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Backcountry Water Purification Techniques and Products

Updated on January 17, 2017

Treating Your Drinking Water On The Trail

Before backpacking the Appalachian Trail (<--my journal), I'd done a lot of hiking, but the majority of those trips had lasted a day or two at most. So I'd been able to carry all the drinking water I needed, straight from tap to Nalgene bottle, and never had to obtain extra supply from backcountry sources. Therefore, I never had to treat that water, either.

Thinking back, though, I was foolish not to have carried some method of purifying water, just in case, even on those shorter hikes.

Of course, when it comes right down to it, better to drink when you have to and worry about treating the after-effects AFTER. Dying of dehydration is much worse than having the "goon clutch," as my dad used to put it. But, better yet, go prepared and avoid the bathroom blues altogether.

On my thru-hike, with stretches of up to seven days between town stops, carrying water treatment products was no longer an option but a necessity. There were hikers who chose to play Russian roulette with their untreated drinking water, but, like most, I preferred to purify rather than puke (etc.).

Along the way, I tried a number of purification methods, which I'll share with you here, along with some I haven't used. There's a lot of information out there about treating water and a myriad of products to choose from, so I'd encourage you to look into the area you'll be going, to find out which waterborne nasties are most prevalent and the types of sources you'll likely encounter. This information may make a difference in the method -- or, better yet, methodS -- you choose to bring along.

Purifying water in the backcountry
Purifying water in the backcountry

Why Purify?

(Why not???)

You've been hiking for hours. It's hot and dry and, boy, are you thirsty. And, lo and behold, the most beautiful, clear, babbling brook presents itself. So why not simply drop to your knees, cup your hands and drink?

Well, if bloating, diarrhea, headache, vomiting, flatulence, cramping, and a fever rolled into one miserable ailment sounds like fun to you, go for it. Take your chances and perhaps you'll be just fine. You'll find out for sure in about seven to twenty-one days.

But if you want to play it safe, assume that any water from untested sources is not safe to drink until treated.

There are two basic types of contamination. Biologically contaminated water contains microorganisms -- bacteria or viruses -- that can cause gastrointestinal infections. Toxic sources contain chemicals, such as mine tailings, pesticide runoff, gasoline and motor oil. Boiling, filtering, or chemically treating water can remove microorganisms but not chemical toxins.

If you think a source is chemically contaminated due to its color or smell, find another source if at all possible. You'll need additional treatment methods to render such water potable.

Of the biological contaminants, Giardia, a microscopic parasitic cyst, is the most common and widespread. All surface water should be suspect, including clear-looking mountain streams. This intestinal bug is spread through oral-fecal transmission (um, that's basically poop to mouth) and is carried by humans and animals. Animals certainly aren't particular about where they relieve themselves and, in many cases, neither are humans, who often enjoy the view (and perhaps the background noise) of a lovely babbling brook while assuming the position over a cathole.

Cryptosporidium is the second most common microscopic critter in our backcountry sources, with the same mode of transmission and lovely symptoms as Giardia.

The EPA says....

At least 90% of the world's fresh water is contaminated.

Boiling water to purify
Boiling water to purify


Back to basics

PRO: Boiling is the most reliable water treatment method, effectively destroying contaminants.

CON: This method requires significant fuel, time and effort.

Of course, if you're going to boil, you'll also need fire starter, a pot and, unless a natural wood fire is your preference, a backpacking stove. Temperatures above 160 degrees Fahrenheit will destroy all the bad bugs within a half hour. Make that 185 degrees, and you can cut the time to just a few minutes. Fact is, once you get to a rolling boil -- 212 degrees F. at sea level -- it's okay to drink. Even at high altitudes where the boiling point is below 212 degrees, the water is still hot enough to have destroyed any unwelcome organisms. As a general rule, if you bring water to a full boil for one minute, it's safe.

Of course, then you have to wait till it cools down, unless you're having a hot beverage.

Note: If you have to use water contaminated with algae or particles, it's advisable to pre-filter with a layer or two of cloth. Bandannas are handy for straining (not to mention a number of other uses). But try to avoid pond scum, which may contain toxins that can kill animals and sicken people.

If you need a fast, lightweight backpacking stove for boiling and cooking, this is the one I recommend and use....

Jetboil Zip Cooking System (Black)
Jetboil Zip Cooking System (Black)

I've used this compact backpacking stove on many treks, bringing water to a rapid boil in as little as a minute. (Boiling times are somewhat affected by altitude.) Larger compatible pots are available for boiling more at one time.

Water filters
Water filters


Purify with a pump

PRO: Removes all organisms except the smallest viruses and yields instant potable water.

CON: Filtering requires pumping, adds weight to your pack, and is somewhat costly.


There are two basic types of filters -- membrane filters and depth filters.

Membrane filters contain thin sheets with specifically and evenly-sized pores that prevent objects larger than the pores from passing through. These filters are fairly easy to clean but do clog more quickly than depth filters. One example is the Katadyn Hiker Pro Microfilter.

Depth filters contain thick, porous material such as carbon or ceramic to trap particles as water flows through. Activated carbon filters remove a range of organic chemicals and heavy metals, but the filters can be cracked if handled roughly, making them useless because untreated water can seep through the crack. These filters can be partially cleaned by back-washing. An example of a depth filter is the MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter. (More information on this and other water filters below.)


There is a difference between a filter and a purifier. Filters don't eliminate viruses, but there are purifiers, such as the MSR Sweetwater Purifier System, that pass the water through a filter and an iodine compound that kills any smaller organisms that sneak past the filter. Such purifiers zap all microorganisms larger than 0.004 microns (which is really small!), but they shouldn't be used by those who are allergic to iodine.


As a rule, filter the clearest water you can find. Dirty water or water with large suspended particles will clog your filter more quickly. As with boiling or virtually any treatment method, strain either through a pre-filter on the pump or a piece of cloth. If that's not an option for some reason and you have to filter dirty water, let it stand overnight so the particles can settle out.

Note: If the intake hose on a water filter has been in contact with untreated water, consider the hose contaminated and keep it in a separate baggie. Once the hose is dry, it's no longer a concern.

The depth filter I used on my A.T. thru-hike was....

The Reliable MSR Miniworks - Speaking from experience....

This isn't the fastest filter out there, but that's because it's doing its job well.

MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter
MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter

I used this filter on my Appalachian Trail thru-hike.

The MiniWorks EX has a ceramic element that can be cleaned repeatedly, with no tools required for disassembly. This lightweight and compact filter can pump one liter of water per minute. The kit includes the Miniworks EX, a stuff sack, a hose float, scrub pad and instructions.


More Quality Products For The Backcountry

Including this first model that's used by the military because it's so tough and reliable....

This one is pricey for a good reason. It's super durable, dependable and lasts a long time, which is why it's popular with the military.

This microfilter features a silver-impregnated ceramic element that's effective against bacteria and protozoan under all sorts of conditions. Unlike disposable filters, the ceramic element can be cleaned several times in the field. And the element filters all microorganisms larger than 0.2 microns.

In fact, this filter can produce up to 100 times more water than standard filters.
Other features include a measuring gauge that indicates when you should change the filtering element, a cushioned base that makes it easy to pump on all surfaces, a prefilter, and a carrying bag.

Katadyn Hiker PRO Water Microfilter
Katadyn Hiker PRO Water Microfilter

I'm currently using this model and really like it. It's never clogged and pumps fast. The cartridge has to be replaced when it gets really dirty, because you can't clean it the way you can clean a ceramic cartridge, but it does have a removable filter protector that extends cartridge life in challenging conditions.

The replacement Katadyn Hiker Pro Replacement Cartridge has a capacity of up to 200 gallons, depending on how dirty the water is. (How much sedimentation is in it.)


A Backcountry Base Camp Filter

Katadyn Base Camp Water Filter
Katadyn Base Camp Water Filter

This is a great filter for your campsite. You just fill it with unpurified water and hang it up. No pumping required. This filter produces up to 2.5 gallons in 15 minutes. It uses a field cleanable Hiker PRO cartridge and can filter 200 or more gallons (more when using the Filter Protector).


Your Feedback On Filters - Please share your comments and help others decide

Do you use a water filter? Why or why not? Tell us which kind/s you've used and what you did or not like.

Yes, I prefer a water filter.

Yes, I prefer a water filter.

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    • bestwaterdistiller 4 years ago

      Yes, we need some best water filtration system to purify the water. The water contains so many contaminants.

    • markocampa 5 years ago

      Yes I use water filter but not mobile,mine is at home and I am taking my water from my hom anywhere I go. :)

    • e-xplorations 5 years ago

      Water filter are effective devices for purifying drinking water. But I would still suggest boiling water for a period of time. Its the primitive yet the most reliable water treatment I know.

    • TravelingRae 5 years ago

      My group used the pump filters on the Chilkoot Trail. It was great! The water tasted good and I only pumped 1L at a time, so it wasn't exhausting. The device isn't that heavy either.

    • Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

      I use the MSR MiniWorks.

    • jasonklass 6 years ago

      I always use a filter. For years, I used an MSR Miniworks but now I use a gravity filer I made myself using a Aquamira Fronteir Pro. I hate pumping water.

    • anonymous 7 years ago

      These filter overviews are great! I also recommend them on my blog - great!

    • anonymous 8 years ago

      P.S. It was the Katahdyn Hiker Pro, to be specific. I recommend it.

    • anonymous 8 years ago

      The Hiker filter we used on the Colorado Trail worked great. I'd rather use that than iodine or chlorine tablets, except as a backup.

    • Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

      I've used the MSR Miniworks and the PUR Hiker and have no major complaints about either. The Miniworks was (it's been a number of years since I've used it) heavier and slower, but it did its job. Now I use the lighter, faster PUR, along with a backup of either Polar Pure iodine or some Aquamira chlorine tablets. Sometimes I go with a filter bottle, though, instead of a filter.

    • anonymous 8 years ago

      I have used the Katadyn Hiker PRO for several years now. I've never had the goon clutch. It's fairly lightweight, the filters are replaceable and it's a breeze to use. I would highly recommend it.

    • NC Shepherd 8 years ago

      I use the Pur (now known as Katadyn)Hiker. I only needed two filter cartridges for the entire 2,000 AT miles plus the 700 I did into Canada. It works well enough that I wouldn't spend money on a different one even if it was smaller or lighter.

    No, I don't use water filters, or I have but don't like them.

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      • sunriseyes 4 years ago

        I have a Katadyn Hiker Pro. It's a great filter however I've been gradually moving towards ultralight. I've moved to Aquamira A-B drops. It does a great job, You don't get the chemical taste like iodine

      • BoyScoutPopcorn 5 years ago

        We used the Katydyn pumps on High Knoll and Dolly Sods, and they worked fine. We used iodine at Northern Tier, and I like that process better. Faster results, less time and work, and less gear to haul.

      • anonymous 6 years ago

        No, I keep my hikes short enough that a Camelback is sufficient.

      Using iodine to treat water
      Using iodine to treat water


      Tastes like sucking on a kiddie pool

      At least, that's what I thought of the taste when I used it, specifically Polar Pure iodine in solution.

      PRO: Iodine is an effective disinfectant for Giardia when heating or filtration are not convenient or desired.

      CON: It makes the water taste funky and requires a certain amount of time, depending on the water temperature -- at least 10 minutes in warm weather and as much as eight hours in cold.

      When it comes to the unpleasant taste, though, that can pretty much be eliminated with pills made for that purpose or even with a drink mix, like Tang or Gatorade powder. Adding about 50 milligrams of straight vitamin C also has the same effect. But I was told to add the vitamin C or drink mix after the treatment time, so the iodine doesn't adhere to the flavor crystals. Whether that's a fact or not, I'm not sure, but it sounded logical and wasn't an issue, so I stuck to it.

      Many people consider iodine to be an emergency water treatment method, based on the fact that iodine overload can cause problems if one has thyroid problems; however, those with normal thyroid function can tolerate high amounts of iodine. I used Polar Pure for about 4 out of my six months on the A.T. and never noticed any ill effects.

      Note: If you so have any thyroid issue, consult a physician before using iodine for more than emergency purification.

      Iodine Treatment Products - Lightweight and convenient for backpackers

      This was my back-up purification method on the Appalachian Trail.

      Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets with PA Plus - For Camping and Emergency Drinking Water
      Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets with PA Plus - For Camping and Emergency Drinking Water

      If you really want to get rid of the yellowy color and the "funky" taste of iodine-treated water, use this product instead. You drop in an iodine tablet and then one of the PA plus tabs to eliminate the funkiness.


      Your Feedback On Iodine

      Have you used an iodine product? Tell us why or why not and what you think.

      Yes, I've used iodine to purify water.

      Yes, I've used iodine to purify water.

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        • BoyScoutPopcorn 5 years ago

          Used it at Northern Tier. Like I said before, it worked fine for us without any issues.

        • anonymous 7 years ago

          I've used Potable Aqua on a couple of backpacking trips, and as long as I couldn't see the water (that lovely yellow) I barely noticed any taste. I didn't know about the (potential) dangers of iodine overload, so it's good to know about that, now. I love that these tablets are so small and light. While in camp, I always had two water bottles, so while one was purifying (half an hour according to the instructions on the bottle) I could drink from the other.

        • NC Shepherd 8 years ago

          I always carry Polar Pure as a backup. I used it a few weeks on the AT when my filter got clogged. The taste didn't bother was certainly better tasting than the water I filtered from that nearly dry swamp.

        • Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

          I used Polar Pure for four out of the six months I was on the A.T. The off taste didn't bother me, especially because I'd add drink mix (like Tang or Gatorade) after letting the iodine in solution work for 20 minutes or so. It was easier for me than stopping to take off my pack and filter, although I definitely had to strain through a bandana at times to take out the floaties. I still carry Polar Pure, at least as a backup.

        No, I don't use iodine.

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          • Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

            I haven't used the iodine for purification. Now that I've read this lens, I shouldn't (thyroid).

          • covenantguy lm 7 years ago

            Never knew about it

          • Vitruvian-man 8 years ago

            Very informative. I would never think of this.

            Thank you.

          Steripen | Source


          The UV Way of Purifying H2O

          PRO: Convenient, quick and lightweight

          CON: Murky water must be pre-filtered.

          This is a fairly new process for treating water in the backcountry, with design innovations that have minimized the size and weight of these devices. The SteriPen Adventurer weighs just 3.6 ounces including the batteries and will purify 1/2 a liter (or 16oz) in less than a minute, or 1 liter (32oz) in 90 seconds.

          The SteriPen destroys viruses, bacteria and protozoa, but it's not as effective in murky, sediment-filled water. So if you'll be treating water that isn't clear, it's best to filter through the SteriPen Prefilter, which you can purchase separately, or a piece of fabric like a bandana or even a coffee filter before using the SteriPen.

          I've used the Steripn on several backcountry trips and have found it reliable, convenient and fast. It's especially nice when it's really buggy -- mosquitoes, black flies, etc. -- around a water source. With the Steripen, I can fill my bottles and move away from the water to purify.

          The SteriPen Adventurer - Designed specifically for outdoor and expedition use

          No pumping, no chemicals, no test strips, no timekeeping, no lubricating, and no replacement filters are required. Just press the button, dip the SteriPen into your bottle, and wait 90 seconds for it to purify -- up to 8,000 16-ounce treatments.

          This water purifier zaps viruses, bacteria, and common protozoa using ultraviolet light to destroy the DNA of microorganisms, making them unable to reproduce and, therefore, unable to cause illness. The SteriPen is effective against giardia and cryptosporidium; pathogens that cause diarrhea, dysentery, hepatitis, and Legionnaire's Disease; household germs such as bird flu, E. coli, and salmonella; staph and strep; and risks from natural disaster, like botulism, cholera, smallpox, and typhoid.

          You can purchase a Steripen prefilter if you'll need to remove sediment and particulates from murky water before purifying. It's made to fit the SteriPEN handheld products and gives you better--cleaner--end results. I've seen some hikers use coffee filters and bandanas as prefilters, as well.

          Please Share Your Feedback On Steri-Pen

          If you've used the Steri-Pen, did it work well for you?

          Yes, I liked it.

          Yes, I liked it.

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            No comments yet.

            No, I didn't like it.

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              • adamf1313 5 years ago

                I'm not sure how the pen would work in murky water. I prefer to use water condensation methods. All you need is a plastic bag and there are multiple ways to get pure drinking water.

              Using bleach to purify water
              Using bleach to purify water


              Not just for the water in your toilet bowl

              PRO: It's cheap and readily available.

              CON: You'll smell it (unless you can let it sit for a long time, ie overnight, so the smell can dissipate).

              For this method, only use regular Clorox Bleach, not the Fresh Scent or Lemon Fresh.

              First, let the water stand until visible particles settle out, then pour the clear water into an uncontaminated container and add the bleach. Mix well and wait half an hour. The water actually should have a slight bleach odor. If it doesn't, repeat the dose and wait another 15 minutes, then smell it again. Purifying small amounts requires only a few drops, so an eyedropper is a handy addition to your kit.

              Treatment ratios:

              • 2 drops of Regular Clorox Bleach per quart
              • 8 drops of Regular Clorox Bleach per gallon
              • 1/2 teaspoon Regular Clorox Bleach per five gallons

              If the water is murky, double the dosages.

              Note: Bottles should be replaced every three months to ensure that the bleach is at full strength.

              Your Feedback On Using Bleach To Purify

              Have you used this method? Did you like it or not?

              Yes, I've used it and liked it.

              Yes, I've used it and liked it.

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                • SayGuddaycom 5 years ago

                  Used it on my boat a number of times and I have no complaints.

                • anonymous 6 years ago

                  Good and cheap.

                No, I didn't like it (or I wouldn't use this method).

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                  • anonymous 5 years ago

                    Although I have never been on a hardcore hike, I feel like this method could too easily harm the person drinking the water.

                  • NC Shepherd 5 years ago

                    I don't think I'd use this. It's too easy to mix a toxic level of chlorine.

                  Using chlorine to purify water
                  Using chlorine to purify water


                  PRO: Chlorine can be used by people with iodine allergies or restrictions.

                  CON: Like iodine, treating with chlorine takes time, the length dependent on water temperature and sediment level.

                  I've been trying to find an explanation (in plain English, that is) of the difference between bleach and chlorine. The best I've come up with so far is that chlorine can "bleach" things, but it's not the same thing as what's in a bottle of bleach, which is sodium hypochlorite ... whatever that is. I'll have to hunt for a better answer.

                  In any case, an example of chlorine water treatment products is Halazone, but apparently reliable disinfection requires 6 tablets per liter for 1 hour of contact, and the tablets rapidly lose effectiveness when exposed to warm, humid air.

                  Your Feedback On Chlorine

                  Have you used this method? Tell us why you prefer it or not.

                  Yes, I've used this method and liked it.

                  Yes, I've used this method and liked it.

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                    • sunriseyes 4 years ago

                      This stuff is great! I love not having to pack the water pump. Saves on space and weight. Also while my buddies are still at the river bed pumping water. I'm all watered up and ready to go.

                    • anonymous 6 years ago

                      I meant to say the tablets are expensive. The drops are not.

                    • anonymous 6 years ago

                      The drops are very easy to use, but expensive.

                      You really want the Aqua Mira drops, which work in 15 minutes are are much more economical. They sound a bit fussy to use, but our teenage Boy Scouts have no problem. No aftertaste, either. And the drops have a very long shelf life, so you don't have to worry how long they've been sitting in your garage.

                      Both the drops and the tablets use chlorine dioxide, which is the only really effective chemical treatment.

                    • Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

                      This is my first choice for an emergency water treatment method. It's extremely light-weight and easy to use.

                    No, I didn't like it (or wouldn't use it).

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                      Filtration Bottles

                      Squeeze or suck the water right through the filter

                      The Christmas after my Appalachian Trail hike, I found a filter bottle in my stocking, which I thought was pretty neat.

                      PRO: The all-in-one bottle is compact, convenient, lightweight and simple.

                      CON: The only con I can think of is that you pretty much have to submerge the bottle to fill it, so you may run into situations where you'll need to use a smaller cup to scoop or some other method to get the water from source to bottle. But this would be the case with just about any treatment method other than filtering through a tube.

                      Also, the stream of water is fairly small due to the fact it has to be squeezed through the filter. So if you're really thirsty, you can't "chug."

                      There are many different types of filtration bottles on the market, varying in cost and number of refills before the filter should be considered worn out and the bottle discarded. Check with each manufacturer to get the details on what substances each filter will remove. I honestly don't recall what brand I had, but I know I used it for years and had no problems.

                      The Clear Brook Portable Filter Bottle, for one, is good for treating 100 gallons (or 750 refills) and capable of up to 99% reduction in all 4 areas of contamination, including offensive tastes, odors, silt, sand and sediment; biological pathogens such as Giardia, Cryptosporidium, and other cysts and spores; chemical VOC's, PCB's, Agricultural SOC's, detergents and pesticides; and dissolved solids, as in heavy metals, Aluminum, Asbestos, Cadmium, Chromium, Copper, Lead, Mercury and Radon 222.

                      The "No Leak" top, with a collapsible, pop-up straw, can be used either as a squeeze bottle or by drinking through the straw.

                      The product has been used and tested by International Red Cross, the U.S. Olympic Team, U.S. Coast Guard, and California State approved laboratories.

                      The LifeSaver Bottle

                      This is a pricier but much longer-lasting and advanced type of filtration bottle. It was developed by Michael Pritchard after he witnessed the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, apparently pouring his life savings into researching a chemical-free solution that's able to purify 4,000 to 6,000 liters on a single filter.

                      It's unclear if this device will work on sea water, but it will eliminate bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi and all sorts of microbiological waterborne pathogens.

                      The invention won an award from Well-Tech and has a replaceable filter that's good for 5.5 years, based on filtering 2 liters per day. Filtering 750ml of water takes less than a minute, and once the cartridge expires, the unit will shut itself off.

                      EcoVessel Tritan Ultra Lite Filtration Water Bottle with 100 Gallon Filter, 25 Ounces
                      EcoVessel Tritan Ultra Lite Filtration Water Bottle with 100 Gallon Filter, 25 Ounces

                      If color matters, this one comes in six options. More importantly, it removes 99.9% of Giardia and Cryptosporidium and filters up to 100 gallons of water, which is equal to about 400 bottles of bottled water.


                      Your Feedback On Filtration Bottles

                      Have you used a water filtration product? What did you think?

                      Yes, I've used one and liked it.

                      Yes, I've used one and liked it.

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                        • Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

                          I don't recall the brand (because silly me lost the bottle), but I received one of these as a gift, used it many times and really liked the convenience. The ONLY thing I didn't love about the filtration bottle I had was that it put out only a thin stream of water, so I couldn't chug. For sipping it was fine.

                        No, I didn't like it (or wouldn't use one of these).

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                          • NC Shepherd 8 years ago

                            As I said in the comments, I started my AT hike with a filtration bottle, but got frustrated because the pre-filter clogged so easily and it took forever to fill the bottle. I don't remember the brand.

                          Using grapefruit seed extract to purify water
                          Using grapefruit seed extract to purify water | Source

                          Grapefruit Seed Extract

                          A non-traditional way of purifying

                          I can't speak to the pros or cons of this product, because I know little about it. My husband does have a friend who's used it extensively on his backpacking trips and has never gotten sick, but I have no idea if this is directly attributable to the use of the extract. So this is not a recommendation, simply a heads-up that it exists and apparently has many applications, including water treatment.

                          Grapefruit Seed Extract (or GSE) is a substance derived from the seeds, membranes, and the pulp of grapefruit. It's considered highly effective in fighting infection and promoting health. GSE is used as a purifier, antiseptic, and preservative, with some researchers claiming that it's a superior antimicrobial to chlorine bleach, isopropyl alcohol, and colloidal silver.

                          For water purification, the recommendation is to add 10 to 25 drops per gallon of water, then shake and let stand for several minutes. The water will have a bitter taste to it.

                          For more information, visit

                          Your Feedback On GSE

                          Have you used GSE? Did you think it was effective or not?

                          Yes, I used it and liked it.

                          Yes, I used it and liked it.

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                            • anonymous 4 years ago

                              I used GSE in conjuntion with my MSR mini-works filter on a recent trip in Oklahoma. Filtering water from a small stream that ran through vast amounts of cattle range. Never got sick from this experience, I'm sold on using GSE to purify backcountry water. Have also used GSE for other health related concerns and it has worked equally well.

                            • anonymous 7 years ago

                              I love the idea of this. Think I'll get this as my backup water purification system.

                            • covenantguy lm 7 years ago

                              Yip, I used it on a trip to east Malaysia and I didn't get the "travelers tummy" problem my friends got . You can read about it here

                            • anonymous 8 years ago

                              Well, I didn't personally use it, but a friend of mine did and used it a lot and never had a problem, even with all the water he drank on many backpacking trips. So based on his experience, yes, I'd use this.

                            No, I wouldn't use it (or I did but don't like it).

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                              • Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

                                I wasn't aware of this method for purifying water. I'm not sure that I would use this method given my other options.

                              • Deb Kingsbury 8 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

                                I'd have to hear from more people who've successfully used this for water purification. Personally, I'll stick to the other methods above. For the most part, they're harmless and pretty easy to use, so I'm not looking for something new and, as I see, relatively untested.

                              Some Additional Tips for Treating Water in the Backcountry

                              • Always carry at least one backup method in case one fails or isn't so convenient. If boiling is your backup, be sure you have enough fuel.

                              • You don't need to treat water for cooking water or to be used for hot drinks as long as it comes to a rolling boil before you drink it.

                              • Be sure to use purified water for brushing your teeth. But you won't get Giardia from washing with contaminated water unless you happen to swallow it, so keep your mouth closed if splashing your face. The cysts have to get into your intestines to infect you.

                              • Consider using a collapsible backpacking bucket or tote to scoop water without disturbing the silty bottom of a stream or spring hole. This keeps the water cleaner for easier filtering. The bucket or tote can be lowered it into areas you may not otherwise be able to reach, and then you can take it back to camp to filter. The bucket is also handy for washing yourself and your clothes and dishes away from sources that could then be contaminated by the wastewater.

                              Collapsible Buckets And Totes - For bringing water from source to camp

                              I carried a lightweight tote with me on the Appalachian Trail, so I could not only bring water back to camp for filtering but also to have extra for cooking and washing. Buckets like these are good for murky water, because you can wait and let the sediment settle before filtering.

                              Camco 42993 Collapsible Bucket
                              Camco 42993 Collapsible Bucket

                              This one has a 3-gallon capacity and comes with the zippered case you see next to it in the picture here. The bucket reduces to about two inches wide.


                              © 2009 Deb Kingsbury

                              Other Comments Or Questions On These Products? - Or this article....

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                                  Evelyn Saenz 8 years ago from Royalton

                                  Thank you for joining us on A Walk in the Woods .

                                • Violin-Student profile image

                                  Violin-Student 8 years ago

                                  Good information here. Good mix of Info and Products. 5* from me.

                                  Art Haule


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                                  RinchenChodron 8 years ago


                                  This is a FABULOUS lens 5* from me! Way to go! And Welcome to Sqidoo. I'm lensrolling it to my Green-Consciousness lens.

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                                  Tom Fattes 8 years ago from Naperville, IL

                                  Thanks you for joining Need to Know..Yearn to Learn group.

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                                  NC Shepherd 8 years ago

                                  I started my AT hike with a filtration bottle, but got frustrated because the pre-filter clogged so easily and it took forever to fill the bottle. I switched to a regular water filter early in the hike.

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                                  julcal 8 years ago

                                  I've never had the need for any of these things, my husband did used to do a lot of hiking. But this is a great lens to read and it's great info 5* for you!

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                                  ElizabethJeanAl 8 years ago


                                  My name is Elizabeth Jean Allen and I am the new group leader for the Nature and the Outdoors Group.



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                                  anonymous 7 years ago

                                  What about FIRSTNEED?

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                                  Deb Kingsbury 7 years ago from Flagstaff, Arizona

                                  [in reply to Tom Murphy] I've not used that water filter and don't know much about it. It's up there in price--over $100, so I've seen--so hopefully it's a good one! There are so many filters on the market, I just included those I've either used myself or know people who've used them. But if you would like to recommend one (or NOT recommend something), let us know in those comment "duels" after each category. Thanks!

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                                  Webcodes LM 7 years ago

                                  Although I am not a hiker, I learned a lot about water purification through this lens. Sometimes that guy in Man vs Wild (Bear Grylls) when desperate just drinks the water without purification.. I am sure he must have gotten sick a few times. 5*.

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                                  thesuccess2 7 years ago

                                  Good information, I wish we were taught more survival stuff, we have it so easy in the developed countries, 24 hour convenience stores. But if you break down on some country road it would be nice to have a few skills.

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                                  dustytoes 7 years ago

                                  You always have the most interesting lenses. It's nice to hear your personal advice and I never knew there were so many choices for purifying water.

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                                  garyrh1 7 years ago

                                  I've never heard of the GSE method. I suppose it makes sense, but I can see why many people would not be willing to try it. If this truly does work, I can only imagine what type of impact it would have in poor areas around the world.

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                                  Ladyclodine 7 years ago

                                  A whole house water filters filter all water that residents come in contact with before it is diverted into sink, faucet &amp; shower units. These include drinking, shower &amp; bathing, kitchen &amp; bathroom sink faucet water. So at no point are you in contact with water that has not been filtered.

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                                  MorgUK LM 6 years ago

                                  What an awesome lens! Been looking to get a bottle with inbuilt filter for some time. Damn floride!

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                                  anonymous 6 years ago

                                  great content, i've been googling water filtration for days!

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                                  julieannbrady 6 years ago

                                  Gosh, I guess I never thought about hikers on the backtrail keeling over from bad water ... and then who would find them??? Search and Rescue? I'm drinking water now from mom's "backcountry" and had a few ahem "issues" yesterday! But not to fear, I am here!

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                                  Renaissance Woman 6 years ago from Colorado

                                  Excellent lens. Very important topic. Liked and *blessed.* Very nicely done!

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                                  lisajohns 5 years ago

                                  great Water Treatment Products. I use big berkey water filter that eliminates bad substances through a process called micro-porous filtration.

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