Berkey - The Ultimate in Water Purification

The Difference Between Black Berkeys and Ceramic Filters - A Quick History and Comparison

To understand the differences between the Super Sterasyl Ceramic filter and the Black Berkey purification element, it helps to have a brief history on the evolution of the business. Essentially, the Super Sterasyl filters are an evolution of ceramic filter technology originally discovered in 1827 by Henry Doulton in Britain. Over the years, the Doulton company made noteworthy improvements upon the ceramic filters by introducing methods for bacteria removal and self sterilization. Once these improvements were incorporated, gravity filters became heavily used by military forces, relief organizations, and missionaries who lacked access to clean water. The general public also took note and the Doulton company built it’s core business around this Super Sterysyl Ceramic filter technology. Eventually In 1985, British Berkefeld was acquired by Doulton and continues to sell these ceramic filters across the world to this day.

Through a distribution partnership with Berkefeld, the US based company New Millennium Concepts gave North American residents the opportunity to purchase the Super Sterysyl Ceramic filter product locally. New Millennium Concepts then built upon this filtration franchise by designing and creating the Black Berkey Element and expanding the lineup of Berkey housing systems and accessories. Designed over a decade ago, the Black Berkey is a proprietary combination of approximately 6 different types of media designed to take filtration to the next level. They exceed EPA log 7 ANSI / NSF protocols for filtration and thus are rated as water purifiers. 
Without going into too much detail, from a filtration perspective the Black Berkey’s filter out the same chemicals and contaminants that the Super Sterasyl Ceramic Filters do, but go above and beyond by removing Lead, MTBE’s, and other heavy metals. In addition, since the Black Berkey’s are water purifiers, they will filter out a contaminant like Chlorine to undetectable levels, while the ceramics will only remove > 90% of Chlorine. 

The Black Berkeys and the Ceramics are basically the same in terms of life span, cleaning, price, and overall day to day use. While both filters are very durable, the ceramics have a slight edge and may benefit missionaries or those who expect to place daily physical wear and tear on the filter when breaking down the system for transport. In essence, both filters are outstanding performers with a long proven track record and tens of thousands of satisfied customers, however the Black Berkeys are more comprehensive in the array of contaminants addressed and have an advantage in their ability to remove some of these contaminants to a higher percentage.

 The ceramic filters were developed long before the Black Berkey purifiers were, so the Black Berkeys have come along and improved upon the concept. Both filters will:

Remove pathogenic bacteria

Remove cysts

Reduce organic chemicals

Reduce chlorine

Reduce sediment and particulate

However, the Black Berkey goes above and beyond this and also:

Removes lead

Removes MTBEs

Removes other heavy metals

The Black Berkey filters also typically have a much longer lifespan than the ceramic. A pair of the Black Berkey filters is estimated by the manufacturer to last for about 6,000 gallons of water, while a pair of the ceramic filters is estimated to have an approximate lifespan of 1,000 gallons. The Black Berkey elements carry a 2-year prorated manufacturer’s warranty, while the Super Steraysl ceramic filters only carry a 6 month manufacturer’s warranty. Each filter can use a fluoride filter attached to the end of it to remove even more. The Black Berkey will use the PF-2 filter, and the Super Steraysl ceramic filter will use the PF-4 filter.