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Water is a vital element in all life. We cannot exist without it. Water is all around us, in nature, in our pets, and even our own bodies, seeing that we are made up of around 60% water, with our brains composed of 70% water. Without water, we will die.
But not all water is created equal. We need clean, safe water in order to thrive. We need water that is full of minerals, but not full of chlorine, arsenic, and fluoride (just to name a few toxins) or harmful bacteria and parasites (ewww!). Finding a good water source is often more difficult that one might expect.
I grew up in the mountains on mineral-rich well water. When I moved to the city, I quickly realized how I had taken that water for granted. Now, all I had was chemical-laden water that tasted like swimming pool. I soon started buying bottled water at the health food store. But, that didn’t last long, because (a) I didn’t like using the BPA-filled plastic jugs, (b) I hated that all of that plastic was going to the landfill, and (c) It was expensive.
So, I bought some BPA-free jugs and started filling them at the health food store with their reverse-osmosis water. This was the same time I was first diagnosed with the thyroid disorder and I knew that fluoride had to go. Everything I read, and was told, was that fluoride could only be removed via reverse osmosis (RO). The problem with reverse osmosis water is that it is devoid of the good stuff. So, I had to re-mineralize the water, which didn’t always taste refreshing and certainly got old!
I have looked into reverse osmosis systems for our house, but have never felt comfortable settling for RO water forever. I knew there had to be a better way to get clean, safe water.
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Enter the Berkey Water Filtration System
The Berkey Water Filtration Systems have developed a revolutionary system that removes all the bad stuff, but leave all the good stuff (without reverse osmosis). They have a specialized filtration system that is capable of cleaning even the dirtiest water, stripping out all of the bacteria, chemicals, toxins, etc. but leaves the minerals!
The system uses a gravity filtration method. This is a very basic concept and makes it highly effective at removing contaminants. No electricity is needed and the system is portable, so you can take it with you and also use it in case of a natural disaster. You can even take the Berkey with you on camping trips and filter swamp water to drink (haven’t tried that yet!).
I liked this video, because it shows the benefits of the Berkey system and shows how versatile it is, especially in case of emergency.
The Big Berkey System
The system that I was reviewed was the Big Berkey. The Big Berkey is perfect for small and medium sized families and is also portable, so you can pack up and take with you if needed. The black berkey elements that come standard in this system is strong enough to purify both treated water from your faucet and untreated raw water from such sources as remote lakes, streams, stagnant ponds and water supplies in foreign countries. This system is perfect for everyday use in your kitchen.
The Big Berkey system (and their other systems) removes pathogenic bacteria, cysts and parasites entirely and extracts harmful chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides, VOCs, organic solvents, radon 222 and trihalomethanes. It also reduces nitrates, nitrites and unhealthy minerals such as lead and mercury. This system is so powerful it can remove food coloring from water without removing the beneficial minerals your body needs. Virtually no other system can duplicate this performance.
In addition to the standard black filters, I also received a pair of the PF-2 Arsenic and Fluoride Water Filters, because our local water is treated with fluoride. This was the main reason that I have stuck with buying RO water for so many years, because of the fluoride.
The Black Berkey Filters are designed to last. Under proper care and usage, a pair of the black filters should last through 6,000 gallons of water filtration! Wowsers! I found this video quite helpful in explaining how the black filters work their magic:
The PF-2 Arsenic and Fluoride Water Filters are BPA-free and work in harmony with the Black Berkey Filters to remove fluoride and arsenic. They are designed to last through 1,000 gallons of water or roughly two years. This video gives you an overview of how these filters remove fluoride (without reverse osmosis) and leave behind all the good stuff.
My Thoughts on the Berkey
Can I just tell you how wonderful it is not to have to lug home 3 gallon jugs of water from the health food store multiple times per week. That was truly a pain. Now, I can have clean, safe water in my kitchen — no lugging required! The other awesome thing is that there is no need to remineralize the water! This makes my hubby and my dogs happy! Clean, fresh water, without having to add liquid minerals in.
Because the filtration of the water is a bit slow (due to the gravity filtration method), it is a good idea to “stockpile” some water, especially if you’re like me and do a lot of cooking and fermenting. I continuously keep batches of water filtering and I store the extra in my stainless steel water dispenser that I had from the RO water days. That way, I’m never out of water. I have run out before, when I don’t keep up on it, and it is a pain, so I have gotten in the habit of emptying and refilling the filter regularly. My system usually filters a tank (2.25 gallons) in about 5-6 hours. There is room to fully expand the filters from 2 to 4, which dramatically improves your filtration speed. For right now, I am just using two black filters and two fluoride filters.
Depending on your water and how much calcium and other minerals is in it, you might need to clean the black filters regularly. Some people are able to go months without cleaning the filters, but I have found that I have to do a thorough cleaning and re-priming of the filter about once a month. At first, this seemed pretty frustrating and annoying, but I realized that it just the price I pay for living where I do and there is nothing I can do to change my water.
My water apparently has a lot of calcium in it, so after about a month of regular use, the filters pretty much stopped filtering. I had to take the black filters out and then use a vegetable peeler to gently peel off a thin layer of the filter. The instructions on the site say that you can use a white Scotch Brite pad and gently scrub the outside of the filters until some of the black comes off. For some people, the scrub pad might be sufficient. For me, I had to use the vegetable peeler. Don’t worry — the vegetable peeler was the nice folks’ at Berkey’s suggestion, not mine! 🙂 Once you scrub/peel, you need to re-prime the filters and they are ready to go.
How often you have to clean and re-prime is going to vary, depending on your water source. You really do want to leave the filters alone until they have dramatically slowed, or are not filtering at all, before you clean them. The less you handle them, the better.
All in all, I am very pleased with the Berkey that I tried. After the initial frustration of having to take the system apart and clean the filters, I am still so much happier now that I don’t have to lug those big jugs around! Plus, even though RO water was cheap at the health food store, this is still saving me time and money!
Want One For Yourself?
The nice folks over at Big Berkey Water Filters have generously offered to give one of my lucky readers a Big Berkey system, complete with two black filter cartridges and two fluoride filters. All you have to do is use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter. The giveaway will run through midnight on Wednesday, August 29th, with the winner being announced on Thursday, August 30th. The winner will be announced here on the blog and I will also send the winner an email. The winner will have 72 hours to respond to claim their prize.