• Sep 28, 2017
  • by April Muir

Water Filter vs Water Purifier - Which Do I Need? 

If you're a little confused about the difference between water filters and water purifiers - you're not alone. Hopefully, this'll clear things up so you can get the right potable water provisions for your family. 

Everybody Needs Clean Drinking Water 

Having clean drinking water is a key element in being able to safely and happily enjoy outdoor adventures, travel and everyday life, but with dozens of devices on the market – all of which provide potable water, how do you choose which product is right for you? Let’s go over a few basics:

What’s in my water? 3 Things That Contaminate Water


  1. Microbes – these include bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. These little buggers can cause anything from mild discomfort, to diarrhea, to much more serious conditions. Some examples you might have heard of before are giardia, salmonella, and E. coli.
  2. Chemicals – Chlorine is widely used in municipal water to kill the dangerous little microbes described above. Though the majority of microbes that live in water don’t ever cause us harm, ingesting even a tiny amount of the bad guys can be extremely dangerous and chlorine does a great job of getting rid of them. Trace amounts of other chemicals like lead, fluoride, and industrial waste can also be found, and amounts vary depending on where the water comes from. Not feeling good about ingesting the chemicals to get rid of the microbes - you?
  3. Physical Particles – You usually won’t see anything other than clear water coming out of your tap, but if you need to filter water from a stream, from a pond, or even a puddle or dirty pool, there will almost always be sediment which needs to be filtered out. These can obviously affect the taste of your water (who wants a mouthful of sand when they’re thirsty?) and in extreme situations, being able to filter really muddy (brown!) water can save your life.

Water Filters vs. Water Purifiers

Now that we know what we want to get OUT of our water, let’s talk about how to do that.

If you’re in a market for a water purification device, you might have seen the terms water purification and water filtration thrown around a lot. Here’s the difference between the two:

Water Filters

A water filter is used to remove particles from the water. Imagine really fine sieve or colander. The EPA requires personal water filters to remove particles down to .2 microns. Things which get filtered out are bacteria, giardia, protozoa, and physical debris like sand.

Water Filters DO NOT REMOVE Virus and Chemicals 

However, things which DO pass through a water filter are viruses and chemicals. Viruses are much smaller than bacteria and protozoa and with chemicals we’re talking about single molecules.

A backcountry filter will get you by if you’re camping in North America, because the water is generally quite clean and human traffic is low. Water-borne viruses are mainly transferred through human waste, so if human traffic is low, the likelihood of getting something like cholera is also quite low.

If you are traveling to a third world country or if you want a water filtration system as an emergency backup, say for after a hurricane, you will need a water purifier.

Water Purifiers

A Water Purifier will remove viruses and some chemicals from the water as well. There are air pressurized pump purifiers, like the AquaBrick™ and AquaDrum™ from Sagan which filter out viruses as well as bacteria and protozoa.

These work like the filters listed above but filter out even smaller particles. There are also chemical purifiers like iodine tablets which kill all the microbes in the water. Similarly, UV purifiers use UV rays to kill microbes.

It is important to note though, that UV and chemical purifiers don’t remove physical impurities like sand, silt, or debris which contaminate the water. Chemical purifiers also leave a taste in the water that some people don’t mind - but some people abhor! 

Sagan Produces Water Purifiers

At Sagan, we produce water purifiers. All of our water purification products, including our Journey™ Bottle, XStream™ Straw, AquaBrick™ Water Purifier and AquaDrum™ Water Filtration System for 55 Gallon Drums, will purify ANY non-salt water source. No matter how gross and turbid. Sagan water purification systems all remove dangerous viruses, bacteria, and other water-borne pathogens as well as heavy metals like perchlorate.


The AquaBrick™ Even Filters Pool Water

Use the AquaBrick™ Water Purification System as a backup in case you need to use your backyard pool as an emergency water source! You’ll have gallons of safe and delicious clean drinking water.

Or, switching gears, why not take our Journey Water Bottle on a hike and know that you’ll always have clean water to keep you hydrated along the way? Waterfall hike anyone?

Cover photo credit to Sarah Carter - @sarah_daydreams ... hiking with her Journey Water bottle!