Frequently Asked Questions
How does the system work?
First, pump with your SweetWater microfilter. This will take care of giardia, crypto, bacteria, and particulates. Next, add five drops per liter of SweetWater Purifier Solution, shake and wait five minutes. This will inactivate viruses and leave you good-tasting, purified water.
When do I need SweetWater Purifier Solution?
Whenever there is a possibility of human waste contaminating the water. Definitely when visiting developing countries and also in high-use areas of developed countries, such as the Appalachian Trail, where recent outbreaks of the Norwalk virus have been reported.
What is SweetWater Purifier Solution?
SweetWater Purifier Solution is an EPA-registered grade of bleach, which we have formulated to prolong shelf life to two years. The technical term for the active ingredient in bleach is sodium hypochlorite. The common industry name is chlorine. Chlorine is the disinfectant of choice used in the treatment of tap water. So it's a tried-and-true method and thus tastes familiar. In our taste-testing only two out of 10 people reported a tap-water taste; the other 8 detected no chlorine flavor. For those with especially discerning taste buds, vitamin C (ascorbic acid) or drink mixes can be added after the five-minute wait time to reduce any chlorine flavor that remains.
Why can't I use SweetWater Purifier Solution with other filters or by itself?
The SweetWater Purifier System and Solution are regulated by the EPA and have undergone extensive laboratory testing to verify their efficacy as a system. SweetWater Purifier Solution is carefully formulated to inactivate viruses remaining in water that's been pumped through a SweetWater Microfilter. Filters vary in performance. It is likely that more disinfectant may be required to achieve purification with other filters. Along the same lines, for the solution to work independently of a filter, you would need a very strong dose—to the point of tasting offensive. The wait time would also be much longer than five minutes. And finally, cryptosporidia, which would have been removed by the filter, would not be effectively inactivated by use of the SweetWater Purifier Solution alone.
Why not use iodine tablets?
Iodine tablets are costly, at 80 cents a gallon, have a short shelf life, and, since they taste unpleasant, contribute to dehydration. More importantly, scientific tests have proven them to be ineffective against cryptosporidia, while double doses and long dwell times are required to eliminate giardia. Also, chlorine, unlike iodine, is not use-restricted. It can be used-long term and while pregnant. Finally, there are no confusing instructions based on water conditions. With the SweetWater Purifier System you pump only once, as fast as you like, add five drops/liter of SweetWater Purifier Solution, shake, and wait only five minutes under all conditions. No double pumping and no long wait time.
Why is SweetWater Purifier Solution added after filtration?
When developing the system, both pre- and post-treatment methods were tested. We found that post-treatment was the simplest, the most effective, and the best way to minimize the amount of chemical used in the water. This is because filtration removes a majority of the contaminants from the water, which allows the chlorine to react only with the viruses. Therefore, much less chlorine is needed and you don't have to have to worry about water conditions.
What about leakage of SweetWater Purifier Solution?
SweetWater Purifier Solution is packaged in a durable dropper bottle with a tight-sealing screw cap, then enclosed in a zip-lock baggy. This offers double protection from leakage. Since it is a chlorine solution and can discolor or damage fabrics, we recommend you use caution when packing and keep it in the supplied zip-lock bag when not in use.
How should I store SweetWater Purifier Solution?
In order to avoid deterioration, store your SweetWater Purifier Solution in a cool, dry area, away from direct sunlight and heat. For even better results, refrigerate when not in use. The two-year shelf life was based on an average temperature of the solution at 77° F/25° C. To counterbalance any high-temperature exposure, it is a good idea to store the product in the refrigerator when not in use.
What is the filter material in the SweetWater Microfilter?
The labyrinth depth filter is made of a proprietary blend of microscopic borosilicate fibers in a specially formulated binder resin. A black (or white) mesh filter-replacement safety indicator is imbedded in the filter to let the user know when to purchase a new cartridge. Lastly, there is granular activated carbon to reduce unpleasant tastes and odors.
How long will my filter last?
Filter life varies greatly depending on water source. The SweetWater Microfilter is rated up to 750 liters. Filter-life ratings are based on best-case scenarios because the testing is performed with clean lab water. Generally you can assume that your filter will last between 50 and 100% of the rated life.
What if normal cleaning doesn't restore flow?
If regular brushing does not help to fully restore flow rate, the Sweetwater filter cartridge may be clogged with organic matter. Mix up a bleach solution of 30 milliliters (1 ounce, or 2 tablespoons) of regular household bleach to 1 liter (1 quart) of water. Pump the solution through the filter, stopping before pumping air in to the inlet tube, and allow the filter to soak (assembled) overnight. The next morning, pump a couple of liters through. Now the filter is clean and ready for your next trip.
Why is my SweetWater Microfilter becoming more and more difficult to pump?
The more that you have used the filter, the slower you will be able to pump water. Also, it is normal that, with use, the flow rate will slow from its initial rate of 1+ liters per minute. With these points in mind, when pump resistance grows, first clean the filter, then back flush the SiltStopper™ prefilter (if included). Make sure that the bottle adapter air hole is clear, and confirm that the hoses are not kinked. If these actions do not lessen resistance (especially the cleaning), then it's most likely time to replace the filter.
How should I store my filter?
Remove inlet hose from the water source and pump SweetWater Microfilter until dry. Detach the filter cartridge from pump and shake out water; air dry if possible. Avoid getting unfiltered water into outlet hose or bottle adapter. For long-term storage, place filter cartridge in a zip-lock bag in freezer to retard bacterial growth. Discard your first few quarts of water filtered after extended storage.
What if I forgot to follow the storage directions for my SweetWater Microfilter?
No problem. If the filter is dry and clean, pump a couple of liters through it and you're good to go. If the filter is wet and scummy, mix up a bleach solution of 30 milliliters (1 ounce, or 2 tablespoons) of regular household bleach to 1 liter (1 quart) of water. Pump the solution through the filter, stopping before pumping air in to the inlet tube, and allow the filter to soak (assembled) overnight. The next morning, pump a couple of liters through and you're ready for your trip. This is also an excellent way to rejuvenate a filter that is not responding well to brushing. If you did follow the storage instructions, be sure to thaw out your filter cartridge overnight and pump a couple of liters through it to make sure everything is in working order before your trip.
How do I use the SiltStopper® prefilter?
Attach inlet or dirty hose of the microfilter to the red hose barb at the bottom of the SiltStopper prefilter. Attach one end of the short clear hose provided with the SiltStopper to the clear hose barb at the top of the SiltStopper. Finally, attach the other end of the short hose to the inlet hose barb of the microfilter.