How to Clean Berkey Filters

person cleaning berkey filters
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Berkey water filtration systems are an effective way to enjoy safe and pure water. By following a few simple steps, it is possible to keep your Berkey water filter in prime condition so that it continues to provide your household with a steady supply of clean water.

In this guide, you’ll learn the best methods for cleaning Berkey purification elements and explain why regular maintenance is essential

Key Takeaway
  • Cleaning your Black Berkey elements on a regular basis will help extend their life and ensure your filtration system’s optimal efficiency.
  • Do not wash your Black Berkey filters with cleaning agents so as not to damage them.
  • Always use clean water with Black Berkey filter elements to avoid contamination.

Why Cleaning Berkey Filters is a Must

Various substances from source water get trapped by the carbon filters and over time affect the performance of your Berkey water filter system

Following are some of those unwanted particles and pathogens and why they should be removed from your Black Berkey filtering element:

clean berkey filters

Bacterial Growth

You may introduce bacteria to your Black Berkey filters if they are not properly cleaned and dried especially when storing them long-term. To prevent any potential bacterial growth, it is recommended that they are thoroughly cleaned before bone drying them.

Mold Growth

Mold growth can occur when the filter is not regularly cleaned or dried (especially during storage), as moisture allows mold spores to flourish inside the filter. Letting the water sit for long periods of time in the system could also encourage mold growth. 

If allowed to spread throughout the filter system, they can contaminate filtered drinking water.

Limescale Deposits

Tap water contains minerals such as calcium and magnesium. As water passes through the filters, these minerals leave a chalky deposit and could clog the pores of the filters.The result is a slow water flow. 

The best way to prevent lime deposits is to clean the filter regularly and change it when needed.

When to Clean your Black Berkey Elements?

Always clean your Berkey purification elements regularly to extend their life span and ensure the optimal efficiency of your Berkey system. Thankfully, Black Berkey filters have a longer lifespan compared to Berkey fluoride filters—at 6000 gallons before replacement is due.

However, while they are in use, you should make sure they are cleaned regularly. The most telling sign that your Black Berkey filters require cleaning is a slow water flow. 

set of black berkey scheduled for cleaning

A set of two Berkey purification elements will deliver 1 gallon of clean drinking water per hour. Adding another set of purification elements will increase the flow rate proportionately—approximately 2 gallons per hour. 

If you notice that filtering your water is taking longer than usual, then it’s time to check your filter elements and scrub those particles sticking to your Berkey filters.

Additionally, you can perform a red dye test to check the efficiency of your Berkey water filters. Just add a few drops of artificial red food coloring to the upper chamber of your Berkey system. A pink tinge in the filtered water means your filtering elements need cleaning.

How Often Should You Clean Your Berkey Filters?

When it comes to determining how often you should clean the Black Berkey filters, the quality of the tap water is the first factor to consider. Source water with higher sediment levels or other particulates will require more frequent scrubbing than those with fewer contaminants. 

berkey filters are ready for cleaning

Second is the number of users which relates to the amount of water filtered by the Berkey system. Berkey filters may need to be cleaned more frequently than if only a few people are using the system.

For home use, Berkey recommends scrubbing your Black Berkey purification elements regularly every 3-6 months and washing the stainless steel chambers monthly. 

If the system is used in the field, clean the Berkey filters on a weekly basis. The key here is to clean the Black Berkey filters on a consistent basis. 

How to Clean Black Berkey Filter Elements the Right Way

Compared to most countertop water filters, Berkey water filter elements are re-cleanable. However,  this feature should not intimidate you as cleaning your Berkey filter elements is relatively easy. Just make sure to follow the following step-by-step instructions.

berkey filters in the sink are ready for cleaning

Cleaning Berkey Water Filter for Home Use 

Materials Needed

  1. clean and cool running water
  2. clean towels or clean surface
  3. new Scotch Brite pad or soft bristle brush

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Empty all the water from the upper and lower chamber of your Berkey system.
  2. Remove the upper chamber and place it on a clean towel.
  3. Unscrew each black filter from its housing unit in the upper chamber.
  4. Hold one filter element under cold running water. Make sure the exit hole is pointed up.
  5. Use a new scotch Brite pad or soft bristle brush and carefully scrub the surface of the filter. Rinse them thoroughly and place them on a clean towel or surface.
  6. If you want to store them, be sure to dry them completely. Otherwise, reassemble your Berkey filter system right away.

It is worth mentioning that new or stored Berkey filters should be primed before using them.

Cleaning Berkey Water Filter for Field Use 

Materials Needed

The materials needed are similar to those when washing each Black Berkey element for home use. The only difference is that you would need a bucket of clean water instead of running water in your home.

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Make sure the water you use with your black filters is free of contaminants. Otherwise, add 16 drops of household bleach or iodine for every gallon of water you will use to wash the filters.
  2. Empty all the water from the upper and lower chambers of your Berkey system.
  3. Unscrew each filter element from its housing unit in the top chamber and put them in the bucket.
  4. Use a new scotch Brite cleaning pad or soft bristle brush and gently scrub the surface of the filter.
  5. Discard the used water from the bucket and replace it with clean water.
  6. Submerge the filters and place them on a clean towel or surface.
  7. Reassemble the Berkey water filter system.

NEVER Do This When Cleaning your Black Berkey Purification Elements

Unlike other filtration elements, each Black Berkey element is re-cleanable. However, they should be well- taken care of. 

clean sponge without soap is used to clean berkey filters

Below are some things that you should never do when cleaning your Berkey water filter elements so as to avoid damaging them.

  1. NEVER use hot water to clean your Black Berkey filters.
  2. NEVER use contaminated water to clean the black filters. Otherwise, use bleach-treated water.
  3. NEVER use soap or other detergents with your Berkey filters.
  4. NEVER use used and/or dirty sponge, scrub, or brush to remove the dirt on your filters so as not to introduce any contaminants.
  5. NEVER let your Berkey filters go completely dry if you want to use them immediately after. Otherwise, you have to prime them.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. How to maintain your Berkey purification elements?

First, it is important to regularly inspect the filters for signs of wear and tear. If any cracks or damage are found, replace the element immediately. 

Second, when not in use, store the filters in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight or humidity. 

Finally, clean the black filters preferably once every 3-6 months, and wash the stainless steel chambers monthly.

Following these maintenance tips will help ensure that your Black Berkey replacement elements remain in excellent working order for years to come.

  1. Can you clean Black Berkey filters with vinegar?

Vinegar is a safe, natural way to remove build-up from surfaces without harsh chemicals or scrubbing. It’s also cost-effective and can be used as an alternative to commercial cleaning products that can leave behind residues. 

While the manufacturer did not provide any explicit instructions about using vinegar to clean their filters, some experts have suggested that it is possible – but with caution! Vinegar should only be used sparingly and must never come into direct contact with the filter themselves as the acidity could damage them over time. 

Remember, Black Berkey filters should only be cleaned with water. 

Clean Your Black Berkey Filters Regularly

Having a regular cleaning schedule for your Black Berkey elements is one key to ensuring your filtration system performs at its best. What’s more, keeping them in their pristine condition is effortless. Just scrub that dirt away so you and your family could enjoy the safest and cleanest water available. 

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