Review of the Berkefeld-Doulton SS Gravity-Fed Water Filtration Unit

When it comes to survival, it’s important to know the Rule of Threes—you can live three weeks without food, but you can only live three days without water. We keep an emergency supply of food, water, and fuel in my home and in our truck camper, but no emergency preparedness plan would be complete without a means to obtain additional water from outside sources. Why? Because the likelihood of losing all of your public utilities in an emergency situation is pretty high. That means you’ll be forced to obtain your hydration needs from places like rainwater barrels, swimming pools, hot tubs, reservoirs, lakes, and steams. This also means you’ll need some kind of way to filter that water at the micro-level before you drink it.

Our solution to this filtration problem is the Doulton SS2/British Berkefeld Gravity-Fed Drinking Water Unit. The Doulton SS is a counter top, micro-filtration system made from a rugged, high-quality, surgical-grade stainless steel (SS). It’s portable, lightweight (5.5 pounds), and telescopes down to 12.5 inches for easy transport. The units holds 2.25 gallons of water and can produce 10 gallons of pure drinking water a day. The portability of the Doulton SS makes it ideal for outdoor travelers, hikers, expeditions, missionaries, and RV owners who like to boondock off-grid. The portability of the system also means that we can use it at home or on the road and for us that was the final selling point. You can find the Doulton SS2 online for about $180, relatively inexpensive when compared to other micro filtration systems currently on the market.

The Doulton SS2 was designed for areas where safe drinking water is unavailable. According to Doulton, the portable unit has been used by the International Red Cross, UNICEF, British and U.S. Embassies, Save the Children, and thousands of missionaries around the world. In other words, the Doulton SS2 has a long and proven track record of use in less than ideal situations, and for me, that’s pretty important.

The micro-filtration system used by the Doulton SS2 is simple, yet extremely effective. The heart of the system consists of two Slimline 7-inch SuperSterasyl ceramic filters (aka candles). Unlike many water filters found in the market today, the SuperSterasyls remove contaminants by adsorption (not absorption) which means that the contaminants are attracted to and collect on the surface of the filter. SuperSterasyl filters are EPA certified and provide 100 percent rejection of cysts and greater than 99.99 percent of pathogens such as cholera, typhus, amoebic dysentery, e-coli, colibacillose or bilharzia, cryptosporidium, giardia lamblia, and anthrax spores. The filters also remove up to 95 percent of chlorine, herbicides, and pesticides and provides depth filtration of particulates greater than 0.2 µm (dirt, asbestos, iron etc). What we really like about the SuperSterasyl ceramic filters is that they remove harmful pathogens and chemicals, yet pass vital minerals that your body needs to survive. Another thing we like is that they are self-sterilizing and re-cleanable. All you need is a green scrub pad to clean the contaminants from the surface of the filter. Filter life is 12 months or 1,070 gallons (4,000 Liters), which ever occurs first.

So how well does the Doulton SS2/British Berkefeld system work? We’ve used the unit daily for the last six months and it has worked extremely well. The water tastes terrific. The company literature states that these filters last anywhere between six to 12 months, but if you use them everyday we wouldn’t recommend using them longer than six months. You’ll also want to make sure that you clean your unit every two weeks. I’ve gotten a stomach ache from not being diligent about this a few times so make sure you sanitize the unit regularly. As for its use. It’s pretty simple. Just fill up the top reservoir and wait for the water to drip down into the lower reservoir. The process is aided by gravity, hence the name.

When using this filtration unit you’ll need to remember two things. First, make sure the bottom reservoir is completely empty before filling the top or else you’ll end up causing a flood as the filtered water has nowhere to go but out of the unit. To our consternation, we’ve had this happen to us a few times. Second, remember to close the nozzle after you empty it, otherwise, you’ll end up with a mess as the water exits straight out of the water nozzle.

At this point you might be thinking, why spend $180 for a micro-filtration system when you can simply use chlorine tablets that are much cheaper? For us, it all comes down to health. Chlorine simply isn’t for you. Chlorine not only kills all of the good bacteria in your gut, but it has also been linked to an increase of certain kinds of cancer. These include cancers of the bladder, colon, and breasts. Some experts believe that the increase of these cancers is due to the widespread use of chlorine in municipal water treatment facilities (the Doulton SS2 removes 95 percent of all chlorine). Fortunately, some cities in the U.S. have gotten the message and are now using other ways to purify their water. We would use chlorine tablets as a last resort only when a micro-filtration system isn’t available.

So if you’re looking for an inexpensive, durable, gravity-fed micro filtration system that doesn’t require electricity to use, the Doulton SS2 is for you. The peace of mind it gives and the long-life of the SuperSterasyl filters make it an excellent choice for either daily use or in an emergency. A system like this also reduces any reliance on bottled water, which reduces landfill waste, and in the long run will save you money. Indeed, with the price of “filtered” bottled water, the Doulton SS will pay for itself in no time. What rating would we give the Doulton SS? On a scale of 1 to 5 with 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest, we enthusiastically give the Doulton SS2 a rating of 5 stars. It’s a great product.

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About Mello Mike 547 Articles
Mello Mike is an Arizona native, author, and the founder of Truck Camper Adventure. He's been RV'ing since 2002, is a certified RVIA Level 1 RV Technician, and has restored several Airstream travel trailers. He currently rolls in a 2013 Ram 3500 with a 2021 Bundutec Roadrunner truck camper mounted on top. A communications expert, he retired from the U.S. Navy in 2004 as a CWO3 after 24 years, worked in project management, and now runs Truck Camper Adventure full-time. He also does some RV consulting, repairs, and inspections on the side.

10 Comments

  1. This product seems a little expensive, but I think it would be worth getting one, since it gives you the assurance of safe and clean drinking water. Anyway, thanks showing us how it looks like after just a couple or so months. Although filtered out, dirt and bacteria tend to fall off the filter and mix up to the water again once they got accumulated. So before it happens, it’ll be best to replace the filter regularly. Better safe than sorry!

    Verna Griffin @ Axeon Water Technologies

    • Hmm. I would have to look some place other than the filter. I don't see how it could pass any biological. It gunk built up on the surface, it should actually increase resistance to passage. I'm thinking your regular cleaning routine must be catching and killing nasties elsewhere in the system.

      It highlight the priority we need to place on hygiene, which goes beyond keeping just our bodies clean. Our gear needs attention, too. Nice work.

  2. I'm curious as to how you got sick from not cleaning it regularly? You mentioned that it is a Berkey. We run a Berkey Light, with tow black filters. They work like yours do…. but the maintenance seems different. When flow is reduced, we scrub the outer layer off, exposing the fresh matrix below, and continue as usual. The filters will process quite a lot of water, and as log as new matrix can be exposed by scruffing off the plugged outer layer, eveything is fine. We've run the thing for 4 years or so in our kitchen. Never sick.

    When we clean the filters, we also clean the spigot and both containers with regular dish washing soap, and then a strong lemon mixture made from our own lemons.

    Your filters are surface filters, meaning there is no deposition of contaminants within the matrix at any level deeper than just beneath the surface. Nothing should be able to get through the filter to you, even if you never clean it. It should just stop up and pass little water is all.

    If I were you, I would check the gaskets for cleanliness and fit, because water can get passed a gap in them and nasties can get to you with it. I'd be sure the lower chamber and spigot are absolutely clean. No sens dropping good water into a bad container.

  3. Really appreciate your write up since we like to RV in Mexico over the winter. Being from Colorado, we are so spoiled with our great tasting water than even bottled water tastes bad to us. Do you think the filter improves the taste over your water straight from the tap?

    • I concur with Mike. I was born and raised in Washington state, so like you, my taste in water has been spoiled. The Doulton GSS2 really does do a great job. The taste is very fresh AND clean. If we ever move back to Washington I would still use this filter system. For me, it's just peace of mind.
      I told Mike it is one of the best purchases (investments) he has ever made for us.
      Mike's wife, Karen 😀 (Just my two cents worth)

  4. A little pricey…….the avg joe can use some chlorine and really kill the bad bugs for cheap……pool tablets are cheap, small and very portable and long lasting.

    We were talking about "emergency water" were we not…..

    • Yes we are. Chlorine will kill most but not all nasties like Crytosporidium, pestisides, herbisides and anthrax. Not to mention that Chlorine also kills the good bacteria in your digestive system. Not exactly a great thing for your health, though its better than having nothing.

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