The first time, someone saw that big shiny thing on my kitchen sideboard, I think they commented what a “huge badass coffee maker” that was. Ha. I do like my coffee, but I don’t have a caffeine addiction. What they were looking at was my Berkey water filter*.
I meant to blog about this in forever. I think I started this post sometime early last year and then it got buried in my draft folder. Go figure. Anyway, I don’t think it’s too late to dig it out, especially since I can give you a better review of the Berkey after having used it for a while!
When we moved to our house 18 months ago, I realized that the BRITA® faucet filter that we had been using for years, wouldn’t fit on the faucet in our kitchen (it’s one of those pull-down faucets, which are awesome in general, just not for using the faucet filters). I didn’t really want to start using a pitcher because the thought of having to keep that pitcher filled up felt cumbersome and inefficient. With the faucet filter, I had filtered water at my fingertips right away.
Having to make a decision on how to get our water filtered from now on, I started researching for other water filters on the internet and realized pretty quickly: using a BRITA® filter helps the environment (by reducing plastic bottle waste) and is better than not using any filter for your water at all (it helps to reduce chlorine taste and odor, zinc, and harmful contaminants like copper, mercury, and cadmium), but it’s really not that great in filtering out other contaminants (and the filters need to be constantly replaced, too, which can be costly). And apparently, not all BRITA® filters filter the same stuff (I didn’t know that until I did more research):
I realized that without knowing it, we made the right choice choosing the BRITA® faucet filter, but why in the world would that be the only one to filter out all these contaminants (see above graphic) and then not filter out what they pitcher or dispenser would filter? I don’t get it.
As you may have guessed, this realization opened a whole nother can of worms, and I started comparing different water filtration systems and also looked into water purifiers, not least because of what had been going on last year in Flint, Michigan. Good God.
While drinking water in Sacramento overall is not bad (at least according to the last official water report), I did find a few things of concern and when I read this article on the local news last summer, I was even more convinced that it is a good idea to invest in an overall really good water purifier.
Something I repeatedly read is: to find out which water filtration system is right for you, find out about the quality of your tap water where you live and then find an appropriate system that can filter out what shouldn’t be in your drinking water in the first place.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has a good tap water database, where you can learn about your tap water.
One filter that I came across over and over again was the Berkey Filter System (which is actually a purifier). It’s been kind of difficult to understand the difference between filtration and purification (because often the terms are not used correctly or they are used interchangeably), but as far as I understand: filtration by definition simply means to strain out the impurities from a water source.To purify water, additional steps have to be taken, to remove even more – often the smallest of smallest – contaminants. The Berkey is a gravity based purification system, which means that the water is filtered through normal gravity process, from the higher point (upper compartment) to a lower point (lower compartment), without the help of any external force or need of electricity. The water flows naturally through the installed carbon (and fluoride) filters and leaves the contaminants behind. The filters are cleanable and last for many years before they have to be replaced.
It’s portable and can be taken out into the wilderness if needed (and turns non-potable water into drinking water). Or, as in our case, it’s a pretty stainless steel cylinder that sits on our counter and purifies our tap water. Other options would have been a ‘reverse osmosis filter’ (which is installed underneath your sink) or a whole house filter (which is even more expensive).
The Berkey has a very good record of removing a wide range of contaminants, from the lab results I have looked at. If you want to look at some of the lab results yourself, check here, here, and here. It outperforms most other conventional household filter systems.
So, long story short: we invested in the Berkey system. It’s not an exactly cheap investment up front either. The system, including two black purifying filters, two fluoride filters, and an extra spigot, comes out to a little more than $300. This sounds pretty steep, I know, but if you calculated how much you’d pay for bottled water (which is not that great, not mentioning the environmental impact of the plastic bottles), or how many replacement BRITA filters (again, not that great!) you’d buy over the course of 4-5 years, I think in the long run, the investment in a Berkey make sense. Berkey water costs just 1.6 cents per gallon to produce. The black filters don’t have to be replaced for a few years (depending on usage, of course!) and first and foremost, I feel good and safe about the water we’ve been consuming. Most importantly, you can really taste the difference!
I know, these days it feels like nothing out there is safe anymore. Precautions have to be taken at every corner. Water is contaminated, food is not safe or loaded with sugars or chemicals. But you know what? As intimidating the whole thing is, I’d rather do my research and do whatever I can to make the healthy and safe choices that are within my power than turn a blind eye to the problem, cross my fingers and hope for the best.
Berkey’s systems are available in six different sizes ranging from a capacity of 1.5 – 6 gallons. Please note that due to California law, Berkey is only able to ship their “outdoor” water purification systems to California (not sure if that has changed). We bought our Big Berkey (2.25 gallons) off Amazon and it did ship to our address without problems. It comes as a complete kit (including the black filters and fluoride filters), and assembly was pretty easy.
If you do like your water refrigerated (I do drink mine at room temperature), just filter some water into a pitcher and put it in the fridge. Voilá.
Since it does take a little time for the water to filter through, it’s a good idea to refill the Berkey frequently. (I let J handle that and he’s always on top of filling it just enough to make sure that we have plenty of water to drink and for cooking! One small downside is that the Berkey can overflow, so you want to be careful not to overfill it when there is plenty of water in the bottom compartment.)
Do you have a water filtration system? Have you heard of the Berkey?
Leave any questions in the comments!
*Note: This is not a sponsored post, and I paid full price for the Berkey. I am not affiliated with Berkey or Amazon, nor have they endorsed, sponsored or paid for my review. I am just sharing my love for the Berkey. All opinions are my own.