Living in the city with, what I assumed was pretty decent water quality, I never thought I would need a water filter. The water tasted like city water, but it was fine. Except, a few months after I moved in the water started making me sick to my stomach. Over the next month I did a lot of research on filtering systems.
Starting out, everything I read recommended getting your water tested or looking at the water quality report for your municipality so you know what needs to be filtered out. When I looked at the report for my town, and while everything tested within “normal” parameters, things like fluoride, nitrates, and choline tested at the maximum allowed. While the amounts were permissible and presumably safe, some individuals are more sensitive than others. Thus armed with what was lurking in the tap I could begin to look for a filter that removes fluoride. Fluoride is tricky, most filters only remove trace amounts, not enough to make a difference. This pretty much left me with a reverse osmosis system or the Berkey filter.
While the reverse osmosis system was half the cost, it did have some serious drawbacks for me:
While the Berky did have drawbacks, to me the benefits outweighed them.
For me the pros outweigh the cons, though I do find the monthly cleaning a bit of a hassle and hard to remember to do regularly.
Here’s how I care for my Berkey:
Every Few Days
Once the filter has been filled it has enough water to last 2 people 2-3 days (Berkey makes several different sizes and is awesome at helping you decide how big you need)
When it is time to refill I dump any remaining water in the top and bottom portion of the filter. Refill the top portion to the top- this is important. By refilling all the way you use the entire length of the filter which speeds things up and helps the filter last longer.
Once a Month
This is the part that I find annoying- not hard, just annoying
Take everything apart and give it a good wash. Unscrew the filters, the spigot, the plugs, everything. Give everything EXCEPT THE FILTERS a wash in hot soapy water to remove any scuz that wants to accumulate. Rinse well.
DO NOT USE SOAP ON FILTERS, use cold water and a scotchbrite pad only.
If you notice your filter not filtering as fast it is time to give the black
carbon filters a scrub. Use a scotchbrite pad and give a good scrub to remove the particles clogging the filter, rinse well.
How often you have to scrub depends on your water quality. For having “nice” city water I have to scrub surprisingly often.
Once everything is washed and rinsed, prime the filters (have a towel handy, you will wash your kitchen in the process) and reassemble everything.
Hand tighten black carbon filters. If you have them, fluoride filters are tightened eight revolutions and no more.
Black carbon filters need to be replaced every 3,000 gallons. Fluoride filters need to be replaced every 1,000 gallons.
Overall I am very pleased with my Berkey filter and use it for all consumed water- drinking water, tea and cooking. While it is an initial investment, it is a cheaper option in the long run and is more flexible to changing situations such as moving or changing water quality changes (fluoride/arsenic filters can be purchased and installed later at any time.