Forum Index » General Lightweight Backpacking Discussion » Water Treatment (Tablets vs. Liquid)


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Jolly Green Giant
(regultr) - MLife

Locale: www.jolly-green-giant.blogspot.com
Water Treatment (Tablets vs. Liquid) on 04/23/2008 09:11:05 MDT Print View

Just curious if anyone knew of whether there was any advantage to using tablet or liquid water treatments over the other. Whether it will be what each kills or the weights, I'd be interested in hearing any thoughts.

Also, is there any advantage to using a secondary treatment, such as the portable Frontier filter?

My thought was to use either tablets or liquid treatment, then use the Frontier to gain extra protection...but I don't really know if it will make any difference or if I will be truly gaining any extra protection.

Thanks.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Water Treatment (Tablets vs. Liquid) on 04/23/2008 09:28:07 MDT Print View

It depends on you and where you are going. In most places I only use Katadyn chlorine dioxide tablets. In east Texas I may carry all my water from home. On the Colorado River paddle trip (central Texas) I used somebodies filter. Some people won't to always use both filter and chemical. At Isle Royale NP there is a warning for a bug (Echinococcosis) that requires filter or boiling.

Tablet vs liquid- there are pros and cons of each, but I prefer tablet since it cannot be spilled and I don't have to mix two fluids. Klearwater does not have to be mixed.

FYI- I tried Potable Aqua chlorine dioxide tablets and they crumbled even in the packaging. I won't be using those again.

Edited by jshann on 04/23/2008 09:46:18 MDT.

Mark Verber
(verber) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Water Treatment (Tablets vs. Liquid) on 04/23/2008 10:04:48 MDT Print View

If you are going the chemical route, then chlorine dioxide is your best bet. I wouldn't normally bother with a secondary treatment. If I was someplace with a high likelihood of cysts and cold water I would bring something so I didn't have to wait 4h for treatment.

Liquid (I have used aqua mira)
+ seems to have a bit less "taste"
+ It's what I am used to (and still have some to use up)
+ lighter for extended trips (e.g. many weeks)
- you can spill it

Tablet (I have used Katadyn's)
+ lighter up to 30-50L
+ doesn't spill, don't have to mix
+ easy to see how many you have left
- has a bit more taste

Edited by verber on 04/23/2008 10:07:03 MDT.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Water Treatment (Tablets vs. Liquid) on 04/23/2008 14:19:57 MDT Print View

Adding to Verber's liquid vs. solid comparison, the solid tablets have a higher concentration of chlorine dioxide -- which also explains the heavier swimming pool taste. Personally, I can't stand the taste and won't use either. However, some people can't tell the taste while others swear the chemicals make the water taste better! YMMV.

Taste aside, there is something to be said for Micropur chlorine dioxide tablets over the Aqua Mira liquids. Micropur's higher efficacy allows it to be marketed as effective against bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. Aqua Mira's lower concentration of the same active ingredient allows it only to mention effectivness against bacteria! Just last year, Aqua Mira finally came out with its own tablet version.

In the end (not that I am an expert), my hunch is that they're both sufficiently effective -- but if I were to choose, I would choose the tablets -- to eliminate the annoyance of counting, mixing solution drops and then having to wait the extra five minutes before pouring the mixed solution into your water. With tablets, you just drop in one tablet per liter and that's it. Once the chemicals are in your water, that's when treatment time begins: 20 minutes most of the time, but longer if water is cold -- up to a 4 HOUR wait if your water is just above freezing.

Sucking chorine-dioxide treated water through a filter (e.g. Frontier) does have two important advantages:

1. Your filter can remove the swimming pool taste -- if that matters to you.

2. Your filter can improve water clarity -- some folks just don't want to drink brown river water, even if treated.

3. The up to 4-HOUR treatment time for very cold water is really to kill the bigger stuff -- like protozoa. If you use a filter, then 20 minutes should be enough to kill bacteria and viruses even in very cold water -- and your filter can block the bigger, harder to kill stuff. Let each tool do what it does best.

Edited by ben2world on 04/23/2008 21:05:10 MDT.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Water Treatment (Tablets vs. Liquid) on 04/23/2008 14:50:15 MDT Print View

I'd like to know how much that McNett Frontier filter/straw weighs?

Jolly Green Giant
(regultr) - MLife

Locale: www.jolly-green-giant.blogspot.com
Frontier Water Filter on 04/23/2008 20:04:38 MDT Print View

There are two different types of the Frontier filter. The "Pro" version weighs 2 oz and is intended for longer use then the "Emergency" version which weighs .25 oz.

I guess that's my point...am I gaining anything by carrying it in addition to the tablet or liquid water treatment.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Frontier Water Filter on 04/23/2008 20:17:44 MDT Print View

Maybe peace of mind if the water in your hiking area is of concern. Otherwise, I'd skip it. You still need to inquire about the water in the area of your hike.

Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Frontier Water Filter on 04/23/2008 20:40:42 MDT Print View

"I guess that's my point...am I gaining anything by carrying it in addition to the tablet or liquid water treatment."

James -- I mentioned some potential advantages in my post above. How applicable they are will depend on your own circumstances -- if you don't mind the chemical taste and /or you don't treat very cold water (e.g. glacier melt) and won't need to worry about long treatment time, then I really think that chemicals alone will suffice.

Edited by ben2world on 04/23/2008 21:05:54 MDT.

Mike Saxton
(Hokie) - F
Frontier straw + tablets on 04/24/2008 03:39:03 MDT Print View

I use tablets and the emergency (17 gm) straw, but not combined. The straw is primarily used on sources that appear clean near springs or stream sources on the AT where I simply dip a bottle "on the go" and hydrate as I continue hiking without the need to stop and treat water with tablets. Maybe I have a strong immune system or have been lucky, but this has worked on 3 AT 100 mile range section hikes so far with no "consequences". In this manner, I carry less treated water than I would otherwise and stay better hydrated. The 17 gms is more than offset by the reduced water. Since water sources can be a little unpredictable, I always keep at least 1/2 L of treated water (or as needed for section) with me, but find this "opportunistic" rehydration approach refreshing and lightweight. Straw treats about 20 gallons before it needs to be tossed.

Edited by Hokie on 04/24/2008 03:41:12 MDT.