Priming the Black Berkey Filters

Priming the Black Berkey Filters

Priming, or running water through and saturating, the Black Berkey Filter elements prior to use, is imperative for optimal water flow. The priming process is easy and only takes a few minutes to preform.

How to Prime Berkey Filters with Prime Rite

The Berkey Filters Prime Rite, is a new kit exclusively from us here at It allows for a quicker and easier way to prime both Berkey Black & Fluoride Filters with almost any faucet! The Prime Rite is included in the Berkey Maintenance Kit.

How to Prime Berkey Filters with a Priming Button

Included with all systems and filters, the Berkey Priming Button is a thick tan washer. When used with either of the Berkey Filters it funnels water into the filter media flushing out air and manufacturing dust, priming the filter. Check out our video on initial set up, which includes priming both Black Berkey & Berkey Fluoride Filters.

How to Prime Berkey Black Filters when water pressure is not available

Also known as the soak method, this process allows for Berkey Black Filters to be primed overnight in a container, such as the bottom chamber when you don't have access to water pressure or have problems priming with water pressure. Please note: Fluoride Filter cannot be primed effectively without water pressure.

How to Prime Berkey Filters with Black Berkey Primer

The Black Berkey Primer, is a hand powered priming, and purging bulb, which allows you to prime your Black Filters without water pressure, faster than the soak method. The Black Berkey Primer is an accessory which can be purchased separately, however, it cannot be used on Fluoride Filters.

Step by Step Instructions for priming Black Berkey Filters with the priming button

  1. Place the washer, wing nut and tan colored priming button on the Black Berkey element as shown in the picture to the left.
  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 element
  4. Allow the exterior wall of the Black Berkey element to sweat beads of water for about 10 seconds.
  5. Rinse the fine dust from the exterior of the filtration element. The Black Berkey filter has now been successfully primed. Repeat steps 1-5 for each filter element

Priming Black Filter - Faucet InstructionsPriming Black Filter - Water Beading

Why is Priming the Black Berkey Filter Elements important?

Priming the Black Berkey Filter elements before their first use and during the initial setup is necessary to get full benefit and flow. The filtering medium of this element is 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 allowing you to enjoy the full flow and benefits of this great product.

The micropore structure of the Black Berkey filter elements are minute in size, in fact, they are so small that red food coloring will not pass through the filter. The main reason this is so important is that it provides a greater efficiency at removing pathogenic bacteria and other contaminants. The downside is that too much water tension can require that the purification filters be primed before they will flow to their full potential. From the factory the black purification elements are dry and the air is trapped within the tiny micropores. In some places, water has more water tension than in other places and this 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 then causes the system to either filter very slowly or not at all.

Before traveling to and using the Berkey system in an area without water pressure we recommend that the purification filters be primed using the priming button. If this is not possible the filters can be primed approximately 50% by using the below method. In other words, using this method the filters will not produce flow as fast as they would using the priming button method however they will filter significantly faster 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 purification filters from the upper chamber. Next, fill the lower chamber with water, then place the purification elements into the lower chamber, upside down with the stems facing upward, and put a ceramic coffee cup (or something else that will hold them under the water) on top of each purification element stem to force the element down under the water. Let the purification elements soak for several hours. This will force some of the air out of the stubborn pores. NOTE: Make sure that opening in the stems of the purification elements are not underwater as we want the water to be forced through the pores rather than entering through the hole in the stem.
STEP 2: The inside of the Berkey purification filters should now be full of water and significantly heavier. Try to keep as much water on the inside of the purification elements as is possible as you reassemble the purification element into the upper chamber by keeping the stems facing 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 purification filters have water within the bore (inside core), more force is generated to draw it through the purification element. This is because the water that drips out of the purification elements also hydraulically pulls new water into the purification element as the purification element begins to work like a siphon. Thus, in addition to the "push" of gravity, there is also a hydraulic "pull" and this drastically improves the ability of the water to force the 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 elements are now primed and ready for use.