Black Berkey Red Food Dye Test

The Black Berkey Purification elements are powerful enough to remove red food coloring from water. Performing a red food coloring test on your Black Berkey Purification elements allows you to ensure that your system is operating properly.


  • This test to be done upon first use, and when replacing the Black Berkey elements to ensure the system is setup correctly.
  • The red food coloring test is only designed for the Black Berkey Purification elements and NOT for the ceramic or other filter elements that do not filter out food color. This test is also not recommended for the Sport Berkey® water bottle. Remove PF2 fluoride filters before performing the test.
  • Please make sure the food coloring is non-natural RED liquid and has no Citric Acid (Food Acid 330). Most red food coloring (unlike the other colors) doesn’t have any minerals, so the element recognizes it as contaminant. McCormicks Red Dye is recommended. Queens Pillar Box Red will not work as it contains citric acid, do not use Queens Red Dye.


  1. Start with an empty system (upper and lower chamber) and remove any Berkey PF-2™ Fluoride and Arsenic Reduction Filters(if installed). The Berkey PF-2™ Fluoride and Arsenic Reduction Filters must be removed prior to performing a red food coloring test in order to stay in compliance with the 12 month warranty on the Berkey PF-2™ Fluoride and Arsenic Reduction Filters .
  2. Place the upper chamber only (with the elements installed) on similar- sized cups directly underneath each Black Berkey element. This will help isolate which filter may be exhausted and which filters are still purifying effectively.
  3. Fill the upper chamber with water and add 1/8 teaspoon (10 drops) of red food coloring for every 4 litres (1 gallon) of water. You do not need to use very much.
  4. Allow the water to run through to the bottom chamber.
  5. If the red food coloring is removed entirely, your purification system is working properly.
  6. If the water in any of the cups is red or has a pinkish tinge, then that particular black filter is defective or exhausted.


  1. Are the wing nuts on securely? Please do not tighten the wing nuts using any tools; they should be hand tightened to a snug fit, but not more. If the wing nuts are on too tight, this could cause stripping of the wing nut or on the threads of the stem, preventing a correct seal. If you have inadvertently stripped the threads on your wing nuts or element, please contact our sales & warranty office for assistance at 07 5544 6124 or 0400 516 446.
  2. Are you using actual liquid “red food coloring” or another color or type of color? Red food coloring is the only type recommended for this test and it must not be "natural" or contain any alcohol. Does it contain Citric Acid (Food Acid 330)?
  3. Is the washer for the stem inside the upper chamber and is the wing nut secured at the bottom? If the washer is on the outside of the chamber with the wing nut, you will not have a proper seal, which will cause your system to fail the test. Place the washer on the inside of the upper chamber and re-run the test. Occasionally the black washer requires to be 're-seated' by loosening the wing nut and turning the Black Berkey Purification element 1/4 turn and re-tightening.
  4. Are the blocking plugs properly sealing the unused holes without elements? Are the plugs installed tight with a washer on each side? If the plugs are leaking, this will cause the system to fail the test. Tighten the plugs more securely and re run the test.
  5. Are you re-testing an element that you think may have failed the test? If so, rinse off and re-prime the element first. Additionally, make sure you pour any excess water out of the bottom tank. Also, if you are using the lower chamber to catch water, run clean water through the spigot to clean it out as well. Now you are ready to repeat the test.
  6. If you’ve done everything and still have a filter that fails the red food coloring test, please contact our sales & warranty office for assistance at 07 5541 3569. Our Black Berkeyelements have a two-year prorated Australian warranty. For more information, please refer to our Warranty and Return Policy on our website.