How to Choose a Water Filter or Purifier

Water treatment is important to maintaining health outdoors. Not all water sources are dangerous, but even the most pristine source can make you sick. If livestock, wildlife, or humans can get into an area, pollutants transmitted through their fecal matter can too. As more and more of us explore nature, pollution levels increase.


Why play gut roulette when you have so many options to treat your water?
This article provides a guide to selecting a water treatment method for outdoor use. To learn about options for traveling abroad, read about water treatment for international travel.

Consider these factors when choosing a water filter or other water treatment method:

Filters and Purifiers – Find out what you are trying to avoid and the basic methods to avoid it.
Types of water filters and purifiers: The effort required for each type of water treatment method varies, as does the time it takes for the water to be ready to drink.
The role of a pre-filter: If you need to treat water from a cloudy source, it is a valuable accessory.
Learn about the best practices for water treatment: Even the best filter or purifier is not effective if you do not follow some basic guidelines for hygiene and use.
Water filters versus water purifiers
The difference between a water filter and a water purifier is the size of the microorganism that each fights:

Water filters work by physically filtering cysts of protozoa (such as Cryptosporidium and Giardia lamblia) and bacteria (such as E. coli, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Shigella). These biological pathogens are the top water concern if you travel to the United States and Canada.
How water filters and purifiers work
All filters and many purifiers include an internal element or cartridge, a component that has microscopic pores that capture debris, protozoa, and bacteria. Over time, the leaked matter swells the pores of an item, requiring it to be cleaned and eventually replaced.

Most purifiers use chemicals (such as iodine) to kill viruses, which are too small for most filter elements. Another purification method relies on ultraviolet light to treat pathogens.

Many filters and purifiers also include activated charcoal in their elements because it is effective in removing the unpleasant flavors of things like tannins from leaves. Activated charcoal also reduces pollutants like pesticides and other industrial chemicals.


The role of a pre-filter
Various factors can cloud water in different ways, such as glacial sediment, silty water, leaf debris, and storm mud. Natural particulates, while not a health concern, affect the ease of water treatment, the amount of field maintenance required, and the life of filter elements.

One way to address these problems is to use a pre-filter. A pre-filter is an accessory that simply removes large particles from the water to improve the treatment process.

Many pump products come with a pre-filter, or you may need to purchase one separately. Here are some reasons to consider using one:

Helps maintain pump filter flow, reduces cleaning work, and prolongs element life.
Improves the effectiveness of chemical treatments.
It is absolutely essential before using a UV purifier in cloudy water.

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