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Top Frequently Asked Questions

Berkey® systems are designed to work without the need for electricity or plumbing. They are “off-the-grid” water purifiers and are gravity fed. You can use several sources for providing water including:

· Creeks
· Lakes
· Ponds & Stagnant Ponds
· Rain
· Rivers
· Springs
· Streams
· Tap Water
· Water Storage
· Wells

325_MThe key to the Berkey® systems are the Black Berkey® Purification Elements, commonly referred to as Black Berkeys or Purification Elements. Black Berkeys are the primary filters, able to purify contaminants from the water. Elements are sold in sets of two. One set of Black Berkey® Purification Elements is rated to purify 6,000 gallons of tap water.

Except for the Sport Berkey® Water Bottle, Berkey® systems include an upper chamber which rests upon a lower chamber when assembled. Think of these as two large open-top canisters. The upper chamber (or canister) has holes in its base into which the Black Berkey® Purification Elements are housed. The upper canister is designed to rest on top of the bottom canister. Essentially, the top chamber is where the water-to-be-purified is poured. The bottom chamber serves as the reservoir for the water that has been purified in the upper chamber, by passing through the Black Berkeys.For individuals wanting to address fluoridation in their water source, please see the paragraph on the PF2 Fluoride/Arsenic Reduction Elements below. 

Except for the Sport and Go Berkeys, all of the bottom chambers of the Berkey® systems contain a spigot which allows the user to access the purified water from the reservoir.

The Sport Berkey® is made from BPA-free (bisphenol-A) plastic and contains a miniature Black Sport Berkey® Element which has the same purifying power of the Black Berkeys.

Sport Berkey Blue

The Sport Berkey® Water bottle was designed to provide on-demand water purification, equal in purity to the larger multi-element systems. The Sport element is rated to purify 640 refills (~110 gallons) of tap water, or 160 refills (~28 gallons) of questionable quality (i.e. creek, pond, lake water, etc.). An individual using her Sport Berkey® for everyday use might refill her bottle up to three times a day. If she was using it for tap water around the city, taking it to work, to the gym, and at home, at the rate of three refills per day, she could expect to change the Sport Berkey® Element at 7 months of use. She would only need to purchase a Sport Berkey® Replacement Element, not replace the whole water bottle.

Sport Berkey Replacement Filter

Black Berkey® Elements


The unique Berkey® design combines the age-old process of micro-porous filtration coupled with modern state-of-the-art technology and the highest quality materials to bring you the finest water purification system available anywhere. The micro-pores within the self-sterilizing and re-cleanable Black Berkey® purification elements are so small that pathogenic bacteria are simply not able to pass through them.


The media within the elements remove contaminants by a surface phenomenon known as “adsorption” which results from the molecular attraction of substances to the surface of the media. The exclusive purification elements are also impregnated with proprietary “absorbing” media that promote IONIC “absorption” of pollutants within the micro-porous elements.


Another reason Berkey® systems are so effective in removing contaminants from water is the extremely long “contact period”. Other filtration systems rely on water pressure that forces water molecules through the filter 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 “Tortuous Path” structure of the Black Berkey® purification 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 contaminates. For example, if you were to hurl 100 steel ball bearings at a large magnet, some would stick but most would bounce off. However, if you were to walk over and gently place the ball bearings on the magnet most, if not all, would adhere to the magnet. Berkey® systems fully utilize this principle.

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 exclusive Black Berkey® purification elements has been calculated to yield the greatest volume removal of toxic chemicals and pathogenic bacteria found in nature and caused by pollution from industry and agriculture.

Black Berkeys are the primary filters which are able to purify contaminants from the water. Elements are sold in sets of two. One set of Black Berkey® Purification Elements is rated to purify 6,000 gallons of tap water. Since the qualities of raw water sources vary, even among different samples of the same source, tap water is the standard of reference used to establish the 6,000 gallon mark. Water which is free of sediment and low in contaminants will perform closer to the 6,000 gallon lifespan for the Black Berkeys, maybe even surpassing that amount. The key in determining the lifespan of the Black Berkeys is in the production and not their age.

Black Berkeys are easily maintained by re-priming and scrubbing with a stiff brush, toothbrush, or slightly abrasive pad, similar to a green/white Scotch-Brite™ pad.

Maintenance is made much easier with the new Black Berkey Primer. Never use warm or hot water or freeze the Black Berkeys as this will likely damage the integrity of the compressed carbon and proprietary impregnated media.

All carbon filters will eventually require replacement, although the life of the Black Berkeys can be extended with routine or necessary maintenance.

The easiest way to determine that the Black Berkey® Elements are still working properly is to add 1 teaspoon of McCormick’s regular RED food coloring per gallon (only McCormick’s red will work, cannot be organic) in the top chamber and make sure the water collecting in the bottom chamber is clear and free of the food coloring. It is best to place a glass under each Black Element in the empty bottom chamber so as to differentiate if one/more Black Berkeys is still working properly.

If you are using the optional PF2 Fluoride/Arsenic Reduction Elements with your Berkey® system, please be sure to detach them from the Black Berkeys and remove them from the bottom chamber before performing the Red Food Coloring test.


Yes. Rainwater can be poured through the Berkey water filter system, and then safely used for cooking and drinking.

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%: Gasoline, Diesel, Crude Oil, Kerosene, Mineral Spirits, Refine Oil.

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.

Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide and pesticide. Glyphosate is primarily released into the environment via runoff water and predominantly 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 issues or concerns. The EPA has extensive information published about Glyphosate, particularly about it being in drinking water. Click here to view basic information about Glyphosate in drinking water. Black Berkey™ Purification Elements will reduce Glyphosate in your water by greater than 75%, exceeding the laboratories reporting limits.

The most recent laboratory testing indicates that the Black Berkey® Purification Elements reduce Arsenic up to 99.9%. Typically carbon based elements that reduce Arsenic begin to lose that ability rather quickly. This is likely the case with Black Berkey® Elements, which means that their efficiency at removing Arsenic likely plays out long before the 3,000-gallon life of the element.

For that reason, the PF-2 filters were  developed.  A more durable and longer lasting solution for Arsenic reduction by creating the replaceable Berkey® PF-2™ Fluoride and Arsenic reduction elements. The media in a set of Berkey® PF-2™ elements can reliably remove Arsenic contaminants for up to 1,000 gallons, which is less than the 3,000 gallon life of the Black Berkey® Elements but again, that is why they were designed to be replaceable. This enables the users to reliably remove Arsenic contaminants from their water while taking full advantage of the 3,000 gallon life of their Black Berkey® Elements.

The Black Berkey® Purification Element’s job is to remove a wide variety of potential contaminants, while the Berkey® PF-2™ Post Filter’s job is to remove Fluoride and Arsenic contaminants that the Black Berkey® Purification Elements may begin to miss after extended use.

Actual reduction capability is dependent on the presence of other competing contaminants in the source water. High levels of fluoride and heavy metals may reduce the capacity and efficiency of these elements.

Plastic Fibers, also known as Microplastics, are small plastic pieces that can enter and contaminate drinking water. Scientists are studying the exact pathways that allow microplastics to enter into the drinking water supply. An extensive investigation on microplastics in water found that these analyses caught particles of more than 2.5 microns in size,” 2.5 microns would be 2.5 micrometers.

A “micron” is an abbreviated term for “micrometer”, or a millionth of a meter (1/1,000,000 meters). This is about .00004 inches. For Size comparison, a human red blood cell is about 5 microns across. A human hair is about 75 microns across (depending on the person).” **

Working down to a smaller scale 2.5 microns would be 2,500 nanometers.

The Black Berkey® purification elements can reduce viruses down to the nanometer scale, in the tested range of 24-26 nanometers:

24-26 nanometers is .024 to .026 microns…in other words, much smaller than the plastic particles being found in water.

The fact that Black Berkey® purification elements have been tested to remove viruses to the nanometer range suggests that contaminants much larger in size, such as plastic fibers should also be removed. Nonetheless, since actual testing of plastic fibers has not yet been conducted, NMCL can’t officially make that claim.

We have no way of knowing exactly what potential contaminants may be in each person’s water supply. What we do know is that our Black Berkey® purification elements filter out numerous pharmaceutical drugs and endocrine-disruptors (EDCs); such as BPA, Naproxin, Octylphenol, Progesterone, THM’s and many more. Please click here to view some of our most recent test results, specifically pertaining to EDCs and pharmaceutical drug contaminants that could be found in your water.

Flouride PF2s and Arsenic Filters

The letters P and F in PF2 denote the fact that these are post filters, or additional filters that work in conjunction with the Black Berkeys by attaching directly to them, although the PF2s hang in the bottom chamber of the Berkey® systems. PF2s are designed to be used exclusively with the Black Berkey® Elements and not with any other filters. An equal number of PF2 elements should be used to the number of Black Berkeys used in each Berkey® system.

Example: If a Berkey® Light is configured with 2 Black Berkeys, then an equal number of 2 PF2 elements must be used by attaching one PF2 to each Black Berkey®.

The PF2 Fluoride/Arsenic Reduction Elements contain activated alumina oxide, media recognized and documented by the EPA (amongst others) to remove and reduce fluoride and arsenic, as well as heavy-metals, from contaminated water. Activated alumina oxide is a non-toxic media.

For more details about alumina oxide in the PF2s, read the manufacturer’s FAQs.


1,000 gallons
It is recommended that each set of two Berkey PF-2™ fluoride water filters should be replaced after 1,000 gallons (3,785 liters).  If you use 5 gallons of water per day, then PF-2 filters should be replaced after (1,000/5), or 200 days, they should be replaced approximately every 6 months.


The PF-2 water filters must be primed prior to installation.  The filtering media contained in the element is very dense and contains dust from the manufacturing process. This dust needs to be rinsed from the media in order for the water to run clear and to break the surface tension of the filtering media. Once primed the Fluoride Filters should never be dried out completely. If no water passes through them for several days the filters will need to be replaced.

USA Berkey Filters Policies

Berkey Lifetime Warranty

Our Exclusive Lifetime warranty for Berkey Water Filtration Systems ensures replacement of all Berkey canisters, spigots, washers, and wing nuts that fail due to faulty materials or workmanship. These items may be returned to us and we will send you new replacement items. There is no need to register with us; this warranty applies to any system purchased on our web site at or over the phone.

This warranty does not cover damage caused by carelessness, accidents, or abuse of the system. Filters have a separate warranty. This Exclusive Lifetime warranty exists in addition to all other stated warranties on Berkey Systems.

To take advantage of your lifetime warranty on Berkey canisters, spigots, washers, or wing nuts, contact us at 888-213-3394. If possible, please have your receipt handy. Once you have reported the issue, you will be asked to ship the damaged parts to us. We will process the claim and, if it’s approved, ship the replacement parts to you. All shipping will be at the customer’s expense.

All other items have a manufacturer’s warranty of at least 90 days, and some are up to a year. If an item breaks due to a manufacturer defect, please call us at 888-213-3394.

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