The Big Berkey / Doulton Filtration System Hybrid for Those Who Live in California

By S

This is a review for my Big Berkey / Doulton water filtration system. I live in California and was informed by Berkey that they can only ship the smaller units to California due to a lead-free certification that Berkey did not yet have. They could only ship the travel size or the plastic one because those were supposed to be for travel/outdoor use.

The Travel Berkey would be too small for my family and I did not want plastic because some people said they had a problem with mold growing inside it. I wanted the stainless steel housing.

I read a review on the Berkey website from someone who lived in California and had bought a Doulton stainless steel housing without the filters and put Black Berkey filters in it. I emailed both Doulton and Berkey and they both assured me that the two were compatible. I ordered Doulton’s Aqua Cera SS4 (has holes for 4 filters) from and four Black Berkey filters from

I have set it up and it all fits and is operating just fine. The water has good taste and the stainless steel is beautiful. Just be sure to prime the filters first to purge the air bubbles, otherwise the water will have a hard time filtering through. (They come with a gasket-looking thingy that attaches to your faucet to prime them) Also be sure to throw out the first batch of water because it has a metallic taste from the first run through the filters. I had a problem with a leaky spigot at first.

No matter how tightly I turned the inside nut it would leak between the housing and the gasket. This was a common problem in the reviews on Berkey also. I called Doulton directly and was told to install the spigot “upside down” and screw the nut on the inside as tight as I could. Then, holding the nut on the inside, give the spigot a half turn so the spigot points down as it should. Evidently this little extra tork makes the difference because it has not leaked since.

Customer Service at Doulton was excellent. They picked up the phone right away and gave me a clear solution. Berkey customer service was excellent also. They e-mailed me promptly when I asked about compatibility with Doulton. Black Berkey filters sure are pricey but after doing a lot of research on water filters I was convinced they are the best.

Also, if you are filtering water that is not too dirty, such as tap water, these filters could last for ten years. I would advise you to e-mail Doulton and Berkey yourself before you buy just to make sure compatibility has not changed since I made my purchase.


  1. S … anybody … whats with this ‘Black’ filter primer?

  2. Jeff - The Berkey Guy says:

    The Black Berkey Primer gives you the option to prime or backflush your Black Berkey Elements off grid:

    Over the last few years, people have asked, how do I prime my elements if I do not have a faucet handy. This answers that question. I have also personally used it to setup Berkey Systems for expos, and primed them from my booth instead of looking for a faucet. Definitly comes in handy.

    Jeff – The Berkey Guy

  3. Centurion_Cornelius says:

    Nice review!

    We’ve just got the entire Doulton unit with the Doulton “candle” ceramic filters.

    Works fine for us here in the vast “fly over” Midwest.

    I see where Mike Adams, the “Health Ranger,” recently tested all ceramic filters and found that these Doulton filters weren’t as good as the Berkeys. (Doultons cost much less)

    Would love to hear comments by fellow Doulton filter users. Thanks in adavance!

    • My understanding is that the Black Berkey filters are the only ones that remove viruses.

      • Centurion_Cornelius says:

        Thanks, S!

        Per Doulton:

        Does Doulton ceramic filter remove viruses?

        Due to their tiny size, viruses, theoretically cannot be removed with a 0.2 micron or higher rated absolute filter (or any mechanical filter for that matter). If virus is a concern simply add a commercially available disinfectant such as silver (e.g. Katadyn’s Micropur®) or iodine tablets. Doulton Supersterasyl candle will remove the unpleasant taste and odours of the iodine.

        Physically viruses have electrical surface charge that attaches them to other larger particles (free ride). The tight pore-structure of any absolute sub-micron water filter (e.g. Doulton, Katadyn etc.) can remove “free ride” viruses however due to many variables no device should be relied upon viral control.

      • Jeff - The Berkey Guy says:

        The Black Berkey Elements are tested to remove atleast 2 viruses.

        The Berkey Guy

  4. Don’t say it brad,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,just don’t.

  5. Just an FYI: The link that MD put for the Aqua Cera SS4 links you to a product that appears to accomodate two filters, not four just in case that matters to someone.

  6. SoCalPrepper says:

    There is another way! Some sites that sell Berkey products will ship to CA anyway. That’s how I got mine. OR you can deal with it the same way we deal with other things that can’t be shipped into CA – take a little vacation into Nevada. Have them deliver it to your hotel room! Most hotels are willing to accept packages for you, and this has worked very well for us in the past.

    • I am angry at CA for putting these restrictions on companies to get a certification to sell products to our state…even if the product does not have the “offending bad ingredient that will kill us”. I do not blame Berkey for not paying through the nose to show CA that they do not have lead in their product. I was going to do the NV or AZ trip to purchase it and decided to order through Amazon and see what happened. I held my breath and 1 week later had my Berkey filter in hand. I was shocked and thrilled. So maybe try that and see what happens. Worst thing is that they say that they can’t deliver.
      But…just in case those CA officials are watching me, I lost my Berkey filter in a bar fight. Yeah, that was it….a bar fight. It was a sad tail, so I have wiped it from my memory.

      • Chuck Findlay says:

        Don’t you mean you lost it in a boating accident with all the guns?

        • I was on my way to the lake and had a flat tire. I didn’t want to leave the filter when I searched for help. Closest building was the bar. When I went in, they thought I was a moonshiner carrying my own still…stupid people..what can I say, it got ugly from there and they took it. I barely got out.

          • You should have been able to win the fight if you where swinging a big Berkley.

            Don’t bring a Berkley to a bar fight when the other guy is swinging the computer servers for the top 8 IRS employees.

  7. My brother has been using the Monolithic water filter for about 2 years with captured rain water and has had no troubles with it. only cost $30 and 2 five gal buckets. supposed to last for 13,000 gals.

    • Chuck Findlay says:

      I have several water filters (3 Katadyn and a medium Berkey) and I also bought several of the ceramic ball filters you are calling “Monolithic water filter” at least I think they are the same. I got them from “Cheaper Then” for $30.00. You have to provide the buckets for them. I have not used them yet, the reason I have them is that I got them for family that didn’t plan ahead. I have 3 of them put up for when they need them.

      As far as viruses none of my Katadyn filters filter them out (very few water filters filter all of them out) but you can boil the water to kill them. And being realistic a virus is not too common in the wild without a host to keep it all warm and happy so they are generally not that common in water from wild sources.

      I generally don’t boil my water from a wild source, but if it’s from an area like a disaster (loss of infrastructure) and lots of debris (think post Katrina) in the water I would boil it to be sure. I also keep “NutriBiotic GSE Grapefruit Seed Extract” (2-oz bottle) in each pack (next to the water filters) to fight bad water if needed. I got this at a local health food store. To use it all you do is put 10 drops in a glass of water and drink. The health food store said it’s popular with people that travel to other countries.

      And I have homemade capsules made up with Garlic Echinacea & Goldenseal powder in them, all three of these fight viruses and bacteria I have these in a small recycled pill bottle I saved. And while these (the GSE and caps) are not a guarantee of not getting a virus I think with them and boiling I’m fairly safe or as safe as I can reasonably expect to be.

      I don’t have to deal with salt water (I live withing a few miles of Lake Erie and there is a small creek close to me, only a few hundred of yards from my house) But if I did live close to salt water (like Kalifornia) I would buy (or in my case make) a water distiller so I could be assured of clean salt free water to cook with and drink.

  8. Although I am a 4th generation Californian (my family has been in the SF bay area since the late 1860’s) I now live in the Great Lakes region (and yes, it’s been colder than a well diggers, you know what here..)
    But to get around the Big Berky ban from the PRC, is to state it’s for animal use (primarily, fish aquariums). My few good friends who is still a prisoners there, did this and had no problems, and just to get around a ‘no-knock-midnight-visit’ from the water police, he has a $3.99 fish bowl and a .49 cent goldfish right next to it on the counter…
    So far, so good

  9. Sorry, my typing is atrocious…
    PRC= Peoples Republic of California and also should read “a few good friends who are still prisoners there”

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