DIY Berkey Water Purifier





Introduction: DIY Berkey Water Purifier

About: Professionally, I'm an IT Engineer (Executive Level) and Electronics Tech. I'm a Amateur Radio Operator (KK4HFJ). I lived off grid, with Solar (PV), Wind, and veggie oil fueled diesel generator power for 6 y...

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. 



  • Backpack Challenge

    Backpack Challenge
  • Creative Misuse Contest

    Creative Misuse Contest
  • Oil Contest

    Oil Contest

22 Discussions


Reply 11 months ago

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


1 year ago

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.

2 replies

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?


2 years ago

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.

1 reply

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

1 reply

 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. 

2 replies

 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.

Hey Steve!   You are sure a busy guy!   Still am working on that motor project.  Keep up the good work!!!!

1 reply

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? 

1 reply

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