Testing the Black Berkey Filtration Elements - Red Dye Test

Testing the Black Berkey
Filtration Elements - Red Dye Test

To determine whether the Black Berkey Elements are working properly, perform the following test using red food coloring. Artificial liquid red food coloring is the only type recommended for this test. Other dyes and gels contain minerals and natural colors which may pass through the Black Berkey. Elements, and not provide a reliable result. We recommend using McCormick's red food coloring.

Before running the test make sure to:

  • Remove the Berkey Fluoride Filters (PF2s) prior to the test.
  • Confirm that the placement of the Black Filter's washer and wing nut are correct. The washer should be inside the upper chamber and the wingnut should be on the underside of the upper chamber.

The Black Berkey elements in your water filter system have unmatched water filtering ability. In order for these filters to perform properly, they need to installed correctly. The most frequent reason the filters would fail this test is an inadequate seal between the filter and the stainless container. If red dye leaks past this seal the filter would not have a chance to remove the red dye from this water. Usually tightening the wing nut would solve this leaking. Because the Black Berkey filters are somewhat fragile, they may become damaged at the seam where the filter attaches to the plastic base. On the rare occasion that this happens the filter would fail this test and would need to be replaced.

Trouble Shooting Tips:

  • Are you using the correct type of dye? Artificial liquid red food coloring is the only type recommended for this test. Other dyes contain minerals and natural colors which may pass through the Black Berkey Elements. Gel Food color should NOT be used.
  • Are the washers and wing nuts installed correctly? The washer should be on the stem of the black filter inside the upper chamber, and the wingnut should be secured on the black filter stem in the lower chamber. If not you will not have a proper seal, and will cause your system to fail the test.

Correct Washer Wingnut Placement

  • Are the wingnuts on securely? Wingnuts should only be hand tightened to a snug fit, but not more. If the wingnuts are on too tight, this could cause stripping on the threads of the filter stem, preventing a correct seal. Never use tools to tighten anything on your Berkey.
  • Are you re-testing an element you think has failed? If so, rinse off and re-prime the element first. Additionally, make sure you empty any excess water out of the bottom of the system or cups.

Perform the Red Dye Test

  1. Remove the upper container from your Berkey water filter system and pour out any water it contains.
  2. REMOVE FLUORIDE FILTERS and set in a safe place.
  3. Empty the lower container and set aside in a safe place.
  4. Place an equal sized clear glass under each Black Filter Stem, to collect the filtered water.
  5. Place the upper container on the clear glasses, making sure that the water that exits each filter drips into its own glass.
  6. In a separate container, add one teaspoon of red food coloring for every gallon of water your upper chamber holds, and mix.  
  7. Pour the red tinted water into your upper chamber.  Your Black Filters should be fully submerged. NEVER DROP DYE ONTO YOUR FILTERS.
  8. Allow the full batch of water to filter from the upper container into the glasses below.
  9. Examine the water in each clear glass. If the filtered water has a pink or red tint this would indicate that the filter is not working properly, and has failed the test.
  10. Make a note of which filter(s) passed and failed the red food coloring test and review the Trouble Shooting Tips, on this page to ensure the test was not a false positive, and repeat the test if necessary.
  11. If your filter fails the test, after all troubleshooting tips are followed, please contact our Customer Service department for further instructions
  12. If the water in all the glasses is clear, your filters are functioning properly. Empty the top container of red water and clean before resuming normal filtering.

Other Black Berkey Filter Tips:

  • Do not allow wet filtration elements to freeze.
  • Do not place  elements in dishwasher.
  • Do not place elements in microwave oven.
  • Do not boil  elements.
  • Do not clean  elements with detergents or soaps.
  • Do not store  elements until completely dry.
  • Do not allow  elements to sit in the direct sun for extended periods of time.
  • Do not place the Berkey unit near a heat source or in direct sunlight.