big berkey water filter review

Big Berkey Water Filter Review – Best of the Gravity Fed

Product Summary

Contamination Removal: 89%
Ease to Install: 94%
Treatment Rate: 85%
Space Saving: 75%
Water usage: 95%
Warranty: 82%
Features: 77%

Price: $$$


Big Berkey is a convenient countertop water filter for people who are sick of plastic materials and love to see something more durable such as stainless steel.

I would personally prefer something more durable when selecting a countertop filter as you will move, carry or manipulate with it in different ways, so you don’t want the filter to crack if you accidentally drop it.

Regarding removal rates, Big Berkey is reporting better results than its biggest competitor Doulton, which makes the very similar system as Berkey.

Depending on the number of filters you are using system provides different flow rates starting with 3.5 gallons per hour when two filters are used and ending with 7 gallons per hour with four used filters, which should be sufficient for the family and guests.

The only drawback of this system is that NSF and WQA do not certify it, and for this reason, the company does not ship the product in California and Iowa as in these countries it is mandatory to have products approved.

Some users might also find price slightly higher, but the cost is justified by the used materials and the fact that filters need to be replaced every 3000 gallons.


Let’s cut to the chase – the Big Berkey provides the best contaminant removal of any gravity fed countertop system according to product information and consumer reviews.

For lead, Berkey reports considerably better results than Doulton’s best filter when considering gravity fed countertop systems alone.

Doulton Supersterasyl filters remove greater than 95 percent of lead whereas the Berkey black filters remove greater than 99.9% lead.

Berkey shines above the other gravity systems with Chlorine as well, removing greater than 99.9% compared to Doulton’s >95%.

Company also reports having superior microbe removal compared to Doulton and all other gravity fed systems.

While this may seem picky, decimal places count when germs are involved. If you don’t want any pathogens to get through to your drinking water, then you want to look for a filter that delivers the closest to 100% removal – Big Berkey is that filter.

The Big Berkey allows beneficial minerals like calcium and magnesium to pass through the system. Fluoride and arsenic filters are available for additional purchase.

Berkey replacement filters are self-sterilizing. The company recommends that the filters be cleaned every 6 months and replaced after every 3000 gallons.

Concerned about emerging contaminants?

These are substances that are less studied but could pose a drinking water hazard.

For example:

Glyphosate is a commonly used herbicide and pesticide that may be present in water supplies. This chemical is currently being studied for more insight into its impact on human health.

While laboratory reporting limits prevent testing of higher removal rates, Berkey reports that their filters will remove greater than 75 percent of glyphosate. Contaminants from plastics have also received recent attention.

The Big Berkey removes common plastics including BPA (Bisphenol A) and 1,1-Dichloroethane (11-DCA).

While Big Berkey filtration has been tested at third-party labs, Berkey filters have not been certified by a third party like NSF or WQA.

The company addresses this issue on their website, referring to the fact that they cannot ship to California or Iowa because these states require water filtration systems to be third-party certified and meet other requirements.

Berkey publishes limited information on the makeup of their filter media. Their proprietary formulation includes more than six different media.

Coconut shell carbon, a common filter media. Berkey indicates that their filter media forms a compact matrix with millions of microscopic pores.

They do not report the exact micron size of the pores. The Big Berkey comes with a 12-month warranty, and black filters are covered under a 2-year pro-rated warranty.

  • Stainless steel material
  • Filters need to be replaced after 3000 gallons
  • Easily portable
  • Not NSF and WQA certified
  • Higher price
  • Only two filters are shipped with a product

A unique feature of the Big Berkey is that the flow rate can be customized. When two filters are used, the system filters at a rate of 3.5 gallons per hour. That rate should provide plenty of purified water for a family of four.

With countertop gravity systems, the tank is typically refilled on a regular basis so that filtration is performed during the night or when everyone is out of the house.

With four filters, the same system can operate at a rate of 7 gallons per hour and provide purified water for 85-170 people per day. This feature can be used during emergencies when other sources of potable water are unavailable.

You may also find it convenient to have the option of increasing the filtration rate on the fly when you have a house full of guests.

Another handy feature is how easy the system is to transport. While it may look bulky when fully assembled, the upper chamber fits into the lower chamber. When nested, the chambers have a combined height of only 13 inches.

With this feature, the Big Berkey can travel with you to outdoor events and activities, like parties, sports games, races, etc. The system is also lightweight – 7 pounds when empty.

You can’t argue with the Big Berkey’s looks. Similar to the Doulton gravity system, the Big Berkey sports a beautiful stainless steel exterior that should fit into most modern kitchen interiors.
This system certainly gives a consumer a lot of chews on — claiming to provide the very best contaminant removal of any gravity system, providing many convenient features, and looking fabulous in the kitchen.

Does the lack of third-party certification give you pause? If you need a water filter for emergency situations and want to be sure that a system works as reported, consider testing a Berkey system before using it to treat non-potable water. If every Big Berkey performs as stated, then it must be the best gravity system around.



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