glass of water with ro filters

Berkey vs. Reverse Osmosis Water Filtering

The Berkey Filtration System

Berkey water filters operate as freestanding units which don’t require electricity, tools, or any set-up hassle.

Gravity is their main force: you pour water into the upper chamber, and when it reaches the lower chamber, it’s crystalline pure water. It’s like watching – and tasting – a little bit of alchemy in action.

The Black Berkey Filter is a true powerhouse of the central Berkey system. It uses four operating mechanics: microfiltration, absorption, adsorption, and exposure time.

What are each of these?


Microfiltration is the first line of defence against harmful contaminants. This is the very fabric of the Black Berkey Filtration System.

Each filter comprises more than six types of material with millions of microscopic pores, all of which make a compact, compound matrix.

Topographically speaking, these microscopic pores allow water to pass through, yet the holes are so small that they physically disallow contaminants from entering the final product.

The contaminants also go through a “tortuous path” of twists and turns, which works on a microscopic level to bar even the tiniest pathogens, such as bacteria, parasites, sediments and sedimentary minerals.

Yuck! Definitely stuff you don’t want in your water, and Berkey cuts all of it out in one fell swoop.


Black Berkey Filters use what’s called ion exchange for their absorptive process. You can compare this process to the familiar baking soda-in-the-fridge technique, which absorbs unwanted odours.

Berkey water filters essentially pull ions from heavy metals found in tap water, such as chromium, copper, or lead, and transform them, causing them to electrically stick to the filter and thus not make it into your water.


A Berkey water filter also creates an ionic barrier akin to surface tension. This means they prevent harmful contaminants from permeating the barrier, blocking them from entry.

Berkey’s adsorptive process pulls them towards the filter – like static cling – never letting them go. Isn’t science amazing?

Exposure Time

Berkey uses the natural forces of gravity to its advantage. As a standalone cylindrical system, it evenly distributes gravity as the water goes down over several minutes.

In this case, patience is a virtue. By adapting gravity to its unique purposes, a Berkey water filter truly stands the test of time, in contrast to other water filtration system setups that work in a matter of seconds.

The longer the water molecules are in contact with a filter, the higher the removal rate of unwanted contaminants.

More Fun – and Rigorous – Science to Back Us Up

At Conscious Water, the filters we use are vetted and tested by the scientific method. Our filters even get to be called water purifiers, which require an even higher level of contaminant removal than filters.

To be called a water filter, the system needs to remove 99.99% of pathogenic bacteria, whereas to be called a water purification system, it needs to remove 99.9999%.

The Berkey water filtration system also meets the NSF/ANSI standard 53 for reducing heavy metals, disinfectant byproducts, parasites, and VOCs like Cryptosporidium and trichloroethylene, respectively.

Reverse Osmosis

ro system

Reverse osmosis (RO) water filtration systems effectively remove contaminants from drinking water, just like the Berkey water filter system.

These systems reverse the natural process of water osmosis, wherein the water moves from being more concentrated to more dilute, essentially switching the pressure forces through a semipermeable membrane.

Like with the Berkey filter system, the pore sizes of the membrane are extraordinarily small – 0.0001 microns, to be exact.

What Does This Do to the Water?

Concentrated water is the unfiltered water containing all the contaminants the RO system is designed to remove.

Therefore, when that membrane blocks the influx of pathogens, sediment, salt, and other contaminants or harmful substances, the water becomes more dilute, fresher, and tastier.

All RO filter systems also have multiple filtration components, including an activated carbon or sediment filter, on top of the semipermeable membrane.

Advantages of Reverse Osmosis Filtration

RO filter systems remove many – but not all – contaminants from unfiltered water. These include fluoride, salt, sediment, chlorine, arsenic, VOCs, herbicides and pesticides, and several others.

These filtration devices also reduce bad tastes and odours that go together with all of these contaminants.

A reverse osmosis system is also much more environmentally friendly than plastic bottled water, is easy to install and maintain, and fits right underneath your kitchen sink.

Disadvantages of Reverse Osmosis Filtration

Reverse osmosis systems unfortunately do not remove bacteria from unfiltered water. While drinking water from municipal sources should have already been screened, bacteria could grow across the semipermeable membrane over time.

Additionally, a reverse osmosis system only removes 98% of contaminants. Contrast that with the Berkey purification system, and the evidence is as plain as day: Berkey water withstands all of the major tests that evaluate the purest water!

Unfortunately, a reverse osmosis water filter system also wastes a lot of water. Matter is never created nor destroyed, so where does the waste go that was blocked by the RO filtration?

That leftover water, called brine or wastewater, goes down the drain. This is one of the significant reasons RO water is ill-advised.

Lastly, reverse osmosis systems are bulky, cumbersome, and costly to maintain. Yes, they’re relatively easy to install and maintain in general, but they require regular maintenance, and that’s your precious time in the mix. They also need to be replaced much more often than Berkey systems.

girl drinking glass of water

Stick with the Berkey System!

At Conscious Water, we provide the best water filtration systems on the Canadian market. Read our testimonials and explore our features and benefits to make an informed decision today!

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