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Aquamira Water Treatment Drops

rated 4.5 of 5 stars
photo: Aquamira Water Treatment Drops chemical water treatment

“I choose a lazy person to do a hard job. Because a lazy person will find an easy way to do it.”


  • Light
  • Compact
  • Ease of use
  • Effective


  • It runs out, then you buy more
  • Doesn't get rid of sediment or debris

Aquamira drops have been my go-to for water treatment for a few years now.

I've used a Katadyn Basecamp gravity filter, which worked well until it just stopped one day. Pretty big and heavy in retrospect anyway.

I've also used a gravity filter that I rigged up with a Platypus Big-Zip and a Sawyer Mini that worked brilliantly until it just stopped working one day no matter how hard I back-flushed the filter. 

I've never used a pump filter, I can get the same results with a gravity filter with no work other than waiting for a few minutes, and presumably the filter in that would just give up one day. I know, there's a field cleaning kit. Psh.

So, my choice has boiled down to Aquamira. I'm not aware of a lighter, more compact, and more reliable water treatment system. One package won't last forever whereas a filter theoretically could, but one pack of them goes a long way for one person.

When I need water, the procedure is:

  1. Decide how much water you want to treat and mix the solutions accordingly
  2. Fill your water container to that amount and wait 5 minutes for the chemistry to work. Enjoy your surroundings and take a breather.
  3. Dump the Aquamira into your water, pack up and go. Wait for 15 minutes before you drink, longer if the water is really turbid. 

It imparts no taste at all to the water you're treating. I have drank maybe hundreds of liters of water, much of it out of or downstream from beaver ponds, with no ill effects. 

The warning label makes it sound like Aquamira is made from nuclear waste but again, never had a problem. Maybe I'll grow another head in 20 years. I've never had a leak from the bottles it comes it.

If there're 2 or more people in my party, I make sure there are multiple sets of it, otherwise you're waiting 5 minutes times however many people are with you for each water stop. 

Obviously it will not get rid of any foreign material in your water, but it will be drinkable. 

NOTE: There are some bugs that it won't kill. If you go to Isle Royale, for example, there's something you might encounter in inland lakes there (forget the name) that it will NOT kill. 

In conclusion...I did list some minor drawbacks, but in light of how well it works, especially compared with other systems I've used in the past, I'm giving it 5/5.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $20

No added taste, never inconvenient, very light, and best of all, it doesn't break. I've been using these for years with great success.


  • Easy
  • Light
  • Good taste


  • Containers leak (?)

I've been using the Aquamira drops for a few years, ever since Andrew Skurka (Ultimate Hiker's Guide) suggested them, and I've never looked back. Most people who I've spent any time with on the trails, who were using some filter system, pretty much converted after experiencing this stuff. What could be easier?

Here is how it works. You find a water source and you're getting low in your bottle. Grab the Aqua Mira package of two chemicals (A & B). Pop the mixing cap off and drop seven drops of each chemical into the mixing cap and jiggle it to mix then set it down.  

Now, grab your bottle, reflect on the beautiful trail, nice cool water in front of you, drink the rest of the water from your container. Look left and right for bears, fill your bottle with "Nature's Best," pour in the now yellow mixed chemicals, cap your container, hoist your pack, and you're on your way. Does that sound like a problem?

Some other reviewers don't like that you need to wait 5 minutes for the two chemicals to interact before using them, or that you cannot drink the water for 30 minutes. I'm usually the most impatient person and it just isn't a problem. I've used it in sun, rain, night, icy cold, it just isn't a problem.

Previous bottles of Aqua Mira seem to have leaked, so ALWAYS keep these in another plastic bag before you put it in your pack. I've heard it stains materials. This new batch I used didn't leak and I actually kept the plastic "box" it was packaged in for my outer protection. Bottles didn't leak and the package held up for a few trips and a bunch of abuse.

I buy the small bottles (1 oz) because I don't know how well it stores year after year and because small bottles are...smaller. 1 oz is supposed to do 30 gallons. More than enough for me for a year.

Bottom line: cheap, light, predictable, and tastes good. What more could you need?

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $14

Aquamira Water Treatment Drops is a great product: convenient, lightweight, has minimal to no taste, and is trouble free.

The product comes in two 30 ml (1 fl oz) bottles. To activate chlorine dioxide, you mix Parts A and B 1:1 and wait 5 min. I usually perform this step before I get my water container(s) out of the backpack, chug the remaining water, and fill up at the water source. That way, by the time I return the 5 min are almost up.

After dumping the activated Aquamira into your water container, it takes 15 min to sterilize the water. The 15 min wait time is no problem if you stop for water before your water runs out, or you carry a second lightweight water container to fill up and carry for the 15 min (for example, Platypus Water Tank). Very convenient.

The two 30 ml bottles are enough to purify 120 liters of water. Thus, 30 ml divided by 120 liters, or 0.25 ml of each Part A and B is enough for 1 liter (or 1 quart). I find that in the Sierra I use about 1 ml of each Part per day per person.

My trips are usually a week or shorter in duration. Thus, I transfer Aquamira to smaller dropper bottles, typically Nalgene 8 ml dropper bottles (the one for Part B is clear so you can see the level), and calibrate the number of drops necessary to dispense 0.25 ml. I also carry 2-3 small mixing cups.

My old MSR filter weighed 18 oz. My Aquamira kit weighs 1 oz. An 18-fold weight savings. Very lightweight.

If you notice an unpleasant taste with Aquamira then you either have a highly developed sense of taste or you may be using too much Aquamira, even if you use the original dropper bottles and the number of drops they recommend. In other words, their recommendation of 30 ml per 120 liters is more accurate than their recommended number of drops per liter. Very tasty.

Finally, my old MSR filter would clog regularly. That problem is gone with Aquamira. Also, the small Nalgene dropper bottles or eye dropper bottles don't leak. A small zip lock adds leak security and keeps all the parts together. Trouble free.

Disclaimer: This review is based on backpacking in the Sierra Nevada of California, where the water is typically clear. Where water purity is more questionable, then filter the water first to remove biofilm before treating with Aquamira.

Price Paid: $13

Convenient, light, fast enough. But how antiseptic is it?


  • Lightweight
  • Almost tasteless
  • Color reaction


  • Might not be antiseptic
  • Two ingredients must stand for 35min before use.

I have used these drops for several years, and I have never gotten sick in the wild. But that does not prove they actually kill germs; I might simply have been lucky. 

Knowing that, I'm worried about the absence of any claim by Aquamira that they are effective against germs —bacteria, viruses, and parasites. Before purchasing my second kit, I threw away the packaging from my first purchase. This time, I read the packaging carefully. There you will read no claims of efficacy or warnings of the opposite, only  that the product removes odors. The active ingredient, chlorine dioxide, is a powerful oxidising agent and will destroy many chemicals, including those that have a strong odor. That doesn't necessarily mean it will kill harmful life forms. 

It takes 30min to work. That's convenient, but why do other products with the same chemistry require 4 hrs?  Does the difference in reactivity portend a difference in antiseptic efficiency?

Otherwise, they are convenient to use. Once the 2 ingredients are mixed (a miniature cup is included), it takes 5 min to activate. The mixture turns yellow and gives off a strong chlorine-like smell, which shows you the ingredients you have been using for the past 2 years behave as advertised.  Treated water is ready to drink after  standing for at least at least 30min. 

I have found that allowing the treated water to vent, by placing the cap loosely on the water bottle instead of screwing it tight for example, removes all noticeable chemical taste.  Boiling, of course, accomplishes the same thing. 

Perhaps because I pack it with medicines, toothpaste, and first aid near the top of my pack, I have never had Aquamira leak in my pack. 

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: don't remember, price was modest

Funny, used to always boil water, iodine, then got a pump and replaced with another pump, and got turned on to this by a Triple Crowner. Been using for the last ten years and no problems, which I consider not just luck. Buy a new set each year. Makes a lot of potable water for its size.


  • Size and weight
  • Volume of water to treat
  • No taste
  • What's 15 minutes if backpacking :)


  • None, but do put in a plastic bag just in case

I wish we had this product when I was in the army, often had to drink some really nasty stuff in the jungles, we were issued iodine tabs back then and I've seen several really sick troops after a few weeks in the bush. Some so sick we needed to dust off by a helo. I contacted Hep B myself and most likely the water scum overcame the Iodine, some very nasty conditions.

Now, I start out with water in Platypus containers and plan based upon mapping where streams will be found, stop and reload water then treat water. At a campsite, carry several collapsed containers and make enough water for cooking for a full day.

I just have so much more confidence in this system. Clogged up a filter once in a water seep that was more like a cow pond.

I have been able to provide water for a trio of other backpackers, and size and weight wise it is the cat's meow.


Used on some 40 trips over the years and feel comfortable with it so far. The pumps just seem so heavy now compared to two small bottles.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $14

I just got back from a 4-day backpacking trip with a new cycling friend who brought this product call Aquamira. It's two small bottles of liquids that when mixed together in about 7 drops each makes a tasteless way to purify water in the back country.


  • Mixes easily with water
  • Lightweight, around 1 oz


  • N/A

I just looked it up online at: 

Comes in two small bottle weighing just around an ounce.

Mixes in the white cap of Part B above, turns yellow after a 5 minute wait, then added to water it takes a minimum of 15 minutes to purify the water. 

Worked great for us at very water stop from a couple high alpine lakes and mountain streams and water falls. Much lighter than my trusty old pump water purifier! 

I plan to get some asap for my next outdoor adventures

Source: borrowed it (A hiking friend brought it instead of my normal pump filter.)

I've used Aquamira for a couple of years now. It works as advertised (well, I haven't gotten the nasties, anyway), though the lengthy mix-and-wait process is cumbersome. Also, beware of leaky bottles; the chemicals ate right through one of my silnylon stuff sacks and ruined it. Thankfully, it didn't get on my pack. It's fine if you're going for maximum weight/space savings, but overall I prefer a filter for convenience.

Update: June 27, 2007

Overall, this is a good product with a couple of drawbacks. It's a decent solution for gram-counting solo backpackers but is not really suited to large groups. My biggest gripe is the caustic nature of the unmixed chemicals, combined with leaky bottles. I have already lost two stuff sacks as a result; thankfully my pack was not damaged as well.

PROS: Small, compact, lightweight, treats a lot of water considering its size. No funny iodine taste.

CONS: Takes a few minutes for both mixes to react to create the purifier solution, THEN 30 minutes or longer to actually purify the water. Must use relatively clean water source. Chemicals from a leaky bottle will destroy nylon and possibly other fabrics.

I would rate this product a bit higher if McNett would put it in leak-proof containers.

Price Paid: $11

Great for lightweight with no taste.


  • Lightest with no aftertaste


  • A slight wait to drink time

I started using the pump filters and after many years went looking for something lighter and went to the Steripen which is great. That however you have to rely on batteries. Then it was the tablets for the absolute lightest thing out there, but ugh the taste was awful and you had a 30 minute wait time.

Then I found these drops and several of my hiking friends now use them. I carry 3-4 little pre-made (that morning) capsules that are ready to drop into my coke water bottle and have never had any leaks. Sure you need to wait 20 minutes, but the weight savings is well worth it. The next best thing to the weight savings has to be the no aftertaste to these drops.

Have now been using this method for over three years and still believe that they are the best thing you could be carrying for weight, easy to use, and effectiveness.

Source: bought it new
Price Paid: $12

Pros- light, easy, simple, can't break. pair of droppers lasts 25 days in the field. best chemical treatment I've seen- slight chlorine taste is still waaay better than most city tap water.

Cons- well, one- the chemicals can be nasty if spilled- mixed or unmixed. which really takes careless effort to do. Aqua Mira would suck if you're downstream from a large farm or factory- but if that's a problem, well, I'd recommend finding a locale for tripping anyhow. as far as gritty water- well, minerals are good for ya, and i don't mind crunchy water once in a while.

go buy some- it never hurts to have it just in case.

Price Paid: $8

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Price Current Retail: $13.99-$14.99
Historic Range: $7.50-$29.95
Reviewers Paid: $8.00-$20.00
Use Kills odor causing bacteria and enhances the taste of stored potable water
Capacity Treats up to 30 gallons (1 oz)
Origin Made in the USA
Product Details from Aquamira »

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