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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.
DISCLOSURE: I was provided with a Big Berkey system at no charge. I was under no obligation to post a review or giveaway, nor did I receive any monetary compensation for this post. All views and opinions expressed are my own. This post contains affiliate links and/or ads. I am part of their affiliate program and when you make a purchase through any of these links, I earn a small commission on each sale. This has no effect on your sale price and is simply a cost of doing business for the company you are purchasing from. Read our full terms and conditions here.
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.
Ha ha, I knew it would be this!
Hee hee!!! 🙂
Fingers crossed!!! I really need one! They say our water up here is really really bad…..and we are so close to the Arsenal they are testing for additional chemicals in our water!! YIKES!!
Oh pick me, pick me!
tried to subscribe to the big berkeley water’s blog, but only get an error message
Debra – I just tried it and it seems to be working. Perhaps it was just a momentary glitch? Let me know if you’re still having issues.
I hope I win!!!!!
thank you for doing this and its an awesome site …also no place to hit enter to enter contest
Drisana – Each entry in the Rafflecopter widget will have a green “Enter” button that you click after you’ve done whatever the requirement is. Let me know if you’re still running into problems.
P.S. Thank you for your kind words! 🙂
Having problems signing up. Will leave name and email. Thanks for the chance. !!!!!!!!!
I hope I win, for my daughter’s sake. She has thyroid issues and just moved to a new apartment where she has city TREATED water, and does NOT need to be exposed to all the chemicals in the water. We’ve bought some other cheaper filters, but I’m sure that this filter would be better for her! Thank you for offering this contest. 🙂
The Berkey is worth every penny and then some! A perfect solution!
Can’t get to the berkey’s blog to subscribe just takes me to some random site.
You have to click on the link in the Rafflecopter widget and it will take you to the page where you can subscribe. Here is the link: http://www.addtoany.com/subscribe?linkname=Big%20Berkey%20Water%20Filters&linkurl=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.bigberkeywaterfilters.com%2Fwordpress%2Ffeed%2F
Let me know if you’re still having any problems!
I would love to win the Berkley. My thyroid is getting worse, my daughter was just diagnosed probably celiac and other allergies and mom is very low sodium. I am slowly buying health items but winning this would be a huge blessing! Thanks for the offer Jessica!
I love this giveaway. But I have a question. I did some research on Berkey before I bought my home system. My understanding is that is does remove most of the minerals and some need to be replaced. I’m confused now. It’s one of the reasons I chose my home system that doesn’t filter fluoride (but apparently we don’t need it as our region is N/A for fluoride). Is this a new type of filtration or is this the one they have always had?
Hi Jen – I asked that same exact question of the folks over at Berkey and they told me that the water does not need to be remineralized. That was a major selling point on their systems over others. I still take a liquid mineral supplement anyways, but I don’t remineralize my water like I used to have to do with RO water. Does that help?
Yes, that helps. Thanks. I was wondering if I goofed when I had my hubs purchase the whole house system. But, I think that was the right move for us. Since fluoride was not a problem, the chlorine needed to be addressed from vapors and showering. I sometimes think that I need to get a Berkey too just to set on the counter in case the local water peeps decide to be dumb and add Fluoride to the water.
I would like to win this!
I have a Berkey and love it!!! What is the source for the BPA free jugs you mention?? I have looked for a long time for some, but have had no success.
Hi Becky – I got those jugs at Whole Foods. The 3-gallon ones cost around $20 each. The brand is called New Wave Enviro. This is the one I have: http://www.newwaveenviro.com/3-gallon-bpa-free-bottle-p-152.html?zenid=2cddc7f7227530d8ffa9162103e01ecb
I need this so much…
I just got some lab results on toxins in my urine..It showed up even cesium 137!
Hope I win 😉
I was just thinking about buying one but I think I will wait and see if I can win! 🙂
Not sure if I subscribed correctly to the Berkley blog. I am new to computers (old lady) and don’t always know what I am doing. I would sure love to win this. Good luck to everyone.
I have seen the Berkley water filter and have been planning to get one. I understand that they are really good and filter just about everything. I would love to win this one.
Okay! I better win this!!!!!!!!!
Love this post – GREAT Giveaway! Thanks for the opportunity Jessica!
While this was a great review of the Berkey product, I am still confused as to how it can remove every impurity, while leaving the minerals. Most of the impurities are smaller in size compared to the minerals. So, if the minerals make it through, what else is making it through?
Also, it mentions that it leaves the minerals, but stated above, the calcium builds up on the filters and needs to be cleaned. This suggests that it removes the mineral from the water as well.
Hi Dustin – This is from Berkey’s customer service:
The filtration media used will only absorb/adsorb heavy metals and has no affinity for bonding to beneficial minerals. As a result, these beneficial minerals will pass through. With calcium, the mineral may be found throughout the system depending on the source water levels; from the upper chamber and potentially the outside of the filters; to the lower chamber and spigot. It will accumulate in the upper chamber simply because the filters and chamber are holding the water for long periods of time, thus calcium will naturally build-up. This would be analogous to the build-up in sinks and tubs.
Let me know if you have any other questions! 🙂
I have recently ound a wealth of information via many pages on Facebook.
Being a single mother working and homeschooling I have not been able to buy the great equipment out there such as a good water filter or juicer. But they are on my high priority list.
So I started to notice that many sites are giving away these wonderful life presevers, so I am on the hunt and hoping that I will be a winner of one soon. Or finally be able to afford to buy one which ever comes first:)
I currently use a filter on my faucet because I just dont like to lug all the jugs into the apartment builing, and they take up too much space in my little apartment. AND I read about how the RO and distilled waters remove all of the Minerals, so again I cannot afford to buy Mineral Supplements so I am trying to preserve and the ones already available to me without consuming all those nasty chemicals at the same time….
Hope to be a Winner!!!
Does the Berkey change the PH of the water or is it whatever the water you use is?
Hi Sarah – According to the Big Berkey site, “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.” You can read more here: http://www.bigberkeywaterfilters.com/helpful-resources/faq/
Hi there 🙂
I was wondering if you know if this water filtration system is available in Canada? Also I wanted to thank you for all of the wonderful information you provide! You’ve really made a difference in my life and I’m truly grateful!
Hi Heather – Yes, they do ship internationally! Thank you so much for the kind words! I really appreciate them and I am so glad the info I share has been helpful! 🙂
We have used our Berkey for about 4 years. We are still using the same original black berkey filters but have changed the flouride filters as suggested. I have used it daily for drinking, cooking and for canning. We have run several gallons of water each day when canning and still it is going strong. Wouldn’t drink our rural water system water without the Berkey! Thanks for the filter comparison. I always felt it was the best way to filter our water and you have also shown in this that it is also the cheapest.
Hi James! Thanks for stopping by! So glad the post was helpful! So glad you guys love yours! 🙂