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Chemical Water Treatments

Need help getting started? Read our four-part guide to backcountry water treatment:
Part 1: Proper Hydration
Part 2: Keeping Your Water Supply Safe
Part 3: What’s in Backcountry Water?
Part 4: Methods for Making Water Safe

Top Picks

How we choose: The best chemical water treatments highlighted here were selected based on 25 reviews of 11 products. Our top picks are those that are readily-available in the United States and have received the highest overall ratings from reviewers.

How we test: Trailspace is powered entirely by our community of readers. The reviews posted here reflect the real-world experiences of outdoor enthusiasts just like you.

If you've used a chemical water treatment that you think should be listed here, please share your experience.

Disclosure: Trailspace never accepts payment for gear reviews, product placement, or editorial coverage. When you buy through affiliate links on our site, Trailspace may earn a small commission, which helps cover the costs of running the site.

Aquamira Water Treatment Drops

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (9 reviews)

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

Reasons to Buy

  • Light
  • Compact
  • Ease of use
  • Effective

Reasons to Avoid

  • 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.

Read more: Aquamira Water Treatment Drops reviews (9)

Katadyn Micropur MP1 Purification Tablets

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (6 reviews)

I have used these tablets on a few trips so far, as my only method of water treatment (other than filtering through a bandana if there's obvious crud). In order to keep my pack weight down, I wanted to avoid carrying a filter. However, I didn't like the idea of using iodine tablets, decided chlorine dioxide sounded better, but didn't want to use a liquid product like Aquamira drops (too much chance of spillage). So, when I found out the chlorine dioxide was available in tablet form it sounded ideal.

Read more: Katadyn Micropur MP1 Purification Tablets reviews (6)

Water Wizard for River Runners

user rating: 4.5 of 5 (1 review)

Although designed primarily for river runners, this chemical treatment product works equally well for hikers and campers who need to settle the dirt and sediment out of water before filtering it or treating it for drinking. Follow the directions by adding the appropriate number of drops of the Water Wizard solution to muddy water, stir briskly, and within a minute or two the result is clean, clear water. The Water Wizard solution is actually polyaluminum chloride which has been in standard use for decades at municipal water treatment plants.

Reasons to Buy

  • Works great.
  • Easy to use.
  • Clears up even the muddiest water.
  • Compact and convenient to carry and use.
  • Easy-to-follow instructions.

Reasons to Avoid

  • Not inexpensive.
  • The delivery tube sometimes fails (but several are included).

It is great to find a product that works and does a great job. Water Wizard clears up the muddiest water for use within minutes, so that it can be filtered or treated for drinking (this product just makes the sediment drop out, it does not sterilize the water and make it potable). Read the easy-to-follow directions, add the appropriate number of drops to your dirty water, stir vigorously, and then sit back and enjoy the magic. All dirt and sediment will settle out to the bottom of your container of choice.  The clear water should then be carefully poured off (so as not to stir up the layer of sediment on bottom).

Read more: Water Wizard for River Runners review (1)

Aquamira Water Purifier Tablets

user rating: 4 of 5 (2 reviews)

Bottom line -- don't leave home without it. I've seen and experienced all sorts of troubles with so called bomb-proof water filters and the end result was usually one of two things: you're at the mercy of some rancid tasting iodine tabs you can pick up at Walmart for the spare change in your pocket, or you're forced to head home early. I bought a 24 pack to carry as a backup I actually wouldn't mind using if faced with filter troubles. They pack down small, don't hardly weigh a thing, and the package is surprisingly thin...there is no good reason you can say they're an inconvenience to you.

Read more: Aquamira Water Purifier Tablets reviews (2)

More Reviews of Chemical Water Treatments

Trailspace reviewers have shared 25 reviews of 11 different chemical water treatments.

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Other Types of Water Treatment

Find more water treatment reviewed in these related categories:

Water Purifiers

Pump and Gravity Water Filters

Bottle and Inline Water Filters

+2 more types

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