Whats Wrong With the Berkey Water Filter System?
Well, actually not a lot. A few things are wrong, but not a lot.
For survival purposes, the one thing Berkey’s have going for them is they don’t take any water pressure or electricity (or any energy at all) to make them work. Being gravity fed the Berky Water Filter System is the perfect choice for when the grid goes down.
see my review of off-grid water distillation systems and
review of bug out bag survival filtration systems
It is also a very popular choice for survivalists and homemakers….maybe the #1 choice for water purification. Which is a mystery to me. Heres why:
1) Berkeys require filter replacement. So unless you stock up on filters you may run out before the stores open again.
2) Berkeys Don’t filter as completely as Reverse Osmosis or Water Distillation. “95%” filtration for particles is not 100%, nor is it even close. I think 5% is too much to be letting through a water purification system. If you are going to the trouble of purifying your water, you might as well get as close to 100% as you can. You will also need special additional filters if you are concerned about things like fluoride.
“But We Need Some Minerals in Our Water!”
You may be of the opinion that “you don’t want all the minerals taken out of the water”. This is a common myth that I believed for years so don’t feel bad when I tell you that most people feel the same BUT YOU DO want all the minerals taken out. The explanation is much more detailed here, but for now, I’ll just say that you don’t know what those minerals are when you just randomly don’t filter out a small percentage of dirty water. In addition, the minerals found in water aren’t the kind the body needs.
3) Berkeys require that you fill them by hand. This can be a pain and if there were an auto-fill option in a survival situation, it would be that much less to be worried about.
4) When you are dealing with filters in general, and this is true for RO filters too, you start out with filtration just as advertised, but the effectiveness of the filter gradually gets worse and worse before it gets so clogged it stops working. But before it stops working it is NOT filtering as well as it did right at the start. There is also no way to really know how good the filter is working other than to replace according to the manufacturer’s estimates. In other words, the filtering is not consistent across time.
With ceramic filters, in particular, there is a tendency toward bacterial and other types of growth on the filter itself. Again there is no way to know unless you send water samples to a lab like this guy did:
But before watching this amazingly educational Dad (wished my dad had been like that lol) listen closely to how he mentions the presence of Aluminum, Lithium, and Strontium. For those who follow this blog, you will know how there is Aluminum in all water across the world now as it is in the rain. Aluminum is a known cause of Alziemers and even more recently connected to Autism. The fact he suspects aluminum in the Flouride filter as well is not a good thing. But Strontium is definitely NOT good as Strontium IS radioactive. Both aluminum and Strontium are ‘minerals’. So if you are assuming that ‘allowing some minerals is a good thing’ think again! Those minerals are not what you think they are. Even the Calcium that is present in the water is not usable in your body! Oh well, at least there was Lithium, a medication used to treat Bi-polar disorder and most likely will give you a calm passive attitude about it. So the other option is to drink more water and it will help you forget about it.
It’s Better Than Nothing
There is no doubt that the Berkey Water Filtration System will work for emergency situations and will be better than nothing. My concern is if you have to get water from a very dirty source the filters won’t last long before needing cleaning or replacement. Also if the water is really bad, then 5% of bad is much worse and more noticeable than 5% of your ordinary tap water. In an emergency that will be bad. Still, 5% of possibly toxic residue for daily intake is something to think about especially if there are complete purification options around.
I will admit that the Berkey is a beautiful shiny object that would look good in any kitchen. It certainly beats out my old Distiller (which looks like something you would get a bad cup of coffee out of in a cafeteria) and certainly better than an RO system that you have to hide under a sink. But if substance and performance is what you are looking for then you will have to forego the looks.
But it’s better than nothing. A lot of people won’t be able get their heads around the amazing appeal of the Berkey filter. Fewer still will be able to get around the prejudice we have all been trained about as far as absolutely clean water goes. Clean water IS GOOD. Get it as clean as possible. The Berky is getting there, get it if you have to, but know there are some concerns and some would say better options.