Water Filtration FAQs
Water Filtration FAQs
No. Sawyer Hollow Fibers are much stronger than those used by Katadyn so backwashing a BeFree with a Sawyer backwashing plunger will more than likely damage the fibers.
It definitely can improve the taste of water by removing high levels of pathogens or particulates in the water; however, this filter was not designed with taste improvement as a top priority. The main priority of this system is to ensure that the water is safe to drink.
Each Tap Filter is capable of filtering more than 500 gallons of water per day. Proper use and maintenance of the filter will allow for this filter to be used for 10+ years.
If properly stored in a cool, dry location away from UV exposure, the Sawyer Tap Filter has a shelf life of 10+ years.
If the filter is brand new, there is no risk of freeze damage. However, once the filter has been used or is wet, the ice expansion process within the filter can stretch or damage the fibers to the point where pathogens could slip through. If you suspect your filter has been exposed to freezing conditions after use, we would recommend erring on the side of caution and replacing the system.
Hopefully! We designed these adapters to fit on most standard faucets domestically and internationally. Due to the wide variety of taps on the market, we cannot guarantee that this filter will fit on your specific model. If you are unsure if it will, please send us photos and measurements of your tap. We will happily explore making other size adapters based on the feedback we receive.
Absolutely! If it is no additional trouble, please send us the specs on your tap so we can explore additional adapters as needed based on customer feedback. Just be sure to be mindful of the water pressure (<40 psi) to ensure that the fibers are not damaged.
We recommend routine maintenance to maximize the filter’s flow rate and longevity. By regularly backwashing the filter with more pressure than when filtering water, you can restore up to 98.5% of the filter’s flow rate.
No, it is not. We recommend backwashing and air drying the filter before storing.
Yes. For threaded faucets, we highly recommend using the Threaded Spigot Adapter to make sure the filter pops off of the tap before the fibers are damaged from excessive pressure. Excessive pressure can absolutely damage the fibers.
Sawyer filters have very strong fibers (see Fiber Strength Study) and are capable of handling up to 40 PSI (Pounds Per Square Inch) of pressure. When clean, Sawyer Filters only need 1 to 2 PSI of pressure to flow freely. As the fibers collect particulates, the pressure to move water through will increase as the particulates create barriers to water flow.
Sawyer pouches are designed to handle up to 7 PSI of pressure before bursting. This in most cases allows for a large amount of water to be used before filter cleaning is necessary. Therefore the pouches will not burst so long as the filters are reasonably clean. However most people are capable of generating much more than 7 PSI of pressure and so if the filter is not clean, the pouches are more likely to burst when squeezing too hard. The more particulates in the water the sooner a filter will clog and need to be cleaned.
Sawyer’s new light weight soft pouches offer the same bursting strength of 7 PSI as the heavier legacy pouches. The new light weight pouches are just as strong as the thicker legacy pouches but are easier to squeeze because the softer material offers less resistance. With a lower pouch resistance the 7 PSI burst limit is reached more easily.
To protect your pouch – maintain a clean filter and be aware of pressure build up against a dirty filter.
You can store the bottle with either the Micro Squeeze filter or included white cap screwed on top of the bottle. The proprietary ingredients in the foam will make sure that your foam does not grow bacteria or develop an odor. Please do not compress these systems for long term storage. Store your bottles fully expanded to ensure that you do not inadvertently shorten their life.
If you want to dry out your bottle for packing weight reasons (it can save approximately one ounce), store in a dry room with the lid removed and the moisture will eventually evaporate out. Be aware that after you dry the bottle out, your first bottle will produce much less water than normal since our foam is hydrophilic (meaning it attracts water) and will want to hold onto some no matter how hard you squeeze. Repeat steps for first use when you want to use your filter again.
The foam inside the bottle is meant to be stored fully expanded to achieve the advertised lifespan of the system. To do this simply unscrew the Micro Squeeze filter and let air back into the bottle after you are done filtering water. The foam will naturally compress in size over the life of the system but if the foam is stored compressed for long periods of time, the foam can be permanently deformed. Long term compression can shorten the life of the foam filter/purifier. We recommend storing your Select system filled with water. When possible, use distilled or non-chlorinated water. Storing the bottle full will help prevent mold from growing on the walls of the bottle while it is not in use.
Q: ViewHow do the Select filters and purifiers remove the heavy metals, viruses, chemicals, and pesticides?
The Foam Adsorption Technology used in these systems was developed with a partnership with Foamulations LLC to now be able to safely remove contaminants like heavy metals, chemicals, pesticides, and viruses while also improving taste and odor. Adsorption filtration is the process in which molecules adhere to the surface of the adsorbent foam membrane. This highly advanced filtration and purification process, combined with our 0.1 micron absolute filter will ensure that any and all particulate or pathogens above 0.1 microns are filtered out of your water, including bacteria, protozoa, cysts, dirt and sediment.
After the initial break in process, every bottle should produce 20 – 22 ounces of water depending on how efficient you are at squeezing the water out of the bottle.
We recommend backwashing your filter when you flow rate begins to diminish, before prolonged storage, and when you are ready to start using your filter again. Backwashing your filter after storage is a great way to re-wet the filters and restore the flow rate before use.
The bottles are pre-activated during the manufacturing process to shorten the steps for your first use and your system may be a little damp when you first open it. There is no need to be alarmed here because the system is treated with a proprietary material that keeps bacteria and mold from growing. This proprietary material allows you to store water in your bottles as long as you want without bacteria growing or affecting the life of your filter.
Yes. The first time you use your bottle, there may be some loose adsorption material that got knocked loose during packaging and shipping. It is not harmful but if it is not rinsed out it could be enough to slow the flow rate down to the point where the Micro Squeeze filter will need a quick backwash. The residual material also has a remote chance of leaving a metal-lic taste until the Select Foam has been fully rinsed with the initial use instructions below. Please note that this initial rinsing process does not count against the total number of uses.
To avoid this:
- Fill the bottle up halfway with water, screw on the Micro Squeeze filter, and make sure the white push pull cap is closed on the Micro Squeeze.
- Squeeze the bottle at least ten times to work the water in and out of the foam. Some of the water will absorb into the foam so take the micro squeeze off and then fill the bottle to the max fill line.
- Reinstall the Micro Squeeze filter, squeeze the bottle at least ten more times, and then take the Micro Squeeze filter off.
- With the Micro Squeeze filter removed, turn the bottle over and roll up the bottle tightly to force all of the water back out of the foam. You should not need to repeat this initial step. You are now ready to start using your new filter.
No. The silicon bottle is hard to reseal if you loosen the black reducer cap. This is why we recommend only filling through the smaller opening where the Micro Squeeze™ filter attaches. If you take the reducer cap off you will need to get it to seal again before using it. Without a good seal, unfiltered water can leak out and could contaminate your drinking water.
Adsorption is the adhesion of atoms, ions, or molecules from a gas, liquid, or dissolved solid to a surface. This process creates a film of the adsorbate on the surface of the adsorbent.
Our filters and purifiers have been tested by independent and qualified research laboratories according to EPA standards for water filter and purifiers.
While we have no proof that freezing will harm the filter, we do not have enough proof to say it will not harm the filter, therefore we must say that if you suspect the filter has been frozen, to replace it — this is especially true with a hard freeze.
We do not recommend backwashing with dirty water. If this happens, immediately run at least one quart of water through the filter and dispose before filtering water for consumption.
Yes, though backwashing will be required more frequently. It will not alter the effectiveness of the filter to remove harmful pathogens.
You can attach the filter to any size container you can drill a hole in. We recommend attaching the filter to a clean container that is either food grade or was previously used to transport food items. Do not attach the filter to a bucket that was used to transport chemicals. The filter will also fit into most water crocks by removing the existing valve and replacing it with the fittings supplied with the filter.
For more output hook multiple filters up to a large cistern or rainwater catchment system. You will want to have the 3 foot hose option so you can raise the filter above the water level to shut off the flow.
To play it safe you can always take the pointZERO TWO purifier, but people in their natural environments typically only need bacterial protection because they build up immunity overtime to the viruses they have been exposed to.
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.
Q: ViewWhat 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.
No. You can cut the hole with the included hole cutter by hand.
Yes, and we have three recommendations for pre-filtration. One, pour the dirty water through a t-shirt or cloth before it goes into the filtration bucket. Two, cut the hole in the side of the bucket at least 1.5 inches from the bottom of the bucket to allow sediment to settle and not go down the hose. Three, allow the dirty water to settle before putting it in the filtration bucket.
To avoid any confusion, Sawyer Products is not an export agent. We suggest using AIT Worldwide Logistics. Their Tampa call center office phone number is 813.247.6797. They can provide you with all the export documents you will need and handle the actual shipment for you. You will be their customer and need to contract their services separately from the purchase of the filters. We do not and can not provide the proper document service that is needed for export.
However, using AIT Worldwide Logistics is not mandatory. You can use whomever you prefer and Sawyer Products will have the freight ready for their pick-up or we will ship it to their domestic location (at your expense).
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.
Since the filters and purifiers can continuously be backwashed and re-used they have an extremely long life. The filter/purifier membrane may never need to be replaced, however when the flow rate slows or the filter clogs, simply backwash the unit with the provided backwashing device to clear out the pores.
The flow rates of the filters and purifiers are determined by a combination of four variables:
- Head pressure (The distance from the top of the water to the filter)
- Altitude (The higher the altitude, the slower the flow rate)
- How clean the filter is
- The filter itself (there are slight variations between filters)
The PointONE Filter with a 1 foot hose (Model SP180) attached to a standard five gallon bucket at sea level is capable of filtering up to 295 gallons (1117 liters) of water per day. The PointZERO TWO Purifier with a 3 foot hose (Model SP190) attached to a standard 5 gallon bucket at sea level is capable of purifying up to 87 gallons (327 liters) of water per day. If you increase the head pressure by either lengthening the hose, attaching the filter to a larger container like a 55 gallon drum, or constantly keep the bucket full so the top of the water is as high as possible, this will increase the flow rate.
To estimate the flow rate of your filter based on the altitude where you will be filtering water and the inches (or centimeters) of head pressure:
– PointONE™ Filter full flow rate report (U.S. & metric) (PDF)
– Point Zero Two Purifier full flow rate report (PDF)
The frequency of cleaning depends on how dirty the water is. With relatively clear water, backwashing may only be necessary every 1,000 gallons whereas with extremely turbid or muddy water, backwashing may be required every 10 gallons. Nevertheless, backwashing is an extremely simple process and takes only a minute.
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.
Q: ViewMy 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.
Not only can you use the filtered/purified water for drinking, cooking, cleaning and watering plants, but you can also install the filter in-line on a drip irrigation system to prevent the irrigation hose from clogging. This filter would be customized with quick disconnects so it could be removed for backwashing.
Many other filters list nominal or average pore sizes which leave the possibility of harmful pathogens to pass through. By claiming absolute microns there are no variances in pore size on our filter membranes. At 0.1 and 0.02 micron absolute these are true barrier filters so there is no questionable time period whether the water is safe to drink.
The pointONE Filter™ has a 0.1 micron absolute pore size and therefore will remove all bacteria and protozoa such as Giardia, Cryptosporidium, Cholera and Typhoid. The PointZERO TWO Purifier™ has a 0.02 micron absolute pore size and therefore will remove all viruses like Hepatitis A in addition to bacteria and protozoa.
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