Why are Berkey Water Filters Banned in California?

While looking for premium water filters, you will surely come across one name- Berkey. Berkey is one of the premium brands in the filtration world, and their popular product Big Berkey is a household name. 

But, if you live in California and, most recently, Iowa, you will not be able to enjoy using a Berkey water filter owing to some legal requirements. 

Why are Berkey water filters banned in California
Why are Berkey water filters banned in California?

California law requires all water filter companies to detail their processes and manufacturing materials to obtain the NFS certificate or be certified by other recognized ASI-approved third-party bodies. While other companies are open to this requirement, Berkey is not keen on revealing such confidential information fearing a spike in competitors in the market. 

Owing to this issue, Berkey water filters are not admissible in California. However, since the legal conundrum has perked interest, we gathered as much data about it as possible. For that, we referred to documents, interviews, legal papers and accounts of users who have used Berkey before. This piece tells you all about it.

The Law of California

According to the law in California, any “end-use device intended to convey or dispense water for human consumption through drinking or cooking,” along with other parts and materials like pipe or any plumbing fittings or fixtures, must be lead-free. As mentioned by SB 1334, a certification must be taken by the independent ASI-approved testing concern. 

The Law of California
The Law of California

This law applies to all products even if they have no metal alloy, and the purification method reduces lead concentration. Manufacturers must reveal accurate information about the product, the system supplies and much more. 

Why are Berkey water filters banned in California?

While the laws in California mandate the complete disclosure about the manufacturing process and materials used in the same, Berkey does not want to share that information. Though there are many water filters on the market, none of them has been able to copy the filter elements that Berkey presents. All materials used in the process are thorough and durable. 

However, under California law, the company will have significant competitors if Berkey has to share all information (which may be disclosed under certain conditions). According to some conspiracy theorists, Berkey refuses the third-party certification process since its filtration process contains lead. 

Why is Berkey not certified?

Though Berkey water filter has a strong following and a trusted customer base, some problems have been raised. While we have the manufacturers claiming that the system can remove many contaminants from the waters, the claims may not stand true since Berkey does not have certification by the NSF standards. 

Here are a few reasons explaining why the Berkey water filter is not NSF certified.

Why is Berkey not certified?
Why is Berkey not certified?

💧They require maintenance

If you want the filter to function correctly, you must maintain it daily. You need to remove the filter parts and scrub them; the whole process can expose your filter to bacteria. Simply put, the cleaning process can make the filter unsafe for use.


This water filter is not as fast as the other water filters on the market. This is primarily due to the heavy medium used to filter the elements and remove impurities. Thankfully the flow rate can be increased. 

But the extra filter materials cut the flow rate forcing the water through the filter. As the water gets filtered from the top chambers, the water quality and gravity reduce the water flow. Thus, you will not get cold and fresh water frequently.

💧Expensive replacement filters

A water filter must be budget-friendly, and as per many users, the Berkey water filter is not. In fact, they are pretty expensive, costing 120 dollars per set, which is quite a considerable amount for a standard household water filter. 

💧Nitrates removal

Nitrates cause severe health issues and thus must be removed from drinking water. Though Berkley claims to remove 95% nitrates, it’s impossible due to the climate and purification method. 

Berkey water filter uses a carbon filtration system, while as per the EPF, nitrates can only be removed by using ion exchange, electrolysis and reverse osmosis methods.

Can Berkey water make you sick?

Though it’s not proven, many users claim that the Berkey water filter has made them sick. This statement might be true as the filter grows coliform bacteria if it’s not cleaned regularly. The bacteria eventually gets added to the water that makes you sick. 

Studies have revealed that the number of bacteria in the filter is more than in tap water. After some testing, it has been revealed that old and used Berkely water filters can cause health hazards. 

Can you get Berkey Water Filters in California?

Yes, buying Berkey water filters in California without intense punishment is possible, but your choices are not extensive. 

Can you get Berkey Water Filters in California?
Can you get Berkey Water Filters in California?

Since 2009 California law does not allow the sale of outdoor purification systems. You can, however, purchase the Berkey Light and Travel Berkey water filters in California. 

Can you get any other Berkey Products in California?

Yes. Berkey light and Travel Berkey are allowed in California. Since the laws came into being, California has now defined the exact requirements of the law. And after some extensive research, it has been revealed that Travel Berkey and Berkey light fall under the scope of those regulations.

California does not stop the sale of “outdoor filters”; thus, some products are legally available in California.

Where are Berkey filters banned?

As mentioned in this article, Berkey water filters are banned from California due to the non-disclosure of their manufacturing process and other associated problems. It is also banned in Iowa. 

You May Also Read: Berkey Vs Brita – Which Brand Is Best For Water Filters? | Berkey Shower Filter Review


As a business, Berkey has put enormous trust in customers and their loyalty and has thus evaded the whole certification question. However, whether or not you should buy Berkey water filters is a matter of your judgment. 

All said and done, it’s obviously safer to buy an NFS-certified water filter. The certification is the mark of assurance and safety for users. However, Berkey has maintained its stand among its substantial user base despite not having a certificate vouching for its safety.

Its track record speaks for itself. Thus at the end of the day, the decision on whether to get Berkey or not will rest on your trust and judgement.