Difference Between Black Berkey and White Ceramic Filters

Black Berkey FilterSuper Steraysl Filter
Many folks often ask us what the difference is between the Black Berkey water filters and the white Super Sterasyl ceramic filters. Good question. The ceramic filters were developed long before the Black Berkey Elements were, so the Black Berkeys have come along and improved upon the concept. Both filters will:

  • Remove pathogenic bacteria
  • Remove cysts
  • Reduce organic chemicals
  • Reduce chlorine
  • Reduce sediment and particulate

However, the Black Berkey goes above and beyond this and also:

  • Removes lead
  • Removes MTBEs
  • Removes other heavy metals

The Black Berkey filters also typically have a much longer lifespan than the ceramic. A pair of the Black Berkey filters is estimated by the manufacturer to last for about 6,000 gallons of water, while a pair of the ceramic filters is estimated to have an approximate lifespan of 1,000 gallons. The Black Berkey Elements carry a 2-year prorated manufacturer’s warranty, while the Super Steraysl ceramic filters only carry a 6 month manufacturer’s warranty.  Each filter can use a fluoride filter attached to the end of it to remove even more. The Black Berkey will use the PF-2 filter, and the Super Steraysl ceramic filter will use the PF-4 filter. We sell both and would be happy to help you with any other questions you may have!

Read more about filter lifespan and maintenance here.

10 thoughts on “Difference Between Black Berkey and White Ceramic Filters”

  1. I am excited to have stumbled across your site. I am interested in your black Berkley water filter. We live in Texas, and the tap water in this region is just plain undesireable. (Way too much fluoride and tastes like *mud*). We only drink the cold, filtered water from the refrigerator. It tastes great, but I have noticed that after it gets closer to room temp, I don’t like the taste, either. I do not know what type of filter the refrigerator has, but since we mainly drink water at our home, I would like to be sure that what we’re consuming is as healthy as it can be. Does it make sense to filter *filtered* water??

    I also own the Vitamix 5200 and use it daily. It’s amazing!! I just started venturing in to making my own flours. The one I’m most interested in is Almond flour. However, I have learned that the raw nuts must be soaked and dried in order to grind them to flour or meal. WHICH means I’ll be scouring garage sales and second hands for a dehydrator….. Anyway, if I really start loving making flours, then I will invest in a Wonder Junior Deluxe.
    Thanks so much for your time.
    ~ Laura ~

  2. You failed to mention that the flow difference with the Black Berkey is huge. With the Black Berkey you actually have water for your family, with the ceramic you watch hoping it would just hurry up because your family is thirsty. The flow alone sold me.

  3. There is a lot of negative press about the black berkey element being defective (read Amazon). Can you comment?

  4. You bet. In the past (around 2010 or so), the Black Berkeys were being manufactured a little bit differently. The glue (food safe, not just ordinary stuff) was coming undone, and you would find that the filters would separate from the base. The manufacturer corrected the problem, and has been very good about swapping out filters for folks who had the defective ones. If you (or anyone you know) had one of those and didn’t get the issue resolved, they are welcome to contact us and we can try to point them in the right direction. The best solution, though, is for them to 1) contact the retailer they bought it from, and/or 2) contact New Millennium Concepts (the manufacturer) and see if they can get those swapped out.

    Recently, though, there have not been any problems like that. That’s one of the problems with reviews on Amazon…they may be accurate, but they can also be misleading if you don’t know the whole story. Hope that helps!

  5. You should find that the flow rate is similar for both (they both take a while). If you ever get either set of filters, and they are either too slow or too fast, there may be a problem. If the flow is too slow, sometimes the adhesive that holds the stems to the filter may be blocking part of the stem. That is fixable. Likewise, if the flow rate is too fast, there’s a chance that one of the filters is defective. Your best bet in that case is to check to make sure the filter is doing its job by putting a few drops of red dye in the top and making sure all of the red comes out when it gets to the bottom. We can talk you through any troubleshooting steps to make sure things are working properly. The joy of mass production!

  6. We bought the Super Sterasyl Ceramic filters with our berkey in 2008. We have not changed the filters and they filter approximately 2 gallons a day. I calculate that to be nearly 6000 gallons. At the time that we purchased them, we were told the opposite of what you are saying. We read everywhere that the ceramic filters could be scrubbed indefinitely anytime it was needed and the black filters only lasted for 1000 gallons and had to be replaced. Have they changed or what gives?

  7. Hi, thanks for your question! You’re right that when the ceramic filter flow rate starts slowing down, scrubbing the outside is definitely effective in removing particles that have collected on the outer later which then speeds up the flow rate again.

    The interesting part is that these filters will not suddenly stop allowing water to pass through when they reach the end of their lifespan. They will continue to filter water to some degree, but the integrity and effectiveness goes down after a certain amount of water, which is why you want to replace them at the end of their lifespan. They may still be filtering out some particles, but not to the degree that they were in the beginning.

    This is due to the way they are designed. The loose carbon medium that is inside the ceramic outer layer will eventually become used-up, in the sense that it can’t handle any more impurities, and so will allow some of those impurities to pass on into your water. The manufacturer of Berkey products, New Millennium Concepts, states that “the Super Sterasyl™ [ceramic] filters have a lifespan of 535 gallons”, which is just over 1,000 gallons for a pair.

    The Black Berkey purifiers, on the other hand, have a much longer lifespan. A pair of the Black Berkeys “will purify approximately 6,000 gallons of water before replacement is recommended.”* It’s good to keep in mind that depending on the water that is being filtered (water varies widely from region to region, or well-water vs. municipal, etc), the Black Berkeys may slow down sooner than the 6,000 gallon lifespan due to the inner micro-pores becoming clogged with tiny particles. In general, though, they last longer and clean the water better than the ceramic filters.

    I hope that helps!

    *quoted from Berkey manufacturer, New Millennium Concepts

  8. Thank you, yes that makes sense and I see now the 1000 gallon estimate is for 2 filters.
    We had 4 filters, but it appears we still overused them. The last time I scrubbed them and let the water go to waste etc. The water started to fast funny, like it had sediment in it. I threw it all out and ran it again, even let it sit overnight and threw it out for several days in a row. That is what prompted this search. Thank you for clarifying.

  9. My dad gave me the Big Berkey with the ceramic filters years ago. Can I switch out the filters and use the black filters with the same container instead or do I need to get a whole new set?


  10. Hi Phil – yes, you can definitely use the Black Berkey filters with the same container. The holes are the same size. Give us a call and we can tell you about our specials going on BB9s!

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