Why Berkey Filtered Water Can Be Cloudy – And How To Fix It


If your Berkey filter water is cloudy, you’re not alone! Cloudy filter water is not a nice look, and you may be wondering if it’s harmful or if there’s something wrong with your filter. Here are the reasons why your Berkey filter water is cloudy and what you can do to fix the problem.

Berkey filter water may be cloudy due to residual dust within the filter capsule. Insufficient or incomplete priming of the Berkey Fluoride elements may also result in cloudiness and/or a funny (metallic) taste in the water.

Cloudy water from your Berkey water filter can be quite off-putting. In this post I’ll explain where the cloudiness in the filtered water is coming from, how to prime the filters (including the fluoride filters) properly, how long water can sit in a Berkey filter, and if the filters must be kept wet.

Why Berkey Filtered Water Is Cloudy?

Cloudy water is a common concern among new Berkey users.

Before we go through all the details of what causes Berkey filtered water to be cloudy, first let’s discuss the different types of Berkey filters available.

Different types of Berkey filters

Black Berkey

This Berkey filter performs the same functions as the Ceramic ones. But it has got some added functions, including removal of lead, Methyl tertiary-butyl ether (or MTBE), and other heavy metals. Hence is a little pricier than the ceramic ones.

  • PF-2 Filters should be used with the Black Berkey Purification Elements to remove fluoride.
  • Amazon sells PF-2 fluoride filters (2-pack) for about $105.00.
  • Berkey Filters USA have the exact same PF-2 fluoride filters (2-pack) for around $70.00.

Earth and Ceramic Berkey

Removes pathogenic bacteria, cysts, andorganic chemicals, and reduces chlorine, turbidity, sediment and particulates.

  • PF-4 filters are used with the Ceramic or Earth Elements to remove fluoride content.

Since most people are careful about the water they drink and do not want to compromise on quality, the Black Berkey filter type is much more popular than the ceramic. In general, most concerns regarding the clouded water problem seem to come from people who use Black Berkey filters.

There can be two possible reasons for this trend.

First, there are more Black Berkey users in the market, and hence their complaints stand out in terms of visibility.

The second reason can be that the ceramic filters perform better in filtering out the residual process dust. The ‘shifting through sediments’ technology used in the case of ceramic filters is designed to achieve high filtration standards.

On the other hand, Black Berkey’s technology is designed to meet the highest standards of purification.

Since most issues of cloudy Berkey water are raised by Black Berkey users with PF-2 filters, our primary focus in this post will be the Black Berkey system.

However, the exact process of properly priming the Black Berkey filters is also applicable for the ceramic filters. So, let’s get into it with this step-by-step guide.

Step by step guide to fix cloudy Berkey filter water

When you first receive your Berkey elements, it is important to prime them. Apart from the issues that we are discussing here, such as clouded water and a metallic taste, if you don’t prime the filter properly, it can take longer for the water to flow through the Berkey system.

Priming your Berkey filters properly is essential to stop getting cloudy water and to ensure the Berkey filtration system runs efficiently during the lifespan of the filters.

Note: There is a separate priming button that you will get in the Berkey box along with each set of filters. Similarly, for the fluoride filters, you should get ‘blue caps’ in the package. Make sure to keep these items someplace safe. They will come in handy when you need to prime your filters in the future.

The odd flavor and color of the Berkey water results from the residual process dust left on and in the filters. The dust and sediment residue may not have been thoroughly washed off during initial priming.

Relax. You don’t need not worry.

However, this is a common error made by many Berkey users. You need to remove the PF-2 elements from your Black Berkey (and PF-4 in case of the ceramic model) and prime them again. 

Prime them for atleast 5 minutes (and multiple times if needed) on both ends. This should fix the issue by removing any residual process dust leftover in the filters.

Next we will discuss the steps for priming the main Berkey elements alongside the fluoride filters.

You need to prime both your Berkey elements as well as the Fluoride filters separately. As mentioned before, you might need to repeat the priming process multiple times to remove any residual manufacturing dust altogether. This will ensure you get optimal results.

Priming the Berkey Element

  1. Place the mouth under the faucet: Fix the priming button on top of the open head end of the element. Firmly fix it under your faucet and hold it tight.
  2. Turn on the water: Slowly turn on the water. Make sure the flow is gentle. It should be no more than ‘just a trickle.’
  3. The sweating process: Once the water starts flowing into the black element, the outside of the element will slowly start to “sweat”. This means you will start to see water beading up all around the element.
  4. Finishing up: When the element is completely beaded up, turn off the water.

You can repeat the process again before moving on to prime the fluoride filters.

Priming your Berkey Fluoride Filter

Once you are done priming the Berkey elements, you need to follow up with priming your fluoride filters. Here’s how you do it:

Procedure I

1. Cover up one end of the filter: Plug one end of the fluoride filters with the blue caps provided. If you do not have the blue caps, your thumb will do.

2. Add water through the other end: Fill the capsule with water from the uncovered end.

3. Close both ends: Once the capsule is filled with water, cap/plug both ends of the fluoride filter.

4. Shake the filter: Shake the filters gently to loosen any left behind residual process dust trapped within the filter.

5. Empty the element: Remove the caps from both ends and empty the residual water.

Now, let’s re-prime the filters following a second procedure.

This second procedure is regarded as the standard procedure.

Procedure II

1. Put on the priming button: Place the rubber priming button onto one end of the element.

2. Fix the priming button to the mouth of the faucet: Press the priming button up against the sink faucet so that the priming button creates a seal between the faucet and the element.

3. Turn on the water: Turn on the cold water slowly, allowing water to fill the cavity of the filter and eventually discharge from the opposite end. Allow the water to flow for two to three minutes. Close the faucet and wait till the water runs clear.

4. Repeat from the other end: Now repeat this process by reversing the flow of water. Turn the filter over and repeat the process from the opposite end.

Repeat the steps until you start obtaining clear water.

Berkey guides its users to discard the first batch of Berkey’s processed water before first use. If you do not need to use your Berkey urgently, we advise you to discard the initial 2-3 batches of water for best results.

How long can water sit in a Berkey?

It is recommended that you should replace your filtered Berkey water after three days. In a cold environment, the length time the filtered water can sit can be extended to a week. Berkey states this is a conservative estimation for safety and best results.

Can Berkey water go bad?

When you filter your water, the chemicals that inhibit bacteria growth (for instance, chlorine) are removed.

When filtered water is left to stand alone for long, the ‘filtered water’ features of that water slowly dissipate. Like all standing water, any bacteria present in the environment will begin to multiply.

This holds truer when conditions are warm and humid. And this is why in cold climates, filtered Berkey water will last longer. Berkey’s water can also withstand bacteria growth for a longer time when the water is refrigerated.

Also, if filtered water is left alone for more than twelve hours, carbon dioxide in the air is absorbed by the water. This, in turn, can lead to a drop in the pH level of the water, which can result in the water becoming stale. It is advised not to use Berkey filtered water (or any filtered water) which has been left standing for over three days in humid conditions, and seven days in colder conditions. Please dump the old filtered water and start with a fresh lot.

Do Berkey filters have to stay wet?

Berkey Fluoride filters need to remain wet. You need to run water through your Fluoride filters on a regular basis (minimum once in every 14 days). Once Fluoride filters dry out, you will need to replace them.

Berkey Replacement Filters: 1 pair PF-2 Fluoride Replacement Filters
from: Berkey Filters USA

In the case of the Black Berkey the primary elements, the ‘keeping wet’ principle, isn’t as important as it is keeping the fluoride filters wet. It would be best if you dried out the black filters. After that, place them in the original box, plastic bag, or any similar container. You need not pack it airtight. Preferably, store it in a cool, dry, and odorless place.

berkey ceramic water filter for well water

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