramine and other potential contaminants.
NMCL is continually exploring additional element testing. One such set of tests currently under discussion includes longevity testing for such potential contaminates as Fluoride, Chloramine, Arsenic, etc.
How should I store my Black Berkey™ Purification Elements and how long is their shelf-life?
It is best to empty both chambers before storing because anytime water is still it becomes stagnant, which means it can produce bacteria. You may consider washing your chambers with soapy water before leaving them to dry. If you have used your elements, you should fully dry them before storing. We offer a tool to assist in both priming and purging. This tool is called a Black Berkey Primer™. The benefit to purging the Black Berkey™ Purification Elements is that they are dried very quickly and cleaned at the same time. Another option for drying your elements is to leave them on a window sill for one to three day and allow them to air-dry. The key is to ensure they are bone-dry before storing them, to prevent any bacterial growth.
For long term storage, we recommend sealing the purification elements. This can be done with a storage bag such as a sealable sandwich bag. The elements are extremely powerful and can absorb odors and smoke from the air. By sealing them in a storage bag, they will not absorb any odors from the air. When you are ready to use use your elements, they will need to be re-primed by scrubbing them clean with a scotch brite pad or stiff brush. In theory, the shelf life of the elements is indefinite.
Black Berkey™ Purification Elements Test Results
Why do the log reduction levels differ for varying Berkey® element tests? Some laboratory results show testing to greater Log reduction (example: 99.9% vs. 99.99999%) than others.
“…The quantitation limit of an individual analytical procedure is the lowest amount ofanalytein a sample which can be quantitatively determined with suitable precision and accuracy. The quantitation limit is a parameter of quantitative assays for low levels of compounds in sample matrices, and is used particularly for the determination of impurities and/or degradation products…”
The reduction level chosen is the lowest amount of potential contaminants in a sample that can be accurately determined, given the laboratory test equipment available. This value is determined following EPA protocols and verified by an annual EPA audit.
Various laboratories offer different log reduction levels for which they can test. Typically, the higher the log level of testing, the higher the cost per contaminate. In other words, testing to Log 4 reduction levels costs much more than testing for Log 3, etc. It is a function of cost vs what log levels are necessary for customers to determine the effectiveness of our elements in removing a broad range of contaminants.
For example, it may cost the same amount to test 200 contaminants at Log 3 (99.9%) reduction, 20 contaminants at Log 4, or two contaminants at log 5. The feedback from our customers indicates that most of them would prefer testing on a broader range of contaminants tested at 99.9% reduction than a much narrower list of contaminants tested at a higher log. In general, 99.9% reduction is sufficient for static contaminants such as chemicals and heavy metals whereas dynamic contaminants, such as biological contaminants, which can multiply, require greater precision testing (higher log reduction).
The reduction level achieved can fall above the detection limit or below the detection limit. Either way, the actual reduction levels reported are calculated using the quantitation limit, which provides the percentage reduction levels reported by the individual laboratory. It is important to note that >99.9% reduction denotes that the actual reduction levels are “greater than” 99.9%”, which exceeds the maximum log testing target and implies a greater log reduction is taking place than that which is being reported.
Moreover, the human body is a remarkable piece of engineering capable of effectively eliminating many varieties of contaminants. The purpose of water purification it to prevent the body from becoming overwhelmed with such high levels of toxins that the body can no longer effectively eliminate them. It is NMCL’s goal to provide purification and filtration systems that are able to remove and reduce as many toxic contaminants as is possible without removing the healthful and beneficial minerals that your body needs.
Why do your instructions say : “Do not allow filter to freeze?”
We strongly advise against freezing your elements as a general rule of caution. We also advise against storing the elements (even unused) in sub-freezing climates. The concern with freezing the elements is that any cold or freezing water will expand inside in the element, thereby increasing the pore size and ruining the element. Whether the elements are unused or used and fully dried out, a small amount of moisture could still exist inside the element, especially in predominately humid climates. This moisture could expand inside the element and render them unusable. Please note that this recommendation applies to ALL our Berkey® elements, including the Sport Berkey® water filter bottle element. Freezing your element and rendering it unusable will also void your warranty coverage
What is the thread size for the Black Berkey™ Purification Element’s Stem?
The thread size on the stem of the Berkey Purification Elements is 11 mm.
What are the washers for the Black Berkey™ Purification Elements made out of?
The washers are made of Neoprene Gasket Rubber. However, keep in mind that the washers never touch the purified water.
Will the Black Berkey™ Purification Elements remove kerosene?
Petroleum-based products are some of the easiest to remove from water. The Black Berkey™ Purification Elements have been tested to remove the following petroleum contaminants up to 99.9%:
- Crude Oil
- Mineral Spirits
- Refine Oil
For complete lab results on the Black Berkey™ Purification Elements, please see above.
However, please keep in mind that it is possible to overwhelm filtration elements. For example, removing a gallon of kerosene from a 1,000 gallon pool should not be problem (time consuming, but not a problem). Removing a gallon of kerosene from 2 gallons of water & kerosene mixed would probably overwhelm any gravity fed element.
Do the Black Berkey™ Purification Elements remove lithium?
It is our understanding that Lithium is a mineral. The Black Berkey™ Purification Elements do NOT remove minerals.
Do your filters take out plastic from the water?
There are various plastic materials that can be leached into the water and the most common are BPA ( Bisphenol A) and 1,1-Dichloroethane (11-DCA). The Black Berkey elements have been tested to remove both of these plastic materials. Please refer to our lab testing results above.
I have found that after filtering when I boil the water or freeze it into ice cubes, I sometimes get little white floating things in the water. What is this ”Floaters”?
With respect to the little white floaters in the water, it is not bacteria but rather a problem that sometimes occurs with hard (heavily mineralized) water. When water is filtered through your system, the Black Berkey purification elements actually increase the PH of the water. This is healthful as Pathogenic bacteria and viruses thrive in acidic environments and conversely have difficulty surviving in alkaline environments. This is also true inside your body. When the PH level of the purified water is raised, the acidity of the water goes down and the water is no longer able to hold as many minerals in solution. When this happens the minerals begin to precipitate out over time and depending on the mineral composition they will either sink to the bottom or float to the top. This process is known as flocculation and the precipitated minerals are usually referred to as “white floaters”. The bottom line is that this is nothing to be concerned about, the white floaters are minerals that were already in your water; they are now simply visible whereas they were previously invisible due to their suspension in an ionic form.
Do your Black Berkey purification elements filter out all the drugs/pharmaceuticals that are in our city-water?
We have no way of knowing exactly what potential contaminants may be is in each city’s water. We do know that our Black Berkey™ purification elements filter out some drugs/pharmaceuticals. Please see above to view our most recent test results.
Why is my PH level higher after using the Black Berkey™ Purification Elements?
When water is filtered through our system, the Black Berkey™ Purification Elements increase the PH level of the water. This is healthful because pathogenic bacteria and viruses thrive in acidic environments and have difficulty surviving in alkaline environments. An environment with more alkalinity does have a higher PH level. The PH level will depend on various factors including what the PH level of the pre-filtered water is.
My Water is cloudy after filtering trough the PF2 Fluoride filters? What am i doing wrong? It’s been in the system for few days.
This means there is too much media in your PF-2’s. Otherwise, it’s bacteria build up because you are letting water sit for longer than 2 – 3 days in an area that is too warm for the Berkey.
Remember, bacteria thrive in a dark, wet environment and when the lower chamber has no chemicals to protect the water, you’re going to get coliform bacteria start to grow.
Make sense? Is this PF2 water or water that has been sitting? for few days?
Can I use my Berkey Waterfilter system to purify water from my home dehumidifier?
Dehumidifiers that use refrigeration will have cold metal tubes to turn water vapor from a gas to a liquid. According to the EPA, stagnant condensate water can harbor biological contaminants, including mold, mildew and algae, especially if the collection bucket isn’t cleaned regularly. These contaminants have the potential for causing diseases such as hypersensitivity pneumonitis and humidifier fever. Evaporation trays in air conditioners, dehumidifiers and refrigerators should also be cleaned frequently. Moreover, the condensate can contain lead and other metal residues from the component parts of the dehumidifier. Unlike distilled water, dehumidifier water is never sterilized through boiling so we do not recommend this.
The Black Berkey™ Purification Elements are capable of removing the various potential contaminants that are typically found in dehumidifier water. However, NMCL always recommends using the cleanest water source possible and does Not recommend using dehumidifier water in your Berkey® system on a regular basis. However, IF no other water source is available during an emergency, the water from a dehumidifier could be used, on a short term basis only. Normal Tap water or Rainwater are best to use in your Berkey System.
The water in the upper chamber of my Berkey system does not drain all the way. Is this normal?
Yes it is normal as this is a gravity filters and there will always be a little water left in upper chamber, and not unusual for the last 1.3 cm. to 2.5 cm. of water to remain in the upper chamber. By design the water must pass through very fine micro pores within the elements in order to pass from the upper chamber to the lower chamber. The lower the water level in the upper chamber, the lower the pressure available to force the water through the micro pores. You may have noticed that the system purifies much faster when full than when half full. That’s because there is more water pressure. The only way to remedy this problem would be to enlarge the pores of the filter elements. This would of course, reduce the efficiency of the Berkey purification system. During each cycle the water left from the previous cycle mixes with the water from the current cycle and is then purified. There is no need to be concerned about the excess water during normal use. Should you however discontinue using your filter for a period of time such as during a vacation, it would be best to empty both chambers before departing and leave them upside down to dry on the dish rack.
What are the Berkey filters made of and how can they last for so long time with constant usage ? Can you please explain for me as most filters on the market don,t last as long as the Berkey filters. Thanks
The first line of defense is that Berkey purification elements are composed of a proprietary formulation of more than six different media types, all constructed into a very compact matrix containing millions of microscopic pores. These pores are so small that they produce what we refer to as a “Tortuous Path” that pathogenic bacteria, cysts, parasites, herbicides, pesticides, organic solvents, VOC’s, detergents, cloudiness, silt, sediment and sedimentary minerals, foul tastes and odors must travel through. These paths are so small that these pollutants physically cannot pass through them and become trapped, eliminating them from your drinking water. This process is known as microfiltration.
Secondly, our media formulation uses unique adsorption and absorption properties. Adsorption works to create an ionic barrier similar to surface tension. This barrier is perfectly suited to the micro-porous water filter because it effectively allows the tiny pores to block water contaminants that are smaller than the pore size itself. This blocking process is how theBerkey® water filter is able to remove submicron viruses that other brands of water filters cannot, without the use of obnoxious chemicals like iodine or chlorine. Next, the heavy metals ions (mineral molecules) such as cadmium, chromium, copper, lead, mercury, aluminum, and other dangerous heavy metals are extracted from the water through an Ion exchange process where they are attracted to and transformed by electrically bonding to the media.
Finally, Berkey® systems are so effective at removing contaminants from water because of the extremely long “contact period”. Other filtration systems rely on water pressure that forces water molecules through the elements at 60-90 PSI. These water molecules come into contact with the filter media for a mere fraction of a second. By comparison, water molecules passing through the structure of the Black Berkey®elements are drawn gently by gravity and stay in contact with the media for a long period of time. This allows the filter media to be more efficient in capturing contaminants. This advanced technology was developed, refined, and proven through years of diligent, investigative research and testing performed by water purification specialists, researchers, and engineers. The flow rate or time of exposure through the Black Berkey® purification elements has been calculated to yield the greatest volume of removal of viruses, toxic chemicals, and bacteria.
Does my Big Berkey filter Purification Elements remove Glyphosate? I was reading about this and would like to know this thanks. I can’t find this in test results on your page.
Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide & pesticide. Glyphosate is primarily released into the environment via runoff water and predominately applied as a spray for agricultural purposes. This contaminant has recently become the topic of discussion because of its association with acute or chronic exposure leading to various potential health problems. The EPA has extensive information published about Glyphosate, particularly about it being in drinking water. Black Berkey™ Purification Elements will reduce Glyphosate in your water by greater than 75%, exceeding the laboratories reporting limits. Please check out our Organic Test results as well.
Have been using my system for about 12 months and the flow rate has slowed down considerably. Do I need to replace the filters? Why has this slowed down? Do i need to clean them maybe?
No need to change the filters. Unlike other filtration elements, the Black Berkey filters are cleanable and should be cleaned every 12 months and Re Primed.. What typically causes the filters to drip slowly is turbidity and sediment clogging the micro-pores of the elements. Simply remove the elements from your system, and clean the Black Berkey element by scrubbing the exterior of each element under medium hot running water with a Berkey Brush cleaner or a Dishwasher brush or toothpaste. (medium hard) It’s simple to do and takes less than a minute per element. Just scrum them pretty hard and make sure you scrum all sides of the filters and then Reprime and set up again.
Do this every 12 months
I live in London and we have a water from Thames Water. I asked them about the Fluoride and they told me it,s a low level of naturally occurring fluoride in our water. Need to buy the fluoride filters or can i just use the original Black Berkey filters?
No. The Berkey PF2 Fluoride filters are not necessary as the level of fluoride in London is really low. However a lot of people choose to use them as they don,t want any fluoride in their water and they also remove the Arsenic from their water.
This fluoride filters are the most powerful fluoride filters on the market and they remove 99,9999% and we highly recommend using them if your water has an added fluoride.
Fluoride is added to the water in small part of UK. Then it,s added in most part of Ireland,s drinking water and Spain as well. As said before we highly recommend using the Fluoride filters to those areas with added fluoride.
My friend has a Reverse Osmosis filtering system. How does reverse osmosis and Berkey purifier systems compare? Are Berkey Better then Reverse Osmosis?
Reverse Osmosis uses a membrane which removes many contaminants from the water. It is usually paired with a Granulated Activated Charcoal filter to remove chlorine and many mount under the sink usually.
The semipermeable membrane separates many contaminates (which usually have a larger particle size that water) from the water and rejects a large amount of water in the process.
The result is a waste of several gallons of water for every gallon filtered and many naturally occurring minerals (including calcium and magnesium) are also removed from the water. These minerals are NOT removed in Berkey systems and these minerals are Essential for our bodies.
Most test results and comparison sites do recommend Berkey Filters as No1 filter system on the market today so Yes we recommend Berkey filters instead of Reverse osmosis as the Berkey gives you a perfectly clean and pure drinking water without taking any good minerals out.
Carbon filters like Berkey are recognized by the EPA as the best option for removing chemicals like herbicides, pesticides, heavy metals VOCs and all harmful chemicals in our water. High-quality carbon block filters like Berkey will remove chemicals, pesticides, bacteria, fluoride (with PF2 Fluoride filter attachment), heavy metals, nitrate, nitrites and parasites while leaving the essential minerals in the water our body needs..
This Berkey filters are gravity based and can safely transform any type of water into safe drinking water including rainwater, pond water.
What happens if I use my Black Berkey™ Purification Elements after 3,000 gallons?
We determine the typical lifespan of the Black Berkey™ Purification Elements by their ability to reduce heavy metals. The breakthrough of heavy minerals can occur at about 3,000 gallons. Heavy metals can leach through beyond 3,000 gallons. However, the elements can be used beyond that point because other reductions continue well beyond 3,000 gallons.
Since the filter has pores fine enough to remove viruses, does it get clogged frequently?
The proprietary filter formulation used in Black Berkey™ Purification Elements makes up for the incredibly small pore size by utilizing an exponentially greater number of mmicroporesin each purification element than that found in other filter elements. This is the reason Black Berkey™ Purification Elements produce approximately 8 times more water per hour than other elements. While some of the surface pores will clog up from contaminants it is difficult for such contamination to overwhelm all of the pores and thus clog up the filter. Eventually, the majority of surface pores may clog up slowing down the flow rate of the Black Berkey™ Purification Elements. When this happens the filter can be refreshed by simply brushing the outside of the element with a ScotchBrite® pad or toothbrush. This will remove the surface pores that have become clogged. Therefore, even though the filters have such small micro fine pores, the element will not clog up prematurely.
How does the filter element in the Berkey® system deal with viruses?
The micro-fine pores are so small that they prevent micro fine particulates such as bacteria, viruses and even food colouring particulate from passing through the tortuous path that water is able to pass through. These contaminate are trapped in the micro fine pores while the much smaller H2O molecules are not. This method separates the contaminates from the purified water.
Is the MS2 – Fr Coliphage still known to be a good indicator of virus filtration? Do you have tests on any other viruses
MS2 and Fr Coliphage are two separate viruses with two different removal characteristics. That is why they are used as surrogates for other types of viruses. These viruses were selected, by both the EPA and the Military, because of their small size relative to other virus strains and the difficulty in removing both strains. They each are approximated 24-26 nanometers in size which makes them among the smallest of viruses. To see their relative size, we suggest that you visit The University of Utah Cell Size and Scale Chart. These viruses are comparable in size on that chart to the Rhinovirus. Therefore, MS2 and Fr Coliphage are the ideal viruses for use as indicators of purification systems ability to remove viruses.
Special Notes: To understand the difference between the size of path bacteria and viruses, we suggest the following web link as it will give you a great visual of the difference: The University of Utah Cell Size and Scale Chart.
Slide the scale at the bottom to see the size of virus vs bacteria vs other potential contaminates and magnify to greater levels.
The fact that Black Berkey™ purification elements have been tested to remove viruses to greater than the EPA purification standards suggests that contaminates larger in size, such as bacteria, should also be removed.
The MS-2 virus is 24-26 nm in size. The Fr Coliphage virus is 25nm in size. In other words, they are smaller than the hepatitis virus at 45mn and the rhinovirus at 30nm both referenced on the chart.
Do the Black Berkey™ Purification Elements remove Chloramine?
Do your Black Berkey™ elements reduce fluoride in the water?
No, in order to reduce fluoride in your water, you will still need to use post filters that work in conjunction with the filters in your system. We have the Berkey PF-2™ Elements which are used in conjunction with the Black Berkey™ purification elements and will remove 99,999% of Fluoride from water.
Can I use the Berkey® system with softened water?
The Black Berkey™ purification elements are designed to remove heavy metals, but will not remove mineral salts, which are added by a water softener. The salt in softened water has the tendency to clog the pores of the BlackBerkey™ element. You can use one of our purification systems on a regular basis by bypassing your water softener to get your drinking water. Most water softeners have a bypass valve or way to get water before it passes through your softener. Therefore, we highly recommend that you obtain pre-softened water directly from the source rather than run softened water through your Black Berkey™ Elements.
I have found in my water after filtering and when I boil the water or freeze it into ice cubes, I sometimes get little white floating things in the water. What is this?
With respect to the little white floaters in the water after filtering, it is not bacteria but rather a problem that sometimes occurs with hard (heavily mineralized) water. When water is filtered through your system, the Black Berkey purification elements actually increase the PH of the water. This is healthful as Pathogenic bacteria and viruses thrive in acidic environments and conversely have difficulty surviving in alkaline environments. This is also true inside your body. When the PH level of the purified water is raised, the acidity of the water goes down and the water is no longer able to hold as many minerals in solution. When this happens the minerals begin to precipitate out over time and depending on the mineral composition they will either sink to the bottom or float to the top. This process is known as flocculation and the precipitated minerals are usually referred to as “white floaters”. The bottom line is that this is nothing to be concerned about, the white floaters are minerals that were already in your water; they are now simply visible whereas they were previously invisible due to their suspension in an ionic form.
Do these filters remove calcium etc which create limescale – in other words would they be suitable for my espresso machine which is particularly sensitive to limescale formation?
Limescale/calcium is considered a mineral and will be read as such. – With regards the TDS reading and minerals in the water. Our technology does not remove ionic minerals from the water – it does, however, remove sedimentary minerals. In order to reduce the heavy metals, we use several types of media in our formulation that have a specific affinity for heavy metals. We do not include, however, any media in our formulation that would remove beneficial minerals. Because the media formulation does not have an affinity for beneficial minerals such as calcium and magnesium, these minerals pass right on through the elements. When you test the post-filtered water with your TDS meter, you are verifying that the beneficial minerals have not been removed. The ppm that is being registered in the post-filtered water indicates the parts per million of beneficial minerals that remain in your water.
Hard Water and Soft Water
What is the taste of “HARD” water? and why is limescale building up in my water kettle ?
Pure water does not exist in the natural world. Naturally occurring water has any number of things that water has picked up from it’s travels over, on and in the earth. The various minerals that dissolve in water make it “hard”.
Hard water typically has the following characteristics:
- Bathing with soap in hard water leaves a film of sticky soap curd on the skin. The film may prevent removal of soil and bacteria. Soap curd interferes with the return of skin to its normal, slightly acid condition, and may lead to irritation. Soap curd on hair may make it dull, lifeless and difficult to manage. Soaps will leave behind a scum both on the surface of the water and also on whatever is being washed, including your skin and hair. This scum on the surface of things is typically what makes the squeek in “squeeky clean”. It’s not a good thing.
- Flavors – Coffee, tea and other products that are used to flavor water will not dissolve as readily in hard water.
- Laundering – Clothes washed in hard water often look dingy and feel harsh and scratchy. The hardness minerals combine with some soils to form insoluble salts, making them difficult to remove. Soil on clothes can introduce even more hardness minerals into the wash water. Continuous laundering in hard water can damage fibers and shorten the life of clothes by up to 40 percent.
- Problems in Water Boiler Systems and Pipework – Hard water also contributes to inefficient and costly operation of water-using appliances. Heated hard water forms a scale of calcium and magnesium minerals (limescale deposits) that can contribute to the inefficient operation or failure of water-using appliances. Pipes can become clogged with scale that reduces water flow and ultimately requires pipe replacement. Limescale has been known to increase energy bills by up to 25%
- Hard Water is Not dangerous
- Hard water is not dangerous and not a health risk. In fact, the National Research Council (National Academy of Sciences) states that hard drinking water generally contributes a small amount toward total calcium and magnesium human dietary needs. They also state that in some instances, where dissolved calcium and magnesium are very high, water could be a major contributor of calcium and magnesium to the diet.
- The ideal solution would be to leave the calcium in the water, but alter its state so that it couldn’t form limescale. This is what magnetic water conditioners aim to achieve but, although they do work for some people, the science behind them is not fully understood.
What is the TDS reading of the purified water?
A TDS meter measures only Total Dissolved Solids or minerals; dissolved solids are simply dissolved minerals in an ionic form. A TDS meter does not measure the amount of biological and chemical contaminates. Black Berkey™ elements are designed to leave the healthful and beneficial minerals in your water and to extract only the unwanted heavy metals such as lead and mercury as well as sedimentary minerals such as iron oxide and aluminum. Therefore, your TDS reading will not change much unless you have a significant amount of heavy metals or sedimentary minerals in your water.s.
What should I do if the flow rate in my system is very slow?
If you just purchased your Berkey® system and the filters are hardly filtering water, the problem is typically due to high water tension. This high water tension prevents the air from being purged from the micro pores of the new purification elements. Your Black Berkey™elements need to be primed to purge this air out and allow water to flow through them. Included with your Black Berkey™ elements is a tan priming button and instructions for priming. Please remove your elements from the unit, prime your elements and then install them back in your unit. This should fix the slow flow rate problem. If the flow rate slows down considerably at any time during the life span of the elements, the problem can be easily remedied by re-cleaning the elements. What typically causes the elements to drip slowly is turbidity and sediment clogging the micro- pores of the purification elements. Simply remove the elements from your system and scrub the exterior of each element with a ScotchBrite® Pad or stiff toothbrush. Scrub a section of the element until you see a bit of black on the pads and then move to the next section. This simple process should take only a few minutes. Re-prime each element and then reinstall it in your unit. Your flow rate should be restored. (Never use soap or detergents).
What is the red food coloring test and how do I do it?
The Black Berkey™Purification elements are powerful enough to remove red food coloring from water. Performing a red food coloring test on your Black Berkey™ Purification elements allows you to ensure that your system is operating properly..
The red food coloring must be artificial food coloring. See here a Link to Original Red Food colouring from USA in our shop https://berkey-waterfilters.co.uk/collections/special-filters/products/artificial-usa-red-food-colouring-10ml-glass-bottle
use artificial red food coloring such as McCormick (can be bought here in our store) Find the Red Food USA 10ml bottle in our shop under ”Special Filters” or similar non-name brand (do not use natural or organic red food dye; as they will not work and give a false fail to this test even through the filters may be working 100%).
If the food colouring is organic or has mineral based ingredients, the Black Berkey Elements will read that as minerals and allow that color to come down.
- The red food coloring test is only designed for the Black Berkey™ Purification elements and NOT for the ceramic or other filter elements that do not filter out food color. This test is also not recommended for the Sport Berkey® water bottle.
- Please make sure the food coloring is RED. Red food coloring (unlike the other colors) doesn’t have any minerals, so the element recognizes it as contaminant.
- The red food coloring test should be done after priming your Black Berkey™ elements.
PERFORMING THE TEST
- Start with an empty system (upper and lower chamber) and remove any PF-2 Fluoride Reduction filters (if installed).
- Place the upper chamber only (with the elements installed) on similar- sized cups directly underneath each Black Berkey™ element. This will help isolate which filter may be exhausted and which is still purifying effectively.
- Fill the upper chamber with water and add up to 1 teaspoon of red food coloring for every gallon of water. 3 drops is perfect and enough for Big Berkey test.
- Allow the water to run through to the bottom chamber.
- If the red food coloring is removed entirely, your purification system is working properly.
- If the water in any of the cups is red or has a pinkish tinge, then that particular black filter is defective or exhausted.
IF RED FOOD COLORING IS DETECTED, PLEASE CHECK THE FOLLOWING:
- Are the wing nuts on securely? Please do not tighten the wing nuts using any tools; they should be hand tightened to a snug fit, but not more. If the wing nuts are on too tight, this could cause stripping on the threads of the stem, preventing a correct seal. If you have inadvertently stripped the threads on your element, please contact our Customer Service Center for assistance at 0044 333 011 6488.
- Are you using actual “red food coloring” or another color or type of color? Red food coloring is the only type recommended for this test.
- Is the washer for the stem inside the upper chamber and is the wing nut secured at the bottom? If the washer is on the outside of the chamber with the wing nut, you will not have a proper seal, which will cause your system to fail the test. Place the washer on the inside of the upper chamber and re-run the test.
- Are the blocking plugs properly sealing the unused holes without elements? Are the plugs installed tight with a washer on each side? If the plugs are leaking, this will cause the system to fail the test. Tighten the plugs more securely and re run the test.
- Are you re-testing an element that you think may have failed the test? If so, rinse off and re-prime the element first. It’s really important to Prime the filters correctly… Additionally, make sure you pour any excess water out of the bottom tank. Also, if you are using the lower chamber to catch water, run clean water through the spigot to clean it out as well. Now you are ready to repeat the test.
How do I prime the Black Berkey Purification Elements when water pressure is unavailable?
The micro pores on the Black Berkey purification elements are extremely small, in fact they are small enough to filter food coloring out of water. The benefit from having such extremely small pores is greater efficiency at removing pathogenic bacteria and other contaminates. The downside is that too much water tension can require that the purification elements be primed before they will flow properly. When you receive the purification elements, they are dry and air is trapped within the tiny micro fine pores. In certain parts of the world, water has more water tension than in other places and this can change from season to season. The higher the water tension, the more difficult it is for the water to force the air out of the micro fine pores using gravity alone. The pores that have air trapped within them do not allow water to pass through and therefore become an inaccessible passage for the water. This then causes the system to either filter very slowly or not at all.
Before traveling to and using the system in an area without water pressure we recommend that the purification elements be primed using the priming button. If this however is not possible and water pressure is not available to use the priming button method, the elements can be primed approximately 50% by using the below method. In other words using this method, the elements will not purify as fast as they will by using the priming button method however they will run significantly faster than if the elements have not been primed at all. The alternate priming method is as follows:
STEP 1: If your system is assembled, remove the purification elements from the upper chamber. Next, fill the lower chamber with water, then place the purification elements into the water in the lower chamber, upside down with the stems facing upward, and put a ceramic coffee cup (or something else that will hold them under the water) on top of each purification element stem to force the element down under the water. Let the purification elements soak in the water for several hours. This will force some of the air out of the stubborn pores. NOTE: Make sure that opening in the stems of the purification elements are not underwater as we want the water to be forced through the pores rather than entering through the hole in the stem.
STEP 2: The inside of the purification elements should now be full of water and significantly heavier. Try to keep as much water on the inside of the purification elements as is possible as you reassemble the purification element into the upper chamber by keeping the stems facing upward. Empty the water from the lower chamber and place the upper chamber back onto the lower chamber. Immediately fill the upper chamber with water.
When the purification elements have water within the bore (inside core), more force is generated to draw water through the purification element. This is because the water that drips out of the purification elements also hydraulically pulls new water into the purification element as the purification element begins to work like a siphon. Thus, in addition to the “Push” of gravity, there is also a hydraulic “pull” and this drastically improves the ability of the water to force the air from the micro pores. The above method is less efficient than priming the purification elements with the priming button but should be about 75-80% effective in clearing the blocked micro pores.
Let the water in the lower chamber run to waste and refill the upper chamber with water. Your Black Berkey elements are now primed and ready for use.
What is the Micron rating of the Black Berkey™ Purification Elements?
With respect to the micron rating, NMCL does not use or publish a micron rating for the Black Berkey™ elements for the following reasons:
There is much confusion with respect to nominal and absolute micron ratings. An absolute micron rating is one that states the maximum pore size expected within an element. The nominal micron rating is the average pore size within the element. This means that if 90% of the pores are .02 microns and ten percent are 2 microns, one could claim the nominal micron rating as .2 microns, which would imply that pathogenic bacteria and parasites would be totally removed. But in reality the bulk of the water would channel through the larger 2-micron pores and thereby allow both bacteria and parasites to pass through. Therefore a nominal micron-rating claim can be very misleading.
With respect to the absolute micron rating, there is also confusion because there are two different standards to determine absolute; in the US the standard is 99.9% removal, but the international standard in 99.99% removal or 10 times greater removal.
Clever marketers of products can use the confusion over the above differences to make product “A” appear to be better than product “B” when product B may be far superior in reality. For example, we used to report an absolute rating using the international standard because we have a large international customer base. Several years ago we published a rating on our ceramic filters. A particular company began to publish that our elements were .9 microns whereas theirs were .2 microns. However, our micron rating was based on absolute (international) while theirs was based on a nominal (US) rating. When tested at Spectrum Labs, it was found that at the .2 to .3 microns range our filter removed more particulate than the other brand. Unfortunately many people make their purchasing decisions based on a micron rating that can be legitimately distorted and to a significant degree.
Based on the information above, we decided not to participate any longer in publishing a micron rating. Rather, we think an absolute pathogenic bacteria removal rate is a far better gauge because it is far more difficult to abuse. Based on that criterion, the Black Berkey™ Purification Elements remove greater than 99.9999999% of pathogenic bacteria such as E.Coli. To our knowledge, no other personal filtration element can match that capability.
As oestrogen is far more damaging than progesterone to the body, I would like to know if in fact the Berkey does remove this?
I have seen a test carried out by Berkey which shows it removed progesterone in water. The test did not show anything about oestrogens but when I researched water filters Berkey came up as the only filter that removes disruptors as reverse osmosis and ionisations does not. As oestrogen is far more damaging than progesterone to the body, I would like to know if in fact the Berkey does remove this?
We don’t claim drug removal from the water. What we do say about pharmaceuticals is in this Faq section above. Wish we could say otherwise – one thing is for sure then that natural progesterone that is formulated without mineral oil or propylene glycol as its wetting agents are incredibly good for men and women.
What should I do to maintain my Berkey system?
- Wash lower box/chamber every month with soapy dishwater. (This is NOT necessary but good to keep the unit clean) It’s ok too to be the whole unit every 6-12 months when the filters are cleaned too.
- In areas with hard water, where calcium scale may build upon spigot & chambers after long and heavy use.
- To remove that, soak parts in vinegar or a mix of vinegar and water for about 15-20 minutes…
- Wipe away calcium scale with a dishwasher pad or soft brush then wash with soapy dishwater and rinse the whole Berkey System with warm water (Not hot water).
How fast will my water filter purify tap water?
The system will purify up to 13.3 litres per hour with 2 x Black Berkey filters inside (or 26.6 Litres per hour with 4 x Black Berkey filters inside).
In real terms, this equates to approximately 1 glass of water per minute.
I have another question not answered here.
Please feel free to contact us and we will do our very best to help.
How can I store my Berkey PF-2™ or Berkey PF-4™ post filter elements after I’ve used them, but before they reach their life expectancy?
As far as we know, the Berkey PF-2™ Elements can be stored in a refrigerator, short term; but definitely don’t store them in a freezer. If you do store them in this manner, we recommend re-purging the Berkey PF-2™ post filter elements, for up to 1-minute each in both directions, before using them again.
My Berkey tap is leaking… First it was ok and now after 2 weeks of usage the tap is leaking a few drops where the washer is. Why is this happening?
Please tight it harder. That is why it’s leaking. Use a screw key to tight it in the back (inside the chamber) You can also turn the rubber washers in the opposite direction and tight it up again. This will work 🙂
Does the Berkey Filters remove Hormones like Estrogen and other types of Hormones?
We do not have testing for hormones at this time. However, since the Black Berkey® Purification Elements are capable of removing viruses from a water supply, they should be able to remove hormones. See full list in any of our test results.