Treat Your Water

Your stomach will thank you!

We are fortunate enough here in Baxter State Park to have abundant water sources, and minimal industrial pollution.  However, no matter how pristine the area may seem, no body of water is safe from contaminants.  With advancing technology, there are now many different options for packable water treatment.  This is good news since diarrhea, vomiting, cramps and other ill effects often accompany the ingestion of water contaminated with parasites (Cryptosporidium and Giardia), bacteria and viruses. Symptoms can last from 1-6 weeks and sometimes longer. All of these pathogens are introduced into drinking water by human and animal fecal waste!


Options for Treatment


can be used as a pathogen reduction method against most microorganisms, depending on the pore size of the filter. When using ≤1 micron filter (NSF Standard 53 or 58 rated “cyst reduction / removal” filter), filtration is highly effective in removing parasites and moderately effective in removing bacteria. Manufacturer’s instructions must be followed.  For more information on selecting appropriate water filters please visit

WARNING: Filtration is NOT effective in killing viruses*

*Only filters that contain a chemical disinfectant matrix will be effective against some viruses.


KILLS ALL PATHOGENS! Water should be held at a rolling boil for 1 minute.


Iodine or Chlorine (including chlorine “bleach”) is highly effective in killing bacteria and viruses, but only low to moderately effective in removing Giardia. This treatment is NOT effective in killing Cryptosporidium, one of the most frequent causes of waterborne disease in the U.S.

Important: Iodine treatment is NOT recommended for pregnant women, people with thyroid problems, or those with known hypersensitivity

Many other factors can impact the effectiveness of disinfection. Disinfectants vary by manufacturer and product. 100% effectiveness may not be achieved.

Combination filtration and disinfection has a very high effectiveness in removing all four pathogens when used with the recommended disinfectant.


Other treatment methods:

  • Ultraviolet Light is effective against some pathogens (Manufacturer’s instructions must be followed). It typically requires prefiltering of cloudy water. Results vary depending on the model.
  • Miox brand systems use a salt solution to create mixed oxidants, primarily chlorine. However chlorine has a low to moderate effectiveness in killing Giardia, and is not effective in killing Cryptosporidium. Manufacturer’s instructions must be followed.

Our recommendation…

If boiling water is not possible, a 2 step approach of filtration and chemical disinfection is the most effective pathogen reduction method in drinking water.

In addition to using the appropriate drinking water treatment methods listed above, you can also protect yourself and others from waterborne illness in the backcountry by practicing good personal hygiene and proper human waste disposal.