The World Of Water Filtration

The Big Berkey

The Big Berkey

About a year ago we met filmmaker Stephanie Soechtig, director of the documentary Tapped, which outlined the ills of bottled water so effectively that we quickly decided to forgo those five-gallon jugs of water in favor of tap water at the disinformation offices, and I did the same at home.

However, while New York City’s tap water isn’t bad compared to some municipalities, it still contains plenty of chemicals that I have no intention of knowingly ingesting (fluoride, chlorine, various VOCs, etc.), so we decided to install water filters.

At the office we installed a plumbed-in filtered water dispenser from local company Cure Water Systems, and it works well in an office environment, proudly sporting one of Stephanie’s “Get Off The Bottle” stickers.

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At home I installed an under-sink filter from Aquasana on the advice of super-informed science writer Terri Mitchell, who contributed a great article to the disinformation anthology You Are Still Being Lied To.  The water tastes good and it is one of the most effective filters available, but the filters allow less and less water flow over time until you change them, so it’s not perfect.

Which brings me to my favorite filter so far: The Big Berkey. The name alone is pretty good, but it’s the looks and ease of use that I really like (see photo above), not to mention its extremely effective filtration system, which stacks up more than competitively against its peers (see the chart below).

It looks great on our kitchen counter, or wherever we decide to move it as it’s portable. Set up was easy enough, taking maybe 15 minutes once I’d interpreted the instructions, which could be a little clearer (I wish I’d watched the video shown below first).

Caveat: the basic Berkey system doesn’t come with fluoride filters. You have to know you want them and then ask for and purchase the “PF-2TM Fluoride and Arsenic Reduction Elements.” These additional filters do result in slower filtering, so when you fill up the top section of the Berkey it takes longer to flow through to the bottom reservoir that dispenses the filtered water. Worth the wait in my opinion. They claim almost complete elimination of fluoride:

Testing for fluoride was based on 20-30ppm of the ion in the influent aqueous solution at a flow rate of no more than 3 gpm per cubic foot of media. Results of < 1ppm of the fluoride ion in the effluent were typical for the media (>95% reduction). Under optimum conditions, effluent concentrations of less than 50 ppb were readily achieved (>99.75% reduction).

Disclosure: the Big Berkey was given to us for review purposes by the nice people at morethanalive.com. I told them we would only review it if we liked it, about three months ago. Well we like it, so thanks April and colleagues, this is the official disinformation endorsement, and we’re going to keep using it.

Note: following is a chart supplied by morethanalive.com comparing various commercially available water filtration systems.

BRAND

Berkey

Aquasana

aquaPure

Brita

Brita

Culligan

eSpring

Everpure

GE

Kenmore

PUR

MODEL

Big Berkey AQ-4000 DWS1000 Faucet Filter Pitcher Filter SY-2300 100188 H-54 Smart Water GXSV10C Deluxe 38465 Plus FM-3000
Retail Price $250 $99.99 $349.95 $34.95 $24.95 $159.95 $577.20 $359.99 $139.99 $149.99 $49.99
Replacement Cartridge Cost/ Capacity $99/ 6000 Gal. $48/ 500 Gal. $79/ 625 Gal. $20/ 100 Gal. $7.70/ 30 Gal. $50.39/ 500 Gal. $173.30 / 1320 Gal. $100.99 / 750 Gal. $60.00 / 540 Gal. $49.00 / 500 Gal. $20.00 / 100 Gal.
Per Gallon “Cost Of Use” 1.6 cents Per Gal 9.6 cents
Per Gal.
13 cents
Per Gal.
20 cents
Per Gal.
25 cents
Per Gal.
10 cents
Per Gal.
13.1 cents
Per Gal.
13.5 cents
Per Gal.
11 cents
Per Gal.
9.8 cents
Per Gal.
20 cents
Per Gal.
Total Cost For 6 Years 6000 gals. $250.00 $627.00 $999.00 $1214.95 $1523.91 $710.38 $1405.50 $904.90 $749.99 $688.99 $1229.99
Removes Viruses YES >99.999% NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO
Removes Chlorine YES >99.999% YES 99% YES 97% YES 99% YES >75% YES 97% YES >98% YES >87% YES 97% YES 99% YES 98%
Removes Lead YES 96% YES >99% YES 95% YES 99% YES 93% YES 95% YES 99% YES 98% YES 98% YES 92% YES 96%
Removes Cysts YES >99.999999 YES >99.99% YES >99% YES >99% NO YES 99% YES >99% YES >99% YES >99% NO YES >99%
Removes THMs YES >99.999% YES >99% YES 92% NO NO YES 95% YES >99% NO YES 95% YES 99% NO
Removes VOCs YES >99.999% YES >99% YES 92% NO NO YES 95% YES >99% NO YES 99% YES 95% NO
Removes Lindane YES >99.999% YES >99% YES >99% YES 99% NO YES 99% YES >99% NO YES 99% YES 99% YES 97%
Removes Alachlor YES >99.999% YES >98% YES 98% YES 99% NO YES 98% YES 99% NO YES 98% YES 95% NO
Removes Atrazine YES >99.999% YES >97% YES 97% YES 92% NO YES 97% YES >88% NO YES 97% YES 97% YES 96%
Removes Benzene YES >99.999% YES >99% YES >99% YES 96% NO YES 99% YES >96% NO YES 99% YES 83% NO
Removes TCE YES >99.999% YES >99% YES >99% YES 99% NO YES 99% YES >96% NO YES 99% YES 98% NO
Removes MTBE NO/ YES with add on PF-2 YES >93% NO NO NO YES 90% YES >96% NO NO NO NO
Removes Fluoride NO/ YES with add on PF-2 NOT Stated NOT Stated NOT Stated NOT Stated NOT Stated NOT Stated NOT Stated NOT Stated NOT Stated NOT Stated
Removes Nitrates YES NOT Stated NOT Stated NOT Stated NOT Stated NOT Stated NOT Stated NOT Stated NOT Stated NOT Stated NOT Stated

This chart was modified from a version found at http://www.waterfiltercomparisons.com/water_filter_comparison.php

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  • Anonymous

    Funny how the poison industry has led to the creation of another industry to try and reduce the damage it does

  • JoiquimCouteau

    Funny how the poison industry has led to the creation of another industry to try and reduce the damage it does

    • Robobagons

      Well the thing about that is, the world profits off destruction, and this would be one of the cases lol, nothing against the Big Berkey people, but that’s just how the world works. Anyways I’ve have been thinking about getting a filter, and glad to see that you guys have looked into it also, Keep up the great work and information!

  • bks

    Thanks for posting this article. I have saved it and have done alot of research in this area. Glad you did the chart. The Big Berkley looks like it may be the one for me too.

    Your next research project should be … air filters machines for NYC apartments. No later how much you clean/dust the dust still comes back the next day!

  • bks

    Thanks for posting this article. I have saved it and have done alot of research in this area. Glad you did the chart. The Big Berkley looks like it may be the one for me too.

    Your next research project should be … air filters machines for NYC apartments. No later how much you clean/dust the dust still comes back the next day!

  • iceOlate

    I have owned a Big Berkey for several months now and it is fantastic!

  • iceOlate

    I have owned a Big Berkey for several months now and it is fantastic!

  • Robobagons

    Well the thing about that is, the world profits off destruction, and this would be one of the cases lol, nothing against the Big Berkey people, but that’s just how the world works. Anyways I’ve have been thinking about getting a filter, and glad to see that you guys have looked into it also, Keep up the great work and information!

  • ArgosyJones

    This will protect my precious bodily fluids from any contamination.

  • ArgosyJones

    This will protect my precious bodily fluids from any contamination.

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