A few months ago I wrote a post discussing a few of the many at-home water filter systems on the market. After further research and deliberation, we decided to go with a Berkey system. I even splashed out and got their stainless steel water container instead of heading down the DIY path. We have a small child in the house, and I’m not always a picture of grace and serenity when doing things in the kitchen, so a sturdy, hard to break container sounded sensible.
After several marathon Google sessions, the most cost effective place I could find to order from was Durand Pottery. Shipping was fast and included in the cost of the filter. I ordered over a weekend and had the package on my doorstep Monday morning – it’s hard to argue with that sort of efficiency!
The instructions that come with the Berkey kit are fairly straightforward. I had the filter container set up and ready in about five minutes. I did, however, get confused with the fluoride filters – there was only one rubber gasket in the package, and two filters. A quick call to Durand soon set me right. Unlike the ceramic filters, the PF-4s don’t need to be installed with a gasket. Instead, it’s used to prime the filters before you screw them onto the ceramic ones. This video shows you what I’m talking about. (By the way, the lady I spoke to was lovely and helpful. Apparently she fields my question a lot.)
Bear in mind that the ceramic filters let water through quite slowly – about 2 litres per hour. Attaching fluoride filters slows the flow rate even more. This is because the media inside the PF-4 needs a fairly long contact time with the water to properly adsorb the heavy metals. That’s the main reason we decided on the Berkey over an Alkastream: the water flows through the latter too fast to be properly filtered.
The water flow rate can be sped up somewhat by adding more filters to the bucket. There’s space for up to four. More filters also means replacing them less often – in our case, yearly instead of every six months. The PF-4s need replacing twice as often as the ceramic filters.
It’s been about four months since we purchased our Berkey, and it’s been great. The only maintenance needed is a monthly scrubbing of the ceramic filters to remove the build up of gunk that’s been filtered out of the water. We fill it twice a day, on average, and decant the water into recycled plastic drink bottles.
All in all I’d definitely recommend a Berkey to anyone who wants water that tastes like water, and can’t put in an inline filter.