What If My Water Filter Freezes, Will It Be Damaged?

Freezing of the water filter

Will the water filter be damaged if it freezes? The answer is yes, it is possible. The cartridge or element of the water filter can freeze and become damaged or cracked (possibly not visible).

Many of us have at least one portable water filter. We may take them with us on camping or hiking trips, or simply tuck them into a special survival kit, survival bag or other use case. But beware of freezing temperatures! This problem can be overlooked if, for example, you leave a water filter in the kit to stay in your vehicle during the winter months.

Berkey Countertop Water Filter: Like portable water filters with filter media, Berkey’s filter media can also freeze. This filter is usually located in your home. So this is not a problem. But….if you have an RV, like me, it’s better to bring Berkey inside for the winter!

Please support USA family-owned Berkey Filters if you are considering buying your own or a replacement business:

>> All Berkey filter models

Have you ever wondered if your water filter can be damaged if it freezes?

You may not have thought about it yet, but you need to… ….

Why? Because freezing can damage the water ….filter element
and you wouldn’t even know it!

That’s right, the internal filter medium (cartridge) can burst. And then when you want to use it, the filter is insufficient, so the impurities come through.

How can low freezing temperatures damage the filter?

When it freezes, the ice crystals are absorbed into the filter media. This can lead to the formation of cracks, expansions or “holes” in the water filter cartridge itself that are larger than the pore size of the filter. As a result, unfiltered unpurified water flows without adequate filtration.

How do I know if my water filter is broken?

The fact is that there is no absolute way to know if a water filter has been damaged by frost.

They don’t want to know if you’re sick!

Furthermore, the “food dye test” is inconclusive. Since it is water-soluble, it can still pass through the pores of the filter, indicating a false positive. “Most dyes go into solution (molecular) rather than suspension (particulate).” Note that activated carbon can absorb food dyes during the filtration phase, but activated carbon is supposed to neutralize odor and taste.

Read: ‘Black Berry Red Dye’ test for food coloring – does it work or not? ]

You can check the filter manufacturer’s website and FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) to find out if your filter is susceptible to frost damage.

In general, if the filter element has been used and is therefore wet, the water inside will freeze at temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause the filter media inside to crack, damage or destroy.

Note: The inside of the water filter remains wet for a very long time, even after it has been dried or not used for some time. My understanding is that this can take weeks or longer, depending on the filter material. I seem to have read (from Sawyer?) that the filter never dries completely after use.

Good News

Fortunately, these portable water filters are not expensive.
So replacing them is not a big problem.


Here’s what the LifeStraw website says:

“If your LifeStraw filter has been used and then exposed to temperatures below freezing, the water inside can freeze and crack. You may not notice these cracks, so we recommend that you never let it freeze after use. If you are camping at high altitudes or if the water freezes, be very careful not to let it freeze.”

Lifestraw in backpack

Please support the family business, ReadyMadeResources.com, to purchase yours:

>> LifeStraw portable water filter (free shipping)


It’s on Sawyer’s website:

The filter is
protected from freezing
before the first humidification
if it has never been humidified before.

After the first humidification.
Although there is no exact method to determine if the filter has been damaged by freezing, Sawyer recommends changing the filter if you suspect it has frozen.

If you are cold, we recommend that you keep the filter in your pocket or next to someone else so that your body heat can prevent freezing.


Please support the family business, ReadyMadeResources.com, to purchase yours:

Sawyer Mini water filter
(free shipping)

Tips for protecting water filter from freezing

Keep a portable water filter close to your body when the temperature is freezing.

Keep it in your jacket.

Keep a water filter in your sleeping bag at night.

Alternative water treatment for cold temperatures

Boil the water.


In the winter (or anytime), boiling water always works in place of a filter.
[Read: How long does it take to boil drinking water?]

Ultraviolet Ultraviolet

The Steripen is a good choice at very low temperatures. Ultraviolet radiation destroys organic impurities.

SteriPen UV filter
(amzn view)

Water tablets

Consider chemical treatment of the water instead of a filter if the water is so cold:

Water purification tablets
(amzn view)

More information here:

LifeStraw Magazine – 10 benefits – And the new LifeStraw Go.

The smallest Berkey Countertop water filter.

Which water filter should I buy?

Frequently asked questions

Is it filtered through ice water?

There are five reliable methods of purifying water: boiling, distillation, filtration, chemical use and freezing…… When water freezes, especially at low speeds, there is no room for impurities when crystals form. Thus, the impurities are displaced and what freezes is a purer form of water.

How can I prevent my water filter from freezing?

An easy way to prevent your water filter from freezing is to put it in a zippered plastic bag and sleep with it in your sleeping bag to keep your body temperature warm.

Can you freeze the British filter?

Everything has to be in order. The water goes through the filter before it freezes. Otherwise you will find ice in the upper chamber. The filter has to be in order.

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