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Berkey Water Filter Review

By: David Trinh
Last Updated:
berkey water filters

Berkey manufactures a range of gravity countertop filters that remove close to all the contaminants from water.

The distinct look is created by the stainless steel body, within which you’ll find the famous Black Berkey filter cartridges.

All Berkey filters are portable, which means you can easily move yours to a different part of your house or even take it with you when you travel.

Plus, as it is a gravity system, there’s no plumbing or tubing involved.

Some consumers are hesitant to purchase a Berkey filter because of the Berkey water filter problems in the past that led the manufacturer to being banned in California.

However, if you live in any other state, there are plenty of reasons why you should still consider a Berkey water filter system if you’re looking for a countertop filter.

Top 5 Berkey Water Filters

Big Berkey
  • People: 2-4
  • Height: 19.25
  • Capacity: 2.25 Gallons
Travel Berkey
  • People: 1-2
  • Height: 18
  • Capacity: 1.5 Gallons
Royal Berkey
  • People: 4-6
  • Height: 23
  • Capacity: 3.25 Gallons
Light Berkey
  • People: 2-6
  • Height: 21
  • Capacity: 2.75 Gallons
Imperial Berkey
  • People: 6-10
  • Height: 26
  • Capacity: 4.5 Gallons

About Berkey Water Filters

berkey water filters

Berkey just produces gravity filters for drinking water — there is no Berkey whole house water filter.

The brand is probably best known for its Black Berkey filter cartridges. These microporous purifier elements have pores less than 2 nanometers in diameter. This allows them to remove more contaminants from water than almost every other similar filtration system.

Besides their popular gravity filters they also produce a shower filter that’s very good.

Where Are Berkey Water Filters Made?

The Berkey water filter is produced by New Millennium Concepts, Ltd. in Arlington, Texas. The company uses parts that are both from manufacturers within the country and imported. None of the imported parts are from China.

Legal Issues

Back in 2010, there was a New Millennium Concepts lawsuit. The state of California declared that the testing carried out on Berkey water filters was not sufficient and more expensive testing was necessary. To save on the high costs of continuing to do business in California, the company decided to simply withdraw from the state.

You can see our full outline of this legal issue where berkey filters are banned in California here.

How Does a Berkey Water Filter Work?

Berkey water purifiers are gravity systems. This means they have two chambers with one to eight filter cartridges between.

You pour tap water into the upper chamber and gravity pulls it down, through the filters, into the lower chamber. Minuscule holes in the cartridges filter and absorb contaminants, leaving just pure water. There is a spigot at the bottom of the filter that dispenses water.

Berkey Water Filter Reviews

There are seven different Berkey filter sizes. All but the Berkey Go come with two filters (the Go comes with just one), but you can install additional filters in most models (the exceptions being the Go and the Travel).

Other than these differences, all the Berkey filters work in much the same way.

Big Berkey Water Filter Review


Big Berkey has a capacity of 2.25 gallons, which is enough for between 1 and 4 people. How long does it take for the Big Berkey to filter water? This depends on how many filters it has. With two filters, it can purify 3.5 gallons in an hour. Double the filters and it will provide you with 7 gallons in an hour.

This model is the most popular size for families of 1-4.

  • Capacity: 2.25 gallons
  • Material: 304 AISI Stainless Steel
  • Size: 8.5″D x 21″H
  • People: 2-4
  • Price: $278-$388

Travel Berkey Water Filter

travel berkey

The smallest Berkey filter, the Travel Berkey has a capacity of 1.5 gallons, which is enough for one or two people. As it can only have two filters, the maximum flow rate is 2.75 gallons an hour.

  • Capacity: 1.5 gallons
  • Material: 304 stainless steel
  • Size: 7.5″D x 19″H 
  • People: 1-2
  • Price: $250

Royal Berkey Water Filter

royal berkey

Holding 3.5 gallons, the Royal Berkey is designed for households with between two and six people. It filters 4 gallons in an hour with two filters or 8 gallons an hour with four filters.

  • Capacity: 3.25 gallons
  • Material: 304 stainless steel
  • People: 4-6
  • Size: 9.5″D x 24″H
  • Price: $305-$415

Berkey Light Water Filtration System

berkey light

The cheapest Berkey water filter on the list, the Berkey Light stands out from all the others for its plastic rather than stainless steel body. This plastic is shatter resistant and non-BPA, meaning it is just as high quality as the stainless steel, only lighter weight. The Berkey Light is particularly useful if you want a portable Berkey water filter — you can transport it without worrying about damage like dents, such as when you’re camping or otherwise spending time outdoors.

The Berkey Light has a capacity of 2.75 gallons, which suits anywhere from one to five people. It filters 4 gallons an hour with two filters and 8 gallons an hour with four filters.

  • Capacity: 2.75 gallons
  • Material: High-quality, BPA-free, food-safe, copolyester container
  • Dimensions: 9″D x 25″H
  • People: 2-6
  • Price: $243-$353

Imperial Berkey Water Filter

imperial berkey

The second-largest Berkey filter, the Imperial Berkey has a capacity of 4.5 gallons, which is suitable for households of four to eight people. With two filters, it provides 5.5 gallons of water an hour. With six filters, it can give you as much as 16.5 gallons an hour.

  • Capacity: 4.5 gallons
  • Material: 304 Stainless steel
  • Size: 10″D x 27″H
  • People: 6-10+
  • Price: $335-$445

What Does a Berkey Water Filter Remove

Berkey water filtration systems remove the following contaminants, to name just a few:

  • Chlorine — To undetectable levels
  • Chloramines — More than 99.9 percent
  • Arsenic — The Berkey arsenic filter is the optional PF-2 filter, which removes more than 99.9 percent of the metalloid
  • Heavy metals — The Black Berkey water filter removes lead, MTBEs, and other heavy metals up to 95 percent
  • Iron — More than 99.9 percent
  • Sulfur — To significantly improve the taste and smell of water
  • Pathogens — Removes more than 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria without the need for UV light

In an emergency, you can even use your Berkey water filter as an alternative to an outdoor water purifier. It is safe to use on non-public water, such as streams and lakes.

Does a Berkey Water Filter Remove Fluoride?

A common question from consumers is: does Berkey remove fluoride? Actually, the same optional PF-2 filter that removes arsenic also removes fluoride. It’s fair to say that Berkey fluoride filter effectiveness is renowned — it removes 98 percent of the compound.

Do Berkey Water Filters Remove Healthy Minerals?

A Berkey water filter is alkaline, meaning healthy minerals remain in the water. This also leads to better-tasting water.

How Long Do Berkey Filters Last?

The filter cartridges also have a long lifespan. In fact, one of the things Berkey is best known for is filtration capacity. Black Berkey cartridges filter 3,000 gallons before they need replacing. Plus, when you use two Black Berkey cartridges in your water filter, you won’t need to change them for 6,000 gallons.

In other words, to calculate how often to replace Berkey filters, simply multiply the number of cartridges by 3,000. You can also check if it’s time to replace the cartridges by using red dye testing.

How Long Do Berkey Fluoride Filters Last?

PF-2 fluoride filters last the same amount of time as Black Berkey filters: 3,000 gallons.

Berkey Warranty and Customer Service

A Berkey filtration system comes with a manufacturer warranty for 6 months, although you have the choice to purchase a lifetime warranty. You’ll also receive a 6-month warranty on any PF-2 filter cartridges you purchase and 2 years on your Black Berkey filters.

The Berkey Water Filter “Scam” Explained

In California, indoor water filters must pass independent third-party tests before they can be sold in the state. Berkey did pass these tests and has the full lab certification, but the company has chosen not to pay the cost of maintaining these certifications. Contrary to popular belief, there is no Berkey filter scam — Berkey filters really are as good as they claim to be.

Berkey Water Filter Setup

Setting up a Berkey water filter is simple and takes no more than half an hour. Begin by rinsing the Black Berkey filters and Berkey fluoride filter under the faucet 20 seconds to prime them. Next, wash the filter itself. Once you’ve done this, screw the cartridges into the water filter.

Once your water filter is set up, start filtering water. Fill and drain your water filter three times (you can use the water for plants or your garden). After these three cycles, the filtered water will be pure enough to drink.

How to Clean Berkey Filters

Berkey filter maintenance is quite straightforward: just wash the water filter occasionally with tap water and mild soap. The stainless steel water filters can also benefit from a wash with diluted white vinegar.

How to Clean Berkey Fluoride Filters and Black Berkey Filters

If your Berkey water filter is not filtering or if it’s taking a longer amount of time than usual for the water to filter, you may need to clean the filter cartridges. You can figure out whether the issue lies with the Black Berkey filters or the PF-2 fluoride filter by taking each out in turn and seeing if the water starts filtering fast again. However, Black Berkey filters tend to become clogged first.

If the problem is the Black Berkey filter, use a pad and tap water to scrub it clean. If the fluoride filters are blocked, you’ll need to replace them, as they cannot be cleaned.


Before you make the decision to purchase a Berkey filter, you may have a few questions.

Why Are Berkey Filters Illegal in California?

California requires companies to pay to maintain their NSF Standard 42 and 53. Berkey decided it was not worth paying for these certifications and withdrew from the state. This resulted in the Berkey water filter California ban.

Are Berkey Water Filters NSF Certified?

Berkey says that the Black Berkey filter exceeds NSF/ANSI Standard 53. Plus, a Berkey water filter independent test that was conducted on Black Berkey filters in an EPA-approved laboratory showed that the filer was effective at filtering a long list of contaminants.

Is a Berkey Water Filter Better Than a Brita Pitcher?

Brita is a budget brand of pitcher filters. Brita pitchers remove a minimal amount of contaminants from tap water that is already reasonably clean. Berkey filters, on the other hand, purify water, even removing pathogens.

Why Would Water from a Berkey Water Filter Have a Bad Taste?

Water from a Berkey filter will never have a bad taste, but the water may taste different to what you are accustomed to, either because it is free of chlorine (if you are used to tap water) or because it doesn’t have a plastic taste (if you drink bottled water). Some people initially say they dislike the taste of Berkey filter water, but they almost always start liking it later.

How Long Does It Take a Berkey Filter to Clean Water?

As we’ve seen, the amount of time it takes water to pass through the filter elements depends on which Berkey filter you have, although all take several minutes. In fact, one of the few Berkey water purifier complaints is that it takes the filter a long time to purify water.

However, there’s a good reason why Berkey water filters are slower than some other models: the longer each water molecule takes to pass through the filtration system, the more contaminants the media are able to remove. You can always speed up filtration by adding more cartridges to the filter.

Best Place to Buy a Berkey Water Filter

The best place to buy a berkey water filter is directly from the Berkey website. You can also buy a Berkey water filter replacement and any Berkey water filter replacement parts you need.

To summarize: are Berkey water filters good? They certainly are! Independent laboratory testing results of popular gravity water filters show that these are some of the most effective filtration systems on the market.

You can also see our comparisons of Berkey to see how they stack up to alternative products here:

No matter what contaminants you have in your water, a Berkey filter will definitely be able to remove them. Finally, you can find the exact size of water filter to suit your household and water needs.

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David Trinh
David is an expert in all things plumbing, heating, cooling, and water treatment. He got his start in the plumbing business working on fixing all types of home improvement issues including water leaks, broken toilets, appliance installation, and more. Over time, he learned a ton about installing and choosing the correct water treatment products for homeowners. He nows spends part of his time servicing local clients and part of his time educating consumers about water treatment and other household appliances.