Water Contamination Solutions
Clean water is a bigger concern than food, shelter, warmth, etc. Only air is as important.
25,000 people die each day worldwide from contaminated drinking water.
Even if the probability of contamination is low, the consequences can be grave.
When traveling in third world countries, ALL water sources should be considered suspect.
Although viruses aren't a likely problem within the U.S., they are a problem elsewhere.
Most viruses, bacteria and most protozoan parasites can be killed by boiling or iodine treatment.
Unfortunately, iodine does not kill Cryposporidium which can only be removed by boiling, by high quality filtering or by treating with chlorine dioxide or by UV light or by MIOX treatment.
These are the current lightweight, portable options an individual can use to clean water for drinking -
Negatives - needs metal pot with lid, fuel, fire pit or stove, time, storage containers.
Positives - it's the most preferred method for killing all parasites, bacteria and viruses.
Conclusion - excellent for fixed camps where fuel and time allow
TABLETS (traditional) includes brands like Halazone (chlorine)and Portable Pure (iodine)
Negs- temperature effects speed of action and quantity of pills, doesn't work against Cryposporidium, slow process (over ½ hour), bad taste (Vitamin C can later be added to improve taste), extremely corrosive, some people allergic to iodine, short shelf life (under 1 yr), costly per gallon (50 cents/gallon)
Pos- these products are the most readily available and are carried in any sporting goods department
Conc- not worth considering except for use in tiny survival kits or hollow-handle knives
IODINE CRYSTALS includes products like Polar Pure
Negs- many of the same negatives as tablets
Pos- easier to adjust amount needed to work effectively, slightly faster acting, doesn't work against Cryposporidium, very low cost ( ½ cent per gallon), indefinite shelf life
Conc- excellent lowcost stand alone system. Perfect back up to other systems and may be used in addition to other methods if viruses are a concern
TABLETS (newest generation) includes Katadyn Micropur MP1 (chlorine dioxide)
Negs- long wait time for full treatment in cold, dirty water (up to 4 hours), fairly short shelf life (3 years), very expensive (50 cents/quart), [a similar chlorine dioxide product "Aquamira" by McNett is a two-part liquid system and are not EPA approved]
Pos- a true chemical purifier that kills Cryptosporidium, has no taste, safe for those allergic to iodine
Conc- simple, convenient, small and safe method (although one of the most expensive)
CARBON FILTER DRINKING STRAWS
Negs- not as effective as other methods, clog easily, delicate, very limited life, cannot be cleaned, does not kill viruses, extreme high cost ($1/gallon)
Pos- very small, instant use
Conc- for emergency back up and storage in mini survival kit
BICYCLE-STYLE BOTTLE WITH INTEGRAL FILTER
Negs- same as drinking straws
Pos- handy single unit combo that fits in bike's carrying rack
Conc- simple answer for bicyclists but not preferred over other solutions
USGI CANTEEN FILTERS
Negs- work the same as drinking straws with the same problems. Also, when plastic canteen is not full it causes slashing sounds which are annoying or even dangerous in some military situations
Pos- works, to a degree, if one must carry canteens
Conc- only for use as a backup method or if no other choice is available
Negs- very slow, must be used at water source until process is complete
Pos- nothing mechanical, not labor intensive, can continue to produce clean water throughout the day/night. Excellent for large groups
Conc- for long term fixed camps where time is not a consideration
IN-LINE FILTER USED WITH HYDRO BAG
Negs- for single person use. somewhat limited in total gallons at a higher cost per gallon, not as effective a filter as pump models, doesn't lend itself for use in cooking/washing, does not kill viruses
Pos- small, light, easy to use, most filters can be cleaned, quick to fill bag, easy to transport, easy to access while moving or at work
Conc- for a single person on the move, it's a preferred military & law enforcement system.
MECHANICAL PUMP FILTERS/PURIFIERS
Negs- expense, requires manual pumping, bigger than other systems, more delicate, requires time to use, some models require carrying additional replacement filters/parts, water storage containers needed, some units heavy & large so transporting a problem particularly those models with big levers & hoses
Pos- very effective in removing contaminates and improving water taste/smell
Conc- excellent choice for camping and general travel
Additional considerations before purchasing a pump model-
type of filter (ceramic vs carbon), size (6" - 12" in length), weight (6 oz to 24 oz), flow (.4 to 1.2 litters per minute), pump energy required (2 to 20 lbs of pressure), total gallons before replacement (20 gallons to 12,000 gallons), cost of unit ($25-$200), filter rating (.2 to 1.0 microns), ease of cleaning, the addition of an iodine filter built into the unit for use against viruses, anti-clog designs/pre-filters, cost/size/weight of addition parts that are suggested to be included in kit, will replacement parts still be available for this model in ten years, company's reputation and proven reliability.
ULTRAVIOLET HANDHELD PURIFIER (STERI-PEN)
Negs- requires 4xAA batteries (set of alkalines is good for 20-40 uses), needs “proper” agitation, very fragile construction, does not remove particles, good for 5000 uses before needed rebuilding, does either one pint or one quart at a time
Pos- quick and easy, faster (45 to 90 seconds) than the MSR MIOX unit (which takes up to 4 hours), kills Cryptosporidium, useful against 99.9% of all viruses, bacteria and protozoan parasites, unit can be put in container after container so it can purify a large quantity of water in a short period of time, no pumping
Conc- a stick-like device that is inserted into a bottle and held in water while turned on. if the limitations fit your needs, it’s a fast and simple solution.
ULTRAVIOLET BOTTLE-STYLE PURIFIER (AQUASTAR UV-C ELECTRONIC SYSTEM)
Negs- requires a single CR123 battery, does not remove particles, can purify only one liter at a time,
Pos- comes with it’s own bottle, adds only 3 oz (including battery) over the weight of the bottle, completely sealed electronic head, no moving parts, works in under 2 minutes per liter, useful against 99.9% of all viruses, bacteria and protozoan parasites, no pumping
Conc- new product works much like the Steri-Pen but tougher, self contained and even easier to use. Lighter lithium battery is a big plus over the four heavier AA batteries used in the Steri-Pen. Bottle threads still need to be wiped down with diluted iodine solution to be truly safe.
SALT-OXIDANT SOLUTION PURIFIER (MSR MIOX electrically-charged chemical-reaction kit)
Negs- requires the handling of strong oxidant chemical, requires time to work (up to 4 hours for Cryptosporidium), needs CR123 batteries, imparts slight chlorine taste (like heavy treated city water)
Pos- easy to use, kills all biological contaminates including viruses, not temperature dependent, lightweight and small, suitable for up to a gallon at a time, uses rock salt (has indefinite shelf life), can use table salt or salt tablet if needed, positive feedback via test strips, works in turbid water, about the same size as the Steri-pen but has much longer battery life, no pumping
Conc- this is a compact portable version of a large municipal water system. Recently designed for U.S. military applications, the unit uses salt, water and electrolysis to produce a complex compound of mixed oxidant chlorides that is effective against all bacteria, viruses and parasites, including crypto. It should work well for anyone willing to accept it’s limitations.