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Berkey FAQs

Berkey FAQ


General Information

Troubleshooting, Testing & Replacements

Berkey® Light Filters

Sport Berkey® Filters

Black Berkey® Elements

PF-2 Elements


International Orders

General Information


Who is Berkey®?

New Millennium Concepts, Ltd. is the copyright owner of the Berkey® trademark and name. They are the owner and manufacturer of the Berkey® line of water filtration and purification products. Authorized Distributors of the Berkey® line of products should have an authorized distributor logo displayed somewhere prominently on their website. This logo is the same for all of our distributors.

What grade of Stainless Steel is used in Berkey® filter systems?

High grade polished 304-stainless steel.

Will a Berkey® system work with softened water?

The Black Berkey® purification elements are designed to remove VOC, heavy metals and other contaminates , but will not remove mineral salts added by water softeners. We highly recommend that you obtain pre-softened water to use in your Berkey® system. You can use one of our purification systems on a regular basis by bypassing your water softener to get your drinking water.

Most water softeners have a bypass valve or way to get water before it passes through your softener. However, it they do not have a bypass installing a simple inline needle piecing valve with 1/4” tubing prior to your water softener will give you easy accessibility to un-softened water to run through our purification system.

There are report that pharmaceuticals have been found in municipal water supplies across the U.S. Will the Black Berkey® elements remove drugs from water?

Given the enormous number of pharmaceuticals that could end up in drinking water, it is impossible to test for them all. However, we do know from our clinical testing, that the processes used for purification of water by the Black Berkey® elements remove more contaminants than any other system available on the market today.

Can I filter sea (salt) water through my Berkey® system?

No. The salt concentration in sea water will rapidly ruin the Black Berkey® filter elements.

In case of an emergency, will my Berkey® system make our pool water safe for consumption?

Yes, the Berkey® purifier will make chlorinated pool water safe for human consumption. But only use your pool as source water in case of an emergency, as the high concentration of chlorine will cause the elements to wear prematurely.

What size Berkey® system would be best for my needs?

Please see our Selection Guide for details on how to select the right system for your particular needs.

What is the most convenient method for filling the upper reservoir?

The most convenient method is to use the spray hose on your sink if you do not have one you should use a pitcher to add water into the upper chamber. Which ever method you choose be sure not to fill the upper chamber to full capacity if the lower reservoir is not empty.

We have well water, are the PF-2 filter elements required?

No. The PF-2 fluoride reduction elements are not needed if you are on spring water or well water. These elements should only be used if you are on a municipal water supply that has added fluoride to the water.

We live in California, why are we unable to purchase Berkey® water purifying systems?

California recently adopted AB 1953 / SB 1334 & 1395 / HSC Section 116875, commonly referred to as the “no lead law”. No Berkey® products contain lead but under this measure, the state of California must have confirmation of that fact, so Berkey® is forced to suspend sales of water purification systems to the residents of California. As any ‘health law’ can be complex in its application, shipment of Berkeys to California will resume when we get clarification on how to best proceed in obtaining a lead free certification as defined under the terms of this law. We will continue to ship to all other states except Iowa. If you would like to buy a Berkey® water purifier as a gift to be shipped to someone in another state, we accept payment from residents in all 50 states.

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Troubleshooting, Testing & Replacements


The water in the upper chamber of my Berkey® system does not drain all the way. Is this normal?

Yes it is normal for the last 1/2″ to 1″ of water to remain in the upper chamber. Because the water must pass through the micro pores in the elements to be filtered, as the water level lowers in the upper chamber there is a reduction in the hydrostatic pressure available to force the water through the micro pores. The system purifies much faster when full than when half full because there is more hydrostatic pressure from the water available in the upper chamber. To remedy the problem, we would have to enlarge the pores within the filter elements which would of course, reduce the efficiency of the purification elements. During each cycle the water left in the upper chamber mixes with the water added from the current cycle and is then purified. Do not be concerned about this excess water during normal use but if you stop using your filter for a long period of time such as during a vacation, it would not hurt to empty the filter before leaving.

After about six months, the flow rate has slowed down considerably. Do the Black Berkey® elements need replacing?

No, typically what causes the filters flow rate to reduce is a high level of turbidity and / or sediment in the source water which sometimes clogs the micro-pores of the purification elements; fortunately unlike other filtration elements Black Berkey® purification elements are re-cleanable.  To clean, simply remove the elements from your system and scrub the exterior of each element (preferably with a white Scotch Brite® pad or stiff toothbrush). Scrub each section of the filter until you see a bit of black on the white pad then move to the next section. Then re-prime each element and reinstall them. Your problem should now be resolved.

Is there a test to ensure that my filter is still working properly?

Yes, you run a Filter Test by filling the upper chamber with water and adding a tablespoon of red food coloring for every gallon of water in your upper chamber. If the red food coloring is removed entirely, your filtration system is working properly. If there is any trace of red in your filtered water, check to make sure that the Black Berkey® elements are seated properly and that the wing nuts on your elements are securely tightened. If the test fails run the test until you are successful, making sure to rinse out the lower chamber thoroughly between tests. If you do not have a successful test on the first run, be certain that after you have a successful test to thoroughly clean the lower chamber with soap and purified water, then return it to normal service.

We recommended that you run the test when your system is first assembled. We also recommend that you test your system every 3 to 6 months thereafter or after your system has been in storage or before taking your system on a trip and especially before taking it out of the country.

I would like to take my Berkey® system with me while I travel out of country are there any pre-cautions I should make before leaving to make sure it is working properly?

If you plan on taking your system while you travel we strongly advise that you perform a red food coloring Filter Test prior to leaving see here. Also, as you may not have enough water pressure to be able to prime the elements at your destination, it is a good idea to prime any new purification elements before leaving.

I just setup my Berkey® system but it is hardly filtering any water at all. Am I doing something wrong?

Usually the problem is due to high water tension, this causes an air lock in the filter which keeps the air from being purged from the micro pores of the new purification elements. A priming button and instructions for its use are included with your Black Berkey® elements. Please remove and prime or re-prime your purification elements fully and then reinstall them this should fix the problem.

When I boil the water or freeze it into ice cubes, I sometimes get little white things floating in the water. What is this?

It is a problem that sometimes occurs with hard water. As the Black Berkey® elements purify your water they increase its pH as it removes harmful acidic compounds. This is beneficial to your body’s health as pathogenic bacteria and viruses thrive in acidic environments and conversely have difficulty surviving in alkaline environments. This increased pH level of the purified water reduces it’s ability to hold as many minerals in solution, when this happens the minerals will precipitate out over time and depending on the exact composition of the minerals dissolved in your water, the precipitate will either sink to the bottom or float to the top. The process is known as flocculation and the precipitate are usually sometimes referred to as “white floaters”. So there is nothing to be concerned about, the minerals that were already in your water are simply visible now whereas previously they were suspended in solution in their ionic state.

I did a TDS reading on the purified water from my Berkey® filter and found the reading was about the same as it was with the unpurified water. So I am wondering if my system is working properly?

Yes, since a Total Dissolved Solids [TDS] meter is not designed to measure the amount of biological and chemical contaminates in water as such these substances will not register on the meter, it measures dissolved minerals in an ionic form. Black Berkey ® elements are designed to leave the healthy & beneficial minerals while extracting only the undesirable heavy metals such as lead & mercury as well as sedimentary minerals such as iron oxide & aluminum. Therefore, your TDS reading won’t change much unless you have a significant amount of heavy metals or sedimentary minerals in your water.

I just purchased a Berkey® system but didn’t receive a priming button. Instead, I think I received an extra black washer in the box. The instructions say to use the tan colored priming button. What gives?

Please check in the box which held your Black Berkey© elements which should have contained two (2) elements. Attached to each element should be a rubber washer and a wing nut. Also in the boxes could be what appears to be another single black rubber washer. This is actually your priming button. It is thicker than the washers and the center hole is smaller. This black priming button can easily be confused with a washer; so we have asked the manufacturer to change the color of the priming button back to tan.

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Berkey Light™ Filters


What are the basic differences between the Berkey Light™ and the stainless steel systems?

The Berkey Light™ system is designed for outdoor use therefore it is about three pounds lighter in weight than the equivalent capacity of our stainless steel system. It also has a capacity slightly larger than the popular Big Berkey® system. The Travel Berkey® system is also designed for outdoor use and with the exception of the Go Berkey® it is the smallest of the stainless steel systems. It was designed compact enough to fit within a suitcase because unlike the Berkey Light™ system, the upper chamber nests within the lower chamber during travel. This is the preferred system when mobility and capacity are big issues. The Go Berkey® system combines the functionality of the Stainless Steel systems and the portability of the Sport Berkey®. This system is ideal for campers and people on the go.

The four larger multi-use systems are designed for indoor everyday use and so are of a heavier construction than the more portable systems above but can also be utilized for outdoor use or during emergency situations when potable water sources are not available.

The chambers will not 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 support line at 888-600-1777.

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Sport Berkey® Filters


Can I clean the filter in my Sport Berkey® purification bottle?

Unfortunately the Sport Berkey® filter is not cleanable. However, replacement filters are available.

Does the generic Sport Berkey® work the same as a regular Sport Berkey® purification bottle?

Yes, both systems are identical; the only difference is the generic version has no logo silk-screened on the exterior of the bottle. The generic version was designed to help keep the costs to a minimum for missionaries and other relief organizations.

What is the capacity of the Sport Berkey®?

The capacity of the bottle is 22 oz.

How much water is the Sport Berkey® capable of filtering?

The bottle will efficiently filter ~160 refills of raw untreated water and ~640 refills of municipally treated water. Using the cleanest source water possible will greatly extend the capability of the filter because the more debris and contaminates in the water, the quicker the filter element will become clogged.

Can I put my Sport Berkey® purification bottle in the refrigerator?

Yes you can refrigerate the Sport Bottle but just don’t freeze it. Because freezing expands the pores of the filter media and could severely compromise the integrity of the filter element.

How does the Sport Berkey® purification bottle compare to the larger Berkey® systems?

There is a slight difference, the wall thickness of the Sport Berkey® filter element is thinner than the wall thickness of the Black Berkey® element thus it is slightly less efficient at filtration. The Sport Berkey®, to our knowledge, is the most powerful sport bottle available and you would not be able to discern much of a difference when filtering normal water supplies. If you were to run the red food coloring Filter Test on the Sport Berkey® bottle, most of the food coloring will be removed however if you were to run the Filter Test on a filter with the Black Berkey® purification elements, the food coloring would be removed entirely.

Do you make a fluoride reduction filter for the Sport Berkey®?

Unfortunately, fluoride is very difficult to extract after it has been added a water supply and requires a large amount of media to remove even a small amount of it. Given the small cavity size of the Sport Berkey® relative to the amount of media it would require to remove fluoride, most of the room within the sport bottle would have to be used for filter media leaving next to no room for the source water. It is therefore not feasible to make a fluoride reduction filter for the sport bottle until a more powerful media is available

Can the Sport Berkey® purification bottle be used instead of bottled water in third world countries?

Yes, the Sport Berkey® is used worldwide by missionaries and relief organizations to transform otherwise un-potable water into potable drinking water and was designed for use in third world countries where commercial bottled water may not always be available. Keep in mind that you need to use the cleanest water possible to help extend the life of the filter elements. We recommend taking several replacement filter elements along with you in the event that you have to rely on using very turbid source water which can easily clog the filter elements.

Can I filter boiling water through the Sport Berkey® for making hot drinks?

Hot water breaks down the filter element and compromises its efficiency so we recommend that you filter the source water through the Sport Berkey® bottle first and then boil the water for your drinks.

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Black Berkey® Elements


 How do I know when it is time to replace the Black Berkey® elements in my system?

Each Black Berkey® purification element is capable of filtering 3000 gallons so the best way to gauge when to replace the filters is to do the following:

  1. Determine the Total Gallons Filtered by multiplying the number of filters inyour system by 3,000.
  2. Next keep a track of how many times you need to refill the upper chamber inone week. Now multiply the number of refills by the capacity in gallons of your particular system (e.g. the Berkey Light™ system is 2.75 gallons) to determine Total Gallons Used per Week.
  3. Divide the Total Gallons Filtered by Total Gallons Used Per Week the result will tell you how many Weeks of Use before the elements should be replaced.
  4. Next calculate the Element Replacement Date (52 weeks per year) and write the date on a sticker and attach it to the bottom of your system for future reference.

If you are already using your system, calculate the Weeks of Use and just be sure to count forward from the date when you purchased your system.

To give you an idea of how long your filters might last under everyday usage take for example: if you have a family of 4 and each member uses 3/4 of a gallon of water a day that would be 3 gallons per day for your entire family. A typical system is configured with two filter elements which will last about 6000 gallons under normal usage. Divide 6000 by 3. This gives you 2000 days before you need to replace your filter elements. Now divided 2000 days by 365 days per year this would be equal to 5.5 years of filter life! This is far superior to the typical filter pitcher or faucet attachment which can cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars to provide filtered water for the same time period. Your Black Berkey® filter elements will never stop working; the filtration rate just slows down.

Do the Black Berkey® purification elements have a warranty?

Yes, see Berkey® Warranty page for details

What is the Micron Rating of the Black Berkey® purification elements?

With respect to the micron rating, we do not use or publish a micron rating for the Black Berkey® elements for the following reasons.

There is much confusion with respect to nominal and absolute micron ratings. An absolute micron rating is one that states the maximum pore size expected within an element. The nominal micron rating is the average pore size within the element. This means that if 90% of the pores are .02 microns and ten percent are 2 microns, one could claim the nominal micron rating as .2 microns, which would imply that pathogenic bacteria and parasites would be totally removed. But in reality the bulk of the water would channel through the larger 2-micron pores and thereby allow both bacteria and parasites to pass through. Therefore a nominal micron-rating claim can be very misleading.

With respect to the absolute micron rating, there is also confusion because there are two different standards to determine absolute; in the US the standard is 99.9% removal, but the international standard in 99.99% removal or 10 times greater removal.

Clever marketers of products can use the confusion over the above differences to make product “A” appear to be better than product “B” when product B may be far superior in reality. For example, we used to report an absolute rating using the international standard because we have a large international customer base. Several years ago we published a rating on our ceramic filters. A particular company began to publish that our elements were .9 microns whereas theirs were .2 microns. However, our micron rating was based on absolute (international) while theirs was based on a nominal (US) rating. When tested at Spectrum Labs, it was found that at the .2 to .3 microns range our filter removed more particulate than the other brand. Unfortunately many people make there purchasing decisions based on a micron rating that can be legitimately distorted and to a significant degree.

We soon became weary of trying to explain the above to our customers and so we decided not to participate any longer in publishing a micron rating. Rather, we think an absolute pathogenic bacteria removal rate is a far better gauge because it is far more difficult to abuse. Based on that criterion, the Black Berkey® elements remove greater than 99.9999999% of pathogenic bacteria such as E.coli. To our knowledge, no other personal filtration element can match that capability. In fact, the Black Berkey® elements are so powerful, they are unique in their ability to mechanically remove red food coloring from water.

What is the expected shelf life of Black Berkey® purification elements?

The shelf life of the Black Berkey® elements is indefinite so they will be viable until you need them. However for long term storage, we recommend that you put them into a zip-lock bag. Because they are powerful enough to absorb contaminants from the air, it will reduce their life expectancy if you have a lot of airborne contaminants in the area they are being stored in. Storage in a zip-lock bag will prevent this from happening.

I have another brand name of gravity filter and it is time to replace my filter elements but I was wondering will the Black Berkey® elements fit my system?

Yes, both the Black Berkey® purification elements and PF-2 filters are interchangeable with other gravity systems.

There is a slight dimple in one of my Black Berkey® elements, is this filter flawed?

No, the Black Berkey® purification elements are about twice as thick as are standard gravity filter elements. This is a built in redundancy so a minor dimple in the filter should not cause any decrease in the elements efficiency. However to check its performance, make sure the wing nuts are on tight and run a Filter Test as described here.

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PF-2 Elements


Do your Black Berkey® purification elements filter elements reduce fluoride in the water?

No, to reduce fluoride in your water you need to use one of PF-2 post filters that work in conjunction with the elements in your Berkey® system.

What is the life of the PF-2 filters?

Each set of two PF-2 filters will last for 1,000 gallons. These elements contain pure fluoride and arsenic reduction media without the carbon.

How do I know when 1,000 gallons has been filtered and when its time to replace the elements?

The best way to gauge when to replace the filters is to do the following:

  1. Determine the Total Gallons Filtered by multiplying the number of filters in your system by 500. [e.g. – 2 filters = 1000 – 4 filters = 2000 – 6 filters = 3000]
  2. Next keep a track of how many times you need to refill the upper chamber in one week. Now multiply the number of refills by the capacity in gallons of your particular system (e.g. the Berkey Light™ system is 2.75 gallons) to determine Total Gallons Used per Week.
  3. Divide the Total Gallons Filtered by Total Gallons Used Per Week the result will tell you how many Weeks of Use before the elements should be replaced.
  4. Next calculate the Element Replacement Date (52 weeks per year) and write the date on a sticker and attach it to the bottom of your system for future reference.

If you are already using your system, calculate the Weeks of Use and just be sure to count forward from the date when you purchased your system.

I installed my PF-2 elements but my water is cloudy and has a funny taste?

The cloudiness and odd taste comes from process dust that may not have been washed free from the filter elements during the priming process. Please remove the PF-2 elements and re-prime [See here for priming directions] them to expel any residual process dust which should then correct the problem.

Do the PF-2 elements replace the Black Berkey® purification elements?

No, the “PF” in PF-2 stands for Post Filter and they are designed to supplement the Black Berkey® element in those situations where additional contaminate filtration is required. The Black Berkey® elements are installed into the base of the upper chamber with their stems protruding through the holes in the bottom. The stems of the Black Berkeys are threaded to allow the PF-2 filter option to be added at your convenience. Once threaded onto the stem of the Black Berkey® elements, the PF-2′s will hang down into the lower chamber. Water flows from the upper chamber through the Black Berkey® elements, into the PF-2 filters and then into the lower chamber.

Do I need more counter space for my system if I choose the PF-2 filter option?

No, the PF-2′s 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?

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.

The use of activated alumina in a continuous flow fluidized system is an economical and efficient method for de-fluoridating water supplies.

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Do Berkey® Systems Have A Warranty?

Yes, see Berkey® Warranty page for details

How do I obtain a Return Authorization?

Please Click Here to go to the Returns Request page, there you will find complete instructions on how to download and fill out an RMA Form (please note that Acrobat Reader is required). Please carefully read the web page to answer any questions regarding how to fill out the form or how the process works. If after reviewing the instructions there, you still do not find an answer to your question, please call (888) 600-1777 and we will be happy to assist you in filling out the RMA form.

What if I received this as a gift and I don’t have the receipt?

We require a proof of purchase to process the return. If you did not receive a gift receipt when you received the present, please contact the individual that gave you the product to see if they still have a proof of purchase they can provide to you. Alternatively, the dealer from whom they made the purchase may be able to provide you with a copy of the invoice.

What if I don’t have a copy of my original receipt?

We will accept a printed copy of a charge statement or a copy of a voided check that was used to pay for the product. Also, we will accept the manufacturing date of the Black Berkey® elements as a surrogate purchase date to establish warranty eligibility. *Please note that if the purification element was manufactured after August 2011 no date stamp will be visible.

What do I do with the RMA form once it has been completed?

Make a copy for your records and place the original inside the package along with the product you are returning. Also, please make any check or money order payable to: New Millennium Concepts.

Where do I ship the returned items to?

Western Distribution Center
Western Distribution Center
PO Box 40
49126 CR LL 56
Villa Grove, CO, 81155
Villa Grove, CO, 81155

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International Orders


Do you take orders from outside the US?

Yes, the easiest way to order is to order online at . At the end of the address area it will ask you for your country and simply select your country. You can also order via phone at 336-653-3107.
We only handle lawful money of the United States and all orders are subject to the terms and conditions and the policies of Twin Arcs Farm.

My country is not listed on the shopping cart, how can I order?

Countries not listed are experiencing a high incidence of credit card fraud at this time therefore we are not allowing purchases from our shopping cart from those countries not listed. If you would like to purchase a Berkey® filter or other products, we recommend that you do one of the following:

  1. Call in your order with credit card information to 336-653-3107.
  2. E-mail us at with request for order include your phone number and we will call you to complete the order.
  3. Place an order via email with us at, we will confirm the order and amount via e-mail when you receive confirmation send us a check by mail.
Do not email credit card information because that is an insecure form of communication.

What are the shipping costs for orders outside the US?

You can calculate the shipping cost by going to our shopping cart here. To figure out the postage place your order then click the “Check Out” button. When the check out page comes up, scroll down to the “Country” box below the ship to information. Enter either your country or any country outside of the US. The shopping cart will then calculate the shipping cost for your particular order.

What courier do you use when shipping international orders?

We have found that it is typically half the cost to ship via US Post Office to our international customers. However, the USPO requires 30 days before they will put a trace on a package.

How long does it take for you to ship out International orders?

We typically ship International orders within a day or two upon verification of funds and receipt of the order.

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