Comparing British Berkefeld, Berkey and Phoenix
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Comparing British Berkefeld, Berkey and Phoenix

When you orientate yourself on buying a gravity based water filter you might find yourself confused what the differences are between them. In this article we dive into the details of three established brands. Namely; Phoenix, Berkey and British Berkefeld (made by Doulton). Continue reading our “Comparing British Berkefeld, Berkey and Phoenix” to find out what suits you best!

Lets start comparing them…

In the table below we have listed all basic information

Table Comparing British Berkefeld, Berkey and Phoenix



Similarities among them

All water filters discussed in this article use the same mode of operation (E.G. Gravity). In addition, they use the same type of stainless steel for the housing of water. This makes these water filters last a very long time.

Lets talk about differences!

British Berkefeld (Doulton) – Ceramic Filter Element

The British Berkefeld Gravity water filters come standard with a pair of ceramic filter cartridges (Ultra Sterasyl, formerly known as ATC Super Sterasyl). The advantage of ceramic filters are that they are cheap to buy, eco-friendly, recycable and widely available.

The Super Sterasyl filter cartridge has an hard outer ceramic casing. In the core of the filter cartridge you will find a combination of granular activated carbon and heavy metals removal media. At last, the filter element is impregnated with Silver ions to prevent bacterial growth inside the filter  element.

The Super Sterasyl will make sure to reduce and/or remove;

  • Bacteria and Parasites
    • These elements can’t penetrate the ceramic casing.
  • Turbidity
    • Reduced by the ceramic casing of the filter element
  • Heavy metals such as Lead
    • Heavy metals are reduced by the Ion exchange.
  • Dirt / Rust / Sediment
    • These elements can’t penetrate the ceramic casing.
  • Chlorine
    • Is reduced by the activated carbon

This water filter is ideal for using on a camping trip since it’s portable or simply place it in your kitchen. Some customers use this system in their camper/minivan.

Types of water you can filter;

  • City Council water (Regular tap water)
  • Stream Water
  • Creek / Pond water
  • River / Ditch water
  • Well water

The downside is that they require regular maintenance by scrubbing them and they don’t last as long compared to carbon filters. This is due to the fact that a ceramic filter element (with a carbon core) has less surface area to adsorp contaminents compared to all carbon filters. Expect to replace a ceramic filter every six months or 3000 liters (per filter set).

Can I recycle my old ceramic filter?

Yes, you can. You can recycle the plastic mount and compost the old filter element. Remove the mount using light pressure with a hammer to break it from the filter element. Next, cover the ceramic with an old rag and gently break it into small pieces.

Berkey / Phoenix – Activated Carbon Filter Element

Berkey and Phoenix water filters use both activated carbon as their filter element. It consists of a single (circular) activated carbon filter which is impregnated with Silver to prevent bacterial growth.

The advantage of Activated Carbon compared to ceramic is that carbon has a much higher surface area. This means that it can adsorp much more contaminents and it therefore last longer compared to ceramic. Berkey filters are rated up to filtering 22.000 liters of water compared to 20.000 liter indicated by Phoenix.

Activated carbon is mostly derived from coconut shells and widely used in water and air filtration. Both Berkey and Phoenix remove;

  • Bacteria
  • Pesticides/Insecticides
  • Heavy Metals
  • Chemicals (such as Chlorine)
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Parasites

What about Fluoride?

Activated Carbon (and ceramics) loses its capacity to remove Fluoride fairly quickly (after 200-300 liters). Therefore, additional filters are required to remove Fluoride completely. You might consider Berkey’s PF-2 and/or PF-4 filters in case you want to remove it.

The reason why Berkey/Phoenix test results indicate the removal of Fluoride is because the filters where brand new when tested.

Types of water you can filter with Berkey/Phoenix;

  • City Council water (Regular tap water)
  • Stream Water
  • Creek / Pond water
  • River / Ditch water
  • Well water

The disadvantages of Activated Carbon filters is that they are more expensive compared to ceramics and (at this moment) they are not recycable.

Activated Carbon

Conclusion…What should I choose?

Now obviously that depends on your specific needs and budget. In all cases, all three brands are capable to deliver you great quality drinking water.

Lets put in the following simple terms;

Is recyclability important to you? Go for the British Berkefeld.

Is budget important for you? Go for the Phoenix.

Are upgradability and accessoires important to you? Opt for the Berkey.

Important Notice!

In any case, make sure to replace your filter elements adequately as specified by the manufacturer.

Many gravity water filters and its filter elements work by adsorption meaning that harmful contaminents adsorp to the surface of the filter element. As a filter element ages it adsorption surface capacity reduces until a point where it has no surface left to adsorp elements.

This means that harmful elements that previously were adsorpted can now easily pass the filter element. In such cases you risk drinking contamined “filtered” water which most probably is more contamined compared to the unfiltered water you deposited.

Happy Filtering!

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