Best Gravity Water Filters Review: The Big Berkey Uncovered

Best gravity water filters review - Big Berkey gravity filter, image courtesy of Amazon.

In this gravity water filters review, we’ll looks at my recommendation for the best gravity water filter on the market – the Big Berkey with (2) 9″ British Berkefeld Ceramic SuperSterasyl Water Filters.


The Product at a Glance

The Product: The Big Berkey Gravity Water Filter with (2) 9″ British Berkefeld Ceramic SuperSterasyl Water Filters
Rating: 4.9 (out of 5)
Recommended? Yes


Best Gravity Water Filters Review – What Make the Big Berkey Such a Great Choice?

Big Berkey is one of the best selling brands in water filters and purification systems all over the world and recommended as the No.1 filter system by a variety of health magazines, labs and independent health sites.

Employing a slower rate of filtration than other filter types, the Big Berkey is arguably the most superior and efficient filter around and is the filter of choice for organisations such as the Red Cross, as well as royalty and military forces.


5 Reasons to Own a Big Berkey Gravity Water Filter

1 – Slower filtrations means better filterage

The key benefit of gravity fed water filters are their slower filtration, which makes them superior to almost any other filter type.

As you might expect, slower filtration means better filterage. To use a Big Berkey gravity water filter, you simply pour water manually into the upper chamber. This then passes through the filter candles, under pressure of gravity, into the lower chamber where the filtered water can be accessed via a tap on the front of the filter.

2 – Made of quality stainless steel

Big Berkey gravity water filters are made from high grade, polished, quality stainless steel, whilst most other filters use plastic, which even if they are BPA free, can still leach chemicals over time.

3 – Employs Ceramic Super Sterasyl Filters

Ceramic Super Sterasyl Filters are the ‘candle’ filter type and of outstanding quality. As well as offering powerful filtration they are both self-sterilising and re-cleanable. 

A lot of the more basic filters can get a build up of bacteria, but the ceramic filters contain a tiny amount of silver, which is a bactericide and inhibits bacteria growth. The fact they are re-cleanable is also a huge plus, as it extends the life of the filters, which should last around 6 months.

4 – Cost effective, saving you money

If you think about the cost of bottled water over a year or the amount of replacement filters you need with pitcher or many other common types of filter unit, a Big Berkey will start saving you money pretty quickly. Not only will your water taste great, but you’ll have a system that is made of quality stainless steel, which should last for years, if not a lifetime, with filters which are both cleanable and longer lasting than most other filter types.

If you consider that the average cost of a gallon of bottled water in the US costs around $1.50 in bulk, you might be surprised to know with a Big Berkey it works out at around 2 cents per gallon over the lifetime of the unit.

5 – Portable

The Big Berkey gravity water filter system is a standalone unit, which requires no electricity or plumbing. This makes it ideal for the home, but due to its portability, also just as effective on camping trips (if you have transport) or with caravans or camper vans.

The Big Berkey is also a great piece of kit to have during flooding or emergencies when water quality may become compromised or unavailable.

See Latest Prices for the Big Berkey Gravity Water Filter on Amazon

Key Features of the Big Berkey Gravity Water Filter

  • 2.25 gallon holding volume
  • stands 19.25″ in height with a diameter of 8.5″
  • can filter up to 3.5 gallons per hour with 2 filters
  • made of high quality, polished stainless steel
  • re-cleanable, extending filter life
  • filter life of around 6 months (or 800 gallons)
  • self -sterlising.

What Does the Big Berkey Gravity Filter Remove?

The Big Berkey system is one of the most powerful filtration units around. It:

  • removes 99.999% of pathogenic bacteria, cysts and parasites
  • reduces harmful chemicals such as herbicides, pesticides and VOCs, without removing the beneficial minerals your body needs
  • reduces nitrates, nitrites and unhealthy minerals such as lead and mercury.

With the correct filter employed, the Big Berkey is also able to remove fluoride (via a PF-4 filter).

Over 60% of US municipal water supplies now contain fluoride, however its removal from water is notoriously difficult to do effectively and something activated carbon filters in most water filter systems are unable to address (see more filters that remove fluoride).

Simply pop a PF-4 filter into your Big Berkey system fitted with ceramic filters and you’ll be good to go for fluoride removal too.

See Latest Prices for the Big Berkey Gravity Water Filter on Amazon

How Many Ceramic Filters do I Need?

All Big Berkey gravity water filter systems start out with 2 filtration elements in the upper chamber.

You can then build upon this, should you so wish, depending on your needs.

You can add up to 4 ceramic (or Black Berkey) filters to the upper chamber of a Big Berkey, but note that more filters means faster filtration, not better filtration.

Should you wish to tackle arsenic and/or fluoride in your drinking water, you will need to employ a PF-4 Arsenic / Lead / MTBE / Fluoride filter set (which are designed to work with ceramic filters)  in the lower chamber of the Big Berkey system.


What Do Consumers Say About the Big Berkey Gravity Water Filter?

The Big Berkey gravity water filters with  gets an impressive 5 out of 5 stars from over 77% of customers on Amazon.com, with an average overall rating of 4.5 stars.

Customers love the great tasting water, ease of use, efficiency and cost savings generated by the efficiency of the Big Berkey over buying endless supplies of bottled water or frequent filter cartridge replacements.

Many customers claim its one of the best investments they have made and state they would never want to be without their Berkey system. Customers are also impressed with the fact the filter is able to effectively tackle fluoride (with the relevant filter applied).

A few customers did claim the spigot is not great quality, however, it was also cited that it still worked fine. It is also easy to upgrade at a later if it was felt necessary. This seemed to be more of a personal choice or view at the end of the day.

See Latest Prices for the Big Berkey Gravity Water Filter on Amazon


Should I Use Ceramic or Black Berkey Filters?

There is a lot of discussion online as to the differences between the Black Berkey ‘revolutionary’ filters and the Super Sterasyl Ceramic Filters and which ones it is best to use. This information can get confusing, so in a nutshell, I recommend the ceramic filters over the Black Berkey ones. If you’d like to know why, read this section.

From a filtration perspective, Black Berkey filters claim to remove or reduce the same chemicals and contaminants as the Super Sterasyl Ceramic Filters, but with the advantage of also going above and beyond by removing lead, MTBE’s and other heavy metals.

The Big Berkey website claims that the Black Berkey’s are so powerful, they are rated as water purifiers, since they filter out bacteria to a 99.99999% level and viruses to a 99.9999% level.  It is also claimed the Black Berkeys filter out Chlorine to undetectable levels, while the ceramics will only remove > 90%.

Many people have the Black Berkey filters in their Big Berkey systems and are extremely happy with them – however, various sources do cite that they are not NSF certified (it would seem from digging that they are not, which is pretty unusual for a well known filter) and that lab tests ‘may’ not be quite as transparent as suggested.

The gist seems to be that the Black Berkey filters make some incredible claims but with little certification to conclusively prove these claims.

I can’t say conclusively one way or the other what is 100% accurate, but there is a lot of discussion in this area online, plus a fair amount of customers on Amazon.com have also stated historically that the Black Berkey filters fall apart.

It would indeed appear that some of the Black Berkey filters were recalled, although Berkey have said this was a problem with adhesive, which has now been rectified. Reviews from 2015, however, are largely 5 star positive reviews, so many people do seem happy with their Black Berkey filters.

I’m never happy recommending anything though where there is this level of doubt, so from considerable research I would recommend that the Super Sterasyl ceramic silver impregnated filters are the best way to go (the ones that come with the Big Berkey system recommended in this review).

Why?

Because ceramic filters have been around for over 150 years and the Super Sterasyl filters are an evolution of this ceramic filter technology – something which was originally discovered by Henry Doulton in Great Britain in 1827.

Over the years, key improvements have been made to the ceramic filters by introducing benefits such as bacteria removal and self sterilization. This led to them becoming the filter of choice for many NGOs and military units and even the British Royal Family.

The main benefits claimed by a Black Berkey filter over a ceramic one are that they last longer and  filter out heavy metals and contaminants such as chlorine to a higher percentage. However, if you want to address heavy metals such as lead or MTBE’s, you can simply employ a PF-4 filter with your ceramic filters – this will do the same job and also address issues such as Fluoride and Arsenic.

Ceramic filters also contain a tiny amount of silver, which is a known bactericide. This inhibits any growth of bacteria. The fact they are re-cleanable is also a huge benefit, as it prolongs the filters life.

So in my view, why take a chance when ceramic filters have such a long history of reliable use and come recommended by NGOs and the military and are able to ‘pretty much’ do what the Black Berkeys claim?

See Latest Prices for the Big Berkey Gravity Water Filter on Amazon


Does the Big Berkey Come in Different Sizes?

The Big Berkey is the most popular selling of the Berkey filter products and the perfect choice for the home and families up to 4 people.

But if you require a larger capacity filter or a lighter version for travelling, check out this great little video from Berkey, which offers some tips for choosing the right Berkey filter for your needs.


Bottom Line – Best Gravity Water Filter

If you’re looking for the best gravity water filter on the market, this best gravity water filters review recommends the Big Berkey as the most superior filter in terms of contaminant removal rates, durability, affordability and overall flexibility.

Big Berkey gravity filter units are used by NGOS and the military and even by the British Royal Family. I recommend using the ceramic filters over the Black Berkey filters due to their long standing reliability and excellent reputation as arguably the most efficient filters available. The ceramic filters are both re-cleanable and self sterilising.

With the correct additional filter added (PF-4) a Big Berkey will also tackle flouride, arsenic and heavy metals.

For great tasting, clean water and a filtration unit that should last you a lifetime, a Big Berkey is my number 1 recommendation.

See Latest Prices for the Big Berkey Gravity Water Filter on Amazon


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Best Gravity Water Filters Review - The Big Berkey with Big Berkey with British Berkefeld Ceramic SuperSterasyl Water Filters
  • Efficiency
  • Ease of Use
  • Durability
  • Value for Money
4.9

The Verdict

My recommendation for the best overall gravity water filter system is the Big Berkey filter system with ceramic filters. Do you have a Big Berkey? Tell us what you think below…

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