Big Berkey water filter hands-on review
Last update June 18, 2019.
The Big Berkey has been hailed as the perfect filter for sometime now. The reason is that independent tests have been giving it excellent marks: Apparently it filters out a great number of toxic materials, perhaps more than other filters.The filter elements of the Big Berkey water filter system are very popular and are used by in systems of some other brands. The taste of the filtered water of the Big Berkey has been praised as comparable to spring water.
Now my hands on review. I can in no way question the results of water testing labs. Here are my observations. The system looks nice. The manufacturer claims it is stainless steel, and I believe it is, however what grade steel? There is no indication on the buckets of what grade steel it is made of. The buckets are thin and light, although of course this does not preclude high grade steel.
There is space for four filter elements, which you screw at the bottom of the upper bucket. The filters are solid and heavy. The system comes with rubber gaskets which are used to seal the filter at the bottom of the upper bucket. I do not like this, as I do not know what substances this rubier may release in the filtered water. I understand there are steel nuts that you can buy so you may circumvent this potential problem. The butterfly nuts that you use to tighten the filter elements on the upper bucket are plastic. Again I am not happy with my water dripping over plastic for hours every day. They are poorly made and you can easily strip the grooves on the filter element, if you tighten them strongly.
As a result of this admittedly bad design, there is no easy way to make sure that unfiltered water does not leak through to the the lower bucket which container the filtered water that you will be drinking; ;The proposed test with red food dye I find preposterous and unacceptable, as the ted dye will stay inside the filter and be a constant contaminant of your drinking water.
The filter elements stand upright in the upper bucket, and thy give they feel of being wobbly.
The spigot is plastic. Another point that makes me unhappy.
After washing the buckets and spigot, you will attach the spigot on he lower bucket. This is eaily done, and there are how-to videos on the web. The difficulties begin with the installation of the filter elements. Hols the upper bucket upside down and insert the filter element from below after washing them and priming them.
How to prime the filter elements
The purpose of priming is to remove the air from inside the filter elements and open the pores on the ceramic walls so that water can later pass through inside the filter and ultimately into the lower bucket. Priming is done by fitting the mouth of the filter element on the faucet mouth in your kitchen sink. Under very low pressure hold the filter for about five minutes until water droplets appear on its wall, until it sweats. Rinse the filter element and screw on the bottom of the upper bucket.
The phase of priming is the Achilles' heal of the Berkey water filtering systems. Note that during priming you fill ou the filter element with water whose quality and possible toxicity you do not know! The possible contaminants stay inside the filter element possibly for the entire life ot the filter poisoning you.
THE VERDICT: Judging from the lab tests he Big Berkey is a fine water filter system which gives you plenty of water at no energy cost, and fast. The quality of the water it gives you is as good as or better than any other system. The taste of the water is not comparable to spring water, it does a have a mild taste of something earthy, especially while you are boiling it, some people report.
Assembly and maintenance of this filter system is too complicated and cannot be done by an older person;
The Berkey gravity water filter system is potentially dangerous for you health due to its bad design, as it may alllow toxic materials pass into your drinking water, and therefore we do not recommend it;
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