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Water Treatment question
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Frank Perkins

Locale: North East
Water Treatment question on 01/04/2007 17:09:47 MST Print View

I'm reading Don Ladigin's book "Lighten Up!" and on page 53 he has states this about Aqua Mira:

"The filter should be used first, to remove large pathogens and particles that can interfere with the chemical treatment, then the Aqua Mira should be used to neutralize those smalled pathogens that slipped through the filter".

Large pathogens of type Protozoa would be giardia, cyclospora and cryptosporidia. According to this BPL article Aqua Mira should kill all these pathogens.

If that's correct, then is a filter really necessary? Is there a threshold where AM becomes ineffective against pathogens?

Thomas Knighton
(Tomcat1066) - F

Locale: Southwest GA
I'd still filter somewhat... on 01/04/2007 17:45:49 MST Print View

Aqua Mira should take care of critters like them, but it won't do anything about twigs, sticks, etc. IIRC, there are also eggs of some parasites that are unaffected by Aqua Mira and the like, but can still cause problems to the digestive systems.


Doug Johnson
(djohnson) - MLife

Locale: Washington State
Re: Water Treatment question on 01/04/2007 18:13:55 MST Print View

I love Don's book but I think he's crazy on this point.

Aqua Mira (or easier Klearwater which doesn't require mixing) kills virtually EVERYTHING. It's proven to be much more effective than a filter at killing all pathogens in water. Besides that, it's virtually taste-free and the lightest option by far.

It's rare that you can't find a water source that is clear here in Washington. However, it's sometimes a different story in the Southwest. I've found that prefiltering with a bandana does the trick in these rare situations.

I've also found it to be more reliable. I've had filters clog and have lost parts when doing field maintanence. However, my chemicals have never failed.

I've used nothing but Aqua Mira and Klearwater for about 2 1/2 years now- it is fantastic stuff. My 5 filters (including 2 gravity systems) just collect dust.

Happy Trails!

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Water Treatment question on 01/04/2007 18:17:01 MST Print View

Aqua Mira user and happy with it. My filter only comes on Olympic Coast trips (the filter does make grabbing small water sources easy, and the water is so full of tannin, I run the water thru a prefilter also, so it isn't so brown.)
I try to avoid stagnant water sources if I can, so for me, avoiding chunks and debris isn't usually an issue. But if it is, I can always use my bandanna.

Mike Barney
(eaglemb) - F

Locale: AZ, the Great Southwest!
Re: Re: Water Treatment question on 01/04/2007 18:53:44 MST Print View

Another happy Aqua Mira user here also. I find there to be very little residual taste, and use this as a preferred treatment method.

If the water is trashy looking, I might filter it first with a bandana or something else first, but in my book, this is an excellent water treatment.


paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
When is filtration safer than chems & UV-C? on 01/04/2007 19:19:48 MST Print View

FWIW, AqM doesn't kill all potential backcountry water pathogens. As Thomas previously mentioned, certain larger parasites are NOT killed. The prime example, which is generally considered to be only a concern in certain specific areas (e.g. Isle Royal NP) is Hydatid Tapeworms. However, by my way of thinking, logically it can occur anywhere wild or feral canines are found. That being said, it apparently is very rare. As far as UV-C and hydatid tapes, well,... it would take approx. ~28x, IIRC, the power output of typical backpacking UV-C units to kill hydatid tapes. Filtration is the only practical means available to the backpacker to deal with this threat.

Search the Forums, over the last couple of years i have posted several times in much more detail on this subject.

Frank Perkins

Locale: North East
Re: When is filtration safer than chems & UV-C? on 01/04/2007 19:38:33 MST Print View

2047 posts PJ. I think we need a separate search just for your postings ;-)

Based upon the hiking I do I think I'm safe with using only AqM and prefiltering the water though my packtowel or something similar.


Ben 2 World
(ben2world) - MLife

Locale: So Cal
Re: Water Treatment question on 01/04/2007 19:48:52 MST Print View


AM (or Micropur in tablet form) is supposed to kill all three major forms of pathogens: bacteria, viruses, and protozoa (e.g. crypto). HOWEVER, if protozoa is an issue, AM may require somewhere between 15 minutes and 4 HOURS of treatment time -- depending on water temperature! Not a problem for water stored overnight, but realistically how many of us will wait 4 hours (or even 1 or 2 hours) when hiking in the day?

Up to now, I've just scooped water into my Platypus bladder, drop in a Micropur tablet, wait 15 minutes, and then drink. However, next time, I am going to splice a Seychelle in-line filter between my bladder and my bite valve.

Platy --> AM or Micropur treatment --> Seychelle --> bite valve

The chemicals will kill viruses and bacteria, then the Seychelle will filter out sediments, the bigger pathogens (protozoa like crypto, etc.) as well as neutralize the chlorine taste of the water. This may not be bad for just 3-4 ounces and just a little bit more sucking effort.

Edited by ben2world on 01/04/2007 22:54:00 MST.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Water Treatment question on 01/05/2007 04:01:26 MST Print View

of course, Ben, if i'm not mistaken, i know from prev. posts of yours that you often (or always???) pre-filter water through something (a bandana? or coffee filter??? - i forget what you might have posted quite a while ago).

pre-filtering to obtain clear water is important, not only for UV-C purification (obviously), but also for chemical purification (cf. DrJ's writings on the subject).

James Pitts
(jjpitts) - F

Locale: Midwest US
Re: Re: Water Treatment question on 01/05/2007 05:47:49 MST Print View

I think the reason 4 hours is listed as the time to treat water for crypto and other hard to kill nasties (yeah, I know, a really technical term there) is that 4 hours is about the maximum time oxidants will remain about in the water at the standard dosage levels. So all you are really being told to do is treat the water for the maximum dwell time at the standard dosage.

On the topic of filtering vs treating...

I stopped filtering water for personal use ages ago because of the obvious weight savings of not carrying a filter in lieu of chemical treatments. I haven't come across a situation yet where the chemical treatments have fallen short for me.

That said, when I camp with the Boy Scouts I take the "belt and suspenders" approach. I have the boys filter the water... it's good for them and gets them out of my hair for a while. Then when they get back I treat it with Aqua Mira. I do NOT want to return a boy home from a backpacking trip having to explain to his mom why he has to be treated for giardia from drinking flowage water.

When I travel in a group I have frequently run into situations where people have asked for water or I have offered to share water. I always make sure to inform people how the water was treated and answer any questions they may have. I think it's important to recognize that so much of this topic is a matter of personal preference and a lot of factors are at play. I don't just mean pros vs cons of each treatment method but rather the sum total of the preferences and personal experiences (emperical history) of any given backpacker.

I will say, and this may draw some heat from the forum, that I think these hikes where people opt to NOT treat water and risk getting sick in order to save time on fast hikes is more than a little nuts. "If I contract giardia it will take a week to set in and I hope to be off the trail by then." seems a bit crazy to me. Not my cup of meat, I guess. ;)

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Water Treatment question on 01/05/2007 07:38:44 MST Print View


Yes, you are certainly correct, the 4h recommended wait period is for Crypto. While i don't know the half-life of ClO2 and other oxidants, i do recall something DrJ wrote to me, which IIRC, was that municipalities that use ClO2 for treating drinking water must insure that it is treated with an adequate dosage level such that 8hrs later a germicidal effect remains. Though i'm not sure how that info relates to the ClO2 dosage levels that are used by backpackers.

BTW, my wife and i have had Giardiasis once (she worse than i). Fortunately, we were at home when the symptoms hit. Not pleasant to say the least. I wouldn't call it an overly severe case for either of us, but it sure can get the better of you for awhile.

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
water treatment on 01/05/2007 14:11:22 MST Print View

I have to agree with you James - it is a little nuts. My cousin almost died from eColi 157 when she was just a toddler (this was about 1 year after the town of Walkerton Ontario was devasted by eColi in the municipal water and 11 people died)... both of these incidents were the eye openers for me... that and I contracted Giardia on my first trip. For me I'd rather rely on filtration than chemicals but to do nothing just because water looks clear - well frankly that is like playing Russian Roulette with your digestive system.

I also have contacts in the industry of water treatment ( so I've learned a lot about water - some things I found disturbing.

Edited by Laurie_Ann on 01/05/2007 14:18:40 MST.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Water Treatment question on 01/07/2007 14:11:59 MST Print View

One point that no one seems to comment on is the amount of "bugs" and other contaminatns that could be in the water. Although Aqua Mira and other treatment can kill many types of bugs, the typical addition amount can be overwhelmed if there are lots of other stuff that the chemicals can react with prior to getting to all of the contaminants...particularly if there are chunks floating in the water.

Certainly judgement is needed before using murky water that has just come through the pasture.

shally parkar
Re: Re: Re: Water Treatment question on 04/18/2007 00:20:51 MDT Print View


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David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
Tapeworm eggs on 05/07/2007 20:16:11 MDT Print View

Hi PJ,

Your posts are most informative and I enjoy reading them. I hiked Isle Royale last year and posed the tapeworm egg question to the makers of steri-pen. I was informed that while they did not test the unit on tapeworm eggs, the pre-filter filters down to 5 microns and a tapeworm egg is 20 microns. I'm not sure what a bandana will filter down to, but it would be interesting to find out.



Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
SteriPEN Water Bottle Pre-Filter on 05/07/2007 22:49:14 MDT Print View

I picked up a SteriPen Pre-Filter (1.5 oz) over the weekend. The issue of water bottle thread contamination has come up in other BPL threads. This pre-filter fits on a Nalgene 1L bottle, and it has a soft (rubber?) bottom lip that seals against the bottle's flange below the threads, sealing water out of the connection. Good idea. However, the flange is further down on a Nalgene Cantene, and when the pre-filter is fully tightened the bottom seal doesn't reach the flange. Bummer.

Still, it looks like a good solution to the contaminated threads problem for SteriPEN or UV AquaStar users that carry a Nalgene bottle.

Edited by Otter on 05/07/2007 22:59:46 MDT.

David Goodyear
(dmgoody) - MLife

Locale: mid-west
re on 05/08/2007 04:40:22 MDT Print View

Hi Doug,

I haven't tried the pre-filter on a canteen yet. I still carry one original nalgeen bootle. Sorry ultralighters, but I can't give it up yet. It is bomb proof, you can drive a truck over it and it can handle boiling water for warmth if need be.(or to dry out socks-smelly) I like thr fact that you can be drinking water in 90 seconds with no chemical taste. I was trying to think of a way of incorporating a charcoal disc to the pre-filter to absorb the nasty chemicals and organics dissolved in the water if you are by a not so good source.

Happy Zapping,


Helge Melbye
(st.helge) - F

Locale: Norway
Hmmmmm....? on 05/22/2007 16:51:49 MDT Print View

Hi there!

This is not meant to offend anyone, I'm just a bit curious :)

I find all your talk of water treatment a bit strange. I have been hiking since I was a kid some 30 years ago, and I have never treated my water in any way. Except added some flavor to it once in a while. It has never gotten me ill. And I haven't met anyone on my hikes that have been infected with anything either. I must add that this has all been here in Norway, but I can't believe that water found in America can be all that different.

Could it be that because we treat our water supplies to a much lesser degree (so that tap water actually is drinkable, instead of tasting like a swimming pool) we're making ourselves better suited to deal with whatever might be in the water found while hiking? Sort of getting used to a certain level of contamination... (not used to whatever toxins might be in the water of course)

An old co-worker of mine went and hiked a trail from the Mexican border to the Canadian border a few years back. He, and two other Norwegian friends of his, was amazed to learn how everyone else was treating/filtering water, or carrying huge supplies of water with them, while the three of them just drank whatever they found along the way without any problems. None of them got ill. They might just have been lucky...?!

I'm looking forward to a 12 week hike this summer, and the thought of not having to carry any filters or chemicals with me is quite nice.