Berkey is a top-of-the-line water filtration system company. People who have used their gravity filtration systems for drinking water also trust Berkey for their shower filter needs. Whether or not you are familiar with Berkey, we’ve compiled the best information from the source as well as additional research and reviews on available Berkey shower filter products in our Berkey shower filter review so you can know what to expect from a Berkey shower filter.
Available Berkey shower filter products
The Berkey shower head filter comes as a white massaging shower head with a white plastic filter (the casing and the filter are one unit). A back flush attachment is included to prevent premature clogging. Teflon tape is not included but might be necessary for proper installation.
Berkey shower filters are made from a proprietary blend of KDF (more on what this is further down) and calcium sulfite. Berkey shower filters reduce chlorine by 95%. They also trap some metals and reduce iron oxide (rust) and hydrogen sulfide odor as well as some volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which make your shower air toxic to breathe.
The filters are rated for 20,000 gallons or one year, whichever comes first, depending on your water quality. This is a major plus considering most shower filters are rated for 6 months or 10,000 gallons, although most reviewers say they get much less than that.
The Berkey shower head replacement filter also works without the shower head and fits most standard shower heads, so you could use it with your existing shower head.
The replacement filter will lower the height of your existing shower head by several inches, so if you go with this option, be sure you’ve got enough standing room.
Berkey offers a lifetime warranty on its shower head parts and has a 30-day return policy if you’re unsatisfied.
If you purchase the Berkey shower head filter (or replacement) from Amazon, check the product to be sure its authentic. Some people have found that when they open it, it’s a different cheaper brand which breaks open easily. If this happens, return it for a refund or exchange it for an authentic filter.
The Berkey massaging shower head filter and replacement filters have over 80% 5-star reviews, with most negative reviews being to do with the issue of authenticity for the replacement filters. Be aware that Amazon sellers are not the Berkey manufacturer. So be sure to purchase from an authorized Berkey dealer!
In reviews, one person who had purchased the replacement filter had an air purifier outside the bathroom door that used to turn on automatically after opening the door after a shower. After installing the filter, the air purifier didn’t kick in after opening the door after a shower anymore, so it likely is reducing shower chlorine vapors and improving the air quality of the shower environment as claimed.
Some people have claimed it has helped with rosacea, hives, and other skin problems.
The Berkey inline filter comes as a chrome-plated plastic casing with a half-inch connector and plumbers tape to use on the shower pipe and can be used with any existing shower head. The filter has the same composition as the shower head filter discussed above and accomplishes the same effects.
The main advantages of this shower filter is that it has a modern chrome finish, you can use it with your existing shower head, and it installs above your shower head so it won’t affect the height of your shower head.
Although some sources will claim that the inline shower filters are rated for more than one year of use, expect them to last one year or 20,000 gallons. Replacement inline filters are available and must be used with the inline filter casing.
The inline shower filter housing does not come with the replacement filters, so be sure you have the housing first.
Be sure to use the included plumbers tape on the shower pipe or shower arm when installing the filter to prevent leaking.
Also be sure to use the back flush attachment to prevent premature clogging. If your filter gets clogged or your water pressure drops after a month or two, do not replace it – just back flush it!
Like the shower head filter, the inline filter is made of BPA free materials. Most Berkey filters are made in the USA, but it’s unclear where the shower filter is made.
Overall, the Berkey inline shower filter rates over 80% 4 and 5 starts, so most people are happy with their purchase as long as they know what they’re getting and follow the instructions.
Why you need a shower filter
The amount of chlorine typically absorbed through the skin or breathed in through a shower is equal to or more than we drink all day in tap water. Things like chlorine and other chemicals leave you with dry skin and dry, dull hair. Iron, rust and high levels of hard water minerals can leave mineral stains in your shower or bathtub. Chlorine and hydrogen sulfide can make your water have a strong, unpleasant odor. And last but certainly not least, chlorine and other chemicals can turn into vapor in your steamy shower environment, making the air you breathe potentially harmful.
What makes Berkey unique?
Berkey shower filters are designed to remove 95% of free chlorine, reduce hydrogen sulfide, reduce iron and iron oxide (rust), reduce scale build-up and other contaminants, and reduce toxic chemical vapor inhalation while you shower. All of this works to reduce mineral stains, improve the air quality of your shower and reduce the amount of chlorine exposure and harmful chemical absorption through your skin.
While many shower filters claim to reduce chlorine, iron and odors, many don’t do so effectively or for very long, being too small or using a large variety of media but insufficient amounts of any one type. Berkey focuses on using a sufficient amount of a high quality media to get the job done and to ensure their filters last a decent length of time to make it cost effective.
Proprietary KDF media blend
Berkey shower filters are the only primarily KDF shower filter on the market. Based on what the filter removes, the filter media is a patented blend of KDF-55, KDF-85, and calcium sulfite.
KDF – kinetic fluxion degradation – is a redox (reduction-oxidation) media made of granulated zinc-copper alloy. When substances pass through the zinc-copper “bridge”, they’re either transformed from harmful contaminants into harmless substances through ion exchange by stabilizing their outer electron charge so they’re not reactive, or they bind to the KDF media.
KDF is also effective at reducing microbial contamination including bacteria, fungi and algae.
The filters also contain calcium sulfite which is very effective at reducing free chlorine.
KDF is often mixed with activated carbon, but not in Berkey shower filters. KDF is a good choice and commonly found in shower filters because of its high flow rate and effectiveness at higher temperatures.
How are water contaminants removed with a Berkey shower filter?
In a reduction-oxidation reaction, electrons are transferred to or from the contaminants from the media. How does this work for various contaminants?
Chlorine (free chlorine and some chlorine compounds), for example, is turned into water-soluble chloride, which is too large to absorb or inhale.
While the Berkey manufacturer does not claim its shower filters to reduce lead, heavy metals and hard water minerals, it may reduce them to some degree (but beware of online sellers claiming they are designed to do so). Cations of water soluble heavy metals are converted to insoluble atoms or are electroplated onto the surface of the filter (which is why the filter needs back flushing occasionally).
How does KDF reduce microorganism growth? Again, through electron transfer. The KDF disrupts the electron transport chain in microorganisms, which is vital to their energy production and survival. Disrupting this kills them. In addition, hydroxyl radicals (·OH) and hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) are briefly formed during the redox reaction, which kill bacteria on contact.
Review of contaminants removed
The Berkey shower filter removes the following contaminants:
- 95% free chlorine
- hydrogen sulfide
- odors (from chlorine, hydrogen sulfide, and other contaminants)
- VOCs (volatile organic compounds, or vapors of toxic chemicals)
- scale (hard water minerals to some degree but not enough to soften the water)
- iron oxide (rust)
Contaminants that online sellers claim the Berkey shower filter removes, but the manufacturer does not claim so:
- other heavy metals
What will a Berkey shower filter not remove?
KDF is better at removing inorganic contaminants, but organic chemicals such as chloramines (disinfectant byproducts that are a mixture of chlorine and ammonia), pesticides and herbicides, organic cysts, nitrates, fluoride, viruses, arsenic, pharmaceuticals and other substances aren’t best handled by KDF filters. You’ll need to use KDF filter in conjunction with water filters that can remove these contaminants if your water supply contains them.
To remove chloramines, you’d need to combine KDF with vitamin C or activated carbon and increase the contact time of the water with the filter media, such as those with an upflow design.
There is another shower filter similar to Berkey, and that is the Sprite shower head. The filtration media is essentially the same. The advantage of the Sprite is that it’s cheaper. The disadvantage of the Sprite is that… well, it’s cheaper – made cheaper; the housing breaks or leaks more often than the Berkey according to customers.
This is likely the version reviewers have gotten if they’ve either gotten a better deal on a “Berkey shower filter”, if they know they’ve received a knock-off version, or if their shower filter breaks apart quickly. So if you’re looking for quality, be sure to purchase from an authorized Berkey dealer.
Wrapping it up
We hope you’ve found our Berkey shower filter review helpful and that we’ve been able to present information that is accurate, reliable, and sums up the available information and user experiences so you can make the most informed decision.
Q: Is the Berkey shower filter a good purchase for a vacation home or a guest bathroom?
A: The filter contents begin to oxidize once they are wet. If a Berkey shower filter is used intermittently and left unused for long periods (ie. months at a time), Berkey recommends replacing the filter.
Q: Does the Berkey shower filter remove chlorine at 95% for its entire lifespan (ie. one year)?
A: The Berkey shower filter will remove free chlorine at 95% in the beginning but only 50-75% towards the end of your filter’s lifespan, depending on your water quality. For more effective chlorine removal, it would be better to replace the filter sooner than later.
Q: Can a Berkey shower filter be used with a shut-off valve?
A: No. But if a shut-off valve is necessary, install it inline above and before the filter unit, not after or below as this may result in excessive pressure buildup inside the filter unit causing the filter to be damaged.
Q: Will a Berkey shower filter soften the water or reduce water hardness or total dissolved solids (TDS)?
A: Berkey shower filters are not designed to turn hard water into soft water or reduce water hardness by any significant amount. While some minerals or metals may become trapped in the KDF media, others will be converted into more stable metals or minerals though electron exchange. These compounds are therefore still present but less reactive and harmful. Therefore, TDS will not necessarily change by much.
Q: Will a Berkey shower filter work well in both hot water and cold water?
A: Yes. The Berkey shower filter works from 40°F up to 120°F.
Q: How is the showerhead flow and water pressure of the Berkey shower filter?
A: The shower filter water flow rate is 2.5 gallons per minute according to U.S. standards for shower filters and the water pressure is reportedly good. Some states want shower heads down to 1.8 gpm, so this will not comply with those states. The maximum pressure the shower head filter can withstand is 60 PSI while the inline filter should not be used where PSI is over 100.
Q: Why has my water pressure has dropped prematurely?
A: You need to back flush the filter with the back flush attachment for a few minutes. This filter requires backflushing to prevent premature clogging.
Q: Will a Berkey shower filter remove iron from the water?
A: Yes, the proprietary blend of KDF media removes iron oxide (rust) from the water. However, do not use in high iron content water systems that use chemicals such as polyphosphates.
Q: Does the Berkey shower filter remove chloramine?
Q: Does the Berkey shower filter remove lead, heavy metals and hard water minerals?
A: Berkey doesn’t claim that it does, although some online sellers claim that it does. It very well may, based on its media composition, but the manufacturer chooses to remain true to science and test results. This may not be the best shower filter for you if you’re looking to remove such contaminants. It does remove iron and rust, however.