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How Does a Berkey Water Filter Work?

By Jeff Wise April 27, 2022

Berkey water filters are top-quality, highly-effective filtration systems. While these gravity filters are simple to use, they are known to successfully remove hundreds of contaminants from the water supply.

Many water filtration systems work differently. So how does a Berkey water filter work?

Compared to some other systems, the Berkey is very easy. It requires no electricity, water pressure, or plumbing hook-up.

With only gravity, the black elements miraculously do their job to provide the cleanest water possible.

The Logistics of the Berkey

Upon receiving a Berkey system, there is little prep needed to set it up. The upper chamber rests on the lower chamber.

The black elements need to be cleaned, which you can see how to do here.

Once the elements have been cleaned, you'll need to run water through the filters a couple times before drinking.

This could take a day or so to complete. You just fill the top chamber and the water will filter through to the bottom chamber. Dump the water and repeat the process.

By the third time, you will have clean water ready for drinking. As you enjoy clean water, be sure to allow the top chamber to fully filter through before refilling.

The black elements will last a long time, and in some cases up to five years, depending on how often you refill to top chamber.

Occasionally, the elements will start filtering more slowly and you’ll need to clean them again. But otherwise, the filters need no special attention.

Berkey Filters in Depth

Most of the work done by Black Berkey Filters can’t be seen. So how does the Berkey water filter really work?

There are several processes from the time water enters the black Berkey elements until it empties into the bottom chamber.

Step One of How Berkey Water Filters Work

How Berkey Filters Water

The first defense is known as microfiltration. The black elements are made up of six media types which contain millions of microscopic pores.

These pores are so tiny that certain contaminants and unwanted particles can’t even fit through them.

Those contaminants include pathogenic bacteria, parasites, herbicides, pesticides, cysts, VOC’s, organic solvents, silt, sediment, detergents, cloudiness, and foul tastes and odors.

Through the process of microfiltration, these items can no longer continue in the water filtration.

Step Two

The next step in the process is adsorption. The adsorption properties create an ionic barrier that effectively traps water contaminants with the tiny pores.

This is similar to how a box of baking soda traps smells in a refrigerator. Contaminants that might be smaller than the pores, such as viruses, are still trapped through the adsorption process.

Because of this, adding chemicals, like chlorine or iodine, to the filtration process are not necessary to remove these contaminants.

The adsorption process also extracts and transforms heavy metal ions like lead, mercury, cadmium, copper, and aluminum.

Step Three

In the final step, the flow rate plays a major part in contamination removal.

Since Berkey works as a gravity filter, instead of requiring water pressure, the water is in contact longer with the filters than other systems.

This allows for more reliable contamination removal.

Where water comes in contact with other filters for a mere fraction of a second, water runs through the Berkey black elements much longer than that, capturing contaminants much more effectively.

Trustworthy Process

The details and science that make up the Berkey water filtration process ensure the cleanest, best tasting water possible.

It is also one of the easiest water filter systems to use.

Knowing how the Berkey water filters work can give you confidence that your water is healthy, pure, and safe for your family to drink.

The next time family or friends ask you, "how does the Berkey water system work", just share this article with them!


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