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Water Purifier Buying Guide

Pure, clean drinking water

Importance of Filtering Your Water

The number of waterborne health threats has increased so dramatically in recent decades that a recent study identified 316 separate contaminants in the U.S. drinking water supply. Government regulations set target standards for utility-delivered water, but those regulations usually protect against immediate illness or negative health consequences caused by the water, not against the full range of long-term health risks or annoyances including foul tastes and odors.

Berkey water purifier filtersThe impurities and contaminants found in your water depend on what’s surrounding the local water supply. Different ways that contaminants can find their way to your local water supply include:

  • Agricultural fields and chemical applicator stations 
  • Industrial manufacturing plants
  • Mining activity
  • Pharmaceutical product facilities
  • Landfill leakage
  • Untreated urban runoff
  • Contaminated natural bodies of water 
  • And more

Some of the most common impurities in municipal water supplies are:

  • Chlorine 
  • Copper 
  • Mercury 
  • Lead 
  • Pesticides 
  • Herbicides

Some homeowners may choose to build or use a well on their property in lieu of drinking municipal water. But for those who may not own their home, don’t have the resources or desire to build a well, or wish to filter out even more impurities that well water can have, turn to water filters and purifiers as a safe solution.

Types of Water Filters & Purifiers

When you start researching products you’ll find a wide range of prices, effectiveness and types of filters. Here’s a breakdown of the main types of water filters and purifiers, but make sure you read the next section that outlines the difference—which really explains whether the model is classified as a filter or purifier.

  • Carafe filters – usually stored in fridges, depending on how much water you use, you may need to refill these multiple times a day. These typically use carbon filters.
  • Faucet-mounted filters – these are easily installed on your faucet and let you choose between filtered and unfiltered water. However, these may not fit on all faucets and can slow the water flow.
  • Countertop filters – similar to the carafe style, these can sit on a shelf in your fridge or your countertop, and have capacity for more filtered water. They typically use carbon filters.
  • Reverse osmosis filters – these filters can be installed under your sink and use a pressure pump to filter water before it goes through your faucet or to a storage tank. These systems also remove a lot of the water and can be considered wasteful.
  • UV water purifiers – UV water purifiers use ultraviolet rays and electricity to kill harmful organisms. Some higher-end models may include multi-stage purification and reverse osmosis technology.
  • Carbon filters – these systems use charcoal powder to absorb parasites, impurities, and pesticides. Some of these don’t require electricity. Filtration element purifiers—from manufacturers including Berkey and British Berkefeld, reduce the number of contaminants and impurities in water more than almost any other product found on the market.

Water Filters vs. Water Purifiers

The term “water filter” is universally used to describe most filtration systems, like carafes, countertop units, and under-the-sink systems. To meet water filter classifications, they must remove pathogenic bacteria by more than 99.99% reduction. This is known as “4-log” reduction.

To meet the standards of water purifier classification, they must remove greater than 99.9999% of pathogenic bacteria (6-log) and more than 99.99% of viruses (4-log). The Black Berkey filtration system, which we sell at Pleasant Hill Grain and which you can learn more about below, exceeds the water purification standard and actually has a 99.99999% reduction (7-log).

Factors to Consider When Purchasing

When choosing a water purifier, there are many factors that will make your decision easier. As you research water purifiers, be sure to consider each model’s:

  • Effectiveness – the amount of contaminants removed by the water purifiers is key. Some brands and models remove far more impurities than others. 
  • Electricity Use – some models require electricity, which limit where you can use them. Carbon filtration systems and reverse osmosis systems require no electricity to operate.
  • Water Pressure & Supply – ultraviolet and reverse osmosis filters require a pressurized water supply. If you don’t have access to this or are unable to hook the equipment up to the water supply, many carbon filters are portable and don’t require constant water supply and pressure. 
  • Portability – you may not currently need your purifier to be portable, but circumstances can change. A system that’s movable and works without electricity or water pressure provides the versatility to meet your needs now and in the future.

Brand Feature: Berkey Water Purifiers

New Millennium Concepts Berkey logo

Berkey carries a great line of water purifiers. The Big Berkey water purifier and the full line of Berkey water filters use proprietary, carbon-based purifier elements to achieve an incredible 99.99999% reduction of contaminants—far more than almost all others on the market.

Read more about the products and how the Black Berkey works below, or find each of the products here.

How It Works

Berkey purifiers using the Black Berkey purification elements are proven to reduce pathogenic bacteria (including E. Coli, Klebsiella, Pseudomonas Aeruginosa, Giardia and Cryptosporidium) by 99.99999%. Independent lab testing verifies that Black Berkey media removes not only pathogenic bacteria, but even organisms as small as viruses—a level of performance unmatched by other systems. This extreme purification, a “7-log” reduction, means that not more than one part per ten million of the contaminant remains in your water. This standard is 1000X higher than what's needed to label a system as a simple “water filter.”

Stainless Big Berkey purifier

Filters with Black Berkey purifier elements are:

  • Electricity-free
  • Easily cleaned
  • Purifies up to 3,000 gallons of water of pathogenic organisms and harmful chemicals

The full Berkey stainless steel housing line includes the:

Crown Berkey (6 gallon capacity, ideal for larger communities, hospitals, or emergency relief camps)
Imperial Berkey (4.5 gallon capacity, perfect for large groups)
Royal Berkey (3 gallon capacity, ideal for larger families and groups)
Big Berkey (2.1 gallon capacity, ideal for home use or during emergencies)
Travel Berkey (1.5 gallon capacity, provides water for 6 or 7 people)

The entire line works by gravity, so they're portable for use indoors or outdoors and produce the same quality of purified water. Each of the systems above use the Black Berkey filter elements, but larger models can hold more purifier elements and thus produce water faster with a higher flow rate.

 Flow rate is calculated based on a full upper chamber.

Berkey Water Purifier Stainless Systems

  Elements
capacity
Storage
capacity
Flow rate
w/2 elements
Flow Rate
w/4 elements
Daily
maximum flow
Dimensions
in use
Dimensions
nested
Crown Berkey 2-8 6 gal 6.5 gph 13 gph 650 gal 11 x 30.5" 11 x 20"
Imperial Berkey 2-6 4.5 gal 5.5 gph 11 gph 400 gal 10 x 26.25" 10 x 17"
Royal Berkey 2-4 3.25 gal 4 gph 8 gph 190 gal 9.5 x 23.5" 9.5 x 15.25"
Big Berkey 2-4 2.25 gal 4 gph 8 gph 190 gal 8.5 x 20" 8.5 x 13"
Travel Berkey 2 1.5 gal 2.75 gph na 66 gal 7.5 x 19" 7.5 x 12"

Berkey Light purifier

More Options from Berkey

The Berkey Light system uses the same unique filter media in an unbreakable transparent housing. Every Berkey Light has a capacity of 2.75 gallons and can accept up to four purifying elements. In addition to the standard Berkey Light system, two models are available that have LED illumination in either white or cobalt blue color. Their power consumption is extremely low, and the LED lifespan averages 100,000 hours—more than 11 years of continuous use. When making your choice, keep in mind that water purification performance is identical for all three Berkey Light models (the LEDs themselves do not have any role in purification).

The Sport Berkey Portable Water Filter bottle offers personal filtration you can carry with you anywhere and becomes your travel companion and protector from questionable sources of water, including remote lakes and streams, stagnant ponds, and other water supplies. Purifying to 99.9%, the Sport Berkey holds 20 oz. water and its filter lifespan ranges from 640 refills from a municipal water source to 160 refills from a highly turbid water source.

Brand Feature: British Berkefeld

Another filtration product we recommend (and carry) is the British Berkefeld water filter. Similar to the Berkey filtering system, it uses ceramic British Berkefeld filter elements instead of the Black Berkey elements.

The British Berkefeld water filter uses ceramic "Super Sterasyl" filters to reduce up to 99.99% of particulates, cysts, parasites, and pathogenic bacteria including but not limited to E. Coli, Cryptosporidium, Giardia and Salmonella Typhi.

These filters will reduce chlorine, rust, sediment, and organic chemicals with nominal particulate filtration rating efficiencies of 99.99% filtration at 0.9 microns, 99.9% at 0.5 microns, and 98% at 0.2 microns.

Attachments & Replacement Parts

The main part of your water purifier that you will need to replace is the purification element. Each model has recommended guidelines for how often you must replace these elements, depending on use.

The above water purifiers also need to be primed before they’re put to use (priming means forcing water through the element to ensure all the purifying medium gets wet). This can be done with either the included priming ring and your faucet, or the lightweight, portable Black Berkey Primer.

Additional attachments you can purchase include:

  • SpigotsParts for Berkey stainless water purifier
  • Bases
  • Plugs
  • Lids
  • Knobs

Water Purifiers from Pleasant Hill Grain

Pleasant Hill Grain provides a superior online shopping experience for home, kitchen, and outdoor products, including our selection of water purifiers, from Berkey and British Berkefeld. We offer free shipping on orders over $59 and also phone support from our friendly, experienced customer service staff. Have questions? Please call us at the number below—we’d love to help you select a product that’s perfect for your needs!
 

Pleasant Hill Grain logo

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