Water purification tablets / drops

Hi guys, which water purification tablets or drops are the best to use? Also, does it make the water taste horrible?

Thank you.

The only ones I’ve used recently is Aqua Salveo. Can get it from most pharmacies or even camping shops. 3 drops per litre of water and wait 10 mins. I haven’t noticed a change in taste from them.


I don’t find the Aqua Salveo drops to impart a particular taste. I’m still a little dubious as to its viability for water purification though. It functions through the use of copper, zinc and silver ions and as far as I can find there isn’t actually solid evidence around the use of this for water purification.

When I asked about this before someone kindly linked the CSIR report, but my take away from it was that it had been tested to not be obviously dangerous for human consumption and to have properties that killed bacteria. But wasn’t being tested for its effectiveness as a water purifier vs other other options.

A WHO report from 2018 is not very supportive of this:

“In drinking-water treatment applications, silver (ionic silver, experimental silver nanoparticle
applications and silver-coated ceramic filters [ionic silver and silver nanoparticles]) has generally only
shown to be effective against bacteria (i.e. 1.6 to 7.6 log10 reductions), most notably E. coli, with
relatively long contact times. Based on the current available evidence, which is particularly limited for
viruses and protozoa, silver does not appear to meet the WHO minimum performance recommendations
for POU treatment products, which require effectiveness for two of the three pathogen classes”

For water purification the consensus tends to be towards Chlorine Dioxide products (Katadyn Micropur for example) as effective against bacteria and virus while not impacting taste greatly. Weirdly difficult to get here for a reasonable price, if anyone has a good source please shout.

With the areas I hike I have been happy with water filtration over purification, and in that line the best piece of kit I have found is the Sawyer Squeeze, the smaller sizes are all too slow. Decent flow rate and pretty indestructible, but be cautious in high silt areas or if you are in a big group.

If you want way too much information about chemical purifiers, Gear Skeptic is fantastic but a lot :sweat_smile:

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@Wooshness @Jaxz - thank you for the feedback, appreciate it.

I think you need to use something for lowland or lower slip and standing water consumption.

The Salveo drops are relatively tasteless but a frustration to work with when you’re putting into a larger water bladder 9drops… and you’re tired.

Personally I’d argue that the UV sterilisation effect of leaving water in a plastic clear bottje for two hours is as effective…

The pills leave a taste easily mashed with Game powder but they’re disastrous for coffee urghhh!

The Sawyer mini filter is about as good as it gets abs is my preference and go to for water filtration.
I’ve got it set up on a gravity feed of up to 8 litres filtering at optimum 1 litre a minute but in reality up to 1 litre every 5minutes once it’s done a few litres - I should back wash it more often

Understanding what you’re trying to eliminate is probably more helpful you’re either eliminating bacterial or protozoan contaminants.
I don’t think I’d trust the Salveo drops or pills for protozoan bugs. When drinking out of still waters rivers dams or lakes but I wound at altitude.
I also have a charcoal filter which I trust more than the pills or drops but rarely use nowadays since I got the sawyer

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I’ve been using the Salveo drops for many years in the Drakensberg and have never suffered any bacterial infections. I’ve once had to collect really disgusting water from a pond near Rockeries pass - it was very dry and this was the only water we could find anywhere on the escarpment. We had been out of water for about 5 hours, so we were out of choices (and it was a very hot and windy day). The little pond was covered in slime and stuff from all the animals that were also using it - cattle, sheep, horses etc.

I used 5 drops per liter, just to be sure. Yes, it tasted horrible - I really don’t like the taste of these drops (but the chlorine tablets I dislike even more), but it worked. None of us got sick, and in fact, everyone in my family uses it, have been for year, and none of us had ever gotten sick.

I wouldn’t let the water stand for just 10 minutes though, they recommend at least 30min, which is the rule I’ve always followed. This is a bit of a drawback though, because there have been instances where I was out of water and thirsty, but then had to wait for 30min before I could drink the water. This same type of product is also used in agricultural circles in SA, so it’s not only limited to human consumption. Just a word of advice - after adding the drops to your container - shake it vigorously so it can mix properly with the water, else there is a possibility that the drops doesn’t make contact with all the pathogens.

Somebody mentioned UV radiation and this works very well. Rural communities use this to great effect - simply put a clear container full of river water in the sun for a minimum of 2 hours (a 2L Coke bottle with the sticker removed works well) and the UV radiation kills evderything. Problem is, you may not have 2 hours of strong sunlight left, or it might be cloudy or rainy. The solution is then to carry a battery-powered little UV light stick which typically takes between 60 - 90 sec to purify the water. Note that this only works if you have relatively clear water - it will not work 100% in murky water as the particles in the water will reflect the light away. Also, if your batteries die or the device breaks (which happened to a friend of mines recently) you have a problem.

Lastly, you could also use one of those ceramic straw-type devices. These kinda offers you the best of both worlds - they are light, filter the water very effectively, can be used in all types of water, and are relatively robust.

I use all 3 devices mentioned above, depending on the hike I will go on. However, lately I’ve stopped using the battery-operated UV light device and only use the straw and the drops (now only used as backup). This setup works for me - you need to find what works best for you.

One last word on water filtration. Using a bit of common sense goes a long way to help keep you safe. If there is a human settlement nearby, don’t collect water downstream. In the Drakensberg, collecting water at the base of the escarpment from a running stream is relatively safe as the water has been filtered by 1km of basalt rock, and there is relatively limited animal activity at the foot of the escarpment. When having a choice between running or still water, rather collect from the running water. If you see signs of animals around a watering spot (footprints etc.), move higher about 100m and check out the area around the stream to see if it carries less traffic. When in doubt about the water quality, simply cook it on high heat for 5min or so (get a rolling boil on the go for 2 or 3 minutes), this would nuke the pathogens as well.

The above should go a long way to help minimize the risk of bacterial and viral infections.


@scubafrique @Riaang - thanks guys, interesting read!