What's the difference between water purification and water filtration? When looking to purchased the a water purification system it's easy to be overwhelmed with choices on the market place. Often we go with filters that we see most commonly online or in the sporting goods store we visit. But are they the right filter for your needs?
When backpacking in the backcountry you can run into many different bacteria, protozoa and virus that can ruin your camping trip very quickly! Most well known bacteria is Giardia Lambila and Cryptosporidium. Both are around 3,000 nm (nano meters) and 5,000 nm. To give you a reference the human hair is 40,000 nm, human DNA is 2.5 nm. Because of their larger size you are generally safe with most water filters on the market. However other bacteria like Vibrio Cholerae are much smaller at 300 nm. These can be a little more sneaky and case major damage on your intestinal track.
Where most filters fall short is when it comes to filtering viruses. Hence why many people choose to use purification tablets sold by companies like Portable Aqua and Aquamira. The tablets will kill the bacteria and viruses making the water drinkable but maybe not all that ascetically pleasing. I don't know about you but I typically don't like drinking water that is murky and brown even it everything in it has been killed! There are portable water filtration systems like LIFESAVER Systems and Sagan Filters that will filter out your viruses without chemically treating the water (which can have negative effects on your kidneys over time). Most common viruses are Polio Virus 30nm and Parvovirus 20 nm. There are certainly others out there that cause havoc on your system so do some research to make sure your filter is catching all those little monsters before you drink them down!
We recommend the LIFESAVER Systems Jerrycan and Bottle. The LIFESAVER technology has been able to filter down to 15 nm insuring that you are filtering out all bacteria and viruses without having to chemically treat water with harsh chemicals like chlorine dioxide.
The concusion is if your water filtration system can only filter our larger organisms like Giardia and Cryptosporidium you need to make sure you are ALSO using a purification tablet to kill off any virus that may be lingering in the water. Or you could just use a system that filters both.
Tell us about what your experiences with water filtration below.