Water Filter Confusion - Where to Start?
Contributed by Rob Hanus
Water is one of the most important aspects of preparedness planning. We cannot live long without an ample supply of clean water and most people underestimate their water needs. People need water for drinking, washing, cooking, and sanitation. Even if you store hundreds of gallons of water, you will at some point, need more water. This is especially true if you’re forced to evacuate your home. When looking at the options for filtering water there are three main types of filters: Straw, Pump, and Drip.
Straw filters are those used like an everyday straw. Simply dip one end into the dirty water and draw the water through it into your mouth. These are usually small and convenient to carry but they are limited on how you can use the water, as the water goes directly into your mouth. Straw filters are excellent at providing quick access to clean water when you’re on the go. Their small size is perfect for bug out bags and evacuation kits. They filter a relatively small amount of water, although better ones can filter hundreds of gallons. Straw filters are generally inexpensive enough for everyone in your family to have one in their go bag.
Pump filters require you to manually pump water through the filter media. These can also be conveniently small, giving you close to the same portability as straw filters, with the added benefit of being able to put the clean water into a container, such as a bottle or pot for cooking. This isn’t possible with a straw-type filter, unless you spit the water out of your mouth (Yuck!).
The downside to pump filters includes having to actively pump in order to produce filtered water. If you’re supplying water for several people, pumping water at the streambed can quickly turn into an all day rigorous event. Pump filters are typically bulkier and heavier than straw filters, making them a better choice for larger emergency kits.
While both straw and pump filters are an excellent option in certain scenarios, they each require you to actively use them in order to provide clean water. This is where the advantage of a drip filter comes into focus.
Drip filters are typically larger and produce water by using gravity to draw the water through the filter. A good drip filter can produce thousands of gallons of clean water. They are slower than using a pump filter but do not require any effort beyond filling the top reservoir and enjoying the filtered water that is collected in the lower reservoir. The lower reservoir has a spigot at the bottom for easy access to the filtered water, much like a common water jug. Drip filters are considerably larger than either the straw or pump filters but are excellent for when you need to provide large amounts of water for families or groups without any hassle.
Which filter is best for you? Considering the many different potential events we may face, you would be wise to have all of these filter types in your preparedness plan. Each filter type has advantages and disadvantages, so you should probably opt to have at least one of each of them. For example, straw filters for your small emergency kit, a pump filter for your larger survival pack, and a drip filter to easily provide large amounts of water for your family.
It’s important that when looking for any water filter make sure the filter media will remove harmful pathogens, such as bacteria, parasites and viruses. Not all filters can do this. A maximum filter pore size of 0.2 microns is considered the minimum level of filtration needed to remove bacteria and parasites. Anything above 0.2 microns will not be able to filter out all of these pathogens in the water and greatly increases the chance of you or your loved ones becoming very sick.
The best filters will have a 0.02 micron filtration, which will remove viruses, and a carbon filter to remove harmful chemicals. These are typically larger and more expensive, but when you are filtering some of the filthiest water, like flood water for example, you need to make sure you’re filtering out the harmful elements. Good pump and drip filters will be able to do this, but be sure to read the fine print as there are many insufficient filters on the market. Be careful of generic copycats and be sure to check the specifications to ensure they meet all your criteria before purchasing.
Remember, water is extremely important and key for sustaining life. Be sure to get a filter to provide clean, safe water for your family.