Big Berkey vs Seychelle Water Filter

When you’re considering a water filter, you want one that removes a lot of undesirable elements from your water. Big Berkey filters and Seychelle filters do just that. Each of these filters is designed to make your water much cleaner than what originally comes from your tap. Both of them remove some contaminants that I’m sure you’re never even heard of but that don’t add anything beneficial to your drinking water.

Note: When I say “elements”, I don’t just mean those items in the Periodic Table of Elements. For our purposes here, please consider elements to be the same as contaminants. Thank you.

The questions I’ll try to answer for you about these filters concern the number of elements each filter removes, the original cost of each, and the cost over time. I think these are the most important considerations when determining the best water filter for your situation.

If you’re in a hurry right now and just want to check the current exact cost of each of these water purifiers, you can click (tap) the links in the list below. They’ll show you the current price at Amazon.

Models Available from Berkey and Seychelle

Big Berkey water filter
Big Berkey

The links above take you to one of several models of filters made by each company. The Big Berkey, despite its name isn’t the largest model that Berkey makes. In fact, it’s the second smallest of six!

The smallest Berkey filter is called the Travel Berkey and is designed to satisfy the needs of just 1 or 2 people over time. The Big Berkey is probably the model that most households will want as it’s supposed to provide enough clean water for 2 to 4 people.

Larger models include the Berkey Light (2 to 6 people), the Royal Berkey (4 to 6 people), the Imperial Berkey (6 to 10 people), and the Crown Berkey (8 to 12 people). As you move up the line, as you would expect, both the cost and the filtering capacity increase.

The table below gives you a quick comparison of the significant features of each.

People served1-22-42-64-66-108-12
Capacity (gal.)1.502.252.753.254.506.00
Gallons per hour2.7577.5821.526

Seychelle makes filters that are quite a bit smaller than the Berkey models. There are bottles that range from 20 to 38 ounces in size, and there are three types of pitchers that hold 64 ounces (2 quarts) each. In addition, Seychelle offers pumps and a shower head.

Seychelle water filtering pitcher
Seychelle pitcher

Since I think one of the pitchers is most likely to serve the most families, it’s one of those that I’ll use to compare to the Big Berkey.

Comparing the Big Berkey Filter to the Seychelle Pitcher

If you’ve already clicked the links above, you already know that the initial cost of the Big Berkey is about 5 1/2 times that of the Seychelle pitcher. At this point, if that’s all you know, you might be saying, “It’s a no-brainer! I’ll take the Seychelle, please.”

I wouldn’t be so hasty, if I were you. (I wouldn’t be so hasty, if I were me either. Um….)

There are two very important questions that require answers before you make your final decision on which filter you really want.

  1. How many types of contaminants does the filter remove?
  2. How much will I have to spend on replacement filters in the future?

Contaminants Removed

The first question is fairly easy to answer as each company provides long lists of what their products filter out on their websites. When I say “long lists”, I mean really long, especially for the Berkey products. A Seychelle filter will remove about 75 contaminants, while a Berkey will take out about 240.

You may not truly be interested in all of these, but I’ll list them for you here anyway. First, to the best of my knowledge, here are the nearly 70 elements that both filters remove.

Arsenic, fluoride* (see below), nitrites, PFOA, PFOS, chlorine, aluminum, antimony, barium, beryllium, cadmium, cobalt, chromium, copper, iron, lead, mercury, molybdenum, nickel, vanadium, 1,1-Dichloroethane, 1,1-Dichloroethylene, 1,1-Dichloropropene, 1,1,1-Trichloroethane, 1,1,2-Trichloroethane, 1,1,2,2-Tetrachloroethane, 1,2-Dichlorobenzene, 1,2-Dichloroethane, 1,2-Dichloropropane, 1,2,3-Trichlorobenzene, 1,2,4-Trichlorobenzene, 1,2,4-Trimethylbenzene, 1,3-Dichlorobenzene, 1,3-Dichloropropene, 1,3,5-Trimethylbenzene, 1,4-Dichlorobenzene, 2-Chlorotoluene, 2,2-Dichloropropane, 4-Chlorotoluene, Benzene, Bromobenzene, Bromochloromethane, Bromodichloromethane, Bromoform, Carbon Tetrachloride, Chlorobenzene, Chloroethane, Chloroform, cis-1,2-Dichloroethylene, cis-1,3-Dichloropropene, Ethylbenzene, Hexachlorobutadiene, Isopropylbenzene, Methyl tert-Butyl Ether (MTBE), m-Xylenes, Naphthalene, n-Butylbenzene, n-Propylbenzene, o-Xylene, p-Xylenes, sec-Butylbenzene, Styrene, tert-Butylbenzene, Tetrachloroethylene, Toluene, trans-1,2-Dichloroethylene, trans-1,3-Dichloropropene, Trichloroethene, Vinyl Chloride.

Had enough? There are more. Seychelle also removes nitrates, but Berkey doesn’t – on purpose. Berkey claims that some nitrates are good for you, so they don’t want to make the water worse by taking them out.

In addition, Seychelle removes the following.

Manganese, Radon 222, Selenium, Thallium, Chlorodibromomethane, Fluorotrichloromethane, and Methylene Chloride.

If any of those are especially important to you, you’ll want a Seychelle (or perhaps a brand not being considered here).

Berkey also moves a boatload of contaminants I haven’t listed yet. Rather than bore you with another long list of obscure names, I’ll just give you a few of the more common elements.

Chloride, bismuth, chromium 6, zinc, Total Coliform, Fecal Coliform, e.Coli, Acetaminophen, Caffeine, Ibuprofen, Acetone, Atrazine, Gasoline, Diesel, Crude oil, Kerosene, Mineral spirits, and Refined oil.

There are many dozens more, as I mentioned earlier. If you’re really interested in the long list, you can find it at the Berkey website.

I flagged fluoride (above) with an asterisk because, for the Berkey filters, you need to purchase special filters in addition to the standard ones if you have fluoridated water and want it removed. This, of course, adds to the overall cost.

Speaking of filter costs, here’s where we get to the most significant aspect of these filters, in my opinion.

Cost in the Long Run

A pair of Berkey filters is supposed to continue working properly until 6000 gallons of water have been filtered. Seychelle filters, on the other hand, are only good for 150 gallons.

Let’s do the math.

Ignoring the initial costs, to filter as much water with a Seychelle pitcher as you would with one set of Big Berkey filters, you would have to spend almost $2000 on additional filters.

The Big Berkey is much more cost effective over time. Do you see now why I suggested you shouldn’t be too hasty based on initial prices? A Berkey costs over 5 times as much as a Seychelle initially, but it filters out many more contaminants and over time cost roughly 1/4 of what you need to spend on a Seychelle to get the same amount of cleaner water.

Verdict: Big Berkey or Seychelle Pitcher?

Personally, my choice here is the Big Berkey, probably with the addition of a pair of fluoride filters. (If you’re unsure about whether your water has fluoride, you can check here, if you trust the CDC.)

The combination of the hundreds of elements removed and the significantly lower cost over time, makes the Big Berkey (or any Berkey) the better buy.

Big Berkey

Check the pricing and availability of the Big Berkey Water Filter at Amazon.

Seychelle Pitcher

Check the pricing and availability of the Seychelle Pitcher Water Filter at Amazon.

Gary Sonnenberg
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