Picture of 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

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Step 1: Selecting the Buckets

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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

Picture of 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. 
TingisBob6 months ago

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.

Momo55566 months ago

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

sspence (author)  Momo55566 months ago

Would not be very effective.

boardboyd4 years ago
 The Berkley Filters are only NSF 53 rated, so cysts like Giardia and Cryptosporidium (beaver fever), VOC's. They look like carbon filters so I would venture that they remove chlorine residual fairly well (if you want that removed). There is no mention of pore size in the quick look up I did so I would say that the microbial (different than cysts when talking about pathogens) may be suspect, or they just neglected to publish it.

If you're going to try and make surface water potable you should do a double barrier method of disinfection, usually with the second barrier being residual to ensure the containers you store the water in does not breed any pathogens from other vectors of contamination. 
sspence (author)  boardboyd4 years ago
 The black berkey filters are rated for removing cysts like Giardia and CS, as well as VOC's and most everything else including bacteria. Second level purification not necessary.
 I think you have misunderstood the my reasoning behind secondary disinfection (pathogen only); it is usually used as there are other vectors of contamination such as the following:

- contaminated secondary holding surfaces that are not disinfected that come in contact with the treated water i.e. the second container you have, if it is not cleaned and sanitized prior to being used may have pathogens on the surface that can multiply if given the right conditions

- contamination through introducing untreated water to stored treated water (spills, leaks)

These are even bigger issues if you are going to let the water sit in the secondary storage for any length of time, not a big issue if the water is going to be consumed right after treatment.
tukas4 years ago
Hey Steve!   You are sure a busy guy!   Still am working on that motor project.  Keep up the good work!!!!
sspence (author)  tukas4 years ago
 Thanks. Hope your project works out.
dchall84 years ago
What does the filter do?  Does it simply make tap water taste better or can you run pond water through it to make it drinkable?  Does the filter take out biologicals? 
sspence (author)  dchall84 years ago
It's more than a filter, it's a purifier. It will take out almost all biologicals and chemicals (.99999), making most any water potable. See
Hoopajoo4 years ago
Do you have a source you can link us to for the Berkley filters?
sspence (author)  Hoopajoo4 years ago

$99 / twin pack
dosadi4 years ago
Nice instructable.

Is there a reason for using two filters?  
sspence (author)  dosadi4 years ago
 The more filters, the faster the throughput.