How do I transport my Berkey system?

Prior to transporting or moving any Berkey® system, the Black Berkey® Purification Elements must first be removed. Failure to remove the elements from the system can result in broken stems. Place the elements in secure and water-tight packaging. The top and bottom of the stainless steel systems nest within each other for easy transport (remove spigot from the lower chamber).

Please note: Failure to remove the elements from the system can result in broken stems. This is not covered under the manufacturer’s warranty.

What is the most convenient method for filling up the upper chamber of my system with water?

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.

How should I clean my stainless steel chambers?

Follow these two steps:

Wash lower chamber once per month with soapy dishwater.
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.

I want to be extra safe. What can I do to disinfect the water before filtering it?

The Berkey water purification systems can efficiently purify raw untreated pond, lake and river water. However, always use the cleanest and clearest water possible. As an additional precaution, if using a source of water that you believe might contain extreme viral and bacteriological contamination, it is recommended by the CDC, EPA and other organizations that approximately sixteen drops of plain bleach (sodium hypochlorite) or iodine per gallon be added to treat the source water before purifying. This should kill minute pathogens such as viruses, within 30 minutes. The disinfectant will be removed from the treated water entirely with the Berkey system, including any odor or taste.

For more information about disinfecting water, please reference the following links. cdc.gov or  water.epa.gov.

How do I collect a water sample?

When testing a water sample, we recommend using this standard testing protocol.

What type of steel is used for the housing of Berkey® systems?

New Millennium Concepts, Ltd. uses only the highest quality, highly polished AISI 304 grade stainless steel, known for its high corrosion and heat-resistant properties, in our Berkey® Water systems. It is equivalent to high quality 18/8 stainless steel cookware.

When I boil or freeze water from my Berkey® system I see white floating things in the water. What is this?

This is an issue that mostly occurs with hard (heavily mineralized) water. The healthiest water has a higher PH level because it has less acidity. 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.

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 1.3 cm. to 2.5 cm. of water to remain in the upper chamber. By design, the water must pass through very fine micropores 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 micropores. You may have noticed that the system purifies much faster when full than when half full. That’s because there is more water pressure. The only way to remedy this problem would be to enlarge the pores of the filter elements. This would, of course, reduce the efficiency of the Berkey purification system. During each cycle, the water left from the previous cycle mixes with the water from the current cycle and is then purified. There is no need to be concerned about excess water during normal use. Should you, however, discontinue using your filter for a period of time such as during a vacation, it would be best to empty both chambers before departing and leave them upside down to dry on the dish rack.

How Important is Having Potable Water During an Emergency?

Star Advertiser uploaded an excellent article detailing the necessity of having clean water in the wake of natural disasters.  We definitely giving it a read to know the best ways to be prepared for a lack of clean water.

What is the TDS reading of the purified water?

A TDS meter does not register much of a change between the pre-filtered water and the post-filtered water. This is normal, and the answer has to do with what a TDS meter actually measures.  According to tdsmeter.com, “Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) are the total amount of mobile charged ions, including minerals, salts or metals dissolved in a given volume of water, expressed in units of mg per unit volume of water (mg/L), also referred to as parts per million (ppm). TDS is directly related to the purity of water and the quality of water purification systems and affects everything that consumes, lives in, or uses water, whether organic or inorganic, whether for better or for worse.”

This statement is both correct and incorrect.  It is correct in what a TDS measurement consists of, namely the “total amount of mobile charged ions, including minerals, salts or metals dissolved in a given volume of water”. It is incorrect in its conclusion that TDS is related to the purity of the water and the quality of the water purification system.  If the measure of a water purification system was how close it could make water to pure H2O, then maybe it would be correct. But, people need minerals to live. Thus, helpful minerals in your water are actually a good thing.  A quality water purification system should filter out things that are harmful to your body but leave in helpful things such as minerals. Black Berkey elements are designed to leave healthful and beneficial minerals in your water and to extract the unwanted heavy metals such as lead and mercury as well as sedimentary minerals such as iron oxide and aluminum.

So, when our customers use a TDS meter, what they find is that the reading both before and after the water has gone through the Black Berkey elements about the same.  And they are correct. The Black Berkey elements do not take out all of the beneficial minerals.  Thus, of the things that a TDS meter will actually detect, the Black Berkey elements will only remove 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.

A TDS meter does not measure the amount of biological and chemical contaminants. The important thing is to not simply rely on a TDS meter for your measure of whether your water is good. You can have low TDS count water that has harmful bacteria in it. You can have high TDS count water that is perfectly safe (e.g. – pure, unpolluted ocean saltwater…albeit, you wouldn’t drink it, but that’s only because the mineral is salt). Thus, make sure you know what your TDS meter is actually telling you.

How should I store my Black Berkey® Purification Elements and how long is their shelf-life?

If you have used your elements:
The method of storage  depends upon the length of time that the Black Berkey® Purification Elements will not be used:

If the filters will not be used between 4 to 15 days and you want to avoid the re-priming process, remove the filters  from the system, place them into a sealable sandwich bag or container and place the filters in the refrigerator towards the front to ensure that they do not freeze. This will allow the filters to stay mostly saturated so that re-priming is not typically necessary. If for any reason the filters run slower than ususal, re-prime  them until the exterior wall of the filter begins to sweat beads of water for 10 seconds.

For long term storage, we recommend drying and sealing the filters. The key is to ensure they are bone-dry  before storing them long-term, to prevent any potential bacterial growth. One  option for drying your filters is to leave them on a window sill for one to three days and allow them to air-dry. We also offer a tool to assist in both priming and purging. This tool is called a Black Berkey Primer™. The benefit to purging the Black Berkey® Purification Elements is that they are dried very quickly. Once the filters are bone-dry, place them in a storage bag such as a large, seal-able sandwich bag. The elements are extremely powerful and can absorb odors and smoke from the air. By sealing them in a storage bag, they should not absorb any odors from the air. When you are ready to re-use your filters, clean them by scrubbing the outside with a Scotch-Brite® pad or stiff brush. Then re-prime the filters either manually or with the  Black Berkey Primer™ before putting them back in the system.

If you have never used your elements:
If the elements are unopened and in their original packaging, please ensure you do not store the elements in an area that also has strong smells to them, such as a laundry room or garage. The elements have carbon as one of their components so it is possible for them to absorb the odors of the room they are stored in. For example, if they are stored in a laundry room, it is possible for the media in the elements to pick up the odor of highly fragranced items such as powdered laundry soap.
** When storing the chambers of your Berkey® system, it is best to empty both chambers before storing them, because anytime water is still, it becomes stagnant and can produce bacteria. We recommend washing your Berkey® system with soapy water before leaving it to dry.

Do your Black Berkey® Purification Elements remove Glyphosate?

Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide and pesticide. Glyphosate is primarily released into the environment via runoff water and predominately applied as a spray for agricultural purposes. This contaminant has recently become the topic of discussion because of its association with acute or chronic exposure leading to various potential health issues or concerns. The EPA has extensive information published about Glyphosate, particularly about it being in drinking water. Click here to view basic information about Glyphosate in drinking water. Black Berkey® Purification Elements will reduce Glyphosate in your water by greater than 75%, exceeding the laboratories reporting limits. Please click here to view our Organic Test Results. To purchase a set of Black Berkey® Purification Elements, please click here.

Additional resources for glyphosate can be found through the Environmental Working Group and the National Institutes for Health 

Do the Black Berkey® Purification Elements remove cyanobacteria associated with algae blooms?

Algae blooms are composed of floating colonies of cyanobacteria.
While New Millennium Concepts, Ltd. has not conducted specific testing for cyanobacteria, our expectation is that the reduction of cyanobacteria should occur because:
Cyanobacterial cells range in size from 0.5 micrometers to 40 micrometers.
A “micron” is an abbreviated term for “micrometer”, or a millionth of a meter (1/1,000,000 meters). This is about .00004 inches. For size comparison, a human red blood cell is about 5 microns across. A human hair is about 75 microns across (depending on the person).” *
Working down to a smaller scale… .5-40 microns would be 500-40,000 nanometers in size.
The Black Berkey® Purification Elements can reduce viruses down to the nanometer scale, in the tested range of 24-26 nanometers:
24-26 nanometers is .024 to .026 microns…in other words, much smaller than cyanobacterial cells found in algae blooms.
The fact that Black Berkey® purification elements have been tested to remove viruses to the nanometer range suggests that contaminants much larger in size, such as cyanobacteria, should also be removed. Nevertheless, since NMCL has no specific testing for cyanobacteria, we cannot make any specific claims for cyanobacterial reduction.
NMCL always recommends that you use the cleanest source of water available, whenever possible.
* http://www.bacteria-world.com/how-big-micron.htm