There are many things that we want to say about the Big Berkey Countertop water filter, and almost all of them are positive. When we consider water filters, be it countertop or under the sink, there are a lot of features that we consider from the reverse osmosis unit to filter change reminders and even all the extra tech that you get. Big Berkley is the complete opposite of that. This water filter is the most industrial, basic version of a countertop water filter. From design to function, we are confident to call it the best passive countertop, the ultra-portable water filter in the market. Here’s our review of the Big Berkey countertop water filter.
What’s In The Box?
The unboxing experience of the Big Berkey was just as we expected; basic and clutter-free. The delivery box was quite big and hefty, and after a series of wrapping plastic and some cardboard, we could take out the shining Big Berkey inside. You’ll get two big steel canisters that house the filters and two columns of a black carbon filter that are the actual filtration unit. That is all you get unless you add something extra. We liked this simple and clean unboxing experience.
Now, coming to the quality of the filter system, there is not a single complaint about that. We are very impressed with the quality of every single part of the filter. The filter canisters are 100% stainless steel, and it shows. They have a good heft to them, they feel sturdy and strong, and there was no bending or wobbling. The tap attached to the canister is made of plastic but, of course, of food-grade high quality. The build quality is brilliant, and everything feels well-fitted and durable. We’d give the unboxing experience as well as the build quality a solid 5 out of 5. Now let’s look at the star of the show; Filtration.
The Big Berkey is a passive filter, meaning that it does not require electricity, and there is no reverse osmosis or ion exchange filtration. Instead, there are just two filtration columns made of activated carbon. Water passes through it using gravity, and the contaminants are filtered out. It is how the filter works. The upper canister stores the contaminated water, while the lower one stores the purified water.
Many people might think that passive filtration might not be as effective as active filtration. After all, this is just a set of two canisters with filters. That is not the case because Big Berkey uses solid carbon filters. Even though there is no use of electricity, the filtration it provides is on par, if not better, than some of the best reverse osmosis filters in the market. We are not overstating when we say that it filters water wonderfully.
The Big Berkey is excellent in removing the pathogens which are commonly found in water. It can remove bacteria, viruses, and other pathogenic microorganisms by an impressive 100%. We know that pathogens are not common in the US water supply, and we’ll tell you why this feature is important.
Apart from pathogens, the Big Berkey is excellent in removing almost all the common contaminants in the water, from toxic heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, mercury to dissolved chemicals such as chlorine, chloramine, fluoride, etc. It is also effective in removing pesticides, herbicides, and other VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). However, it is important to note that these VOCs are also very dangerous for your lungs as they evaporate from the water and get in the air.
This filter can remove more than 200 contaminants in the water without reverse osmosis. There are two benefits from this. The first is that there is no need for electricity, so you don’t have to keep the filter near a power outlet. The second benefit is that there is no water wastage as RO units produce a lot of water waste. The filter is also certified to EPA, ANSI/NSF. But this is what the company claims. So, of course, we had to do our own test.
Testing The Filter
The big claims needed big testing, and we were ready for it. Like every other filter we test, we prepared our contaminated water sample. It was spiked with heavy metals such as lead, mercury, some microplastic, VOCs, chlorine, chloramine, fluoride, along with Giardia and E. coli. The last two are pathogens commonly found in water streams and ponds and can cause serious complications. Since there is no sediment filter that comes with it or any option of adding it, we skipped adding sand and silt into the water sample.
After the filtration was done, we were delighted to see the results. The water sample was devoid of any heavy metal that we put in. There was no trace of lead and arsenic. There were only traces of mercury, whereas chlorine and chloramines were reduced to minimal, safe levels. It is good because we put a lot of these contaminants in the sample. So the fact that it can work so well shows that it will easily remove most of the contaminants in your water supply.
Apart from the metals, Big Berkey removed the dissolved chemicals such as fluorides, PFAs, VOCs, and nitrites. These chemicals are harmful and make the water taste and smell bad. The other great feature of filtration was that it greatly improved the taste and smell of the water. So for most of the chemical and metal contaminants, the filter works wonderfully, just as the company claims. But we were most impressed by its ruthless nature of removing the living contaminants.
There was no trace of the E. coli bacteria and Giardia that we had spiked the water. So the number of pathogens that we put in was unreal, and there is no contaminated water source in nature that can have such density of these pathogens, but the filter worked really well in efficiently removing them. But why is the company putting so much effort into the filter’s ability to remove pathogens?
Camping And Outing
The filter is perfect for your day-to-day usage in the house. The durable and strong build of the filter and its pathogen filtering are aptly made for camping, outing near a lake, and the woods. It works without electricity, does not require complicated, delicate parts, and is made of steel that can withstand harsh conditions.
But the biggest factor when you are out camping is the water source. Lakes and ponds are, luckily, not contaminated with lead and mercury. But pathogens such as E. coli, Giardia, etc., can cause serious diarrhea and other diseases. It is why the company puts so much focus on its pathogen removal abilities. The Big Berkey is made to be used inside the house and outside.
What We Loved About Big Berkey?
- Filter life
- Lifetime Warranty
- Water Flow Rate
- No Filter Change Alert
The Big Berkey costs just around $380, and during times of offers and discounts, you can grab it for as low as $320-$350. The features that you get for the price make it a great pick and the best one when it comes to passive filters. Yes, the price is certainly not low, but you are not buying some cheap plastic water filter, but a large, strong, and durable stainless steel filter. We think the quality and filtration justify the price.
The Big Berkey is the king of portable water filters. No electricity needed, no other types of equipment needed, just unfiltered water ready to be filtered. You can take it in your RV or truck, keep it in any room of the house, and the filter will work perfectly. It makes it one of the most portable countertop water filters in the market.
3. Filter Life
The filters in the Big Berkey are long-lasting, each lasting for about 3,000 gallons or 6,000 gallons for both. It is a good number, not great, as many other filters offer the same amount of filtration capacity. The great thing is that 6,000 gallons are good for a small family. And we have seen many countertop water filters with just 4,000 filtration capacity.
4. Lifetime Warranty
Any great filter is not great if it breaks down without a warranty. It is why we always focus on the warranty before getting swooned by the price. Fortunately, the Big Berkey comes with a brilliant lifetime warranty. It means that there is an issue with the filtration system, and you get to repair or replace it for the rest of your life. It is made even better with the company’s express shipping and a 30-day return option.
What We Did Not Like?
There are only a few things that we did not like about Big Berkey, most of which could be overshadowed by the pros. So here are the cons of this filter:
1. Water Flow Rate
As is the case with most of the passive filters, the water flow rate was not that impressive. Do note that we say impressive. In no way the flow rate was bad, but we were expecting something really good, just like all the other great features of this filter—certainly a disappointment, not a deal-breaker.
2. No Filter Change Alert
There is no way to tell when you should change the filter other than the 6,000-gallons mark. It makes it tough for people to know if the filter is working efficiently or not. The only time you can know is when the water starts tasting funny. Hopefully, this does not let accidental leakage of pathogens in your water when you are out camping. So we recommend changing the filter every year if you are a family of four. For more people, change the filter every nine months.
Big Berkey Countertop Water Filter System is a passive filter, which runs without electricity, Its solid carbon filter can not only easily remove all kind of harmful bacteria's and microorganisms up to 100%, but also removes the common contaminants in the water, from lead, arsenic, mercury, chlorine, chloramine, fluoride and other VOCs. It is better than most of the RO filters available in market.
The Big Berkey is a great passive water filter that is made to be taken out in the woods or by the lakeside. But this does not mean it is a poor indoor performer. On the contrary, excellent build quality, extraordinary filtration, and simple, durable design make it the best countertop passive water filter you can get. So if you are looking for a well-built, high-quality water filter that you can take out on your road trips, then nothing could be better than the Big Berkey.
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