Switzerland can pride itself to supplying one of the best water quality for its residents. Yet we still filter water for other reasons. Are you curious to know the reasons why we got Big Berkey water filter for our small family ?
Why we chose Big Berkey water filter
In the 25 years of my marriage, we have tried out at least 5 different water filtration systems before we settled on Berkey early this year.
Switzerland’s water supply has no added fluoride or chloride. We probably have one of the best water qualities in the world. Yet, I was aware that the water does contain traces of pesticides, hormones from the birth control and other harmful chemicals from medication etc. which does seep into the water supply. I wanted to filter out that too.
When I was trying to fall pregnant many years back, at the suggestion of a fertility expert we switched to Aquasana. But since we moved to the present home, we couldn’t fix Aquasana in this kitchen, because the faucet is not compatible with the system.
Therefore, I was on the search for a different system and finally found Berkey. We are loving our Big Berkey, since we installed it early this year.
Reasons for choosing Big Berkey Water Filter
One of the main reasons, why we choose the Big Berkey Water Filter was, because I didn’t want a big monstrous one sitting on my kitchen counter. We are a small family of just 3 and took the guidance of the Berkey site. Berkey offers many sizes depending on your personal needs.
The capacity of Big Berkey is 8.5 liters with a height of 50 cm. This was just perfect for my needs. The price difference between this size and the next size was not much. But, I needed to calculate an extra 15 cm, because I wanted a stand to place the filter on. Its worthwhile to get the stand, I can store my silver water cup below it.
After more than 2 decades of replacing so many water filters, the cost was becoming a concern for me. The cost of filtered water from a Brita water filter Pitcher is about 2.00 Euro cents/ liter. Over the years it did add up to about two thousand Swiss Francs. Not counting the 2 plus years we had Aquasana counter top filter. For a comparison you can look up at Berkey’s site itself.
The initial investment in our case was 600 Euros. We additionally ordered the stand, a stainless steel spigot and the red dye for testing. An additional cost of CHF 80.- for customs duty added to the total cost. The shipment was free from UK. All these costs may sound steep but I consider good water as an investment for our health.
3. Filtering Quality
Like I mentioned earlier, I was not so concerned about the fluoride or chloride in the water. Because Switzerland has very good water supply. One reason why we used water filters was to filter out the excess of limescale from the water.
Certain parts of the country has a higher limescale in the water. To reduce this, we installed a special system to the main pipes to change the ionic composition of our water supply. This was helping in increasing the life span of all our machines. But this was not enough for cooking or drinking. As there was always limescale deposits in the pots and kettles. Hence, I used Brita for cooking to avoid that.
My other concern was the hormones from birth control pills, pesticides and medication leeching into the water supply. This was my main concern. I didn’t want to mess up my child’s or our hormonal balance and health.
The Big Berkey water filter met all of the requirements I was looking for. According to the manufacturer, Berkey filters out viruses and bacteria, in addition to the chemicals which most other filters don’t. I wanted to have a good water filter for filtering water from our stream in case of emergencies.
4. Big Berkey Water Filter is Eco-Friendly
With my Brita and Aquasana water filters, I had to replace the filters. Brita had to be replaced once a month and Aquasana once in 6 months to get the desired water purity. And this definitely adds to the land fills.
Moreover, Brita is made of plastic. After a while, it becomes difficult to clean, and I was replacing the pitcher too. The models were also changing once in a way, so you had to be up to date to get the right cartridges. In contrast, Berkey’s filters need replacing only after 10 years. And the stainless steel container is long lasting. Big Berkey filters 8.5 liters and this is sufficient for our daily needs. Sometimes, I filter twice that amount during the day as we drink only water.
Big Berkey is made of high quality stainless steel and its easier to clean. There is also no need for electricity, the filter is a simple carbon filter. Unlike some water purification systems like reverse osmosis, many of the components are made of plastic. Another down side of reverse osmosis is a lot of water is wasted. Therefore, Berkey water filter is also ecological in many aspects.
5. Portable Water Filter
We didn’t want to be investing in an extensive water purification system, which we couldn’t take with us in case we moved home. So another big tick for me to buy Berkey water filter. Its easy to transport too and the filters are easily available. We could easily take a smaller Berkey for travel if we had one. But we have a different one for that purpose and its called Katadyn hiker filter.
6. Requires no electricity
This was another concern. I wanted one which needed no electricity to filter water. Reverse Osmosis and some of the extensive water filtration systems require electricity. As a newly wed, I used to live in a remote place in India where my husband was living and we used to filter river water. There we used a similar kind of water filter like Berkey. But I must admit, that it cannot match with Berkey.
7. Easy to Test the Filters
Many of the water filters are not so easy to test to see if the filters are working properly. Berkey offers this opportunity for testing out the filters to see if its filtering out properly. You can easily verify this with the red dye test. Instructions are below.
Watch Video Review of 4 Water Filters
FAQs about the Big Berkey Water Filter
How Do You Do the Food Dye Test with The Berkey Water Filter?
Due to health concerns, artificial red food color is banned in the EU/UK. The instructions for the red food color test are not the same as the instructions you find on the American Berkey system assembly sheet.
Follow these instructions given by Berkey Europe, if you live in Europe.
” Use only natural red food color sold in tiny 38-50ml bottles without any added glucose, sugars or thickening agents. These are available at all major supermarkets or Asian food shops. Do not use Tesco brand, Dr. Oetker Gel Food Color Bright Red or any other gel based food color. “
1. Completely fill the upper chamber of Big Berkey water filter with water, and then add a quarter (1/4) teaspoon or less of red food coloring to the upper chamber, stirring well.
2. Add a half (1/2) teaspoon or less to the upper chamber of an Imperial or Crown Berkey. The water should have a slight pinkish tinge. If the food coloring is completely removed, your system is working properly. If not, make sure the wing nuts on the elements as well as the blocking plugs are securely tightened then re-run the test.
What Does The Berkey Filter Out?
According to the Berkey website, Berkeys filter out over 99.99% chlorine, over 99.99% bacteria and viruses, lead, VOC’s, THM’s, lindane, benzene and atrizine.
Will The Berkey Remove Lead?
Yes! It removes over 96% of the lead found in water.
Does The Berkey Remove Fluoride?
The standard Black Berkey filters do not remove fluoride for this you would need the extra PF-2 fluoride filters. These filters are sold as a discounted accessory with every Berkey system and are attached to the Black Berkey filters. The Berkey water filter is one of the few systems aside from a Reverse Osmosis system that removes fluoride. Since the water supply in Switzerland is without fluoride, I didn’t see the need to get an additional fluoride filter.
Does Berkey remove horomones ?
Well this is according to Berkey Europe “The Black Berkey filters have not been officially tested for the removal of hormones so I can make no claims for their elimination. Unofficially I can say that the likelihood is very high. Please see the following report (www.scientiareview.org/pdfs/169.pdf) regarding hormone removal by GBC carbon filters which are virtually the same as the Black Berkey filters and they attained a removal percentage >98% in various tests. “
Does Berkey filter out limescale in hard water?
No, the filters do not remove calcium carbonate (scale). The limescale is in itself harmless, it’s just a mineral build-up. Therefore, I clean the filter once in two months. What I personally noticed is that the lime scale in the water kettles is easier to clean off with a little vinegar.
How Often Do You Need To Change The Berkey Filters?
Each of the durable Black Berkey filter will last for up to 11,350 liters (22,700 liters per set of 2). At 38 liters per week, this is equivalent to 600 weeks. That’s more than 11.5 years of clean water!
How Do You Clean the Berkey Water Filter?
Cleaning the Berkey filter is very simple. First, empty all the water from Big Berkey. Next, take the filters out by unscrewing the wing nuts that hold them in place. After that, I use a light vinegar solution and remove the limescale deposits and brush the container with a soft sponge. If you don’t have hard water problem, skip this procedure. Rinse thoroughly running under cold water.
When and How Often Do You Change The Water In a Berkey Water Filter?
It depends on how much water you use. We fill our Berkey about twice a day. To get the last bit of water before refilling, tip the filter forward slightly toward the spout.
We really like this filter so far. I must admit, one other reason why this filter clinched the deal for me was also the sleek look.
A small personal confession
This purchase was done well in time before the present lock down and the economic emergencies the world is going through now. Berkey has now a delay in supplying their water filters. I had a gut feeling way back in December that I had to order it quickly and we got ours within a week. Glad we purchased ours and we installed this early in January and have been enjoying our Berkey till date.
On this note I will conclude this post on the Reasons why we got big berkey water filter.
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