(read "What's In My Water? Part 1" here)
At this point, I knew for sure that we had to purchase a new water filtration system and continued my research to find the best choice. The prices I was looking at seemed high, so I decided to add up what I was already spending on my faucet mount filter and my pitcher filter:
My PUR pitcher cost about $10 for a filter replacement that lasts for 40 gallons. This equals 25 cents a gallon. Brita was costing me $20 for a replacement that filters 100 gallons at 20 cents per gallon. Over a year I guessed that we bought about 6 pitcher filters and 3 faucet filters totaling $120 ($10 x 6 + $20 x 3) This puts our kitchen water usage at 540 gallons a year - although I do tend to use the filters for a while after they are done before I get around to replacing them, so I'm sure we use more than 540 gallons a year. However, for my purposes, $120 was a good guess at what we were spending on water filtration each year.
Knowing what I was currently spending was helpful, but at the same time, I had discovered that there were contaminants in my water and I can't really put a price on that. Drinking clean water seemed like one of the most basic things I could do for my and my family's health. At some point I discovered the Berkey Water Filtration systems. I had researched and looked at many different systems and read all about how they filter and what they filter out. Over time I became convinced that Berkey was the system that removed the most contaminants.
The Black Berkey Elements (the parts inside of the Berkey that filter the water) are actually so powerful that they can remove food coloring from water, in fact that is one of the ways they tell you to test your system to see if its working properly. The Berkey Water Filtration system is used by UNICEF, the Red Cross, and missionaries worldwide to purify water - even raw untreated water. This system can be used in emergency situations to purify water, including chlorinated water from your swimming pool. Here is a list of contaminants removed and links to data from lab testing that was done. Black Berkey elements were tested with more than 10,000 times the concentration of pathogens per liter than is required by standard testing protocol. The test results showed absolutely no pathogens in the water, even when examined by microscope. The Berkey water systems are actually called water "purification" systems rather than "filtration" systems because of how powerful they are.
There were other filtration systems that I looked at, but many of them were made of plastic and could therefore be leaching harmful chemicals into the clean water. We liked that the Berkey system was available in stainless steel. Another bonus is that they do not need water pressure or electricity to operate, so having a Berkey system in my home meant that I would be prepared for an emergency situation as long as I could find water to pour into it.
Cost was a consideration, although it wasn't my big deciding factor. I was pleased to discover that Berkey was one of the more cost effective systems available. The initial price wasn't too high and the filters last for such a long time, that brought the cost down even further. Using the two filtration elements that come standard with a Berkey, the system can purify 6,000 gallons of water. Even if I used the high estimate of one gallon of water per person per day, that only gets me to 1,460 gallons of that used in a year. (365 days a year x 4 people in our household) Other systems I looked at were more expensive initially and required filter replacement at $100 each at least once a year. Brita and PUR were costing me 20 and 25 cents per gallon. Berkey comes in at 5 cents per gallon when you include the price of purchasing the system and only 1.6 cents per gallon if you're only figuring the cost of replacement filters.
This bring me to the end of part 2. Keep in mind that I'm not trying to sell you a Berkey water system, just sharing the research I did on the topic. In part 3 I will be sharing my review of the Berkey system in my own home as well as a discount code from Big Berkey Water Filters. If you're interested in reading more in the meantime, here are some great links:
Berkey Blog - tons of great articles on water contamination and further info on the Berkey