Preparation in Practice: Water Filtration

For a few days, I had a chance to test my preparedness. It wasn’t anything life-threatening or urgent but it did give me an opportunity to see how ready I am for the unexpected. The experience was one I need to repeat in other areas too, but for now the water filtration test was a successful one. After all, when your reverse osmosis faucet slows to a trickle it’s time to take action.

This event started with a dribble of water. Normally, my reverse osmosis water filtration system system produces plenty of clean drinking water every day and emerges from the faucet in a steady stream. However, the flow slowed down dramatically and I decided that I needed to replace the filters. The problem was, I didn’t have an extra set on-hand and needed to order some. The compounding factor was my local big box retailer only offered these filters online, meaning it would be several days before I could install them. However, I was ready to handle this situation and put my preparations to the test.

I had a 3l bottle of water on-hand in my pantry that could be used for drinking. But I needed more because I live in Arizona and it is pretty dry (~15% humidity). Thankfully, I had both a Big Berkey® water purifier and a Brita water pitcher handy, so I decided to use both of them. After all, I was going to write a review on each so why not put them to the test now?

Berkey Water Purifier

A while back, I purchased a factory-reconditioned Big Berkey® water purifier from the manufacturer. The only thing I did to it was assemble it and test it about a year ago. It worked, so I put it in one of my closets so it wouldn’t be in the way. Once I decided to use it; I took it out, primed it, then filled the top part with (softened) tap water. It took a few minutes before there was any appreciable amount of water in the bottom section, but it produced good drinking water at a steady pace. Since it is large, I had to position it so I could fill containers without any obstructions. I also had a small leak by the spigot that I will have to fix. I think it is just a loose fitting so it should not be an issue.

I will write a more extensive review in the near future, but the advantage of this system is it’s a water purifier, the Berkey filters just about everything. This is why it is popular in the prepper community, along with people who live in remote areas around the world. This comes at a price, though, the filtration results in only a steady drip of purified water. It takes time to fill the collection basin, so if you need water, you need to wait a bit. Plus, the Berkey is a large unit that isn’t easy to move around when it’s full of water.

Brita Water Pitcher

I actually have owned this unit for several years but left it in it’s original packaging in my garage until this event. So I unpackaged it and read the instructions on how to assemble it. The first thing I had to do was get the filter element ready. You do this by soaking it in water for about five minutes, then running two fills of water through it. Since the primary ingredient of the filter is charcoal, some little bits of it float out as the material swells when exposed to water. Once that was done, I filled it with water from the tap and let the filter do its thing. What is nice about the pitcher is that it can be kept on the countertop or put in the refrigerator.

The Brita Water Pitcher filters much faster than the Berkey but in smaller amounts. Filtering two liters of water only takes a few minutes and is ready to pour. The advantage is its speed, if you need water, you will have water in no time. The catch is the smaller size means that you will have to refill the pitcher often. For a few glasses of water, this isn’t a problem but if you need a larger quantity for cooking, it would take too long.


The good news is I had the best of both worlds since I had two water filtration systems available. That meant I always had good drinking water, which made my wait for the reverse osmosis filters tolerable. If I had to pick one though, I would probably lean more towards the Berkey than the Brita though. The main reason is capacity, I drink a lot of water and cook a fair amount so I need more than just a few glasses at a time. The Brita is convenient and I am glad I have it, but I found myself going to the Berkey first to fill my bottles and pots. The real takeaway from this experience though is that it is wise to have multiple water filtration systems available in case you ever need them.