Berkey - The Ultimate in Water Purification


FAQ's - Who or What is BERKEY®?

New Millennium Concepts, Ltd. Is the proud owner of the BERKEY® trademark and BERKEY® name. They are THE owner and manufacturer of the BERKEY® line of water filtration and purification products. As well, they distribute a wide array of products that both support and complement our water systems.

Berkey Light™ FAQ’S

What are the dimensions of the Berkey Light™ System?
Height x Diameter (inches) 26.5 x 9.25 (base included); The system can also be used without the base and stands 21"; Empty Weight 5(lbs); Holding capacity:  Aprox. 2.75 Gallons.

The weight of the Berkey Light™ system is 5 lbs.

I can’t get the chambers to snap together, am I doing something wrong?
Please make sure you are aligning the seams, as most of the systems will not snap together unless the seams are aligned.  If that doesn't solve the problem, please measure the opening on the lower chamber from seam to seam.  The diameter should be at least 7 15/16" or greater. If it is less than that please call our customer service line at 888-803-4438.

What is the most convenient method for filling the upper reservoir?
Most people use a pitcher to pour water into the upper chamber however, if you have a spray hose on your sink, using it to refill the system is a very convenient method.

The water in the upper chamber of my Berkey® system does not drain all the way. Is this normal?
Yes it is normal and not unusual for the last 1/2" to 1" of water to remain in the upper chamber.  By design the water must pass through very fine micro pores within the elements in order to pass from the upper chamber to the lower.  The lower the water level in the upper chamber, the lower the pressure available to force the water through the micro pores.  You might have noticed that the system purifies much faster when full than when half full.  That is because there is more pressure.  The only way to remedy the problem would be to enlarge the pores within the filter elements.  That would of course, reduce the efficiency of the purification elements.  During each cycle the water left from the previous cycle mixes with the water from the current cycle and is then purified.  You should not be concerned about the excess water during normal use however if you discontinue using your filter for a period of time such as during a vacation, it would not hurt to empty the upper chamber before departing.

I have been using my system for about six months and the flow rate has slowed down considerably.  Do I need to replace the elements?
No, unlike other filtration elements Black Berkey™ purification elements are re-cleanable. What typically causes the filters to drip slowly is turbidity and sediment clogging the micro-pores of the purification elements. Simply remove the elements from your system, scrub the exterior of each element with preferably a white ScotchBrite® pad or stiff toothbrush. Simply scrub a section of the filter until you see a bit of black on the white pad then move to the next section.  It’s simple to do and takes less than a minute. Then re-prime each element and reinstall them. Your problem should now be fixed.

By the way, if you have been using your system for some time now, you can still use the above formula to determine when to replace the elements. Just count forward from the date you purchased your system.

I will soon be leaving the country. Is there a way to test my Berkey® system to make sure it is working properly?
Yes, anytime you plan on taking your system out of the country we advise that you always perform the following test prior to leaving. You should test your filters by filling the upper chamber with water then add a tablespoon of red food coloring for every gallon of water within your upper chamber. If the red food coloring is removed entirely, your filtration system is working properly. If not, check to make sure that the wing nuts on your elements are securely tightened then re-run the test.

By the way, always prime new purification elements before leaving the country, as you may not have enough water pressure to be able to prime the elements at your destination.

I just purchased a Berkey® system but the system is hardly filtering any water at all.  Am I doing something wrong?
Typically the problem you are experiencing is due to high water tension, which prevents the air from being purged from the micro pores of the new purification elements.  Included with your Black Berkey™ elements is a priming button and instructions for use.  Please remove and prime your purification elements, reinstall them and that should fix the problem.

I have found that when I boil the water or freeze it into ice cubes, I sometimes get little white floating things in the water.  What is this bacterium?
With respect to the little white floaters in the water, it is not bacteria but rather a problem that sometimes occurs with hard (heavily mineralized) water. When the PH level of the purified water is raised, the acidity of the water goes down and the water is no longer able to hold as many minerals in solution.  When this happens the minerals begin to precipitate out over time and depending on the mineral composition they will either sink to the bottom or float to the top.  This process is known as flocculation and the precipitated minerals are usually referred to as "white floaters".  The bottom line is that this is nothing to be concerned about, the white floaters are minerals that were already in your water; they are now simply visible whereas they were previously invisible due to their suspension in an ionic form.

I did a TDS reading on the purified water and was surprised to find that the reading was about the same with the purified water as it was with the unpurified water. Is my system working properly?
Yes, a TDS meter measures only Total Dissolved Solids or minerals; dissolved solids are simply dissolved minerals in an ionic form.  A TDS meter does not measure the amount of biological and chemical contaminates. Black Berkey™elements are designed to leave in your water the healthful and beneficial minerals and to extract only the unwanted heavy metals such as lead and mercury as well as sedimentary minerals such as iron oxide and aluminum.  Therefore, your TDS reading will not change much unless you have a significant amount of heavy metals or sedimentary minerals in your water.

PF-2™ and PF-4™ FAQ'S

Do your filter elements reduce fluoride in the water?
No, in order to reduce fluoride in your water you will need to use post filters that work in conjunction with the filters in your system. We have two types, the PF-2™, which are used in conjunction with the Black Berkey™ purification elements, and the PF-4™ filters that are used in conjunction with our ceramic filters.

I noticed that the PF-4™ elements also remove MTBE and heavy metals. Should I use these with my Black Berkey™ purification elements?
No, the PF2™is used in conjunction with the Black Berkey™ purification elements and the PF-4™ elements are used in conjunction with the ceramic filters. TheBlack Berkey™ elements remove MTBE and reduce heavy metals whereas the ceramic filters do not therefore; we incorporated MTBE and heavy metals reduction capabilities into the PF-4™ elements.

What is the life of the PF-4™ filters?
Each set of four PF-4™ filters is will last for 1,000 gallons or six months whichever comes first. The reason for the six-month limitation is that the carbon within the PF-4™ filters extracts contaminates that can be nutrients on which bacteria can grow. If the filters are used longer than six months “grow-through” can occur.

What is the life of the PF-2™ filters?
Each set of two PF-2™ filters is will last for 1,000 gallons. Since these elements contain pure fluoride and arsenic reduction media and no carbon, there is no six-month limitation rule as is the case with the PF-4™ elements.

By the way, if you have been using your fluoride reduction filters for some time now, you can still use the above formula to determine when to replace the elements. Just count forward from the date you purchased your elements.

I installed my PF-2™ elements but my water is a bit cloudy and why does it have a funny taste?
The odd taste is from process dust that may not have been washed free from the filter elements during the conditioning process. Please remove the PF-2™ elements and re-condition them for 60 seconds on both ends. This should expel any residual process dust and fix the problem.

Do the PF-2™ elements replace the Black Berkey™ purification elements?
No the Black Berkey™ elements fit into the base of the upper chamber with the stems of the filters protruding through the holes in the base of the upper chamber. The protruding stems are threaded and the PF-2™ filters screw onto these threaded stems so that the PF-2™'s hang down into the lower chamber. The water flows from the upper chamber, through the Black Berkey™ elements, into the PF-2™ filters and then into the lower chamber. The “PF” in PF-2 stands for Post Filter. So in answer to your question, no they do not replace the black filters but rather work in conjunction with them.

If I begin using use the PF-2™ elements, will I need more counter space for my system?
No, the PF-2™ elements attach to the stems of the Black Berkey™ elements and hang down into the interior of the lower chamber of the system requiring no additional counter space.

I understand that the media used within the fluoride reduction elements is activated alumina, it that the same thing as aluminum?
The media used to extract the fluoride and arsenic is activated alumina. Since fluoride is a by-product of aluminum production, fluoride has a natural affinity to recombine with activated alumina making it an ideal extraction media. We are not chemists but will communicate our understanding on the subject. Both nutritionist and lab technicians have informed us that aluminum and alumina are two separate animals. Aluminum can cross the blood brain barrier and cause problems with the brain whereas alumina is inert. It is our understanding that alumina is oxidized aluminum. Aluminum is regulated whereas alumina is not for example, alumina is the material used for making the paste in toothpaste. At any rate, when testing for aluminum in water, most tests cannot distinguish between aluminum ions and oxidized alumina. Since we are not chemists, we tested the effluent from the filters and included that information in our brochure. While we were not required to do so, we felt that it was important to disclose to our customers what our results were so that they would have the necessary information to do further research on the issue should they desire to do so. We think it was significant in the test we conducted using the combination of Black Berkey™ elements and PF-2™ elements there was a net reduction in the tested aluminum content of the source water vs. the purified water. Again that test did not distinguish between aluminum and alumina. The bottom line is that the media utilized is oxidized alumina and not aluminum.

What are the dimensions of the PF-2™ and PF-4™ elements?
The individual elements are 6” in length and 2.5” in diameter.

I have high PH in my water, will that reduce the efficiency of the PF-2™ elements?
That is correct, high or low PH impedes the ability of the media to remove fluoride.

Ceramic Element FAQ's

1) Why are our ceramic elements unique?
A) Our ceramic filters have been in continual use since 1827.
B) Silver impregnated: Inhibits Mitosis or Bacterial Grow-Through.
C) Particulate reduction: .2 Nominal 
@ .2 Microns 98%, @ .3 Microns >99.7%
@ .5 Microns >99.9% (Spectrum Labs)
D) Removes >99.99% of Cryptosporidium, Giardia, E. coli, Vibro Cholerae, Salmonella, Dysenteria.
E) Toxicological extraction is commonly the most difficult area of the NSF testing standards to satisfy. This shows that the filter does not re-contaminate the water. Many other ceramics have not passed and may not be capable of passing the NSF material extraction test. The Ceramic shell of our Super Sterasyl™ element is an NSF Listed Component and is manufactured to meet NSF standard 42 for materials.
F) Carbon Core: Reduces bad tastes and odors as well as pesticides, herbicides, organic solvents and trihalomethanes.
G) Ceramic elements may be cleaned many times to prolong the life of the filtration elements. 
H) No other ceramic manufacturer may claim all of the above.

2) When and how do I clean the ceramic filter elements?
If the time it takes for the water to filter into the lower chamber substantially decreases, simply hold the ceramic element under clean running water while scrubbing lightly with a ScotchBrite® pad or toothbrush. Cleaning should be performed evenly by working from the threaded mount down. 

3) What else should I do to maintain the system properly?
a) Wash lower chamber once per month with soapy dishwater. 
b) In areas with hard water, calcium scale may build up on spigot and chambers after prolonged use. To remove, soak affected part(s) in vinegar or a 50-50% mix of vinegar and water for about 15 minutes. Wipe away calcium scale with a ScotchBrite® pad or soft brush then wash with soapy dishwater and rinse.  

4) What happens when the carbon becomes exhausted?
The carbon will be unable to reduce chemicals, foul tastes and odors in the source water. Notes: a) When the carbon is exhausted, the ceramic shell will continue to remove pathogenic bacteria and turbidity. 

5) How do I determine when the filter element must be replaced?
Replace the elements when the carbon has been exhausted or if there is a significant change in diameter of the ceramic after cleaning. Anytime a crack in the ceramic occurs, the integrity has been lost and the filter must be replaced.

6) Does the system remove beneficial minerals?

7) How durable are the systems?
The exterior chambers are made of high-grade polished stainless steel making them rugged enough to handle camping trips and college dorms yet elegant enough to complement your finest décor (The LP system is made of food grade polypropylene).

8) Historically, who has used these filtration systems?
A) The Royal household in England.
B) Populations in over 140 countries worldwide.
C) Relief Organizations such as UNICEF, the Peace Corps, Missionary organizations and Red Cross Societies Internationally. 
D) Hunters, campers, adventurers and explorers.

9) How do I determine which Berkey® system is right for my needs?
The most popular small family model is the Big Berkey™ system. The most popular medium to large family model is the Royal Berkey™ system. The Imperial Berkey™ model is designed for small to medium sized groups and the Crown Berkey™ model is more useful for medium to large groups and can service from 75 up to 150 people per day.

10) What are the limitations found in other types of water filtration systems?
Carbon Block, paper and certain resin based filters: Most commonly used, filters are not re-cleanable, there is no feedback mechanism for filter replacement and most do not remove pathogenic bacteria. Most popular systems provide only 40-700 gallons (150-2,660 liters) before the filter must be replaced. 

Distillation: Removes beneficial minerals from water, does not remove VOCs (chemicals found in herbicides, pesticides and fertilizers).
Reverse Osmosis: Removes beneficial minerals from water, does not remove pathogenic bacteria, filter is not re-cleanable, there is no feedback mechanism for filter replacement and reservoir tank can become a breeding ground for bacteria.   

The Above Sytems: Virtually all of the above systems become useless during emergencies when power and or water pressure is lost. 

Bottled Water: Tap water is considered an acceptable source; many bottled waters contain high levels of bacteria and the industry is virtually unregulated.