Water Filtration FAQs
The Sawyer filter removes taste that comes from bacteria, dirt, and green matter.
The Sawyer filter does NOT remove iron, sulfur, other chemicals, or simple compounds. Taste can be masked by using flavor additives like Gatorade or crystal light (filter needs to be cleaned immediately after using them).
The Sawyer filters are not made with charcoal. While other portable filters have charcoal, they lack in amount of media and adequate dwell time. Therefore, they only remove small amounts of heavy metals, pesticides, etc. (when used in real life applications). Try using better sources of water, if possible.
+What is the difference between the PointONE™ and Point ZEROTWO™ Filtration Systems and how do I know which to use?
First, Sawyer’s filters and purifiers are rated in Absolute Microns. This means there is no pore size larger than 0.1 or 0.02 micron in size on the PointONE™ and PointZEROTWO™ respectively. This means that it is impossible for harmful bacteria, protozoa, or cysts like E. coli, Giradia, Vibrio cholerae and Salmonella typhi (which cause Cholera and Typhoid) to pass through the Sawyer filters and purifiers. At 7 log (99.99999%) the filter attains the highest level of filtration available today. The PointZEROTWO™ filter removes both bacteria and viruses.
Sawyer PointONE™ Filtration
The PointONE™ filtration system is usually all you would need unless you are traveling internationally (developing countries) where waterborne viruses such as hepatitis and/or Polio are present. This system removes all harmful pathogens from your water.
Sawyer PointZEROTWO™ Purifier
If viruses are an issue, we offer the PointZeroTWO™ Purifier (0.02 micron absolute pores), the first and thus far only portable purification device to physically remove viruses which it does at a >5.5 log (99.9997%) rate, exceeding EPA and NSF recommendations. Due to the significantly higher level of filtration, PointZEROTWO’s flow rate is considerably slower than the PointONE™ filters.
North America vs. Third World Countries
In North America we do not have concerns about viruses in our water. They simply cannot survive. Viruses derive from contaminated human sewage and die shortly after entering a body of water. In Third World countries outbreaks have occurred due to poor treatment of sewage. Sewage without viruses can be handled by the PointONE™ filter. The only viruses with the potential to survive in water are hepatitis (which is rare) and Polio (which is extremely rare). You can contact CDC for information on virus outbreaks in areas for which you are traveling.
We have independent lab tests using EPA protocols and information about our filters and their warranties available on our Downloads Page.
Filtration for Individuals
If you are looking for a filter you will be using for yourself, the following products will be best for you needs.
The Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System is our newest and most popular filter. The Mini weighs just 2 ounces and filters up to 100,000 gallons! You can drink directly from the Mini, attach it to Sawyer Squeeze Pouches, use inline on a hydration pack, or attach it to the top of almost any bottled water? How about that for versatility? And like all Sawyer Filters; they are backflushable almost indefinitely. That means no expensive cartridges to replace, ever. (SP128, SP124)
The Sawyer Squeeze Filter – This is the simple, portable, lightweight system that won Backpacker Magazine’s Editor’s choice in 2012. The threaded filter is also very versatile and also comes with a Million Gallon Guarantee. It is perfect for backpackers who want clean water fast without adding much weight. (SP129, SP131)
All-in-One Filter – This versatile system is based off the popular SP131 – Sawyer Squeeze Filter. This system includes a screw on filter, a 32 oz pouch for portability, a faucet adapter to filter tap water, and everything you need all to use it as a bucket gravity filtration system. This is perfect for individual use, groups, and emergency preparedness kits. (SP181)
Personal Water Filtration Bottle – This is a simple bottle system that comes with a back-flushing syringe. Perfect for traveling to areas where you do not trust the water. (SP140, SP141, SP142)
2 Liter Gravity Filtration Systems – One of Sawyer’s time-tested favorites, the Sawyer 2 Liter water filter system will simplify your backcountry to-do list. Simply set it up, and let gravity do the dirty work. No tedious pumping, just set it up and gravity to the work for you. In the time it takes you to turn around and unload your pack, you’ll have clean, fresh water waiting. These systems are available in a single and dual bag setup. (SP161, SP162)
Filtration for Groups
If you are looking for something that can provide a larger amount of water for a group of people, the following products will be best for you.
4 Liter Gravity Filtration Systems – 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. Available in a 4 Liter Single Bag System and in a 4 Liter Dual Bag Complete System. It is good for camping or hiking and longer distances with larger groups or where water is less accessible. (SP183, SP184)
All-in-One Filter – This versatile system, also mentioned above for individuals, is based off the popular SP131 – Sawyer Squeeze Filter. This system includes a screw on filter, a 32 oz pouch for portability, a faucet adapter to filter tap water, and everything you need all to use it as a bucket gravity filtration system. This is perfect for individual use, groups, and emergency preparedness kits. (SP181)
Portability vs. Stationary
Whether you are filtering on the go or sticking around a while, we have something for everyone. Our bucket filters, when applied to larger buckets, may be better for keeping in one location, while our Squeeze filters are light and always ready to go.
Anyone can use our filters. They are low maintenance and light weight which is perfect for kids going on trips to summer camp or to see the world. They are very easy transport and use.
The Sawyer Squeeze Filter
The Sawyer Squeeze Filter can be used in conjunction with a hydration pack. Please see video Sawyer Squeeze with Hydration Pack using Inline Adapter and Sawyer Squeeze with Fast Fill Adapters.
The Sawyer Squeeze Filter with Water Bottles
The Sawyer Squeeze Filter can also be used on water bottles when you are unsure whether or not it is safe to drink the water.
The Sawyer Inline Filter
This convenient filter can be used as an inline filter on a hydration pack, a pre-filter for an existing pump system, with the provided faucet adapter, or with a gravity bag.
Flow rates vary depending on how clean the filter is and how well you cleaned the filter. Altitude also affects the flow rates (the higher you go the slower the flow. Also, the PointZEROTWO™ filter flows much slower that the Point ONE.
Before initial wetting
Filter is safe from freezing temperatures if it has never been wetted.
After initial wetting
While there is no definitive way to tell if a filter has been damaged due to freezing, Sawyer recommends replacing your filter if you suspect that it has been frozen.
If you are in freezing temperatures, we recommend that you store your filter in your pocket or close to your person so that your body heat can prevent freezing. THERE IS NO WARRANTY FOR A FROZEN FILTER.
Be sure to slowly squeeze the water through the filter, giving the filter fibers time to fully saturate. The initial flow rate may seem slow but will increase as fibers become wetted which usually takes approximately one Liter of water.
Back Flushing Process
To maximize the effectiveness and longevity of your filter, Sawyer recommends back flushing your filter after each outing. The fibers are very robust so please be FORCEFUL in your back flush process. When using the syringe do not be gentle, it will only form paths of least resistance instead blowing out the particulates that may be trapped in your filter. When using the faucet adapter, hold the adapter on the faucet and ‘turn the water up’ to ensure particle(s) removal. Do NOT use soap when backwashing your filter.
Before storing your filter, Sawyer recommends sanitizing your filter. This process is simple: Back flush filter. Run a standard bleach solution (fragrance free) through your filter (one cap of bleach per quart of water). Let air dry and then store in a cool, dry place OR store wet and clean before using.
In case you forgot to back flush your filter after your last outing and flow seems to be little to diminished, soak the filter in hot tap water (not boiling) for about an hour and then back flush using hot tap water. REMEMBER to back flush FORCEFULLY! When using the syringe, do not be gentle, it will only form paths of least resistance instead of blowing out the particulates that may be trapped in your filter. When using the faucet adapter, hold the adapter on the faucet and ‘turn the water up’ to ensure particle(s) removal.
Calcium Build Up
(If after above steps your filter still seems to be clogged) Soak the filter in hot tap water for about an hour and then back wash using hot tap water. If this doesn’t work, it could be dried calcium. Soak the filter in vinegar for 1/2 hour and then flush with hot water. You may have to repeat this a few times to get it all the way clean. Make sure you back flush with all the force you can – hold the faucet adapter on the faucet and turn the water on. The filters are tough and can take more force than you can give with the faucet adapter.
+My pouch seems to be leaking water (holes in seams), how do I prevent this from happening in the future?
It is usually not the pouch causing the leak, it is usually the filter. Either the filter was not completely wetted at first point of use or too much pressure has been applied to pouch during filtration process. Be sure to slowly squeeze the water through the filter, giving the filter fibers time to fully saturate. The initial flow rate may seem slow, but will increase as fibers become wetted.
Back Flushing Process
Back flush your filter (better and more often) using your syringe. You cannot hurt the filter fibers, so please be FORCEFUL in your back flush process. When using the syringe, do not be gentle, it will only form paths of least resistance instead of blowing out the particulates that may be trapped in your filter.
Do not over tighten the filter on the pouch. Over tightening can cause the o-rings to embed into the threads or lodge into the opening of the pouch. If the o-ring is out of place you may not a have a tight seal and water could leak out the bottom of the filter. Please watch our video on Important Squeeze Filter Tips to better understand how to care for your squeeze bags. Until you learn the perfect balance of force and cleaning, we recommend bringing a backup pouch with you on your trip.
Before the pouches leave the factory, they are 100% air-tested. While they are rugged, these pouches are not indestructible. They tear as a result of too much pressure being applied. This happens when water is forced through the filter too fast or when your filter needs cleaning, which creates more resistance. Do not squeeze the pouch hard or wring the pouch. Torn pouches are not covered under the warranty.