How to Prime a Black Berkey Filter (2023)

Before using the Black Berkey Filters, they must be primed. It is imperative for optimal water flow. Priming is running water through the filters to saturate them thoroughly. The priming process should only take a few minutes to do.

How to Prime a Berkey Filter with the PrimeRite Tool

The blue silicone tool allows for a quicker and easier way to prime the Berkey Black Filters and Fluoride Filters. The Prime Rite is included in the Quick Start Kit, free with every system purchase. It can also be purchased in theBerkey Maintenance Kit.

1. Attach Prime Rite to a faucet and put it up the water spout as possible.
2. Remove wing nut and washer from Black Berkey Filter.
3. Hold the filter in one hand and gently put the stem of the filter into the small opening of the Prime Rite.
4. Hold the filter and slowly turn on the water until it's a low but steady flow. Use cold water.
If the Prime Rite inflates or forms a bulb, turn the water pressure down.
5. Run water through the filter until beads of water appear on the sides of the filter—approximately one minute.
6. Turn off the water and remove the filter from Prime Rite. Prime all filters before installing them in the system.

How to Prime a Black Berkey Filter (1)

How to Prime a Berkey Filter with the Priming Button

Included with all systems and filters, the Berkey Priming Button is a thick tan washer.It can be used witheither of the filters. It funnels water into the filter interior to saturate the media and flush out air and manufacturing dust.

1. Place the washer, wing nut, and tan-colored priming button on the Black Berkey Filter.
2. Place the stem of the Black Berkey Filter between the fingers, and using the wing nut for grip, press the priming button against the faucet.
3. While holding the priming button against the faucet, turn on the faucet slowly, allowing the water to fill the inside of the Black Berkey Filter.
4. Allow the exterior wall of the Black Berkey Filter to sweat beads of water for about 10 seconds.
5. The Black Berkey Filter has now been successfully primed.

(Video) How to Prime and Clean the Black Berkey Water Filters - Full tutorial for Beginners - New 2019

How to Prime a Berkey Filter by Soaking

When water pressure is not adequate or available, use this method to Prime Black Berkey Filters. The priming method can also be used if PrimeRite isn't compatible with certain faucets. Filters must be left overnight or for an extended period of time to become fully saturated.

Fluoride Filter cannot be primed effectively without water pressure.

1. Place the filters upright (stem up) in a container such as the bottom chamber. Place a mug or glass over the filters to weigh them down.
2. Let soak for at least eight hours.
3. Remove mugs. If filters float, they may need additional priming. If they sink, they are now primed.

How to Prime a Black Berkey Filter (2)

How to Prime a Berkey Filter with the Black Berkey Primer

TheBlack Berkey Primeris hand-powered priming and purging bulb that allows you to prime your Black Filters without water pressure faster than the soak method. The Black Berkey Primer is an accessory that can be purchased separately.

Berkey Fluoride Filters cannot be primed with the Black Berkey Primer.

1. Attach the valves to the plastic tubes and bulb.
2. Connect the threaded piece of the tube onto the stem of the filter.
3. Place the filter in enough water to cover the filter media, such as the bottom chamber filled with water.
4. Squeeze or pump the bulb until water comes out of the other end.

(Video) How to Prime Berkey Water Filters

Why is Priming the Black Berkey Filter Elements Important?

Priming theBlack Berkey Filterbefore first use is part of the initial setup process. Priming is necessary for the filters to function properly and get adequate water filtration flow. The media inside the filters are very dense and has a lot of surface tension. Water has a hard time penetrating this dense medium the first time the filter is used. Forcing water through the Black Berkey filter relieves this surface tension.

Themicropore structureof the Black Berkey Filters is minute in size. They are so small that red food coloring will not pass through the filter. The downside is that too much surface tension means that the filters require priming; they can't be used immediately right out of the box. However, the priming process is well worth the benefits of the filters. The Black Berkey Filters are dry from the factory, and the air is trapped within the tiny micropores. In some places, water has more water tension than in others, which can change from season to season. The higher the tension, the more difficult it is for the water to force the air out of the micropores of the filter using gravity alone. This trapped air does not allow water to pass through the filter. This causes the system to filter very slowly or not at all.

Before traveling to and using the Berkey system in an area without water pressure, we recommend priming the filters using the priming button or prime rite. If this is not possible, the filters can be primed approximately 50% using the below method. In other words, using this method, the filters will not produce flow as fast as they would using the other methods; however, they will filter significantly quicker than if the Berkey elements had not been primed at all. This alternative priming method is as follows:

STEP 1: If your Berkey system is assembled, remove the filters from the upper chamber and set aside. Fill the lower chamber with water, then place the elements into the chamber stem side up. Place a ceramic coffee cup (or something else that could help to hold them under the water) on top of each element stem to force the element down under the water. Let the elements soak for several hours. Submerging the filters will move trapped air out of the stubborn pores. NOTE: Make sure the stems of the elements are not submerged so that it allows the air to escape.

STEP 2: The inside of the Berkey filters should now be full of water and significantly heavier. Try to keep as much water on the inside of the elements as possible. Reassemble the element into the upper chamber by facing the stems upward. Empty the water from the lower chamber and place the upper chamber back onto the lower chamber. Immediately fill the upper chamber with water.

When the Berkey filters have water within the bore (inside core), more force is generated to draw it through the element. This is because the water that drips out of the elements also hydraulically pulls new water into the element as the element begins to work like a siphon. Thus, in addition to the "push" of gravity, there is a hydraulic "pull," which drastically improves the water's ability to force air from the micropores. The above method is less efficient than priming the filtering cartridges with the priming button supplied with your filters but should be about 75-80% effective in clearing the blocked micropores.

Let the water in the lower chamber run to waste and refill the upper chamber with water. Your Black Berkey Filters are now primed and ready for use.

How to Prime a Black Berkey Filter (3)

How to Prime a Black Berkey Filter (4)

How to Prime a Black Berkey Filter (5)

Cleaning Black Berkey Filters

How to cleanthe Black Berkey Elements

Learn More

PrimingFluoride Filters

How to prime BerkeyFluoride Filters

Learn More


Frequently Asked Questions

Berkey Answers

(Video) How to Prime the Black Berkey Filter - That Actually Works!


How to Prime a Black Berkey Filter? ›

The problem you are experiencing is probably due to high water tension, which is preventing the air from being purged from the micro pores of the new purification elements. Water tension varies from country to country and from area to area and can also change from season to season.

Why isn t my berkey filter priming? ›

The problem you are experiencing is probably due to high water tension, which is preventing the air from being purged from the micro pores of the new purification elements. Water tension varies from country to country and from area to area and can also change from season to season.

How long to prime black berkey filters? ›

Only use cold water; never use warm water, hot water, or soap to prime the elements. It can take 3-4 minutes per filter. It takes awhile sometimes, so if you feel like you're doing something wrong, try to wait a little longer, and it may start seeping through correctly.

How do you prime a Berkey filter without water pressure? ›

Priming Black Berkey Filters Via Soaking

Stand filters in the bottom chamber or a similar container. The stem side should be facing up. Weigh the filters down with a mug or water glass on the stem. Let the filters soak for a minimum of 8 hours.

Why won t my Berkey filter water? ›

If you just purchased your Berkey® system and the filters are hardly filtering water, the problem is typically due to high water tension. This high water tension prevents the air from being purged from the micro pores of the new purification elements.

How do I know if my Berkey filter is working? ›

Fill the upper chamber with water and add I teaspoon of red food coloring for every gallon of water. Allow the water to run through to the bottom chamber. If the red food coloring is removed entirely, your water filtration system is working properly.

Is the black Berkey primer necessary? ›

Whether you are using a Berkey Light, a Royal Berkey, or any of the other Berkey systems that utilize the Black Berkey filter element, priming is required due to the extremely small pores that make up the filter.

Do black Berkey filters need to be primed after cleaning? ›

For optimal performance, Berkey recommends re-priming the filters after they have been cleaned. Place the filter elements on a clean surface and allow them to dry. Clean the wing-nuts, washers, spigot, and rubber base, as well as the stainless steel chambers.

How many years do Berkey black filters last? ›

Black Berkey water filters last for more than 10 years.

Each durable and efficient filter will last for up to 11,350 liters (22,700 liters per set of two) and provide you with years of efficient water purification. For instance; If you were to use 38 liters per week, this is equivalent to 600 weeks.

How long can a Berkey sit without water? ›

If you are traveling away from your Berkey system with Fluoride Filters, you will need someone to run water through your refrigerated Fluoride Filters, every 14 days, as if they were in normal use in order to keep them wet.

Why is my Berkey filtering super slow? ›

If your Berkey filter isn't working early on, the slow flow rate is likely caused by air pockets. Air pockets occur when the filters have not been fully primed and pockets of air have not been forced out of the filters by water during the priming process.

Why is my Berkey filtering so slow? ›

Why Is My Big Berkey Going So Slowly? If your filtration seems to be going at a slower rate than average, it might be because of the Fluoride Filter. This device relies on dense media to stop fluoride and arsenic from getting in your drinking water. This extra step can slow down a Big Berkey.

Do Berkey filters get clogged? ›

This is why Black Berkey® water filters produce approximately 8 times more water per hour than other competitive elements. Although a number of the surface pores can become clogged with contaminants, it is very difficult to submerge all of the pores and thus clog the filter.


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