How long can you survive without water?

  • Proper hydration is essential to your survival. Your body needs to consume a significant amount of water each day to function properly. This is because you constantly excrete water through sweat and urination, so your body needs to replenish the lost fluids. You cannot live long without consuming a healthy amount of water. It is only possible to survive without water for a matter of days. You may be susceptible to the effects of dehydration even sooner, depending on certain factors such as age, body size, physical exertion, temperature, etc. https://www.healthline.com/.

Is my tap water always safe to drink?

  • It is considered generally safe if it comes from a public water system in the United States, such as one run and maintained by a municipality. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has the authority to monitor all public water systems and sets enforceable health standards regarding the contaminants in drinking water. https://www.webmd.com/

Why do I need an emergency source of water?

  • Following a disaster, clean drinking water may not be available, or your regular water source could become contaminated. Prepare yourself for an emergency by creating and storing a supply of water that will meet your family’s needs. https://www.cdc.gov/

How much water should be stored for an emergency?

  • Store at least one gallon of water per person per day …… for drinking and sanitation. A normally active person needs about three quarters of a gallon of fluid daily, from water and other beverages. However, individual needs vary depending on age, health, physical condition, activity, diet and climate where:

  • Children, nursing mothers and sick people may need more water.

  • A medical emergency might require additional water.

  • If you live in a warm weather climate more water may be necessary. In very hot temperatures, water needs can double. https://www.ready.gov/water

What are the principal methods to make surface water suitable for drinking?

  • Principal methods to treat potentially contaminated water to make it suitable for drinking include: boiling, chlorination, filtration, ultraviolet radiation, and distillation. Each method has its pros and cons with chlorination and filtration being the most practicable in an emergency situation.  

What common biologic contaminants found in water can cause illness or death in humans?

  • Potential harmful biological (living) contaminants in water include: protozoa (i.e., giardia and cryptosporidium), bacteria (i.e. e coli, cholera, salmonella, typhus, cyanobacteria), and virus (i.e., norovirus, rotavirus).       

What common chemical contaminants found in water can cause illness or death in humans?

  • Synthetic and volatile organic chemicals can come from gas stations, urban storm water runoff and septic systems. Pesticides and herbicides come from a variety of sources such as agriculture, urban storm water runoff and residential uses.

If the water is clear, is it safe to drink?

  • Short answer is no. Microscopic impurities like bacteria, viruses and parasites that contaminate water cannot be smelled, tasted or even seen. Hence even if your water is clear, it does not mean it is safe to drink.

Why is filtration the most common portable method of treating surface water to make it safe for drinking?

  • Filtration is effective for removing the widest variety of waterborne contaminants (both biological and chemical) to make the water suitable for drinking. Portable filtration systems can be configured to be small in size, light weight, and adaptable to differing surface water conditions. When filtration alone is not adequate to remove most harmful biologic contaminants, it can be combined with other treatment methods. 

If I have stored water, why do I need portable water treatment system?

  • A stored water supply works perfectly for a short-term interruption of the municipal water supply due to contamination or localized disaster. This assumes the interruption lasts only for a few days to a couple of weeks. If the outage lasts longer than that, serious health risks quickly arise due to lack of availability of clean water. Storing enough water for a longer lasting emergency quickly become a guessing game that is expensive as to storage container cost, space to store the containers, and maintenance to treat and rotate the water. It is not practical for the average household to store enough water for a credible longer-term interruption of the water supply. The PortaWell is a low-cost insurance policy that is affordable, small storage footprint, easy to use, scalable to small or large families or groups, and reliable in removal of common harmful biologic and chemical contaminants.  

Can any surface water be made a suitable source for drinking water?

  • Theoretically the answer is “yes”’; however, some water sources may require a more treatment processes than filtration alone. Water that contains heavy metals such as arsenic, mercury, cadmium, lead etc. will require special filters to remove those contaminants. Water that is cloudy caused by excessive silt, algae or other organic matter may require pretreatment to remove the larger particles to prevent early fouling of a finishing (small pore size) filter. Water that has a strong chemical smell may require multiple treatments methods to completely remove the contaminant.  

Can “swamp water” be used as a source of surface water for PortaWell?

  • “Swamp water” is defined here as water from any source (shallow pool, standing water, pond, slow moving stream, etc.) that has significant turbidity (cloudiness) with visible floating particulate and/or detectable odor. Filtration alone is usually not adequate to make this water source suitable for drinking and this source type should be chosen only as a last resort.  

What are the advantages of using the PortaWell versus other popular portable filtration systems?

  • Other commercially available portable water filtration systems fall into two main categories: gravity fed and manual pump systems. PortaWell is a dual stage, pumped system that is powered by a small 12-volt rechargeable battery (think portable drill vs screwdriver). The principal advantages PortaWell offers are through-put and capacity. PortaWell effortlessly delivers up to 10 times the amount of drinking water per hour vs comparable manual pumped or gravity fed systems. PortaWell uses large, industry standard filters which greatly expands the volume of water able to be treated before filter cleaning or filter changeout.

What are some of the filter options available for use with PortaWell?

  • Because PortaWell uses industry standard 10-inch x 2 ½ inch OBE (open both end), many filter options are available based on your specific need. PortaWell is shipped standard with a ceramic filter for removal of bacteria and cysts, and an activated charcoal carbon block filter for removal of volatile organic chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, and chlorine and a sediment filter to prefilter particulate. This combination of filters will treat the most common waterborne contaminants to make it safe for human consumption.

How much water can be pumped through PortaWell filters before they need to be replaced?

  • The ceramic filter is cleanable and is rated for 10,000 gallons total capacity. The charcoal carbon block filter is rated at 1000 gallons total capacity. Poor quality of the source water can significantly reduce these capacities. The ceramic filter is cleanable

How do filtration and chlorination complement each other?

  • Filtration will remove biological contaminants down to 0.2 microns which includes pathogenic bacteria and protozoa (i.e. giardia and cryptosporidium). Some biologic contaminants (viruses, prions) are smaller than that and filtration may not remove all of this class of contaminants. Chlorination up to 4 ppm is very effective in killing these contaminants. Chlorination by itself in not effective to kill protozoa cysts (giardia, cryptosporidium) yet he combination of the two are very effective against these biologic contaminants. 

How do I safely chlorinate water?

  • If the back pressure on the pump exceeds 45 psi, the pump has a pressure switch that will cause it to shut off. It sounds like your stored water may have some green algae it which will quickly foul the ceramic filter. This will not damage the pump, but you may have to pretreat the water with chlorine, and let the algae settle out to get better results. The ceramic filter is cleanable and can be restored to full flow.  

How do I remove chlorine from the water?

  • Chlorine can be reduced by running the water through a filter with activated charcoal. The carbon works by adsorption, the molecular bonding of the chlorine ions to the surface of the charcoal. 

How do I clean the PortaWell ceramic filter if it becomes plugged?

  • The ceramic filter is washable up to 30 times. The flow rate of the ceramic filter can be easily renewed by simply brushing its outer surface with a clean plastic brush, or soft scouring pad under running water. As the top layer of ceramic and contaminants are brushed off, a new layer becomes available. Do not use soap, detergents, or steel wool.

How do I clean the Carbon Filter?

  • The charcoal carbon Block filter is not cleanable and must be replaced. 

What size battery do I need to run PortaWell?

  • PortaWell requires a 12-volt deep cycle battery with a minimum capacity of 7 Amp Hours. These are available on our website or can be purchased locally from a hardware or automotive supply store. 

How long can I run the PortaWell on a battery before it needs recharging?

  • PortaWell can operate approximately 1 hour on a 12-volt 7 Amp Hour battery before needing recharging. This will provide 40 to 60 gallons of clean water suitable for drinking.  

What do I need to charge a battery using solar power?

  • All that is needed to recharge a 12-volt battery is a 12-volt solar panel, a 12 volt, 10 amp (minimum) solar charge controller and cables to connect the battery, charge controller and solar panel and sunshine.  

What size solar panel do I need with PortaWell?

  • A 30-to-50-watt 12-volt solar panel will completely recharge a 7 Amp hour battery in less than two hours if the battery has a depth of discharge of less than 50% (represents approximately 1 hour of PortaWell running time which generates 40 to 60 gallons of filtered water.)

What are recommended spare parts for PortaWell?

  • Recommended spare/service parts include: 1) spare filter housing O-rings, 2) silicon grease for lubricating O-rings, 3) chlorination kit, 4) spare ceramic and carbon block filters.

Other Miscellaneous Questions

Can I filter my pool water with Portawell to make it safe for drinking?

  • know what chemicals have been used for its maintenance. Most pool chemistry is adequately controlled using chlorine tablets or using auto controllers that maintain the pool chemistry by injecting hydrochloric acid for PH control and sodium hypochlorite (bleach) for free chlorine levels. Chlorine tablets typically have Trichloro-S-Triazinetrione as its main ingredient. This provides free chlorine for control of biologics (bacteria and virus) and cyuranic acid which is acts as a stabilizer for the chlorine against sunlight. (Free Chlorine quickly breaks down in the presence of sunlight without a stabilizer present). EPA chlorine limits for drinking water is <4ppm and <20 ppm for cyuranic acid. A properly maintained swimming pool is < 4 ppm chlorine but the cyuranic acid concentration can be up to 70 to 90 ppm.

    A charcoal filter is effective for reducing both chlorine and cyuranic acid. Our swimming pool has a cyuranic acid of 70ppm and after filtering through the charcoal filter it is reduced to < 15 ppm; a good filter combination for filtering our pool water is the ceramic filter in the first stage and a Carbon Bloc filter in the 2nd stage.

    If the pool has been regularly treated with some proprietary algicide or if there is significant algae in the water because the circulation pumps have been off for a long period, then the treatment strategy becomes a little more complicated. You may need to pretreat the water to remove the algae so it doesn’t prematurely plug the filters and you may need to select a different filter to remove the more exotic chemicals in the algicide. The good news is both options exist. Commercially available filters that fit PortaWell contain media especially suited for reduction of heavy metals and a broader spectrum of organic chemicals.

I have a saltwater pool. Can PortaWell filter this water to make it drinkable?

  • PortaWell filters do not remove salt (sodium chloride) from water or other hard water minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Because salt is a dissolved solid, the most common method to remove salt from water is through reverse osmosis filtration.

    The ideal salt level for a saltwater pool is between 2700 and 3400 ppm with 3200 ppm being optimal. EPA has identified 250 mg/L as a concentration at which chloride can be expected to cause a salty taste in drinking water. The secondary level of 250 mg/L is based on aesthetic concerns and is only advisory in the Federal Safe Drinking Water program.

Does your filter remove trace uranium?

  • The filters supplied with PortaWell do not remove heavy metals like uranium; however because PortaWell is designed to accept standard 2 inch x 10 inch filters, you are able to purchase a filter from other suppliers that will reduce heavy metals.

    AquaCera supplies one called CERAMETIX that removes >92% Heavy Metals and >94% Radionuclides. Part Number is W9522650.

Does PortaWell remove fluoride from water?

  • The filters supplied with PortaWell do not remove fluoride; however, because PortaWell is designed to accept standard sized filters, you are able to purchase specialty filters from other suppliers that do reduce fluoride.

    AquaCera supplies one called CERAMETIX that removes > 92 % Fluoride plus other heavy metals and organic contaminants. Part Number is W9522650.

I am very interested in purchasing a Portawell. But I do have some questions regarding the ability to filtrate chemicals. I noticed on the website it is able to filtrate VOCs. My concern is with urban areas where VOCs, raw sewage and other pollutants become an issue with water. Is this system able to filtrate those types of instances (I realize it may be tough to state definitively due to the many variables in the scenario).

  • As you stated there are many different scenarios, but it is always best to start with the best water source possible. I would always avoid water sources with raw sewage or industrial pollutants. 

    PortaWell filters (actually all filters) work by physically trapping the targeted contaminant. The higher the concentration of contaminant (i.e., silt, algae, biologics, chemicals) the more quickly a filter media will load up and foul. While the ceramic filter (used for removal of bacteria and cysts) is cleanable, the sediment prefilter and carbon block filters are not. 

    PortaWell offers the flexibility of choosing different combinations of filters for different situations; however, it is up to the user to become knowledgeable about its use.


So where are you supposed to put the sediment filter? There are only two housings. Is the sediment filter supposed to go on the end of the clear tube? Are you supposed to drop the big filter into the river?

  • The PortaWell is shipped with three filters. It is up to the user to determine which two filters to use based on the source water conditions. The table in the User Guide gives some guidance for filter selection and sequence. If the water source requires all three filters (it is cloudy and has possible chemical contaminants) you will need to filter the water twice. Once with the sediment filter in the first stage and the ceramic filter in the second stage, followed by a second filtration with the ceramic filter in the first stage and the carbon filter in the second stage.

    It is best to avoid a water source that is clouded with particulate or algae as it will quickly plug any filtration system designed to purify water. If that is the only water source you have access to, there are additional steps you will need to take to improve the water quality before filtering.

    As to where to place the suction hose, the tubing with the small screen filter is placed in the source water. I have found it best practice to bucket the water from the source and then draw from the bucket, through the PortaWell and into a clean container.

I just received my PortaWell and tried it. I would like to buy some longer input and output hoses. What is the description of the hoses (diameter, wall thickness, etc.) that would fit the PortaWell? I only received two hose clamps. Do I need more? 

  • You can buy additional tubing from Home Depot or Lowes—it is ½ inch OD x 3/8-inch ID food grade vinyl tubing. I would limit the inlet and outlet length to less than 6 ft otherwise it will adversely affect the flow. The reason you only need two clamps is the inlet to the pump and the outlet from the PortaWell are barbed fittings with no pressure, unless you are pumping into a pressurized system (not usually the case). In that situation you may need to put a clamp on the outlet hose also.

I’m located in Perth Western Australia. Do you ship the PortaWell international? Also do the units travel well. I’m worried about the housing being damaged in transit. Your response would be welcomed as my brother and I would both like to purchase.

  • We have just started shipping to Australia, New Zealand and Europe—give me your address and will calculate shipping for you. We have sent units to UK, and they arrived in good shape. The PortaWell is shipped in a 5-gallon bucket packaged inside a corrugated box and holds up very well.  

I am looking to purchase some replacement carbon filters. The one shipped with my unit is a 5-micron filter. Can I use a 1-micron filter without damaging it? I’m guessing the flow rate will decrease but it would provide better filtration. Would that be better? 

  • Yes, the 1-micron carbon filter should work fine and may reduce your flow. If you are using it behind the .5-micron ceramic filter, there is not much advantage because the ceramic filter is doing the “heavy lifting” by removing any cysts or bacteria.

If I have stored water, why do I need portable water treatment system?

  • Yes, the 1-micron carbon filter should work fine and may reduce your flow. If you are using it behind the .5-micron ceramic filter, there is not much advantage because the ceramic filter is doing the “heavy lifting” by removing any cysts or bacteria.  

I understand that the orders are running 3 weeks late, but please let me know if the ceramic filters will be shipped with the main Portawell units. If not, I need to search for other sources for the filters.

  • The ceramic filters we supply are manufactured in the USA (not China). Below are the part numbers of replacement filters you may be able to find from other sources.

    • CeraSyl™ (OBE) Part Number W9520302

    • CeraSyl™ Imperial (OBE) Part Number W9522010

    • Doulton Sterasyl Imperial (OBE) Part Number W9220406

    • Doulton Sterasyl Slimline (OBE) Part Number W9220402

I received the PortaWell in the mail today and it seems well built and in great condition however the included ACB filter's top is not level and I'm concerned it may not seal properly. 

  • The Sealing of the filter to the filter housing depends on V shaped protrusions on the top filter housing lid and the bottom canister. From the testing I have done, when the filter housing is tightened with the filter installed, the tolerances allow a certain amount of misalignment and still make a tight seal. In fact, because the filter seals on both the top and bottom surfaces, the perpendicular measurement of only one end may be misleading. I have found a better test is to fashion two pieces of aluminum foil with a hole in the center, place on top of the filter and one on the bottom, install the filter in the housing, hand tighten to snug (not tight, tight), unscrew the housing and then look to see if there is a groove in the foil to indicate a secure seal.

    To ensure a good seal (and as recommended by the filter manufacturer), I always make sure the top and bottom filter gasket surfaces are clean (no grit) and have a light coating of silicon plumbers’ grease to affect a good seal.

What size "O" rings are used? I wanted to get some spares at the hardware store. 

  • Unfortunately the O-rings used by the manufacturer of the filter housings are a non-standard size. You can special order them from Pentek (10 inch slimline filter housing). We offer a PortaWell Maintenance kit that contains 2 spare O-rings, food grade silicon O-ring grease, and a filter housing wrench. 

Is PortaWell capable of everyday use under the sink?

  • PortaWell is usable for under sink water filtration, however you would need to do some plumbing changes to bypass the pump—easy thing to do but would require some different fittings that are available at any hardware store. 

My filter housing is hard to loosen after I have used it. What do I need to do?

  • A couple of things I have found in working with the filter holders—only hand tighten them rather than tighten too snugly as the O-ring is what makes the seal. Occasionally you may need to clean the O-ring and O-ring groove and apply a small amount of plumber’s silicon grease to ensure a watertight seal. Also, I have found the pump will actually pressurize the filter holders making them more difficult to untwist. I either let it sit for a few minutes to release the pressure or just remove the inlet hose to the first filter housing.

    We now offer a maintenance kit option that includes a filter wrench, silicon grease and replacement O-rings.

How can I sanitize my PortaWell after use to ensure my filtered water is free of harmful microbes?

  • It is important to use good practices when working with potentially contaminated water. The ceramic filter acts as the final filter for removal of harmful microbes so anything downstream of this filter should remain sterile during use. PortaWell can be sanitized by mixing up a solution of ~200 ppm chlorine bleach solution (approx. 1 gallon), pumping into the system and letting sit for 30 minutes.

    After use (and if unit will not be used within the next 72 hours), the storage procedure listed in the PortaWell user guide should be followed.

I am using PortaWell to filter some water that I have stored in barrels for six years. Suddenly the pump is sounding different and stops and starts. Is there something I can do as I don’t want it to fail on me.

  • If the back pressure on the pump exceeds 45 psi, the pump has a pressure switch that will cause it to shut off. It sounds like your stored water may have some green algae it which will quickly foul the ceramic filter. This will not damage the pump, but you may have to pretreat the water with chlorine, and let the algae settle out to get better results. The ceramic filter is cleanable and can be restored to full flow  

I purchased an 8-amp hr. lead acid battery from you to power my PortaWell. Do I need to charge it before I can use it?

  • The Interstate battery we supply from our website comes to you fully charged and ready for use; however, lead acid batteries will self-discharge about 3% per month. For long term storage it is best to keep the battery charged meaning it should be topped off with a float charger (@2 amps max) every three to 4 months. If the battery is allowed to go flat (fully discharged), it will likely reduce the capacity and longevity of the battery.  

I recently purchased a PortaWell, got set up, and tried two different water sources to test the product before it was really needed. One was from my rain barrel, and I could taste the barrel. One was from a local creek, and I could taste dirt. I didn't swallow either of the test sources. I ran both for a minute or two before testing, pump and water flow were good. Not sure why I would be getting a taste in the water.

  • The filter we provide that can affect taste is the activated carbon (carbon block) and that is for the reduction of chlorine and certain organic chemicals. Taste can be also affected by dissolved solids (like salt) and only reverse osmosis or ion exchange can remove these.

    We supply the three filters that remove the most common contaminants that affect human health: Ceramic to reduce microbes, sediment to reduce particulate and activate charcoal to reduce chlorine and organics like herbicides and pesticides.

    About your application and not knowing the specifics of your water source, let me offer some things to try from my experience. Water from a slow-moving stream can carry significant organic matter including moss and algae that can affect taste. I have filtered water from such a source and seen the same green or yellow cast. I think it is chlorophyll and because it is in solution, the filters I used did not remove it. I also took water from a pond that was heavily laden with particulate (duck, swans and goose dropping), and the water filtered crystal clear (after I had pretreated the water to let the particulate settle out).

    I have also found the carbon filter works better if you let it soak for 30 minutes or so in the filter housing before you use it to remove contaminants. I think this opens the pores of the activated charcoal to give more surface area for trapping the chemical contaminants. You might try that.

    A couple of specialty filters you might consider for your situation that are compatible with PortaWell: a media filled ceramic filter made by AquaCera. It is called Cerametix (Part number W9522650). It claims very good reduction of a wide variety of organic chemicals. Another one is made by Argonide called NanoCeram PAC. We will begin offering both of these on our website soon, but you can get them now online from other sources.