Bag Priming Black Berkey Purification Elements

Hi Folks,

I’ve kept this page separate from my main Berkey Tips page because of the large images and such.

This is a method I just kind of thought-up on my own. I tested it and it worked every bit as well as the “normal” tap-priming method we generally use. In fact, it works better than the tap method if you have a really “funky” or odd-shaped spout on your tap.

The images tell most of the story but here are the steps to clarify a little more.

    1. Cut a very small hole in the bottom corner of a one gallon Ziploc type bag. This should be just a little smaller than the diameter of the stem on your element.
    2. Place a black rubber washer on your Black Berkey Purification Elements’ stem and push it down until it touches the base of the element.
    3. Insert the stem of the Element into the hole you created from the outside of the bag.
    4. Push the inside of the bag down around the stem until it sits fairly flush with the rubber washer.
    5. Place a rubber washer onto the stem on the inside of the bag and push it down until it is firmly against the other washer “sandwiching” the bag between the two washers.
    6. Tighten a wing-nut onto the stem on the inside of the bag. Do NOT over-tighten or you will strip threads.

* This part is best accomplished with a second set of hands, so get a helper if you can ; – )

    7. Holding the bag upright, with the element attached below (in a clean sink,) fill the one gallon zipper bag about 3/4 full of cool CLEAN/Potable water and tightly seal it (zip it.)
    8. Gently squeeze the bag and watch the water droplets begin to bead-up on the outside of the element. This typically happens from bottom to top. Be PATIENT… since the pressure is quite low it will take about 10 seconds or so (usually) before you begin to see any water beading-up on the element.
    9. Squeeze the bag until you have “pushed” most of the water through the element and noticed a very thorough beading and running of water overall. Take care to NOT push any air from the bag into the element.
    10. If you are satisfied that the element is sufficiently primed then install it per normal installation instructions. If you are uncertain that it has been sufficiently primed, then refill the bag with cool CLEAN/Potable water and repeat the process.


    1. Other types of bags can be used but you need a way to maintain some pressure in whatever bag you use. One example might be twisting a bag closed and holding it firmly or perhaps using a twist-tie to keep it closed while under pressure.
    2. It goes without saying… but plastic bags can rupture easily. Go EASY and don’t put too much pressure on it or you will have a mess! ; – ) I actually did this with a very thin “el cheapo” bag.
    3. This method was developed mostly because I think the existing process for priming without tap pressure takes too long and seems less than ideal. I hope you find this info useful!

As Always… Please Feel Free To Contact Me If There Is Anything I Can Do For You!


Shows how to Bag Prime a Berkey Filter

Another View of How to Bag Prime a Berkey Filter

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