To make sure the Berkey Water filter worked like I hoped it did, I sent my water into an independent lab for testing. Now I am sharing my Berkey Water filter test results and what I now think of the Berkey after seeing them.
Alright, you’ve heard me sing my praises for the Berkey Water Filter, but after receiving some opinionated comments about the Berkey on my videos, I decided I needed to know.
I sent 3 samples out to an independent laboratory to test my water.
- Directly from the wellhead
- From the kitchen faucet after being filtered in our whole house filtration system
- From the Berkey water filter
I’m going to be completely transparent and share the process, my results and finally what I think about the Berkey after seeing it all.
VIDEO ON TESTING MY BERKEY WATER
Why Did I Test My Water?
Seeing slightly negative comments on my Berkey Videos that I’ve done, really caused me to think.
Having my family drink healthy and clean water is super important to me, especially after all I’ve learned and researched about what is potentially harmful to our health in our water sources.
But I didn’t want to live with a sense of false security feeling like the Berkey Water Filter was the answer to all our problems and delivered my family wonderfully clean water – if in fact – it wasn’t.
Additionally, I felt a bit of a moral obligation to actually know if I was recommending something to you that was or wasn’t as valuable as I believed it to be.
So, I decided to do some homework and truly find out for myself what was in our water and just avoid all the controversial articles that are readily available about water filters online.
I hope this is valuable to you, and definitely stick around for my results and humble opinion after knowing what I now know.
ABOUT THE COMPANY I USED TO TEST MY WATER
First, I want to be very transparent about the company that I decided to use for testing my water. I learned about a few options but decided to reach out to a company called Tap Score to help me with this.
I told them about our water situation which you’ll see more of as I show you my testing process, but they were super intrigued themselves since our water situation is fairly unique.
This post is not sponsored by Berkey or Tap Score, but after learning what I wanted to do, Tap Score actually offered to send me 3 tests so I could test from each source and better understand what was going on.
They were amazing to jump on to zoom calls with me and prepare me for the process and discuss the results. I’m still not a water pro, but I understand it all so much better after having their help. They have amazing customer service!
What I think is really awesome about Tap Score is that they are actually like a middle man – so to speak.
So they send the water to independent certified laboratories, so they don’t actually test themselves and don’t benefit at all from what your results do or do not say.
They have just provided the amazing testing kits, the learning system and their knowledge to help us know how to test our water and then they decipher the complicated lab results and put them in layman’s terms, basically, and help us understand them.
So it is peace of mind to me that I picked a company that is not profiting from any filtration product or swaying the results. I think they are amazing at helping us understand our water, and I highly highly recommend looking into them if you want to test your water as well.
Can You Test Your Water for Free?
I will say, it is always an option to get your water tested for free, or for a very minimal charge through the county you live in – I believe. I grew up always helping my mom test our well water frequently and turning it into the county.
I believe those tests are a lot more basic and don’t test quite as much, but it can give you a great baseline to go off of to see if you need to do further in depth testing. I highly recommend looking into those services for your area as well.
What Does Tap Score Test For?
Tap Score has a lot of testing options. You can click what source you have, whether that is a private well or city water, then select a level of testing based on what you are concerned about or what you want to test for. I opted to take the essentials water test for all 3 sources.
I like that you can get very specific or general. If you are concerned about VOC’s, mold, radiation, pesticides and all sorts of scary things that might be a concern in your area – you can select just those tests.
You could also ask them something like, we have 100 year old pipes or live in New York – what should we test for? That might be helpful to start there.
The Process for Testing Our Water
I first wanted to know what was in our well water directly from the wellhead. We knew right away after digging our well that our water had high iron content that affected the taste and smell and we had to install a whole house green sand water filtration system.
And we were pretty sure we had very hard water so we installed a water softener. But I wanted to actually know if it was dangerous to our health and if the whole house filtration system was actually doing what we were told it would do after paying for a fairly expensive filter.
TESTING THE WELLHEAD WATER
Using the instructions in the Tap Score kit, I pulled the water from the well in the morning collecting 2 samples.
-From the first draw before any taps had run.
-Then for the second bottle I collected the water sample after it had run for 5 minutes.
I learned that the first draw is so they can test if your pipes are contaminating the water, and the fully flushed draw is to discover if the water source itself is contaminated.
TESTING THE KITCHEN FAUCET WATER
The second source I wanted to draw from was our kitchen faucet. We don’t always drink or cook from the Berkey and quite frankly – I wanted to know what the whole house filtration process was doing and if we even needed the 3rd filtration – which is the Berkey.
So I grabbed the needed samples from the kitchen faucet, which is essentially the same water that goes through the house and into the bathroom faucets as well.
TESTING THE BERKEY WATER
Lastly, I pulled the samples from the Berkey in the exact same manner in which we use it to fill our cups and drink from.
Next I filled out the card with all my info, set up my online account and I went to the post office and sent them in with the prepaid label, and then I waited a couple weeks for the results.
ALL RESULTS FROM OUR INDEPENDENT LABORATORY WATER TESTS
Ok – here is where it gets interesting, right. Let’s look at the results.
So I logged onto SimpleLab, the Tap Score testing interface, where I got the testing results. First let’s look at the results from the Wellhead.
As an overview you can see that it scored 67 out of 99.
The plumbing scores pretty good, the aesthetics are poor – obviously because it smells terrible and stains everything yellow if we didn’t filter it.
The water health isn’t super great. The overview also clarifies that they detected elevated Lithium in our well water.
I love that they have an overview, but you can still dig further if you need more information.
After reading more about Lithium, I felt like our levels were not too concerning, especially since we still had a filter to go through.
This kind of information is definitely something extra you get with Tap Score rather than using a basic test from your county or area.
I wouldn’t have a clue what healthy levels are or what most of these elements are, so these features are amazing to me.
I can see how much fluoride is naturally in our tap water – and if your city adds extra you are concerned about, you could see the exact levels.
I can clearly see from the results that the Iron and Magnesium levels are elevated, affecting the taste and color.
The hardness is ridiculously high in our well water, and would affect our plumbing and fixtures over time if not treated.
There are a lot of elements and info to digest here, but I was mostly concerned about E. coli and coliform, since they detected some when they drilled the well and we had to bleach the well and pipes for that.
This process is called “shocking a well”. I guess that is mainly why I was using the Berkey blindly, because I didn’t know if those were gone from our first treatment, so I just assumed it was better safe than sorry. It was great to see that those were not detected from the wellhead any more.
When I talked to Tap Score, they actually said my well water was pretty darn good in comparison to others.
Perhaps because it’s fairly new and perhaps because we are on 25 acres of virgin land – but it’s apparently pretty good levels.
Although, they still strongly recommended testing my private well once or twice a year because bacteria can return, and since our private water isn’t being monitored by any city or company, it’s kind of up to us to do so.
I want to show you one more cool feature inside SimpleLab, you can click on Treatment and it will recommend treatments based on your test results with potential cost.
It’s interesting that they recommend a reverse osmosis system here – but our local water guy led us to the green sand filtration. He said a reverse osmosis system would work, but was probably more than we needed – so let’s look and see if it works!
Ok, here are the results for the water running out of the kitchen sink – which are extremely interesting.
The score is actually lower with a 45 out of 99. That was a little depressing to see, but they helped walk me through why this might be.
The levels I am particularly interested in to see if our green sand filter was doing its job was the iron and magnesium.
Iron wasn’t detected at all in the kitchen sink and magnesium went from a 29.87 PPM to a .09 – so that was very good to see. The green sand filter definitely helps.
I also wanted to know the hardness levels to see what the water softener was doing. The well levels were in the 200’s PPM and the kitchen sink test showed it down to around .6 – so huge improvement in hardness.
The softer water is much better for our skin, hair, plumbing – all of that.
The sodium is higher – due to the water softener, and I just don’t know if that is a concern or if my levels are concerning. That is some research I would like to do – if you know anything about sodium in water, let me know.
It seemed like all the levels really improved to the kitchen sink, so why such lower scores?
And it comes down to this little detection of coliform – which is a bacteria, and I clicked on it to learn a little more about it and spoke with my hubs and Tap Score.
We determined it could be detected because we had run water through the pipes and filtration system before we bleached the well.
So perhaps a little remains in the system and needs to flush itself out. Tap Score also said it could even be the result of bacteria built up on the faucet head – pretty harmless, but just detected.
They felt encouraged because it wasn’t in the well water, so whatever was causing the detection is most likely harmless and I think if we’ve been using this water for 2 years and haven’t gotten sick – I really don’t need to worry about it much in our situation.
E. coli wasn’t detected, so that was reassuring to know.
Now finally – what happens to my water once it runs through my Berkey filters. Let’s take a look!
The overall score went to an 87 out of 99 – much higher than the sink and wellhead.
Lithium went from .03 to .01.
Fluoride is about the same because I don’t have fluoride filters on my Berkey, because we have well water and fluoride isn’t added.
Hardness went down a little bit even more from the kitchen sink from .6 to .3.
Magnesium from .09 to .03.
Does the Berkey Filter Remove Salt?
When looking at the sodium, it came in just slightly lower than the kitchen faucet. It doesn’t seem to filter much of the sodium – which is just good to know what the Berkey is capable of.
It was interesting to note that copper, iron, zinc – and other metals that were detected in the well and kitchen faucet – even though they appear to be in healthy levels – was not detected in the Berkey water.
Do we need a little bit of those in our water? Something I should learn.
But does the Berkey filter out heavy metals?
It appears so from my results. And you can look on the Berkey’s website and see what elements they claim to be able to filter out.
DOES THE BERKEY FILTER OUT COLIFORM?
I was definitely interested in Coliform from the Berkey, and the results say it was not detected here even though it was in the kitchen faucet.
In my experience, the Berkey does filter out coliform bacteria, which could be a sign of pathogenic bacteria. So glad that it works to eliminate that!
Comparing the aesthetics of the water tests
From the Berkey, the concern was that it might taste salty because of the sodium levels. We don’t notice it. It also looks like there is some remaining Silca which can effect the color. Again, it must be very low because we don’t notice it.
From the well, the taste was marked with Iron, Magnesium and Silca concerns.
From the kitchen sink, aesthetics showed that sodium and coliform may affect the taste and smell.
Is the Berkey Water Filter worth it?
Would I still recommend it after testing?
Knowing what I now know, is the Berkey worth buying and do I still recommend it?
This is what I now recommend with my whole heart . . . test your water!
Find out and see what kind of health concerns are in your water and then go from there.
You may not need a filter if your water comes back with healthy levels. Or you may find you need a much more robust whole house filter, like ourselves.
Tap Score could save you a lot of money buying doing this test first, and it may actually help you find the right solution to healthier water.
Or maybe you have city water and you get it tested and it detects high levels of VOC’s, chlorine, fluoride – all stuff we don’t want to be drinking in high dosage and your only choice is to get a countertop, faucet or fridge filter.
So basically, I am saying, before you just jump to buy any filter, know what your situation is first and then start researching what exactly you need filtered out and what that filter will do.
Why I Still Recommend the Berkey Water Filter
That being said – based on my experience – I still highly recommend the Berkey.
- I got it first when we were on city water. I didn’t know I should test and see what was in our water, but I knew it was often cloudy and tasted terrible. The Berkey 100% improved the taste then, and we all still now prefer the clean yummy taste from the Berkey versus our sink.
- I can see that it successfully took out any detection of Coliform, but I also don’t worry any more if my kids drink out of the faucet on occasion and I don’t mind cooking with our sink water now knowing what is and isn’t in it.
- I still like how the Berkey looks, it makes water drinking more appealing and convenient. It’s kind of like having a drinking fountain in the house.
- I love room temperature water, I feel we all drink more water because of it.
- Considering emergency preparedness – I feel pretty good trusting the Berkey would take out harmful elements if our water source was tainted or if we had to drink from the stream or something.
- All the reasons I listed in my Berkey Water Filter review video are sill relevant and true for me!
So all this – it is still a win for me!
Overall, knowing is half the battle. Figure out what is in your water – and go from there.
Don’t spend money needlessly, be informed, and maybe even test your water after you choose to filter it with any filter.
If it doesn’t do what the company says it does – ask for a refund with your testing proof. I think that might be a good approach rather than getting lost in skeptical internet articles and comments.
WHERE TO BUY A BERKEY WATER FILTER
I recommend you buy directly from Berkey so you can get their help if something doesn’t work right. I have a Royal Berkey size for my family of 6, and it is perfect. You can use the coupon code “TIDBITS” to save 5% off your purchase on anything from Berkey.
Let me know if this was helpful for you!
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