You can’t use a water filter or water purifier when temperatures dip below freezing without risking the integrity of the filter element. Filters and purifiers can be expensive to replace, so it pays to take a few simple steps before you store them so they’re fully functional and ready to go in the spring. Here’s how.
Backflush Your Water Filter or Purifier
Many backcountry water filters and purifiers can be backflushed, which means reversing the normal flow of water through the filter element. This serves to unclog any debris or contaminants that are stuck in the filter and flush them out. Many filters and purifiers come with a hose (like the Platypus Gravity Works System) or a syringe (like The Sawyer Squeeze) that you can use to perform this backflushing operation.
If you’ve used your water filter or purifier recently, you only need to perform the backflush operation a few times to clean it out. If you haven’t used it recently and the filter element is “dry”, it’s best to run water through the filter in the normal direction to wet it out before commencing the backflushing operation. Whatever you do, don’t exert any extra pressure when you backflush the filter element because it can rip or deform the internal filter element, which may just be paper, depending on the product you use.
Flush With Chlorinated Tap Water
Next, filter a few liters of chlorinated tap water flowing in the normal direction just like you would in the backcountry. Chlorinated city water is sufficiently purified to kill off any bacterial blooms or mold from growing in your filter/purifier when it’s stored away. If you don’t have chlorinated water where you live, make some using the normal concentration of Aqua Mira or Bleach, per the CDC’s directions for making potable chlorinated water using household bleach.
Drying and Storage
Let your filter/purifier dry out slowly and naturally by placing it in a warm and well ventilated location, out of direct sunlight. After a week, move it to a drawer or closet in the heated part of your home. Come spring, it will be ready to use.
That’s all there is to it!
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