Berkey Water Filter Canada Tips & Helpful Resources
Berkey Water Filter Canada Tips & Tricks:
- If you leave the device unused for 3-4 days, it is recommended that any water left in the lower chamber and the fresh water purified within the first minute of re-use should be discarded. It is best to refill both reservoirs and leave them upside down in the dish rack to dry if you intend to leave the device unused for a time longer than 3 – 4 days, such as a trip or holiday. You will need to re-prime the Berkey water filter elements upon your return.
- After the Black Berkey components are washed, it is recommended that the elements be re-primed. This will flush back any impurities from the pores of the components of the filter and stop premature clogging.
- A broad pitcher or jug is better maintained in the vicinity for refilling the upper chamber. A flexible faucet or a hose attached to your faucet may be used as well.
- Be careful not to overfill the upper chamber while the lower chamber is partially filled, as this could cause the lower chamber to overflow. For eg, the upper chamber can be replenished by 1/2 if the lower chamber is 1/2 complete. If the lower chamber is 1/3 finished, then 2/3 etc can be refilled in the upper chamber. Your berkey is not damaged if this happens, it is just overflowing 🙂
- In our experience, adding a sight glass spigot to a stainless steel device is best. This avoids the upper chamber needing to be lifted, peeking into the lower chamber and then measuring how much water is in the lower chamber. You can overfill the upper chamber, leading to overflow of the lower chamber, if you make an incorrect estimate. When purchasing a Berkey water filter system, a sightglass spigot can be selected as a reduced accessory. The tool is overall very helpful and makes life easy 🙂
- Washing the lower chamber in ordinary dishwater every month or 2 months is best.
- Filling the upper chamber to the top every time you fill the upper chamber is an important tip to ensure you get the best life out of your Black Berkey filters (always checking that the lower chamber has enough room for the water). This would make it easier to use the full length of the filter so that the filter is used equally.
- When installing or re-installing the Black Berkey filters, just tighten until the wing nut is just about to miss a turn to prevent de-threading the wing nuts. As this would de-thread the wing nut, making it useless, do not continue tightening (turning the wing nut).
How should I store my Black Berkey® Purification Elements and how long is their shelf-life?
It is best to empty both chambers before storing because anytime water is still it becomes stagnant, which means it can produce bacteria. You may consider washing your chambers with soapy water before leaving them to dry. If you have used your elements, you should fully dry them before storing. We offer a tool to assist in both priming and purging. This tool is called a Black Berkey® Primer™. The benefit to purging the Black Berkey® Purification Elements is that they are dried very quickly and cleaned at the same time. Another option for drying your elements is to leave them on a window sill for one to three days and allow them to air-dry. The key is to ensure they are bone-dry before storing them, to prevent any bacterial growth.
For long-term storage, we recommend sealing the purification elements. This can be done with a storage bag such as a sealable sandwich bag. The elements are extremely powerful and can absorb odors and smoke from the air. By sealing them in a storage bag, they will not absorb any odors from the air. When you are ready to use your elements, they will need to be re-primed by lightly scrubbing them clean with a Scotch Brite pad or stiff brush.
To order our Black Berkey Primer™ please click here.
Berkey Water Filter Canada’s Frequently Asked Questions By Customers:
If NMCL’s recent test results show that the Black Berkey® Purification Elements reduce Fluoride, then why do I need the Berkey PF-2™ Post Filter Elements?
NMCL’s most recent laboratory testing indicates that the Black Berkey® Purification Elements will initially reduce Fluoride up to 99.9%. Typically, carbon-based elements that reduce Fluoride begin to lose that ability rather quickly. This may be the case with Black Berkey® Elements as their efficiency at removing Fluoride likely plays out long before the 3,000-gallon life of the element.
There are a number of filters on the market that utilize carbonized bone char (a media that NMCL purposely chooses not to use), and that make claims for Fluoride reduction, without informing their customers that the fluoride removing ability of the filters plays out quickly. The reason this occurs is because it takes a very large amount of media to remove small amounts of Fluoride. Therefore, there is not enough media in such filters to remove Fluoride effectively over the long term. For example, we have testing for a competitor’s 3-filter system that utilizes bone char for their Fluoride removal claims and, as one would expect, those elements become quickly exhausted. Testing shows that their efficiency declines from 100% removal to 81.4% removal after filtering a mere 45 gallons. This is equivalent to only 15 gallons per element required for them to experience a dramatic ~20% decline in efficiency.
This same effect likely occurs with Black Berkey® Elements after a few hundred gallons. For that reason NMCL developed a more durable and longer lasting solution for Fluoride reduction by creating the replaceable Berkey® PF-2™ Fluoride reduction elements. The media in a set of Berkey® PF-2™ elements can reliably remove Fluoride contaminants for up to 1,000 gallons, which is less than the 3,000 gallon life of the Black Berkey® Elements but again, that is why they were designed to be replaceable. This enables the users to reliably remove Fluoride contaminants from their water while taking full advantage of the 3,000 gallon life of their Black Berkey® Elements.
The Black Berkey® Purification Element’s job is to remove a wide variety of potential contaminants, while the Berkey® PF-2™ Post Filter’s job is to remove Fluoride contaminants that the Black Berkey® Purification Elements may begin to miss after extended use.
Actual capacity is dependent on the presence of other competing contaminants in the source water. High levels of arsenic and heavy metals may reduce the capacity and efficiency of these elements.
Do the Black Berkey® Purification Elements remove cyanobacteria associated with algae blooms?
Algae blooms are composed of floating colonies of cyanobacteria.
While New Millennium Concepts, Ltd. has not conducted specific testing for cyanobacteria, our expectation is that the reduction of cyanobacteria should occur because:
Cyanobacterial cells range in size from 0.5 micrometers to 40 micrometers.
A “micron” is an abbreviated term for “micrometer”, or a millionth of a meter (1/1,000,000 meters). This is about .00004 inches. For size comparison, a human red blood cell is about 5 microns across. A human hair is about 75 microns across (depending on the person).” *
Working down to a smaller scale… .5-40 microns would be 500-40,000 nanometers in size.
The Black Berkey® Purification Elements can reduce viruses down to the nanometer scale, in the tested range of 24-26 nanometers:
24-26 nanometers is .024 to .026 microns…in other words, much smaller than cyanobacterial cells found in algae blooms.
The fact that Black Berkey® purification elements have been tested to remove viruses to the nanometer range suggests that contaminants much larger in size, such as cyanobacteria, should also be removed. Nevertheless, since NMCL has no specific testing for cyanobacteria, we cannot make any specific claims for cyanobacterial reduction.
NMCL always recommends that you use the cleanest source of water available, whenever possible.
Do your Black Berkey® Purification Elements remove Glyphosate?
Glyphosate is a non-selective herbicide and pesticide. Glyphosate is primarily released into the environment via runoff water and predominately applied as a spray for agricultural purposes. This contaminant has recently become the topic of discussion because of its association with acute or chronic exposure leading to various potential health issues or concerns. The EPA has extensive information published about Glyphosate, particularly about it being in drinking water. Black Berkey® Purification Elements will reduce Glyphosate in your water by greater than 75%, exceeding the laboratories reporting limits.
How should I store my Black Berkey® Purification Elements and how long is their shelf-life?
If you have used your elements:
The method of storage depends upon the length of time that the Black Berkey® Purification Elements will not be used:
If the filters will not be used between 4 to 15 days and you want to avoid the re-priming process, remove the filters from the system, place them into a sealable sandwich bag or container and place the filters in the refrigerator towards the front to ensure that they do not freeze. This will allow the filters to stay mostly saturated so that re-priming is not typically necessary. If for any reason the filters run slower than ususal, re-prime them until the exterior wall of the filter begins to sweat beads of water for 10 seconds.
For long term storage, we recommend drying and sealing the filters. The key is to ensure they are bone-dry before storing them long-term, to prevent any potential bacterial growth. One option for drying your filters is to leave them on a window sill for one to three days and allow them to air-dry. We also offer a tool to assist in both priming and purging. This tool is called a Black Berkey Primer™. The benefit to purging the Black Berkey® Purification Elements is that they are dried very quickly. Once the filters are bone-dry, place them in a storage bag such as a large, seal-able sandwich bag. The elements are extremely powerful and can absorb odors and smoke from the air. By sealing them in a storage bag, they should not absorb any odors from the air. When you are ready to re-use your filters, clean them by scrubbing the outside with a Scotch-Brite® pad or stiff brush. Then re-prime the filters either manually or with the Black Berkey Primer™ before putting them back in the system.
If you have never used your elements:
If the elements are unopened and in their original packaging, please ensure you do not store the elements in an area that also has strong smells to them, such as a laundry room or garage. The elements have carbon as one of their components so it is possible for them to absorb the odors of the room they are stored in. For example, if they are stored in a laundry room, it is possible for the media in the elements to pick up the odor of highly fragranced items such as powdered laundry soap.
** When storing the chambers of your Berkey® system, it is best to empty both chambers before storing them, because anytime water is still, it becomes stagnant and can produce bacteria. We recommend washing your Berkey® system with soapy water before leaving it to dry.
What is the TDS reading of the purified water?
A TDS meter does not register much of a change between the pre-filtered water and the post-filtered water. This is normal, and the answer has to do with what a TDS meter actually measures. According to tdsmeter.com, “Total Dissolved Solids (TDS) are the total amount of mobile charged ions, including minerals, salts or metals dissolved in a given volume of water, expressed in units of mg per unit volume of water (mg/L), also referred to as parts per million (ppm). TDS is directly related to the purity of water and the quality of water purification systems and affects everything that consumes, lives in, or uses water, whether organic or inorganic, whether for better or for worse.”
This statement is both correct and incorrect. It is correct in what a TDS measurement consists of, namely the “total amount of mobile charged ions, including minerals, salts or metals dissolved in a given volume of water”. It is incorrect in its conclusion that TDS is related to the purity of the water and the quality of the water purification system. If the measure of a water purification system was how close it could make water to pure H2O, then maybe it would be correct. But, people need minerals to live. Thus, helpful minerals in your water are actually a good thing. A quality water purification system should filter out things that are harmful to your body but leave in helpful things such as minerals. Black Berkey elements are designed to leave healthful and beneficial minerals in your water and to extract the unwanted heavy metals such as lead and mercury as well as sedimentary minerals such as iron oxide and aluminum.
So, when our customers use a TDS meter, what they find is that the reading both before and after the water has gone through the Black Berkey elements about the same. And they are correct. The Black Berkey elements do not take out all of the beneficial minerals. Thus, of the things that a TDS meter will actually detect, the Black Berkey elements will only remove the unwanted heavy metals such as lead and mercury as well as sedimentary minerals such as iron oxide and aluminum. Therefore, your TDS reading will not change much unless you have a significant amount of heavy metals or sedimentary minerals in your water.
A TDS meter does not measure the amount of biological and chemical contaminants. The important thing is to not simply rely on a TDS meter for your measure of whether your water is good. You can have low TDS count water that has harmful bacteria in it. You can have high TDS count water that is perfectly safe (e.g. – pure, unpolluted ocean saltwater…albeit, you wouldn’t drink it, but that’s only because the mineral is salt). Thus, make sure you know what your TDS meter is actually telling you.
What is the most convenient method for filling up the upper chamber of my system with water?
Most people use a pitcher to pour water into the upper chamber; however, if you have a spray hose on your sink, using it to refill the system is a very convenient method.
How should I clean my stainless steel chambers?
Follow these two steps:
Wash lower chamber once per month with soapy dishwater.
In areas with hard water, calcium scale may build up on spigot and chambers after prolonged use. To remove, soak affected part(s) in vinegar or a 50-50% mix of vinegar and water for about 15 minutes. Wipe away calcium scale with a Scotch Brite pad or soft brush then wash with soapy dishwater and rinse.
What type of steel is used for the housing of Berkey® systems?
New Millennium Concepts, Ltd. uses only the highest quality, highly polished AISI 304 grade stainless steel, known for its high corrosion and heat-resistant properties, in our Berkey® Water systems. It is equivalent to high quality 18/8 stainless steel cookware.
How can I tell if my filters are working correctly?
The Black Berkey® Purification Elements are powerful enough to remove red food coloring from water. Performing a red food coloring test on your Black Berkey® Purification Elements allows you to ensure that your system is operating properly.
- We recommend this test be done every three to six months to ensure the Black Berkey® Purification Elements are working properly.
- The red food coloring test is only designed for the Black Berkey® Purification Elements and NOT for the ceramic or other filter elements that do not filter out food color. This test is also not recommended for the Sport Berkey® water bottle.
- Please make sure the food coloring is RED. Red food coloring (unlike the other colors) doesn’t have any minerals, so the element recognizes it as contaminant.
- The red food coloring test should be done after priming your Black Berkey® Purification Elements.
- Please make sure you use the McCormick brand of red food color.
PERFORMING THE TEST
NOTE: For visual aid, please view our video on performing the Red Food Coloring Test here.
- Start with an empty system (upper and lower chamber) and remove any Berkey PF-2™ Fluoride and Arsenic Reduction Filters(if installed). The Berkey PF-2™ Fluoride and Arsenic Reduction Filters must be removed prior to performing a red food coloring test in order to stay in compliance with the six month warranty on the Berkey PF-2™ Fluoride and Arsenic Reduction Filters .
- Place the upper chamber only (with the elements installed) on similar- sized cups directly underneath each Black Berkey® Purification Element. This will help isolate which filter may be exhausted and which is still purifying effectively.
- Fill the upper chamber with water and add I teaspoon of red food coloring for every gallon of water.
- Allow the water to run through to the bottom chamber.
- If the red food coloring is removed entirely, your purification system is working properly.
- If the water in any of the cups is red or has a pinkish tinge, then that particular black filter is defective or exhausted.
IF RED FOOD COLORING IS DETECTED, PLEASE CHECK THE FOLLOWING:
- Are the wing nuts on securely? Please do not tighten the wing nuts using any tools; they should be hand tightened to a snug fit, but not more. If the wing nuts are on too tight, this could cause stripping on the threads of the stem, preventing a correct seal. If you have inadvertently stripped the threads on your element, please contact our Customer Service Center for assistance at 888-803-4438.
- Are you using actual “red food coloring” or another color or type of color? Red food coloring is the only type recommended for this test.
- Is the washer for the stem inside the upper chamber and is the wing nut secured at the bottom? If the washer is on the outside of the chamber with the wing nut, you will not have a proper seal, which will cause your system to fail the test. Place the washer on the inside of the upper chamber and re-run the test.
- Are the blocking plugs properly sealing the unused holes without elements? Are the plugs installed tight with a washer on each side? If the plugs are leaking, this will cause the system to fail the test. Tighten the plugs more securely and re run the test.
- Are you re-testing an element that you think may have failed the test? If so, rinse off and re-prime the element first. Additionally, make sure you pour any excess water out of the bottom tank. Also, if you are using the lower chamber to catch water, run clean water through the spigot to clean it out as well. Now you are ready to repeat the test.
Can I use the Berkey® system with softened water?
Will a Berkey® system work with a water softener?
The Black Berkey® purification elements are designed to remove heavy metals, but will not remove mineral salts, which are added by a water softener. The salt used to soften water will not be extracted by the Black Berkey® element. You can use one of our purification systems on a regular basis by bypassing your water softener to get your drinking water. Most water softeners have a bypass valve or way to get water before it passes through your softener. Therefore, we highly recommend that you obtain pre-softened water directly from the source rather than run softened water through your Black Berkey® Elements.