It’s crazy to think a brand so well known and trusted like Berkey, could be hiding something very important from its customers.
But after hearing concerns, doing my own testing, followed by independently conducted lab tests… There’s something important every Berkey user should know which also applies to many other fluoride water filters too.
Just a disclaimer, this article is my opinion. Where I’ll be showing you what I’ve discovered and why I personally stopped using Berkey filters. With the goal to help you make a better and more informed decision. By telling you what others won’t.
Quick Word Before We Start
Keep in mind, I have nothing personal against Berkey. In fact, I used to use them and recommend their products for free before becoming an affiliate for them.
Once I became an affiliate, for each recommendation I made where someone bought a Berkey, I would get paid a percentage of the sale (which is something I do with every product I recommend).
This helped pay for a lot of things I do at Truth About Fluoride, so if anything, I wish I was not writing this article. Not only am I earning less money because I’ve revoked their recommendation but I had to spend $500 out of my own pocket to get these tests done.
But if you know my website, you know it’s not about money. It’s about delivering the best information to my readers and maintaining the trust I’ve built with the community.
So if you’re like me, who was a big fan of Berkey, all I ask is for you to read this with an open mind.
Problems With Berkey Water Filters
Here are just a few problems with Berkey filters you may want to know. Just keep in mind, many websites have covered other issues surrounding Berkeys. But I’ve decided to keep this short and sweet, with the “best” kept for last.
1. Berkey Filters May NOT Remove Fluoride Completely
When it comes to the fluoride test’s I’ve done in the past and most recently, Berkey water filters do remove fluoride.
Here’s a picture of the laboratory tests I had done to confirm the accuracy of my own testing.
As you can see, the fluoride levels in my tap water were 0.47 ppm and the levels after filtering were less than 0.06.
Which basically means it’s fluoride-free.
However, the problem with Berkey water filters is how effectively it removes fluoride depends on the pH of your water. And according to Berkey, “for maximum removal efficiency, maintain the water being treated between a pH level of 5 and 7.”
So if the pH goes beyond that, which it does for many people – your Berkey may not be removing fluoride completely.
2. The Berkey Leaches Something Into Your Water
Before getting professional tests done, I decided to see if the rumors were true.
To figure it out, I put distilled water through the Berkey since it’s pure water and contains a 0 TDS (picture below). And for those that don’t know what TDS is, it stands for “total dissolved solids” which is used to describe the total charged mineral content of water.
So since distilled water has nothing inside it and the Berkey is a water “purifier”, you’d expect pure water to remain pure and contain 0 TDS.
However, when I tested the distilled water AFTER it went through the Berkey filters – the TDS levels were at 145.
Which is a HUGE red flag.
Water filters are meant to remove substances from the water NOT add anything back in (unless it says it does).
Which makes you think…
What is the Berkey adding to the water?
3. Berkey Filters Leach Aluminum Into Water
At this point I decided to take samples from the Berkey and have a laboratory test them.
And considering what I know about water filters, I thought the number one substance that could be leached from the Berkey was aluminum… So I tested the water for that.
But because I love you guys, I decided to test 50+ metals.
And to no surprise, the laboratory results showed less than 0.001 mg/L of aluminum in the distilled water before filtering AND 0.80 mg/L of aluminum after it went through both the black and white filters…
That’s 4X the amount the US government allows in water.1
Far from the “small” or “trace” amounts Berkey claims it might leach into water. Not to mention, many Berkey dealers flat out state NO aluminum leaches into the filtered water, which is very misleading.
Now when I tested tap water for the exact same thing, the aluminum levels were 0.029 mg/L before filtering and 0.441 mg/L after filtering (pictured below).
Still more than 2X the upper limit the government recommends.1
And for those wondering, I did further tests looking at both filters individually. There was no problem with the black filter, it did not leach anything into the water and looked like it did a good job filtering. While the white filter was responsible for the increase in aluminum.
Why Does Berkey Leach Aluminum and Should You Be Worried?
To remove fluoride, Berkey uses a type of aluminum called aluminum oxide, also known as activated alumina. And in the process, while it removes fluoride like a magnet, it may also add unacceptable amounts of aluminum into your filtered water.
Now if you do your own research, you’ll hear this type of aluminum is not “bad” for you.
But in my opinion, here’s why I disagree…
1. It’s not natural for human consumption
Plain and simple, aluminum oxide is not an essential nutrient, does not occur naturally in food or water and for that reason – does not belong in our bodies. And personally, that’s all I need to know to not want it in my body.
However, many Berkey websites constantly state how aluminum oxide is naturally occurring.
But just like fluoride, arsenic, and lead – just because it’s “natural” doesn’t mean it’s good for you. And when it comes to what’s natural to humans, you have to look at what humans have been exposed to throughout human history (food, water, air).
And aluminum oxide is not one of them.
2. Bad Logic To Justify It
It’s funny how Berkey justifies the ingestion of aluminum oxide by using examples that don’t make any sense.
For example, you’ll see many Berkey websites state “there are no known bodily functions that react with aluminum oxide, hence it has excellent biocompatibility” and justify its use by mentioning aluminum oxide is used in:
- orthopedic products such as hip and knee joint replacements,
- dental products,
- airplane parts,
- DVD scratch repair kits,
- blush, lipstick, and nail polish,
- cue tip “chalk” used in billiards,
- ceramic eyes on fishing rods,
- and “many other products we use regularly”
Now I wish I was joking but that’s the list of things various Berkey websites use to convince us aluminum oxide is safe to drink.
But tell me how an airplane part, sandpaper, or nail polish has anything to do with what I put inside by body?
If you look at the list, you’ll notice not one example is about aluminum oxide being ingested. Sure it’s used inside the body for hip and knee replacements and dental products BUT that’s still not the same as drinking it, as touched on in the next point…
3. Not enough research has been done
You would assume, since millions of people drink water filtered with aluminum oxide there would be lots of research studying the effects of consuming aluminum oxide long term, how it reacts within the body, and so on.
Unfortunately, there is not much research or at least not enough. Leaving many questions unanswered.
For example, according to Berkey – aluminum oxide is not water soluble and when it comes in contact with water, it becomes chemically inert. But what happens when it comes in contact with acid, like the acid found in our stomachs?
Now from the small amount of research and scientific opinion out there, there are some forms of aluminum oxide that could potentially react in our stomachs. Furthermore, does it all get excreted through urine or does some of it get stored and circulate in our bodies?
If yes, what does it do in our bodies?
Either way, it seems like an unnecessary risk.
Especially when you consider there are other water filters that do a great job filtering water WITHOUT leaching aluminum into your water (more on this at the end of the article).
4. Lack of Testing
I have not seen one test provided by Berkey that proves the aluminum added by their filters is aluminum oxide. What if some of that aluminum is not aluminum oxide? But instead, regular aluminum?
Seems like we just have to take their word on that.
So if it’s aluminum, well then it’s obvious it’s bad for you. But even if Berkey is not lying and it is purely aluminum oxide that’s found in the filtered water. Then any reasonable person would at the very least, still agree there may be a risk consuming water from a Berkey.
And the entire point of people using a Berkey is to be healthy, not put our health at risk.
5. May not be good for you…
Keep in mind, I’m not trying to play scientist here. All I’m trying to do is create doubt, which I do with all products I consider recommending.
Something that is quite easy when Berkey lies about things that are easy to prove.
Now in general, I understand what Berkey says about aluminum oxide but I did find one piece of information among the very little research done, that might be useful to know…
Which comes from an EPA review/report that determined aluminum oxide meets OECD/Canada’s Domestic Substances List (DSL) criteria for human health concerns, environmental concerns, persistence, and is listed as inherently toxic to aquatic organisms.2
Proof of Legitimate Testing Results
I already know Berkey will respond to this article by attacking its credibility.
That’s why I made sure to follow the proper steps to ensure nothing could cast doubt on the results. For example, here’s what I did to make sure the results were accurate.
1. I Bought An Authentic Berkey
There are many fake filters out there, so I made sure to buy the real thing. Here’s a screenshot of the Amazon receipt and order I made.
If you’re wondering why I bought two, well I wanted to test the steel one. Since it’s the most common one used. But it did not come with fluoride filters + prime shipping, so I had to mix and match my orders.
And of course I returned them.
2. I Set Up The Berkey Following The Instruction 100%
I made sure to read all the instructions provided and watch all their videos, in order to set up the Berkey without any issues. Making sure to avoid common mistakes like over-tightening the filters.
I also took videos every step of the way, showing how I set it up, checking for leaks, filters being sealed before use, and everything else in between.
Most importantly, I also primed the filters and then ran around 50 gallons of water through the filters to ensure residue did not affect the results. Trying to replicate the type of water a normal Berkey user would be drinking.
3. I Did The “Red Dye Test”
After I took all the samples and did my own testing, I did Berkey’s “red dye test” to make sure the filters are working as they should.
For those that don’t know, you basically put red dye in the top section and if it comes out clear at the bottom – the filters work, according to Berkey.
And for visual purposes, I put the filters into the plastic Berkey so you could see.
4. Official Tests Are Available For Viewing
If you’d like to view the entire test results, send me an email and I’ll send you a copy.
Red Flags About The Berkey Company
After doing my research, it’s safe to say the company that makes Berkey’s, has more red flags to them than a Chinese communist parade.
But to keep this sweet and short, I won’t mention many of the other points talked about by others.
1. Is Berkey really a water purifier?
Berkey claims they are a water purifier but in my opinion, you can’t be considered a water purifier if the filtered water is not pure and in this case, contains elevated levels of aluminum.
Not to mention, my tap water had a TDS of 327 (pictured below on left) and after filtering a TDS level of 147 (pictured below on right).
Now forget about being a water purifier, I can’t even consider them a good filter in general when these are the numbers.
And no, this isn’t “good” minerals being let through. The test results showed the filter removed beneficial minerals like calcium and magnesium. And just so I’m not making claims without any “proof” here’s a photo of the independently conducted tests showing both minerals being removed.
As you can see, calcium levels were 31.5 mg/L before filtering and 4.16 mg/L after filtering. While magnesium levels were 8.840 mg/L before filtering and 1.80 after.
Now in general, I don’t think this is a big issue. I don’t think many brands can actually remove the bad minerals while leaving in the good ones. I just think some of the good minerals are left over or leach from the filter. Since they most likely use a combination of good minerals to make the actual filter.
2. Sketchy “Independent” Testing
I won’t get into the rumors’ of Berkey faking test results, I really don’t care nor do we need this to prove the point we’re trying to prove.
But it’s quite odd that every test result I’ve seen online (provided by Berkey) shows the filtered water does not contain aluminum. While my independent tests results show otherwise. However to be fair, my test results for the black Berkey filter shows that it does remove aluminum.
So it seems like the problem is that these aluminum test results were not done with the white filters. And makes me wonder if they’re curating what they show us.
3. Lying To Customers?
Several different Berkey websites either don’t mention how much aluminum enters the filtered water or bluntly say zero aluminum leaches into the water.
For example, here’s a quote from an “authorized Berkey water system dealer”:
“Aluminum Oxide, on the other hand, is not water-soluble. It is stable and inert and isn’t associated with health problems. It does not leach into your drinking water”
Now I don’t know about you. But from what I’ve shared today, the part about aluminum not leaching into the water seems like a lie. So it’s hard to take their word that aluminum oxide is safe.
While other dealers are a tad bit more honest:
“Trace amounts of aluminum oxide are measured in the filtered Berkey water. Even so, Berkey filters are shown to remove 85-99% of aluminum from the water.”
Either way, that also seems like a lie and makes it hard to believe Berkey does not know what we’ve all seen here. And in that case, I can not trust them.
4. Filter Lifespan May Not Be As Advertised…
To add insult to injury, many people may be using their Berkey for the advertised 3000 gallons they expect the black filters to last for.
However, tests done by Wirecutter showed that the black Berkey filters stopped meeting the NSF removal standard after approximately 1,100 gallons of filtering – barely more than a third of the 3,000-gallon lifespan claimed by the company.
Which leads me to believe many people are drinking improperly filtered water but think otherwise.
5. Other Red Flags…
There are many red flags and other potential issues with the Berkey.
And I’d say the biggest one that I have not mentioned yet is, what else does the Berkey leach into the “filtered” water?
That’s something that would require further testing. But besides that, here are a few other red flags to consider:
- Berkey’s are not sold in California because they don’t want to comply with CA’s “no lead law.” Berkey claims this requirement is too expensive and onerous. Which is hard to believe considering they make a pretty penny and you’d think they’d want to sell to a huge market like California with so many health conscious people.
- Berkey was reportedly caught faking laboratory test results from LSU
- Claims to not remove good minerals, however tests results suggest this is a lie
Other Water Filters Are Guilty Too
Unfortunately many other brands also use aluminum in their filters to remove fluoride. In fact, this applies to almost every other gravity filter and water pitcher that claims to remove fluoride. Which includes Zerowater, PUR, and other well known brands.
However, to be completely fair it does seem like brands like Zerowater use aluminum in their filters BUT somehow it does not leach into the water. Now I’m not sure how they did this but good job to them. You have to give credit where it’s due.
Water Filters That Are Aluminum-Free
Thankfully there are filters that don’t leach aluminum into your water. However, there are not many to choose from.
Now when it comes to water filter pitchers, the ONLY company that clearly states it does NOT use aluminum in their filter AND can remove fluoride is Clearly Filtered (link to their website).
All other water filter pitcher brands either use aluminum or can not remove fluoride. While the only problem with Clearly Filtered, is that they’re often sold out.
While the other two filters I recommend that will give you peace of mind are reverse osmosis and distillers. And if you’re having trouble deciding which one is best for you, take a look at my guide at water filters that remove fluoride (link to guide). All 3 are great options!
UPDATE: Ever since publishing this article I’ve been looking for filters that would replace the Berkey as an official recommendation. This has included testing various brands like AquaTru, RKIN, and Waterdrop. So to find out the latest development, check out the water filters guide mentioned above.
An Important Message
Before we get to my final thoughts about the Berkey, I suggest you get on my email newsletter. This is where you’ll be updated with the latest news and never miss out on an important piece of information like what you’ve read in this article.
And trust me, if you thought this was useful, I have more big news coming out soon.
So all you have to do is enter your email below and you’ll be added automatically.
In fact, I’ll send you the test results of 33+ filters I’ve tested for fluoride. This way in case you go with a filter I don’t recommend here or in my guide, you’ll know if it can or can not remove fluoride.
Enter your email below to receive fluoride test results on 33+ water filters + my top picks!
Which by the way, is something many brands lie about. Like best selling “fluoride” water filters like Aquagear and Waterdrop. However, thankfully brands like Aquagear no longer advertise they filter fluoride (I wonder why…).
Anyways, let’s get back to Berkey…
Final Thoughts About Berkey
Overall, I would not be comfortable drinking water from a Berkey, let alone having my family drink it.
I say this because at the end of the day, if you care about your health. It’s hard to be comfortable you’re potentially ingesting aluminum everyday in elevated amounts. Now they say it’s a “different” type of aluminum, one that’s “safe”. But the truth is, aluminum in whatever form is NOT naturally found in the food we eat or the water we drink.
And in my opinion, that’s a recipe for disaster.
Remember, you have one life, one brain, one set of organs… Why risk it?
Now even if I made one or two wrong points. Points that could be proven wrong. Just remember you only need ONE reason to not use a Berkey. Using a water filter should not pose a SINGLE risk to your health. And if there’s doubt in your mind that the Berkey is safe, that’s enough to not use it.
And for me, it’s not a risk worth taking.
Lastly, the fact they mislead customers about their products leaching aluminum into water and how much, is enough for me to feel uneasy about using their products. Lying is one of the biggest red flags for a reason. But hey, remember to think for yourself, consider both sides of the argument and only then make a decision.
Anyways, I hope you enjoyed this article. Now if you could use the blue buttons below to share this article with your friends and family, I’d greatly appreciate it. Millions of people, including myself, have been unaware of this information for a very long time. So we need to get the word out to as many people as possible. Thanks!