Water treatment
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Jan S
(karl-ton)
Water treatment on 04/06/2013 22:04:42 MDT Print View

I admit I've never actually treated water. I have been in the Alps a lot and have been taught early on that water can be used untreated there (not really sure if that's true, but I've also never been sick). If I haven't been in the Alps I could always just leave the "wilderness" and walk the one kilometre to the next house.

I figured it would be a good idea to use some form of treatment for Corsica and the Pyrenees this summer. Now I'm a bit overwhelmed with the available options though. Inline filters seem a bit unwieldy, chemicals taste (or smell) bad, a SteriPen needs this strange batteries that are mostly unavailable and pumps are heavy and seem a bit awkward in general.

I did read the articles here on BPL and I'm currently leaning towards just using Aquamira if I think the source is wonky. I would still love to hear some experiences or preferences of others especially because I have none.

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
No perfect answer on 04/06/2013 22:20:37 MDT Print View

I use the Steripen Adventurer and haven't had any problems with it but you depend on batteries and the hope the unit will not break. I like that i have purified water in 90 seconds.

I carry chlorine dioxide tablets as a back-up but they take up to four hours for (some people don't wait that long) and IMO leave more of a chlorine taste than other options.

Theron Rohr
(theronr) - F

Locale: Los Angeles, California
Re: Water treatment on 04/06/2013 23:44:52 MDT Print View

I agree there is no perfect answer.

I started out mostly not treating water and carrying chlorine dioxide tablets for when I thought it was a good idea. That's a light, low cost way to cover a one time trip where you are unsure of the need to treat the water. However the downside is the wait time before you can drink the water. This means you can't just drink when you come to a stream. Instead you will have to carry a lot of water while you wait for it to be treated. Also drinking chemically tasting water when you're in the pristine outdoors does seem kind of wrong.

Now I use the sawyer filter that comes inside of a bottle. So far I really like this solution. It is like I am not treating the water at all. I just fill up the bottle and drink the water through the straw which sucks it through the filter as I drink. No effort or wait at all. Of course this only works for one person drinking cold water. It cannot provide water for others or for mixing with drink powder for example. If this is acceptable to you then I can highly recommend it.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Water treatment on 04/06/2013 23:51:16 MDT Print View

did you read the comments at the end of those articles?

I prefer the Sawyer Squeeze because of it's simplicity, but it bugs me that they don't know how it is effected by freezing so they just say to avoid this, but where I go it frequently freezes - uh oh - flogging dead horse again

Nick Larsen
(stingray4540) - F

Locale: South Bay
Re: Re: Water treatment on 04/07/2013 11:27:32 MDT Print View

Sawer squeeze is my vote

steven franchuk
(Surf) - M
Re: Water treatment on 04/07/2013 11:48:33 MDT Print View

"Inline filters seem a bit unwieldy"

Unweldy in what way. I started using a inline filter last year and haven't had any issues with it. Simply remove the bladder cap (which has the hose and filter), fill bladder, reattach cap, and put back in the pack. The only down side I see is that the filter does not remove viruses. To kill viruses I add chlorine dioxide to the water in the bladder. That kills the viruses in 15 minutes while the filter takes care of the rest

"but it bugs me that they don't know how it is effected by freezing"

All water filters are effected by freezing. When water freezes it expands, and that can cause cracks, punctures, or other forms of failure. The simple solution to this problem is to disconnect the filter from the bladder and then suck out the water that remains inside. Or you can simply put the filter inside you warm sleeping bag.

All water treatment methods have down sides. Filters don't work on viruses, chemicals can take a long time to work, UV pens can fail and need batteries... Simply choose the method that you think will work best for you. If it doesn't work out switch to another method.

"I have been in the Alps a lot and have been taught early on that water can be used untreated"

My dad was also told the same thing about water in the Washington Cascade mountains. We didn't treat water for years, and only later learned that what he was told was not true. While we didn't get sick we did have friends that did get sick. Truth is that any water source that is visited by animals (including fish) or people should be treated. It only takes one infected person or animal to contaminate an entire watershed. A water source that is clean one year can be contaminated the next.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Water treatment on 04/07/2013 12:34:33 MDT Print View

"All water filters are effected by freezing. When water freezes it expands, and that can cause cracks, punctures, or other forms of failure. The simple solution to this problem is to disconnect the filter from the bladder and then suck out the water that remains inside. Or you can simply put the filter inside you warm sleeping bag."

Water expands when it freezes

If water is in an enclosed container that can't stretch enough, and the water freezes, it will expand the container which breaks it

With a hollow tube filter, if the entire filter is full of water and it freezes, the outside case will probably crack

If the hollow tubes are full of water but the rest of the filter is empty which you can do by shaking it out, and it freezes, the tubes will just stretch with no problem. When you backwash the filter, it stretches the tubes a little, including making the pores slightly bigger so any particles will be released and backflushed away.

Obviously, this logic would have to be tested.

Yeah, you can leave it in your sleeping bag or whatever, which is what I do, but over the life of the filter it would be so difficult to keep it from freezing every time. And it could have frozen once but you didn't notice.

Sawyer says that they don't know whether freezing will damage it, so just in case, if it freezes, throw it out and buy a new one. If it freezes, go ahead an use it for the rest of the trip.

All of this is very unsatisfying, especially if the Sawyer is actually freeze-proof

Here I go again, flogging another dead horse

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Water treatment on 04/07/2013 12:45:24 MDT Print View

" "Inline filters seem a bit unwieldy"

Unweldy in what way."

The hoses make it unwieldy. They weigh a little. You have to store them. One more thing to have to fiddle with. Not that big a deal though. A lot of people are happy.

Squeeze just screws onto water bag. Either gravity mode (although slow) or push on bag a little. Lighter. Simpler. Probably better for one or few people?

j lan
(justaddfuel) - F

Locale: MN
Re: Re: Re: Water treatment on 04/07/2013 13:09:30 MDT Print View

I think it is a pretty small price to pay to purchase a new filter if you suspect your filter has frozen. What would one trip to the doctor cost you?

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Water treatment on 04/07/2013 13:55:34 MDT Print View

"I think it is a pretty small price to pay to purchase a new filter if you suspect your filter has frozen. What would one trip to the doctor cost you?"

A lot of trips it goes below freezing so there's some chance, despite my best efforts, that the filter has frozen, so I'de be replacing the filter frequently.

In your calculation, you have to factor in the chance of the filter actually being damaged if I suspect that it's frozen, and the chance of actually getting sick and having to go to the doctor if water goes through a damaged filter.

Jan S
(karl-ton)
Water treatment on 04/07/2013 13:57:11 MDT Print View

"did you read the comments at the end of those articles?"

Yup. But not really much about used setups or day to day experiences in them. I learned that Europeans don't treat their water. And I probably wouldn't care as much if I didn't think that a long solo trip + diabetes + stomach bug + inaccesible mountains would be a recipe for disaster.

"Unweldy in what way."

Getting bladders out of a full pack for refills, the need to gravity filter into bottles if there isn't much water on the way. All of this might not actually be true though and purely something from my imagination. As we learned from the canister failure thread that is always the trouble with just thinking it through.

"Simply choose the method that you think will work best for you. If it doesn't work out switch to another method."

Buying and testing a lot of things makes large holes in my budget. Sadly. I'm open to sponsoring though ;)

Freezing isn't usually problem here though and on the few occasion when it does freeze a little more effort is okay.

"What would one trip to the doctor cost you?"

I'm a huge fan of those working health care systems in Europe. Of course a bit socialist but well worth it ;)

Ian B.
(IDBLOOM) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Bugs are baaaaad! on 04/07/2013 14:25:44 MDT Print View

Not necessarily the same thing but I was hospitalized in Panama with salmonella and was sick for a month from a water bug in Pakistan. Type 3 fun for sure and I would've paid anything to avoid those two events.

I've never had giardia but it sounds just as miserable. One through hiker mentioned that he needed prescription drugs to kick it and it took him off the trail for a week or two.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Water treatment on 04/07/2013 15:24:08 MDT Print View

> I learned that Europeans don't treat their water.
That's because there are so many safe 'water points' around, so they usually don't need to worry. Yes, lots of springs of one sort or another which come from underground, and any village has safe water these days too.

Cheers

Steven Davis
(StevenDavisPhoto) - M

Locale: SF Bay Area
Pen on 04/07/2013 15:45:40 MDT Print View

I just started, but I got a Steri-pen and have chlorine tabs as a backup in case it breaks down or the battery jacks up or something. They're so light weight to be almost negligible for the peace of mind, but you do have to wait 4 hours.

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Bugs are baaaaad! on 04/07/2013 16:14:14 MDT Print View

"Not necessarily the same thing but I was hospitalized in Panama with salmonella and was sick for a month from a water bug in Pakistan. Type 3 fun for sure and I would've paid anything to avoid those two events."

Amebic Dysentery in Egypt from untreated water during a Bright Star exercise. Spent lots of time on a bedpan in the middle of the desert with fluids IV'd into my arm. Not fun indeed.

James Marco
(jamesdmarco) - MLife

Locale: Finger Lakes
Re: Pen on 04/07/2013 17:01:02 MDT Print View

Yes, I agree. Even a single trip to the doctors office and getting a prescription can be as expensive as purchasing one of the steripen gadgets. The Steripen Adventurer and the Adventurer/Opti are the two I have been using for several years. These are light enough to worth arrying since they reduce wait time to next to nothing on the trail...well, there is less than 1 minute for each half liter bottle I carry. The steripen was very usefull during the day. This was backed up with two small bottles of AquaMira for overnight treatment so I would not waste fuel making coffe/oatmeal in the morning.

These two types of treatment have lasted me for long periods in the woods. One trip was close to two months on one set of spare batteries and one full set of mini dropper bottles.

This was far less weight, to me, than carrying the third bottle of water I would have otherwise needed to cover the wait time.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Water treatment on 04/07/2013 17:53:58 MDT Print View

In landlocked Nepal, lots of trekkers are moving around on the trails, especially in the Mount Everest Region. After the Brits had been successful climbing there sixty years ago, a certain amount of money from the Hillary Trust started to flow into that region. Where did the money go? Two main projects were begun. The first was the series of Hillary Schools, because education takes a long time to show success. The second was water treatment. Up until then, villages would take in water above the village and discharge all waste below the village... into the same stream or river. Needless to say, there was a lot of disease. Once they got some basic clean water systems going, this got cleaned up a bit and the disease rate dropped.

Still, at least for one river that I know, they tell you not to touch the sacred river. If you touch it, you will have bad luck and the demons will possess you. Well, it doesn't have much to do with luck or demons, but it has everything to do with disease.

On one trek there in Nepal, I was the only person out of twelve who did _not_ get sick from the water.

--B.G.--

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Water treatment on 04/07/2013 17:56:19 MDT Print View

how did you avoid getting sick?

Eric Blumensaadt
(Danepacker) - MLife

Locale: Mojave Desert
Purification v.s. Filtration on 04/07/2013 19:55:11 MDT Print View

Jan,

The U.S EPA classifies personal water treatment into two main categories:

1. Filtration-> particles less that one micron (the usual minimum particle size for filtration) get through, including ALL viruses.

2. Purification-> ALL bacteria and viruses are either killed (chlorine dioxide tabs or drops) or rendered harmless (Steripen UV treatment) Iodine tabs do not kill all bacteria within 4 hours, especially "hard shelled" bacteria.


I use a Steripen for my bike bottle and Katadyn chlorine dioxide tablets for my water bladder. I fill the bladder at night, pop in the tabs and by morning the water is ready to drink.

BTW, chlorine dioxide tabs take 4 hours to purify water ONLY when the water is 40 F. or less. Warmer water takes less time. Read their literature.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: Re: Water treatment on 04/07/2013 20:02:55 MDT Print View

"how did you avoid getting sick?"

It beats the crap out of me. Literally.

I don't know. For my first trek in Nepal, I was extremely paranoid about the water, so I hardly trusted any source of water. I was also very careful about food, since simple food washing can contaminate stuff. I carried and used my own iodine. For my second trek there, I was not so paranoid, but still vigilant. Simple hand rinsing can help. Also, if there is a Sherpa cook doing the cooking, pop into the cook tent once in a while to observe their practices.

--B.G.--