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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$277.46
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.
TRK Drip Ceradyn Filter$238.46
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$221.21
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$164.96
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$149.96
Pocket Replacement Filter Katadyn Pocket Replacement Filter.
Combi Ceramic Replacement Filter$89.96
Combi Ceramic Replacement Filter Replacement Filter for the Katadyn Combi Filter.
All Clear Water Purifier$89.06
All Clear Water Purifier The Camelbak All Clear Purifier is a portable purification that utilizes proven UV technology to effectively neutralize microbiological contaminants. With a system built into the bottle you can fill from taps, streams, spigots and more.
Mini Microfilter$82.46
Mini Microfilter The Mini Microfilter from Katadyn is the lightest and most compact filter on the market. Its small enough to fit in your jacket pocket or day pack and yet effective enough to remove bacteria and protozoa.
Family 1.0 Water Purifier$76.46
Family 1.0 Water Purifier The LifeStraw Family is a large volume water purifier providing up to 4,750 gallons or 18,000 liters of water - enough to supply a family of five with clean drinking water for up to three years! It's useful to have at home for purifying contaminated tap water in the event of boil water advisories or emergency situations. In a worst-case scenario, you can rely on the LifeStraw Family to purify water from any freshwater source near your home.

Related Information:

Water Impurities

Water Purification


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