British Berkefeld vs Berkey: What’s the Difference?

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If you’re in the market for a countertop water filter system, you’ve probably come across Berkey and British Berkefeld – and you might be wondering how they differ.

At the time of writing this review, we could only find a comparison of British Berkefeld and Berkey written by Berkey. We thought it could be clearer, so we decided to write a more detailed, non-biased comparison of these two systems.

Here, you’ll find everything you need to know about the Berkey system vs the British Berkefeld system, and which – if any – is best for you.

πŸ“Œ Key Takeaways:

  • Berkey and British Berkefeld are two similar-sounding brands that both sell gravity-based countertop drinking water filter systems.
  • Both filter systems look and behave the same, but they use different purification elements. Berkey’s are made from carbon, ion exchange, and other undisclosed media, and British Berkefeld’s are made from ceramic and GAC media.
  • Choose Berkey if you want to remove as many contaminants from your water supply as possible with a high-capacity filter. Choose British Berkefeld if you want to remove microorganisms from your tap water or you want to avoid the controversy surrounding Berkey.

πŸ€” What Makes Berkey and British Berkefeld Similar?

The obvious similarity between Berkey and British Berkefeld is their names. Since the brands both sell similar-looking stainless steel countertop water filters, this has led some customers to question whether Berkey and British Berkefeld are, in fact, the same.

They’re not, though – Berkey cleared that up in its own article on the subject, saying that Berkefeld water filters use different filter elements, which are made by a different manufacturer. More on that later.

The use case for both of these water filter systems is very similar, too: you add drinking water from your faucet to the upper chamber, then wait for it to filter into the lower chamber, where you can dispense it into a glass from the spigot. The contaminants are trapped in the filter media, and the filtered water should be improved in taste, quality, and safety.

Berkey and British Berkefeld

βš–οΈ Berkey vs British Berkefeld: 7 Differences

Here are the 7 main differences between the Berkey and British Berkefeld water filters.

Filter Media

British Berkefeld sells white ceramic filter elements with its countertop water filters, while the Berkey water filter system comes with black Berkey elements. Each manufacturer’s filter uses its own unique filter media.

The British Berkefeld white filter element is a ceramic candle filter, made by water filter manufacturer Doulton Filters. The filter is known as an Ultra Sterasyl filter and has an outer shell that’s made from ceramic micro-filter media, which houses granular activated carbon and another media that’s simply called “heavy metals removal media”.

The Berkey black filter element uses a “proprietary blend” of filter media, including coconut shell carbon and ion exchange resin, which are compacted into a microporous matrix. Berkey filters are not ceramic filters and don’t have a ceramic shell, which is the biggest design difference that we know of between Berkey and British Berkefeld’s offerings.

Berkey and British Berkefeld filter media comparison

Contaminants Removed

Due to the difference in design between the two filters, Berkey water filter systems remove different contaminants compared to British Berkefeld water filter systems.

Let’s start with British Berkefeld. The manufacturer’s Ultra Sterasyl Doulton filters can remove contaminants like chlorine, pathogenic bacteria, pesticides and herbicides, lead, mercury, cadmium, cysts, and some pharmaceuticals. You can check out the filter performance table to see the full list of contaminants removed. We counted 31 separate contaminants, but there may be more, because some table entries are vague (e.g. “range of metals” and “range of pesticides”).

British Berkefeld also offers a fluoride removal water filter: the Ultra Fluoride filter. As far as we can tell, this filter is also a ceramic filter, and the only difference in its design is that it also contains a fluoride-reduction media. There’s no official data sheet for this filter’s performance, leading us to assume that it’s the same as the Ultra Sterasyl filter, but with additional fluoride removal abilities.

Note: British Berkefeld also sells a Sterasyl filter and a Super Sterasyl filter, but these weren’t available on the manufacturer’s website when we checked, so we won’t discuss them here.

Now let’s look at Berkey. The manufacturer’s black Berkey filters have been tested by several independent laboratories to remove more than 200 contaminants, including chlorine, chloramine, lead, pharmaceuticals, and arsenic. You can check the Berkey test results here.

Take a look at how Berkey performed, as determined by our third-party laboratory analysis.

ContaminantMeasurementTest 1
Test 1
% ChangeTest 2
Test 2
% Change
Total ColiformsCFU/100mL150-100%NDNDND
Total THMsPPB27.040-100%0.03520-100%

Berkey sells a separate fluoride filter, which removes arsenic and fluoride (we don’t recommend this filter because it introduces unacceptable levels of aluminum into filtered water). The filter is made from activated alumina and is intended to be installed alongside the main black Berkey elements to enhance their contaminant removal abilities.

Holding a Berkey fluoride filter

πŸ“ So, in summary, the biggest difference between the British Berkefeld and Berkey filters in terms of contaminant removal is that Berkey appears to remove more contaminants, but it can’t remove microorganisms because it doesn’t use ceramic media. Plus, Berkey’s separate fluoride filters have to be used alongside its main filter elements because they can’t remove many other contaminants, while British Berkefeld’s fluoride filters can be used in place of the main filters because (from what we’ve read) they can remove the same selection of contaminants as well as fluoride.

Filter Lifespan

Let’s look at the difference in filter lifespan between British Berkefeld and Berkey filters.

The British Berkefeld Ultra Sterasyl filters have a 400 gallon capacity, meaning that after 400 gallons, the filters may not offer a guaranteed contaminant removal performance, and you’ll need to replace them with new ones. The manufacturer advises replacing the filters every 6 months.

The Black Berkey filters have a much longer lifespan of 3,000 gallons each. You usually use a pair of filters in a Berkey filtration system, so you get 6,000 gallons of use out of both filters before you need to replace them. This equates to around 3 years, so Berkey is the clear winner when it comes to filter lifespan (if their claims are to be believed).

Priming a black berkey filter element

Flow Rate

Both the Berkey and British Berkefeld filters have a slow, steady flow rate because they both use gravity filtration. But which filter system has the faster flow rate?

British Berkefeld’s filters produce water at a rate of 0.3 gallons per hour (GPH). That’s pretty slow – it means you’ll have to wait just over 3 hours to filter 1 full gallon of water.

The Berkey filters have a better filter flow rate of about 7 GPH, so Berkey is the better choice for people who don’t have to wait a very long time to access filtered drinking water.


A single Ultra Streasyl filter for the British Berkefeld water filter system costs less than $50. Assuming you need two filter changes per year, you can spend less than $100/year on filter replacements, or less than $300 every 3 years.

A pair of Black Berkey elements (remember, the filters only work in pairs) costs around $170, which is great if, as Berkey estimates, you’ll only need to replace them once every 3 years. In that case, Berkey’s replacement filters are better value than the British Berkefeld filter replacements, despite their higher upfront cost per filter.

In terms of countertop filter cost, we compared the British Berkefeld 8.5 liter (around 2.24 gallon) Stainless Steel System with the Berkey system that’s closest in size: the Big Berkey Water System. The British Berkefeld system is around $100 cheaper than the Big Berkey unit, costing around $200 compared to the Big Berkey’s $367 price tag. So again, British Berkefeld is lower-cost upfront.

Appearance & Configurations

At first glance, the Berkey and British Berkefeld water filter systems are identical – they’re both silver and stainless steel, and both have a water dispenser at the bottom-middle. But there are some subtle differences in their appearance.

Berkey units have the Berkey logo engraved into the front of the top and bottom chambers, while British Berkefeld units have no engravings – just a large removable sticker with the brand’s logo and some information on the bottom chamber.

Big Berkey assembly

The filter elements themselves are different, too. Berkey uses Black Berkey filter elements, while British Berkefeld uses white ceramic filters.

In terms of configurations, both brands offer slightly different unit sizes in their range:

  • British Berkefeld sells 6, 8.5, and 12-liter units
  • Berkey sells 1.5, 2.5, 2.75, 3.25, 4.5, and 6-gallon units

So, Berkey offers a greater range of unit sizes, which might be useful if you’re looking for a very specific size for your kitchen space.

Brand Reputation

There’s also something to be said about the differences in reputation between the manufacturers of both filters: Berkey and British Berkefeld.

Berkey has a bigger marketing budget and is better-known than British Berkefeld. In fact, you might have only come across British Berkefeld after searching for Berkey because of the similarity in the two manufacturers’ names.

Not all press is good press, and Berkey has been the subject of some controversy in the past, including claims that Berkey filters are a scam. We’ve shared more on that in our Berkey water filter review.

We couldn’t find anything to suggest that British Berkefeld has been misleading or scamming its customers, which gives it the one-up over Berkey, despite being the lesser-known brand.

πŸ“‘ Which Is Best: Berkey Or British Berkefeld?

Berkey and British Berkefeld are both popular countertop water filtration offerings, and we think each system has its own unique pros and cons.

  • If you want a water filter system that removes the most contaminants, has the longest-lasting filtration media, and works out as better value in the long run, the Berkey unit is best for you.
  • If you plan to filter municipal and natural water supplies and you need a reliable drinking water filter that can remove pathogenic bacteria, and you want to avoid the controversy surrounding Berkey filters, the British Berkefeld unit is best for you.

Would we recommend any of these filters as the best countertop units for filtering water at home? Yes, we’d recommend Berkey as the best gravity countertop filter because it removes more contaminants than any similar unit.

However, if you have a bit more money to spend upfront on the most impressive countertop water purification solution, it’s worth checking out the RKIN U1, which eliminates up to 99.99% TDS, infuses filtered water with hydrogen and added minerals, and dispenses both hot and cold water at the touch of a button.

πŸ”š Final Word

So, now you know the differences between the Berkey and British Berkefeld filters, and our verdict: choose Berkey if you’re specifically looking for a countertop gravity filter to remove as many harmful substances as possible (excluding microorganisms) from your tap water.

πŸ‘¨β€πŸ”§ Curious to know which drinking water filters made it on our shortlist of the best countertop water filter systems? Take a look at our best countertop water filters guide.

  • Laura Shallcross
    Senior Editor

    Laura is a passionate residential water treatment journalist who holds an undergraduate degree in Print Journalism and a master’s degree in Creative Writing. Over a span of 5 years she's written on a range of topics including water softening, well water treatment, and purification processes.

6 thoughts on “British Berkefeld vs Berkey: What’s the Difference?”

  1. Avatar for Laura Shallcross

    I found a very interesting reddit by a Berkfeld master supplier for the US. He provides a whole lot of test data for the Berkfeld which are postive. And Berkfeld has some good NSF accreditation. But there are some really confusing conversations in the reddit- like if the filters have silver or not. I find Berkfekd strange how they have multiple official websites and conflicting information avaliable on all of them.

  2. Avatar for Laura Shallcross

    Great review, only one I have seen on the internet. I believe the Berky Aluminium Fluoride issue was resolve in further testing.

    1. Avatar for Laura Shallcross
      Brian Campbell

      While not resolved completely, our second test showed a significant reduction in the amount of activated alumina leaching into the filtered water. It’s my hypothesis that, due to user error by over-tightening the PF2 fluoride filters, one can inadvertently damage the filter element which will cause the media to leach

  3. Avatar for Laura Shallcross

    You could also fit a Berkey filter to a Berkefeld or similar to save yourself Β£100+. Personally I’m not sure I can forgive or trust Berkey as easily as you can for adding toxic levels of aluminium to water through their fluoride filters.

    1. Avatar for Laura Shallcross

      So really I didn’t much about nano plastics. We use bottle water for camping I know there’s nanoplastics in all bottle water will Berkey or Berkefeld clean the plastics out of the water?

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