DIY Berkey Water Purifier

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Introduction: DIY Berkey Water Purifier

Here we will show how we make our own water purifiers from used food grade plastic buckets, and Berkey water purification elements.

Materials Needed:

2 food grade Buckets w/ lids (these buckets are naturally BPA free)
a Berkey filter twin pack (we like the black, but the white ceramic are also very good)
a faucet kit

3/4" drill bit
7/16" drill bit

Step 1: Selecting the Buckets

We highly recommend food grade (BPA free) buckets. These can be obtained online, or picked up used at restaurants. We like the used ones due to the recycling and low embodied energy benefits. Any stackable bucket with lids from 3 gallon to 6 gallon, round or square can be used.

Step 2: Prime the Filters

The filters need to be primed before first use, or if the filters are left uncovered and dry out. Instructions come with the filter cartridges on priming, as well as a small "priming button".


Step 3: Top Bucket Modifications

Two 7/16" holes are drilled through the bottom of the top bucket and the lid of the bottom bucket. Insert the two (primed) Berkey filters into the top bucket with the rubber grommet between the bucket and the filter. Tighten the nuts on the filter shafts with the lid between the nuts and the bottom of the top bucket.

Step 4: Modifying the Bottom Bucket

Drill a 3/4" hole near the bottom of the bottom bucket, high enough so the spigot clears the bottom of the bucket. Two inches is usually sufficient. Install the spigot kit, with washers on both sides and nut on the inside. You don't want the spigot to be below the bottom of the bucket, but you want it as low as possible.

Step 5: Finished

Stack the buckets (seal the bottom bucket lid), fill the top bucket with water, cover lightly (don't seal) and enjoy!  Filters can be lightly "scraped" with a brillo pad when water flow decreases, and each filter element is good for approximately 3000 gallons. Multiple elements (1-6, depending on size of bucket) can be installed for increased flow. 

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22 Comments

The certification document from berkey clearly specifies virus and bacteria removal levels. This, by definition, and certification, is a purifier.

Hi sspence,

I finally put my
together, using the white buckets I have a hard time seeing the water level. One improvement
I do differently is using clear or Simi clear buckets to see the water level I hope others will benefit from this.

One way is to put a hole as low as you can and put a clear tube(glass is best) that is secured vertical on the side of the bucket.

Nice one. what adhesive did you use?

I still haven't bought the filters and am not familiar with the product, except from I have read here and there. So, perhaps this is a dumb question. Would it be possible to easily add the arsenic and fluoride PF-2 filters? Thanks.

Yes, they just screw on to the ends of the main filter elements.

I did something like this with food-grade 5-gallon buckets to take along on scout camping trips. Another way to increase throughput is to pressurize the top container. I cut a hole in the top bucket lid and hacked a garden-sprayer to pump in air.

You can use a ceramic filter on the end of a tube large enough to fit over the filter's outlet, start a syphon and allow the water to syphon from one bucket to the other. Used this system for years in Africa. Btw, the filter can be turned up side down (iow the outlet pointing up) and it works fine. As the quantity of DHm needed increases, more filters can be added each with it's own tube.

Ido you think you could make one with a water bottle and rocks? That will be great ! Love your idea thanks

Would not be very effective.