Can I use my Sawyer filter when the city issues a boil order? Or could there contaminants such as viruses present that require boiling? How about other filters such as carbon filters?

I'm confident that UV pens or bottles would be sufficient, but any commentary on those are also welcome.

  • Should your question include other water filters as well, since I was thinking about the same thing with a regular carbon filter?
    – slybloty
    Oct 7, 2013 at 19:29
  • 1
    @slybloty - Better? Oct 7, 2013 at 20:03

2 Answers 2


I assume that you are somewhere where the normal situation is that tap water is safe to drink.

The order not to do so can result from

  • analyses (water samples) failing the microbiological or chemical testing
  • breakdown/repair of a pipe, so that the water can get contaminated (the order for that is usually that you should leave the water running until the contamination is flushed out, and the water company will do some flushing also.

So there is a known reason for the order not to drink tap water.

Here (Germany) when the tap water is contaminated the news usually report the reason for not drinking tap water, i.e. they name the contaminant.

If the news do not tell that in your place, maybe you could phone the water company/city hall to find out what the reason is.

However, for chemical contamination "boil water for xxx minutes" usually woudn't help - they'd tell you to drink bottled water/water from the wagon they'll bring only.

Most cases we have here are caused by bacteria (tested are E. coli/coliform bacteria, Enterococci). The analyses AFAIK do not test for viruses.


If you are being asked to boil water it has a biological contamination. Boiling would have no beneficial effect on chemically contaminated water. With this in mind, any chemical treatment would be sufficient as would a specific dilution of household bleach.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.