Hiker Logo

Hiking Water Treatment

Home Hiking Gear Stores Trails Search
Home > Gear > Tech Notes

Chemical Water Purification Systems

The most common chemical water treatments used by hikers and backpackers for drinking water purification are some form of chlorine, iodine, or oxidizing agents. All of these chemical water purification options require time for the chemicals to do their job. As a general rule you should wait at least 20 minutes after adding the chemical treatment - longer for colder water since the chemicals work more slowly in colder temperatures. Remember to loosen the cap on your water container and slosh some of the treated water onto the threads of the cap and bottle to eliminate contaminates that may be trapped there.

Having to wait is probably the biggest drawback to this type of water purification. With a filter of some type you can arrive at a water source, filter, and drink immediately. With chemical water treatment when you arrive at a water source you first have to fill your container, add the treatment, wait 20 or more minutes - then you can drink. But because it is such a light weight solution to the almost universal problem of water purification, even if it is not used as the primary means of water treatment, carrying some form of chemical water purifier as a back up to a filter is a good idea for extra safety. A good item to carry on day hikes too even when you think you're carrying plenty of water just in case you end up staying out longer or get thirstier than you expected.

Chlorine

Probably the least effective, chlorine is somewhat unstable, adds some taste to the water, and leaves behind some chemical residue now associated with a small cancer risk.

Household Liquid Bleach that contains 5.25% sodium hypo chlorite can be used. Do not use scented, color-safe, or bleaches with added cleaners. Add about 3 to 6 drops of bleach per quart of water, mix thoroughly and allow to sit for approximately 20 minutes.

Iodine

More effective than chlorine, but deteriorates when exposed to sunlight, and leaves behind an unpleasant taste, iodine is another option. It may not be suitable for people with certain types of thyroid conditions. The unpleasant taste of iodine can be countered by adding ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to the treated water, but this should only be added after having waited the recommended amount of time for treatment because it neutralizes the effectiveness of the iodine as well as the taste.

There has been some concern about possible adverse effects from using iodine over prolonged periods, but medical studies including one where prisoners used iodine over a period of several years has not proven this to be the case.

Liquid Tincture of Iodine sold in pharmacies is one possible source. Add several drops per quart of water mix thoroughly and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes. More convenient for hikers are iodine tablets sold specifically for water treatment.

Oxidizers

Possibly the fastest acting chemical water purification option, oxidizers adds the least taste, and produce the least undesirable chemical residues, but they also generally more expensive than chlorine or iodine. This is the type of water treatment used by many municipal city water systems.

 

Hiking & Backpacking
Chemical Water Purification System Products

Expedition Water Filter$1499.95
Expedition Water Filter The Katadyn Expedition Filter is the best microfilter for large groups and relief organizations. Ideal for outfitters, base camps and expeditions. Exclusive silver impregnated ceramic element lasts up to 26,000 gal. Made from durable stainless steel design for lasting performance.
Pocket Microfilter with Carbon Cartridge$369.95
Pocket Microfilter with Carbon Cartridge The Katadyn Emergency Series Pocket Microfilter is the most rugged, longest lasting water filter available. It's all metal pump construction and durable ceramic filter provide reliable performance, even in the most challenging conditions. The Pocket is the only portable water filter with a lifetime warranty.
Pocket Microfilter$369.95
Pocket Microfilter The Katadyn Pocket Filter is the most rugged, longest lasting microfilter available. This robust water filter made of heavy duty materials is ideal for long lasting continuous use even under extreme circumstances. The silver impregnated ceramic element is effective against bacteria and protozoa. The Katadyn Pocket is the only water filter with a 20 year warranty.
Guardian Water Purifier$349.95
Guardian Water Purifier WORLD'S MOST ADVANCED PORTABLE PURIFIER The MSR Guardian purifier combines military-grade engineering and game-changing hollow fiber technology to create the safest, easiest way to purify water virtually anywhere on earth. Co-developed with the military, it brings this advanced technology to international travelers, backcountry users and for disaster preparedness. Game-changing hollow fiber media offers the most reliable way to remove pathogens - even viruses - from the filthiest water. Add self-cleaning performance, and this purifier shifts the paradigm.
TRK Drip Ceradyn Filter$317.95
TRK Drip Ceradyn Filter The TRK Drip Ceradyn Filter from Katadyn is simply a water container with a built-in filter; requires no pumping. Does not contain activated carbon - that is the difference between the Ceradyn and Gravidyn filter.
TRK Drip Gravidyn Filter$294.95
TRK Drip Gravidyn Filter The TRK Drip Gravidyn from Katadyn is similar to their Ceradyn Filter. It includes activated carbon to reduce chemicals, and improves the taste and smell of water - that is the difference between the Gravidyn and the Ceradyn filter.
Combi Microfilter$219.95
Combi Microfilter The Katadyn Combi combines a silver impregnated ceramic element and a refillable, activated carbon cartridge. It is effective against bacteria and protozoa and also reduces chemicals and bad taste. With the optional Faucet Mount Adapter (sold separately) the Combi can be connected to a water faucet for multifunctional use in campers, cottages or boats. Includes: Prefilter, bottle adaptor and carry bag
Pocket Replacement Filter$199.95
Pocket Replacement Filter Katadyn Pocket Replacement Filter.
Complete 4L Water Treatment System$148.95
Complete 4L Water Treatment System No more pumping or chemicals needed. Simply set up the Sawyer water filtration system, and let gravity provide you with 4 liters of fresh, clean water in about 3 minutes. Each filter has a lifetime warranty as long as you follow the simple care and use instructions. Follow the helpful hints included in the directions for use. Backwashing is not required often unless you are filtering very turbid water. Backwashing only takes a few seconds. If you are accustomed to a ceramic filter, the leaning ratio is approximately 20:1. In other words, by the time you first need to clean your hollow-fiber filter you would have neeeded to clean a ceramic filter 20 times. NO REPLACEMENT FILTERS OR CARTRIDGES ARE NECESSARY. We trust you will thoroughly enjoy the ease and extra protection this proven next-generation technology offers you. The Sawyer(R) Water Filters feature a 0.1 Micron Absolute Hollow Fiber Membrane, which uses medical technology developed from kidney dialysis. When the water is drawn through the filter, it flows through the side walls of the Hollow Fiber tubes. Sediment, bacteria, protozoa, cysts, and other contaminants are filtered out exceeding all applicable EPA recommendations. NO CHEMICALS, NO WAITING, NO PUMPING, NO WORRIES! Biological Filtration: Sawyer(R) Water Filters offer the highest level of biological filtration available in the portable water filters category for removal of bacteria, E. coli, Giardia, and Cryptosporidium. SAWYER(R) WATER FILTER - Removal rates: (7 Log Bacteria 99.99999%, 6 Log Protozoa & Cysts 99.9999%)
Mission - High-Volume Water Purifier$144.95
Mission - High-Volume Water Purifier The LifeStraw(R) Mission gravity powered water purifier removes 99.9999% of bacteria, 99.99% of protozoa, and 99.999% of viruses, while purifying an impressive 18,000 liters of water. Simply fill the BPA-Free bag, hang, and enjoy clean, purified drinking water. It's Ideal for camping, group hikes, and expeditions, and is available in 5 liter or 12 liters sizes.

Related Information:

Water Impurities

Water Purification


Home | Hiking | Gear | Stores | Trails | Search

The Hiking Web Site. Copyright 2000-2007 by Eric Olsen. All Rights Reserved. Email Contact