PUR vs Berkey: A Data-Driven Comparison

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PUR and Berkey are two manufacturers of countertop water filters. PUR is best known for its water filter pitchers and faucet filters, and Berkey’s most popular product is its stainless steel gravity-fed water filtration systems. 

Which is best for you, PUR or Berkey? We tested the PUR Plus Pitcher and the Big Berkey, and we’ve compared the most important performance features of both filters in this review.

PUR and Berkey both provide convenient filtration solutions for folks who don’t want the hassle of permanently installing a water filter system. PUR pitchers are much more affordable than Berkey’s countertop units, and the PUR Plus filter has been performance-certified, while Berkey hasn’t. In our testing, the Big Berkey removed more contaminants than PUR, but Berkey’s fluoride filters leached aluminum oxide into our water. 

📊 Our Testing Data

We compared the PUR and Berkey systems using 6 key performance metrics, as outlined in the table below. 

FactorPUR PlusBerkey
Contaminant Reduction5.288.85
Filtration Rate10.0010.00

In the next table, we’ve delved into each of our scoring categories, so you can see how we arrived at our final scores for both filters. 

FactorPUR PlusBerkeyWinner
Overall Score7.088.60Berkey
Health Related Contaminants4.509.30Berkey
Aesthetic Related Contaminants9.506.70PUR Plus
Performance CertificationNSF/ANSI 42, 53, and 401nonePUR Plus
Filtration Rate2.82 GPH2.6 GPHPUR Plus
Component QualityFairExcellentBerkey
Component CertificationNSF CertifiednonePUR Plus
SetupOutstandingFailingPUR Plus
Servicing RequirementsOutstandingWeakPUR Plus
Costs$0.27/ gal$0.13/ galBerkey
Warranty Length90 daysLifetimeBerkey
ShippingDepends on Distributor$50 order thresholdBerkey
Returnsnone30 daysBerkey

🚰 Contaminant Reduction

In this category, we combined our water quality test results with official certification data to rank the PUR Plus and Big Berkey on their ability to remove common drinking water contaminants. 

Our Lab Test Results

We tested our water supply, then tested it again after filtering it through the PUR and Berkey systems. Our lab test of choice was Tap Score by SimpleLab, and we analyzed our test data against Tap Score’s own HGL (Health Guideline Level).

water testing with tap score

The PUR Plus pitcher can only be used to filter treated water, so we tested it with our treated groundwater supply. 

At the time of our test, Berkey claimed that the Big Berkey system could be used to filter untreated water, so we tested it with both a municipal water source and a river water source. 

We used two different treated water sources when testing the Big Berkey and PUR water filters, which contained trace concentrations of different contaminants. 

Because each system was tested separately, at different times, we can’t draw direct comparisons between the two. However, the data is still interesting and allowed us to conduct our scoring accordingly.

We’ve shared the unique contaminants detected in each water source, and how effectively the PUR and Berkey systems addressed these contaminants, in the table below. 

ContaminantMeasurementPUR Plus Pre-FiltrationPUR Plus Post-Filtration% ChangeBerkey Test 1 Pre-FiltrationBerkey Test 1 Post-Filtration% ChangeBerkey Test 2 Pre-FiltrationBerkey Test 2 Post-Filtration% Change
Total ColiformsCFU/100mLNDNDND150-100%NDNDND
Total THMsPPBNDNDND27.040-100%35.20-100%

Berkey did a much better job at targeting the contaminants in our source water, so it got the best overall score here. 

Health-Related Contaminants

We awarded the PUR Plus filter a score for reducing health-related contaminants based solely on our treated water test. 

We calculated the Big Berkey’s health-related contaminants score by combining the scores of our treated water and untreated water testing. 

Our Treated Water Test

The treated water that we tested with PUR was groundwater obtained from a shared well, which had been filtered and disinfected in a dedicated water treatment facility.

In our water, 8 contaminants with potential health effects were detected (listed in the next table). Fluoride and uranium were detected at trace levels that exceeded the Tap Score HGL, so we were the most concerned about these contaminants. 


Our filtered water test results showed us that the PUR Plus pitcher had done a great job of reducing 100% strontium, 98% copper, and 80% uranium.

It was less capable of targeting the other contaminants detected: it only reduced 42% nitrate, 23% molybdenum, and 4% sulfate and barium. And, disappointingly, it reduced 0% fluoride.  

It’s important to note, especially in the case of fluoride and uranium (given that these were detected above the HGL), PUR doesn’t claim that the Plus filter can reduce these contaminants. If we’d tested the filter with water containing the contaminants that the PUR Plus is tested and certified to remove, our results probably would have been better.

The treated water we used to test the Big Berkey was a chlorinated city water supply. Our lab test detected 10 contaminants with potential health effects. We were the most concerned about lead, cobalt, chloroform, total THMs, and bromodichloromethane, because these contaminants were detected in concentrations that exceeded the HGL. 

ContaminantMeasurementDetection Test 1Detection Test 2HGL
ChloroformPPB23 35.2 0.22
Total THMsPPB27.0435.2 0.32
FluoridePPM0.20.1 0.8

We were pleased to see that post-filtration, the Big Berkey had reduced lead, disinfection byproducts, copper, and barium by 100%. It also reduced cobalt by 3.23%.

But an unexpected outcome was that the Big Berkey had increased our water’s aluminum concentration to 1.4 PPM – concerning when even the EPA’s legal limit for this contaminant is just 0.2 PPM. We deduced that aluminum oxide was leaching from the Berkey fluoride filters, which use activated alumina filtration media. 

Additionally, our water’s fluoride concentration had only been reduced by 50%, which was disappointing given that Berkey sells dedicated fluoride filters that are supposed to reduce this impurity by up to 99.99%. 

We decided to test the Berkey again. This time, we ran 100 gallons of water through the filters as part of the priming process. We got better results in our second test: 100% of fluoride was removed by the PF2 filters, and while our water’s initial aluminum concentration (0.052 PPM) had still increased, this time only 0.069 PPM of aluminum was detected – just a 32% increase. 

Good to Know: Because we tested the Big Berkey twice, the system’s treated water score was based on an average of both test scores.

Interestingly, potassium and sodium were two other impurities that increased post-filtration in our Big Berkey test. But in this case, we don’t think the Berkey filters were to blame. We spoke to several SimpleLab experts, who theorized that these ions were present in higher concentrations in the separate 100 gallons of water we initially sent through the filters. We think that these ions built up in the system and filters, then came out in the filtered water when we tested a different water source for the project.

We confirmed this theory by testing the priming water, which did in fact have higher levels of these ions. See our test report here

Our Untreated Water Test

As we mentioned, we didn’t test the PUR filter because it’s designed for filtering treated water only, so we only tested the Big Berkey with untreated water.

The Big Berkey did an excellent job at removing 100% total coliform (which may indicate the presence of harmful bacteria) and our test results showed that our filtered river water was microorganism-free and safe to drink. 

Aesthetic Contaminants

Chlorine was the only aesthetic contaminant that was detected in our unfiltered water supplies. The test water we used for the PUR Plus pitcher contained around 1 PPM of free chlorine, and around 0.5 PPM was detected in the test water used for the Big Berkey.

Both PUR and Berkey removed 100% of chlorine from our water. We taste-tested our filtered water from both systems, and we could no longer detect any unpleasant tastes or odors associated with this chemical. 

However, our first test with the Big Berkey pulled down its aesthetic score because the aluminum oxide in our water increased its pH to 8.7.


The best reassurance that a water filter can reduce contaminants as claimed by the manufacturer is an official performance certification. We looked at whether or not the PUR Plus and Big Berkey were certified by the NSF, IAPMO, or WQA to support their manufacturers’ performance claims. 

We awarded the PUR Plus the better score here because it has an NSF performance certification to Standards 42, 53, and 401. In fact, it got top marks in this category because it’s certified to reduce all the contaminants that PUR claims it can reduce.

Unfortunately, Berkey has no official certifications; only test data from several third-party laboratories, which isn’t as reassuring.

🚦Filtration Rate

We timed how long it took to filter water in the PUR Plus pitcher and the Big Berkey, then used this data to calculate a gallons-per-hour (GPH) measurement for each system.

We’ve compared the filtration rates of PUR and Berkey in the table below. 

ProductFiltration Rate ScoreFiltration Rate
PUR Plus10.002.82 GPH
Berkey10.002.6 GPH

Both filters had pretty fast filtration rates in our testing, but PUR just won, with a filtration rate of 2.82 GPH (based on its ability to filter 0.25 gallons of water in 5:19 minutes).

Berkey’s flow rate was similarly quick, at 2.6 GPH. This was the rate of filtration with 2 black filters and 2 fluoride filters.

Providing you use the same number of filters as us in the Big Berkey system, you’ll get almost the same decent flow rate as you would with the PUR pitcher.

💲 Upfront Cost

If you have a set budget, you might be wondering how PUR and Berkey compare when it comes to upfront cost. 

The Big Berkey is much more expensive than the PUR Plus pitcher, with an upfront cost of $447. This doesn’t include the cost of the Berkey fluoride filters, which are an optional add-on and cost an extra $99.99. 

When we got the PUR 7-cup pitcher for testing, it cost just $26.99 including the initial basic filter, which makes it around one-sixteenth of the price of the Big Berkey without the fluoride filters. We purchased the PUR Plus filter separately at an extra cost. 

Different Berkey distributors may have slightly different prices, and some may offer seasonal sales, but one thing’s for certain: PUR is the cheaper investment by a mile here. 

ProductPriceFilters Included
PUR Plus 7 cup$26.991 filter
Berkey$4472 filters

📐 Design

To review the PUR and Berkey systems in this category, we analyzed their component quality by evaluating their materials and noting how they looked, felt, and operated in terms of sturdiness and durability. We also looked for evidence of certifications for materials safety. 

You can see the design scores we assigned to both filters in the table below. 

ProductDesign ScoreComponent QualityMaterials Safety
PUR Plus8.80FairNSF Certified
Berkey7.80ExcellentNot Certified

Although it got a lower component quality score due to its majority-plastic design, the PUR Plus got the better overall score in this category because it’s certified for materials safety. 

Good to Know: Berkey can’t sell its products in California or Iowa due to its lack of materials safety certification (NSF 372 for lead-free components).

Filter Models

If you want to be able to choose between similar filter models with different water-holding capacities, both PUR and Berkey have got you covered. But which is best in terms of product diversity and choice?

PUR currently sells three water filter pitchers and one dispenser that are compatible with the PUR Plus filter: 

pur pitcher with plus filter cartridge on counter

All PUR pitchers and dispensers are made from BPA-free plastic. Depending on the pitcher you choose, you might be able to buy it with a blue, grey, or black lid and handle.  

Berkey has a more extensive countertop water filter system range:

Berkey size options

Most Berkey units have stainless steel chambers. The exception is the Berkey Light, which has a BPA-free plastic construction. 

We think Berkey is best if you just want as many size choices as possible, but most of its systems look the same, while PUR offers the choice of several colors, which you might prefer. 

Component Quality 

How do PUR and Berkey match up in terms of component quality?

The Big Berkey excels here because its design mostly avoids the use of plastic. It’s made from 304 stainless steel, which won’t leach microplastics and shouldn’t rust (we found a few customer reviews on Amazon complaining about rusting, but we have no way to prove the legitimacy of these claims). There are still a few plastic components, including the filters’ plastic mounts, the fluoride filters’ casings, and the plastic spigot, but it’s the better option if you want to avoid storing your water in a plastic reservoir. 

The PUR Plus pitcher and reservoir are made from NAS or SAN plastics. It also uses polypropylene (again, BPA-free) for its filter housings and lids. While these plastics are widely used for food and beverage storage, you might personally be concerned about the leaching of toxins and other microplastics. In this case, none of the PUR pitchers are going to tick your boxes for design quality.

Filter Materials

From what we can tell, Berkey filters have a more complex design than PUR’s, which explains why Berkey’s contaminant reduction abilities appear to be more comprehensive. 

PUR filters use granular activated carbon media and ion exchange resin, which are housed inside a plastic cartridge. 

holding a pur pitcher filter replacement cartridge

The Black Berkey filters also use activated carbon media and ion exchange resin, as well as four additional media that Berkey has chosen not to disclose. The filters are glued to plastic mounts.

Unboxing new black berkey filter elements

Berkey’s PF2 fluoride filters are made from an activated alumina media inside a plastic housing. While activated alumina is used by numerous water filter manufacturers, we can’t be 100% certain of the safety of this material in Berkey’s case given that our filters leached aluminum oxide into our water.

Holding a Berkey fluoride filter

Materials Safety Certification

Materials safety certifications can be obtained as a component of performance certifications and are a reassuring sign of design quality. 

PUR has obtained a materials safety certification from the NSF, but Berkey doesn’t have one, so PUR got the better score in this category. 

⚙️ Setup

While the PUR Plus pitcher and the Big Berkey system are both countertop gravity-fed units, their setup processes are very different. 

We timed how long it took to assemble and prepare the filters for both systems, and noted how easy the process was. The table below displays these timings and our setup scores.

ProductSetup ScoreSetup Time
PUR Plus9.50Less than 5 minutes
Berkey6.501 hour 20 minutes

Setup for the PUR Plus was significantly easier than it was for the Big Berkey because PUR’s filters don’t need to be primed. 

After unboxing the filter, we could just hold it under running water for 30 seconds. We didn’t have to soak it or use any special priming devices – after a quick flush with water, it was ready to install in the pitcher straight away. 

The other setup jobs were simple, too. We just washed out the pitcher and reservoir with warm, soapy water, then slotted the filter into the reservoir and the reservoir into the pitcher. The process took less than 5 minutes in total

Berkey’s setup process was much more time-consuming because of the difficult filter priming process we encountered. 

A tan priming washer was included in our box, and we found it difficult to get a proper seal with this tool on our faucet. Berkey also sells a blue priming nipple, but this only works with older faucets. If you have a modern faucet, such as a faucet that pulls out or one with sprayer handles, bad luck – none of Berkey’s filter priming methods work with these.  

The other setup tasks were relatively straightforward, including washing and assembling the water chambers. But in total, we spent 1 hour 20 minutes setting up the Big Berkey because of the (in our opinion, unnecessarily difficult) filter priming process. 

🔧 Maintenance

Berkey and PUR also differ in terms of maintenance requirements, including the frequency and difficulty of filter replacements, and their long-term filter costs. 

We’ve shared our maintenance scores for the systems in the table below. 

ProductMaintenance ScoreServicing RequirementsCosts
PUR Plus9.75Outstanding$0.27/ gal
Berkey8.50Weak$0.13/ gal

Both units have low ongoing filter costs, but PUR was the easiest to maintain, so it took the top spot in this category. 

Servicing Requirements 

The main servicing requirement for the PUR Plus and Big Berkey is replacing the filters. 

PUR’s filters need replacing much more frequently than Berkey’s, but it got the better score from us because we found it super simple to maintain. 

As with our initial filter, we only had to hold the replacement filter under running water for 30 seconds before we could swap it out for the old one. Most of PUR’s pitchers have a filter change reminder light, too, and we used ours as a reference for when we should buy a new filter. 

running new pur filter cartridge under cold water before installation

Replacing the filters in the Big Berkey was also easy, but we encountered the same hassle and annoyance of the filter priming process for the replacement filters. Berkey advises cleaning the Black Berkey elements with a Scotch Brite pad every 3-6 months to extend their lifespan and remove buildup that could cause flow issues. Even though this was more work, we did it to avoid having to replace the filters for as long as possible. 

The chambers/pitcher reservoirs for both systems also needed cleaning every few days to prevent the accumulation of scale and other residue. We found it easier to clean the PUR Plus pitcher because of its smaller size – it fitted much more comfortably in our kitchen sink. 

Maintenance Costs

Both Berkey and PUR are on the affordable end when it comes to their ongoing maintenance costs. 

Berkey was the winner in this category – we calculated its ongoing filter cost as $0.13/gallon (the Black Berkey elements cost $0.034/gallon for a pair and the fluoride filters cost $0.09/gallon). This was based on the predicted lifespan of a pair of Black Berkey elements, which is 6,000 gallons according to Berkey.

The PUR Plus’ long-term filter cost is slightly higher at $0.27/gallon, and PUR’s projected filter lifespan is lower, at just 40 gallons. 

We’d expect Berkey’s filters to last longer given that they’re larger and can be washed to reduce clogging of the media, but we’re not sure whether or not Berkey’s 6,000-gallon filter lifespan claim is slightly exaggerated.  

🏢 Company

We were keen to know how PUR and Berkey compared as companies. To do this, we looked at both manufacturers’ warranties, returns, and shipping policies. 

Good to Know: Berkey filters aren’t exclusively sold by the manufacturer. There are a number of Berkey distributors, and we’re using data from BigBerkeyWaterFilters.com, one of the largest distributors. 

The company scores we awarded to Berkey and PUR are listed in the table below. 

ProductCompany ScoreWarranty LengthShippingReturns
PUR Plus7.5090 daysFree shipping on orders over $99 to the lower 48 states30 days
Berkey9.10LifetimeDepends on distributorNone

BigBerkeyWaterFilters.com did better overall thanks to its long warranty and decent returns offering. 

Warranty Length 

All Berkey systems are warrantied by BigBerkeyWaterFilters.com for a lifetime. PUR’s 90-day warranty for its pitchers and 30-day warranty for filter cartridges doesn’t compare. 


BigBerkeyWaterFilters.com provides free shipping to customers living in one of the lower 48 states who spend more than $99 on orders. Shipping fees apply to customers ordering to Canada, Alaska, and Hawaii. 

PUR systems aren’t sold by the manufacturer and can only be found in big box stores and online marketplaces, like Target, Amazon, and Walmart. That means the shipping policy depends on the distributor, but there’s typically some sort of order threshold for customers to qualify for free shipping. 


Again, due to the PUR pitcher being sold by various distributors, PUR doesn’t offer a specific returns policy. BigBerkeyWaterFilters.com offers a 30-day returns period.

⛔️ System Setbacks & Flaws

We wanted to compare Berkey and PUR’s setbacks as well as their highlights, and that’s what we’ve covered in this section. 

PUR Setbacks

  • Didn’t address many contaminants in our water – The PUR Plus pitcher targets specific contaminants that are more commonly found in treated surface water. It didn’t do a great job of reducing many of the contaminants in our groundwater supply. 
  • All-plastic design – PUR’s pitchers and dispensers are made from plastic, which might be a setback for you if you want to limit your plastic exposure. 
  • Filters need changing regularly – We had to replace our PUR filters every 2 months or so, which meant keeping a constant supply of replacement filters on hand.  
  • Regular refills required – Our PUR Plus pitcher held 7 cups of water, which is a lot less than the 2.25-gallon Big Berkey. We had to refill it more often, and we don’t think it’s a practical solution for large families.

Berkey Setbacks

  • Not certified – Berkey is lacking official certifications to reinforce its contaminant removal claims. 
  • Expensive – Berkey systems cost hundreds of dollars, so they’re much costlier than PUR units. 
  • Overflow risk – The design of the Big Berkey enables water to leak out between the two chambers if you accidentally overfill the system, which is a pain. The chambers are opaque, so you can’t see and monitor the water level to avoid this issue.
  • Fluoride filters have potential leaching issues – Both times we tested the Big Berkey, we had activated alumina leaching issues from the fluoride filters. 

🆚 PUR or Berkey: Which is Best for You?

PUR and Berkey have their fair share of differences, but we don’t think there’s an obvious standout between the two. However, you might prefer one system over the other depending on your situation and preferences. 

Choose PUR If

You want a more portable and affordable countertop gravity water filter.
You value official performance certifications.
You prefer the easy setup and maintenance of a water filter pitcher that needs no filter priming.

You’ll Prefer Berkey If:

You prefer a system with a very long filter lifespan.
You want to target contaminants in your water that the PUR filter doesn’t address.
You’re keen to use a system with a limited number of plastic components rather than an all-plastic pitcher.
  • Brian Campbell
    President & CEO, CWS, CWR

    Brian Campbell, a WQA Certified Water Specialist (CWS) and Certified Water Treatment Representative (CWR) with 5+ years of experience, helps homeowners navigate the world of water treatment. After honing his skills at Hach Company, he founded his business to empower homeowners with the knowledge and tools to achieve safe, healthy water. Brian's tested countless devices, from simple pitchers to complex systems, helping his readers find the perfect fit for their unique needs.

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