Mar 12, 2011 at 1:55 pm #1270425
What do most of you do for water filtration?
I know the basic, common options are:
1) Steripen (doesn't remove smell/taste, toxins, etc)
2) carbon/ceramic filter – removes almost all harmful stuff, but fiddly and heavy
3) clorine/iodine – kills living stuff, but like #1 doesn't remove toxins and also smells/tastes
I'm leaning towards a ceramic/carbon filter like MSR or Katadyn, but they are pretty heavy. Any suggestions for lighter and low maintenance options?
ThanksMar 12, 2011 at 3:26 pm #1708008
@rick778Locale: NorCal - South Bay - Campbell
Gravity filters like the Sawyer In-Line setup:Mar 12, 2011 at 4:06 pm #1708030
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
More than half of my hiking trips I use AquaMira drops.
About 3/4oz for about a week, this is about the lightest I have found for water treatment. Note that this does NOT include morning coffee, nor, evening cocoa.
This does include two mini-droper bottles and a weeks worth of A and B.
Smell/taste is minimal. I do not tast it, but, my daughter does. It matters not, tannins in the water usually impart a rather bitter taste anyway. So, I just put in some flavouring. In hot weather, a dash of salt and potasium salt works OK to replace electrolytes. The bottles are rinsed first, since any leftover drink mix can kill the effectiveness.
Filters are better for larger stuff: tapeworms, etc. They do nothing against some bacteria and viruses.
Chemicals do well against smaller stuff: bacteria & viruses.
The combination of a filter and AM drops is VERY effictive. Clorine bleach and iodine can have harmfull side effects and is not recommended but usable. Few people react to clorine dioxide(same as AM drops), it is used in many(most?) treatment plants.Mar 12, 2011 at 4:30 pm #1708037
"The combination of a filter and AM drops is VERY effictive. Clorine bleach and iodine can have harmfull side effects and is not recommended but usable. "
I heartily agree that combining a simple filter (e.g. Aqua Mira Frontier Pro weighs just 2 ounces) to trap the big stuff and chemicals to treat the tiny stuff is an excellent option — one that I use myself as well. However, I disagree that chlorine is somehow unsafe. Not according to the thousands of municipalities that treat their water with chlorine! Actually, like with most everything else, the harmfulness lies with the concentration. Use chlorine as directed and you will be just fine — just like the other 5 billion souls around the world.
Chlorine dioxide is expensive! 30 tablets — to treat 30 liters of water — cost $15 — or fifty cents a liter. In contrast, you can get a whole gallon of bleach for $1 at some stores. More likely, most of us already have a bottle of the stuff in our homes. The dosage is 5 drops per liter. The cost is basically "free".Mar 12, 2011 at 4:43 pm #1708042
One problem is that a decent municipal water supply system has operators and chemists and instruments and automatic systems to maintain all of the chlorine operations at a perfect point. Backpackers don't have those luxuries. About all we have is legend and hearsay about Chlorine dosage and Chlorine Dioxide dosage, which are quite different due to their different attacks on bugs. Twenty years ago, I used Iodine on all of my backpack trips. Then I caught some of my group completely mis-using it.
–B.G.–Mar 12, 2011 at 4:46 pm #1708045
Yes, Bob. If 5 drops per liter is too difficult, then sure, go for chlorine dioxide — although I suspect folks who are incapable of following simple chlorine instructions might fail at chlorine dioxide instructions as well.Mar 12, 2011 at 4:59 pm #1708050
From FEMA website:
You can use household liquid bleach to kill microorganisms. Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 to 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, color safe bleaches, or bleaches with added cleaners. Because the potency of bleach diminishes with time, use bleach from a newly opened or unopened bottle.
Add 16 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach per gallon of water, stir, and let stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight bleach odor. If it doesn’t, then repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes. If it still does not smell of chlorine, discard it and find another source of water."
My own notes: There are other sites that state 6 drops per liter. 4 drops or 6, I just round it to 5 and call it good. There are also many other sites that state the ineffectiveness of chlorine (and iodine) in treating the bigger and harder to kill microorganisms — such as protozoa like Giardia and Crypto. That's why I first treat my water with chlorine (I only rely on it to kill the smaller stuff like viruses and bacteria) — then pass the water through a simple filter to block the bigger microorganisms — as well as clarifying the water and removing residual chlorine presence and taste.Mar 13, 2011 at 9:05 am #1708261
Do you use these for thru hikes or for camping as well? Water usage at the camp is usually higher, so i'm just curious.Mar 13, 2011 at 9:16 am #1708262
My longest hikes are merely one week in length. I've never done a thru hike. Having said that, a couple of points:
1. You only need to treat drinking water. Much of the water that comprises "camp use" — cooking and washing for example — generally don't need to be treated.
2. Double check beforehand, but most all AT, PCT, etc. thru hikers make periodic detours to stores — or cache along the route. beforehand.
3. Even if there will be no resupply at all, bringing along 2-3 Aqua Mira Frontier Pro filters — good for 2-3 months usage — weighs just 4 to 6 ounces.
Not saying the combination of chlorine and Frontier Pro is the answer to everything. But methinks it's an option worth considering.Mar 13, 2011 at 10:02 am #1708285
@vesteroidLocale: Eastern Sierras
i think the steripen with a aqua mira back up is a viable option. Its lite and reasonable for use. I think many of the stories of failure are due to exaggeration and operator error. I have seen more post saying they worked just fine than I have seen that they didnt.Mar 13, 2011 at 10:37 am #1708293
@jamesdmarcoLocale: Finger Lakes
"You can use household liquid bleach to kill microorganisms. Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 to 6.0 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, color safe bleaches, or bleaches with added cleaners. Because the potency of bleach diminishes with time, use bleach from a newly opened or unopened bottle."
Yes. This is the big reason I do not recommend it. Some of the bargin bin or dollar store stuff is not adequate. If kept in a dark place and tightly capped it will last a while (between 1 month and indeterminate.) A partial jug degrades quicker than a full jug. (The
"air" space provides a pressure releif for the clorine to escape. Easily dropping the last couple quarts out of a gallon below the 5.25% threshold cited.) This doesn't matter but, you have to know the starting point to adjust the dosage. Not a simple task.
A lot of the bacteriological effect depends on concentration and without that known starting point, this can be difficult to adjust. Iodine is not effective against Crypto. From one of the adds. http://www.greatoutdoorsdepot.com/polar-pure.html Soo, I avoid both. Besides having a problem with hypo or hyper thyroid production, alergies also exist. Both do work, though.
Try this for a prettu good write up without a lot of technical stuff:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portable_water_purificationMar 13, 2011 at 10:51 am #1708301
Methinks the "4-6 drops per liter" actually has a built in buffer. I wouldn't be overly concerned. Even should the chlorine lose some effectiveness (and who's to say if the chlorine dioxide tablets we bought 1 season or 1 year ago are still at 100%?) — it would first lose effectiveness against the harder to kill "big bugs" like protozoa (crypto). But in my case, I am only relying on the chlorine to kill the easy, tiny stuff (viruses and bacteria) — and relying on my filter to block the bigger protozoa.
Having said the above, at the end of the day, do we — as casual consumers without laboratory instruments — really know for sure? No. There is "black magic" involved in pretty much all hand held water treatment options. After all, are we absolutely sure that "hairline cracks" haven't developed in our ceramic filters? But again, the trick isn't to block every single organism. We just need to block enough (99%? 99.9%? 99.99%) so that our own immune system can kill off the rest. I feel pretty darn good about most of the systems mentioned when used here in North America (and north of Mexico). But if I were in the Congo facing the ebola virus, you bet I will take many more precautions!Mar 13, 2011 at 11:23 am #1708312
You can maybe get by using nothing but I use Aqua Mira (chlorine dioxide) it kills crypto, which regular chlorine wont.It is all about managing risk and that is a personal choice.Mar 13, 2011 at 11:25 am #1708314
@dwambaughLocale: Pacific Northwest
After reading the recent article on UV and gravity filters, I whet surfing on gravity filters and I am intrigued with the Sawyer models. If they live up to their specs and don't clog too easily, they sure add up on paper. I would build a gravity system using a couple Platypus bladders and a Sawyer filter. The Sawyer is just 1.8oz, so carrying a spare filter is not an unreasonable option.
I like the idea of the AquaMira Frontier filter, but it strikes me as having too large a pore size; it makes more sense with a filter/chemical hybrid system.
I use a Steripen with MicroPur tablets as a backup. 99% of the reason I use the Steripen is the time element. Most of my hikes are day hikes and overnights. I start out with a liter or two and I just want a quick way to add another liter if needed along the way. I hike in areas with lots of fast-running streams and lakes and most water is clear and cold. Giardia is my main concern, but being able to cover as many bugs as possible is a plus.
I have confidence in chemical treatment, but time is the factor. With the cold water, I don't think waiting 30 minutes is effective and waiting several hours on a day hike doesn't add up. Hauling a one pound filter doesn't add up either. With the Steripen, I can treat as I go and I always have several MicroPur tablets in my kit for backup. I think overnight treatment with chlorine dioxide products is an excellent way to go.
I do have a Katadyn Hiker Pro filter which I think is great for groups where you need a lot of water quickly and the weight (and the pumping) can be shared.
Boiling is always an option. I don't treat my cooking water if I am low on treated water as I am going to boil it anyway. Topping off a bottle with boiled water makes a nice hot water bottle for cold nights too. If you have a campfire, you can boil as much water as you need for the next day.Mar 13, 2011 at 12:02 pm #1708329
@brianleLocale: Pacific NW
Last I checked the Aqua Mira drops are significantly cheaper than the tablets. I too use these, this coming year perhaps indeed augmented with an AM Frontier Pro little filter for particularly sketchy water sources.
A(n experienced) friend questioned the wisdom of bringing the filter, opining that the sources I most want it for are the ones most likely to clog it quickly; his approach to the "cattle standing in water with dead rodents floating in it" sort of water sources is to strain through a bandana and then double dose the aqua mira and extend the treatment time. Probably a fine approach, but I'm going to see for myself this year how well one of those Frontier Pro units holds up to infrequent "just at the bad places" use.Mar 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm #1708335
I have been using Aqua Mira for over 10 years before it was even on the market. I have never waited more than 20 to 30 minutes and don't plan on waiting any longer. Maybe I and those that hike with me have just been lucky but who knows.Mar 13, 2011 at 12:27 pm #1708343
It's important to know your drop size. CDC literature appears to use both a 1/20ml drop size and a 1/12ml drop size. In Ben's post above, the FEMA drop size appears to be about 1/26ml. Somewhere in the CDC literature, it states that your final PPM (parts per million) should be around 10ppm. The table below shows the wide variation in ppm doses.
In any case, Ben's quote from FEMA: "stir, and let stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight bleach odor. If it doesn’t, then repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes. If it still does not smell of chlorine, discard it and find another source of water", is good advise.
Drop Size Dose per Liter Bleach % PPM 1/26 ml 2 drops 6% 5 1/20 ml 2 drops 6% 6 1/12 ml 2 drops 6% 10 1/26 ml 5 drops 6% 12 1/20 ml 5 drops 6% 15 1/12 ml 5 drops 6% 25
When BPL sold mini dropper bottles for repackaging AquaMira, they specified a different drop count to account for the smaller drop size compared to the original AquaMira bottles. Can anyone share the drop size of their bottles?
-LanceMar 13, 2011 at 1:11 pm #1708360
I just now checked out one of my BPL mini droppers. I confirmed the .25 oz stated volume of the Mini Vial that I used (the Mini Dropper insert is also compatible with the Mini Vial). It appears that the drop size is .04 ML, or 1/25 ML. It would be good if some others could do this as well, to confirm or deny my results. I used tap water, by the way.
Edit: since I was doing this, I wanted to see how the BPL mini droppers actually compared to the stock AM drop size. I dispensed 75 drops of the AM activator into a BPL dropper bottle. I then dispensed the liquid back into the AM bottle. It took 94 drops. So the math works out such that 7 drops from the AM bottles equals 8.75 drops dispensed from the BPL mini dropper. I think I'd read here that you want to use 10 drops of each AM component when using the BPL dropper. It looks like 9 will work, unless you are dealing with turbid water.Mar 13, 2011 at 1:14 pm #1708361
BPL dropper bottles. 11 drops for Aqua Mira instead of 7 in the supplied bottles.Mar 13, 2011 at 1:25 pm #1708365
"5 drops per liter"
Benjamin, our goal was 4 ppm for iodine.
–B.G.–Mar 13, 2011 at 1:37 pm #1708368
""Benjamin, our goal was 4 ppm for iodine."
Our goal was to kill germs.Mar 30, 2011 at 12:45 pm #1717293
@carspideyLocale: san fernando valley
I am new to backpacking and also trying to come up with a lightweight system for getting good drinking and cooking water…
Someone here mentioned that no need to treat water if you are going to cook with it, but most people here only use water (for going lighter i guess) to rehydrate food, so no real cooking with the water…
In order to kill organisms by boiling the water, i think you need to boil the water for a few minutes (up to 6 to 10 mins)… if this is the case, how much more fuel do we need to carry?
i went to walmart and got iodine to treat my water… they sell two bottles, one that's iodine, and the other one to get rid off the taste of iodine after it has been treated… i guess i made a bad choice on this treatment?
Is aquamira safer than iodine? is iodine bad?
From reading all the posts, it seems that everyone favors the aquamira drops + aquamira pro filter to treat water…
Also, Platypus sells a gravity filter like the one mentioned here (Sawyer)… at almost 11oz.. is it a good buy?Mar 30, 2011 at 1:36 pm #1717328
"In order to kill organisms by boiling the water, i think you need to boil the water for a few minutes (up to 6 to 10 mins)… "
It depends on what organisms in the water you are trying to kill. Giardia lamblia, for example, is dead at 175 F, which is quite a while before true boiling. As a general rule, most bugs are dead by 175 F. So, if you take the water up to boiling point, it is safe. This assumes that you are at some moderate elevation where the boiling point is reasonable. If you go up to 20,000 feet elevation, you will be higher than the 175 F boiling point, so the water might boil before it is completely safe.
About 30 years ago, iodine was widely used by backpackers. However, there are a few people who are terribly sensitive to iodine. So, it is not as widely used now.
The vast majority of public water treatment plants use something that is chlorine-based, but they have all sorts of equipment to help that process.
–B.G.–Mar 30, 2011 at 2:31 pm #1717357
@carspideyLocale: san fernando valley
supports your post…
thanks…Mar 30, 2011 at 2:46 pm #1717363
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
> In order to kill organisms by boiling the water, i think you need to boil the water for
> a few minutes (up to 6 to 10 mins)..
Bit of an urban myth. Just reaching boiling is usually enough.
The idea you have to boil it for minutes probably derives from CDC guidelines meant for dealing with extreme cases, like a flood where the sewerage treatment plant is nearby and spilling everywhere. Even so, that is still overkill in practice.
We used iodine for many years. It works, mostly, given time.
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