Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter Review: Worth Buying?

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There are many reasons why you might want to invest in a big Berkey. For example, you may live in an area where tap water is unsafe to drink. Or maybe you just prefer drinking filtered water over plain old tap water. Whatever your reason, here’s everything you need to know about big Berkeys.

I’ve personally used a big Berkey for years, and I’m happy with how well it works. In fact, I recommend it to everyone who asks me about it. But before you buy one, make sure you read this article first. It will help you decide whether you really need a big Berkey.

Big Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter Review

What is the Big Berkey?

The Big Berkey is a gravity-fed water filtration system that uses a unique design to remove contaminants from tap water. The Big Berkey works by letting water flow through a series of layers of carbon, sand, and charcoal before filtering out impurities.

Overview of the Big Berkey Water Filter

The Big Berkey gravity-fed filtration system is a stainless steel portable drinking water filter that filters out more than 200 different types of impurities from tap and well waters.

One of the biggest benefits of using the Berkey is that you don’t have to connect it to your faucets. You simply fill it up with tap or unfiltered waters and let it do its thing.

You can keep the Big Berkey anywhere you want. Most of us prefer keeping it on our kitchen counters. It might take some rearranging if you don’t have enough room. It’s 19.25″ tall and 8.5″.

Because you don‘t need to hook up the Big Berkey to the sink, it can easily be moved around if needed. And because it works without relying on your home’s existing plumbing, it’s also easier to install. 

What is it capable of filtering?

Big Berkey water filter systems are designed to remove bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, chlorine, fluoride, lead, mercury, arsenic, copper, zinc, iron, manganese, nitrate, nitrite, pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceuticals, and many other contaminants from tap water.

They’re also great at removing sediment and particulate matter from water, making them ideal for use in areas where there may be a lot of debris in the water supply.

Travel Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter with 2 Black Berkey Purification Elements

How much water can it filter and what’s the flow rate?

Each pair of two black filters can remove up to 6,000 gallons of water. Their site says:

That’s a tremendous 6,000 liters for a two-stage filtration system (about 2.5 cents per liter of water). Because of its unique ability to be cleaned by a 3M Scotch-Brite cleaning cloth, the Black Berkey filters can be cleaned up to 100x. The Black Berkey Filtered Replacement Kit is the same as the filter that comes with the original system purchase.


Our Big Berkey System with the two regular black Berkey filters processes between 2 and 3 liters per hour. Just pour water into the top chamber and allow it to filter down to the lower chamber. We usually wait until late at nighttime to ensure that we get a full tank of filtered water when we awake in the morning.

We started out with the basic set of two black Berkely elements that came standard and then we later bought another set of two for a grand sum of four. This made our filtration go much faster at around twenty to thirty minutes per gallon. For everyday home use, this is pretty convenient. However, I can see how this could be very important if you were using it in an area where there was a shortage of clean drinking supplies.

If we notice the speed starts to drop off, it means we need to clean out our filter. This is often an easy job to do every couple of months. For those who are filtration purists, they may only have to do this about once per year. In either case, if you’re a filtration purist, you’ll likely find yourself doing this much less frequently than we do with our rainfall. I’ve noticed a thin layer of “sludge” on my element’s exterior that definitely says it’s time to clean. My mother, in the urban area with her Go Berkey system, never gets this film either.

We usually use our Big Berkey water filter for one or two days per week. If it’s really hot out and we want to drink more water than usual, we might use it every single night.

Key Features of the Big Berkey Water filter

Durable stainless steel construction

The Big Berkey water filter is made out of durable stainless steel. This means it won’t rust, corrode, or break down over time. It’s constructed well enough to withstand years of use.

Stainless steel is a great material because it doesn’t react with chemicals found in tap water. So, unlike plastic, it won’t leach harmful substances into your drinking water. And, unlike copper, it won’t oxidize or turn green when exposed to chlorine.

2x Black Berkey Purification System

The Big Berkey has two Black Berkey purifying elements in the top chamber, which together will filtrate approximately 6,000 gallons of filtered drinking liquid before they will require replacement.

Increasing the number of Black Berkey filters in the upper chambers from two to four will increase the filtering capacity by a factor of 2, meaning that the system will now filter up to 12,000 gallons of tap or bottled drinking water per set.

Easy to Install and operate

You’ll be happy to know that the Big Berkey doesn’t require any major installations. The manual does include some basic instructions on setting it up, but they were quite helpful when I unpacked my Berkey for the very first time. It also includes a bit of basic info about taking care of the unit, checking that the filter works, and replacing the parts.

Water Quality from a Berkey Water System

A Berkey system allows you to purify tap, lake, and stream waters using nothing but gravity.

It is capable of cleaning a wide variety of water contaminants, including bacteria and viruses; harmful heavy metal ions; toxic chemical pollutants; chlorination byproducts; and emerging contaminants such as prescription medications.

If you want to know which contaminants the Berkey filter removes, check out this page.

Travel Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter with 2 Black Berkey Purification Elements

Assembly & Maintenance

How to Assemble a Berkey Filter

It can be a bit intimidating to have to learn how the Berkey water filter works. However, I am here to assure you that assembling the Berkey Water Filtration System is a simple task that requires no special skills or tools. It can be done in just seven easy, step-by-step instructions.

Regardless of which type of Big Berkey water filter you own, assembling it is pretty straightforward. Here’s what to do:

  1. Before assembling the device, wash your hands thoroughly, including under your nails, to avoid contaminating the parts.
  2. Remove the Black Berkey purifier from its packaging and place it on a clean surface.
  3. Put the lid back on by inserting the lid handle into the hole and fitting the lid handle into position, then tighten with your hand (don’t put any tools in there).
  4. Make sure your Black Berkey filters are primed by following these instructions.
  5. Inserting the sealing washer first into the threaded section of the filter element, then attaching it to the top of the chamber using the wing nut, is the best way to assemble the filter. If you don’t have any empty element hole spaces, then you shouldn’t worry too much about them. However, if you do have some empty element hole spaces, you should plug up these spaces by inserting blocking pieces.
  6. Attaching the threaded section of the tap or spigots to the bottom of the water heater is easy. Just insert a rubber washer into the threaded section, then screw it into place. Before securing the second washers onto the threaded end of the spigot, attach the first one.
  7. Put the upper container on top of the lower one and then add the lid. The system is now available for use.

If you’re more of a visual learner, then you can follow this handy video that guides you through the setup of its filter system – find it here.

Royal Berkey Gravity-Fed Water Filter with 2 Black Berkey Elements

Berkey vs. Other Top Gravity Fed Filter Brands

What makes Berkey different from other top gravity fed filter brand options? Here are just a few reasons why Berkey is better than other top gravity-fed filter options:

  1. Berkey filters out bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, chlorine, fluoride, arsenic, lead, mercury, pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceuticals, and more.
  2. Berkey filters out 99.99% of chemicals found in tap water.
  3. Berkey filters out 99.99% of parasites, cysts, and protozoa.
  4. Berkey filters out 99.99% of E. coli, Giardia lamblia, Cryptosporidium, and Salmonella.
  5. Berkey filters out 99.99% of chemical contaminants.
  6. Berkey filters out 99.99% of organic compounds.
  7. Berkey filters out 99.99% of pharmaceutical drugs.

Is a Berkey Filter Right for You?

Even though the Berkey systems are unquestionably some of the best available today, with perhaps the highest number of 5-star reviews online, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the best choice for your household. It really does depend on your circumstances and your needs, after all.

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then the Berkey might be the right choice for you.

  • You live in an environment where there are already lead issues.
  • You either drink tap water or use a private water source (such as a spring) for drinking.
  • You want to replace an older, smaller countertop water filtration unit with one that costs less in the long term.
  • You want to avoid buying bottled drinking waters, which you currently exclusively purchase.
  • You need a water filter system that you can depend on, even during an emergency.

Our Opinion

In conclusion, Big Berkey water filters are among the top-rated water filtration systems available today. They offer excellent quality and performance, and they’re easy to use. In fact, they’re so simple that you won’t even know you’re drinking filtered water unless you actually look at the bottle.

The main reason why these products are so successful is that they remove impurities from tap water without adding anything extra to it. This means that they’re perfect for households where the water supply has high levels of contaminants like chlorine or lead.

That said, if you want to drink clean water, you shouldn’t settle for second-rate options. Instead, choose Big Berkey water filters and enjoy pure, safe drinking water right in your home.