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in Hydration - Water Treatment

Average Rating
3.13 / 5 (8 reviews)

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Ron Stoecklein
( rs7trout )
MSR MIOX on 08/02/2005 09:28:30 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

PROS-light-3.5oz--quick to use--treat up to 3 liters in under a minute--kills about everything.
CONS-takes 4 hours for cryptosporidium-(although I typically use the 30 min. formula)and although batteries are long life(they say up to 7 years)--best to have an extra set ready--my batteries on last trip didn't want me treating more than a liter of water at a time.

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Ryan Jordan
( ryan - BPL STAFF - M )

Greater Yellowstone
Miox needs more aggressive chemistry on 08/02/2005 18:23:48 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

Claims indicate "significant" ClO2 (chlorine dioxide) formation but lab studies (see BPL Mag Issue 2) suggest otherwise, so there are still more hints of "chlorine" taste than Aquamira, which result from HOCl and relate species.

The test strips are a nice feature, but I'm always finding cases where I need to add more Miox to my (clear, clean-looking) water based on the test strip results.

Love the form factor and concept.

Edited by ryan on 08/02/2005 18:28:19 MDT.

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Stephan Guyenet
( Guyenet )
Unreliable on 09/07/2005 23:23:07 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

I just took one of these on a 3-day trip in Rainier NP. Very high cool factor. It worked about half the time. The rest of the time it mysteriously failed to "oxidize" to completion, despite my following the instructions to the letter (we brought them along). The water I was trying to purify was pristine. It's possible that I did something wrong, but if it's so hard to use that two reasonably intelligent people can't get it to work reliably, then somethin' ain't right.

It's also heavier than iodine tablets, and has exactly the same efficacy (i.e. it kills most things in 30 min, Cryptos in 4 hrs). Anyone who uses iodine or Miox normally drinks Cryptosporidium if it's present. I understand viruses aren't a problem in most places in the US (besides, most mechanical filters don't remove them). So basically all we're protecting ourselves from in most cases is Giardia. Kind of makes me wonder why we bother at all. I'd be interested to hear other peoples' thoughts on this since I'm far from being an expert.

Another concern: it says in the instructions not to get the raw solution on your skin or in your eyes because it will burn you. Yet you're supposed to drink the stuff after you dilute it. Now I understand that chlorine in our tapwater is toxic when concentrated etc., but my point is how much do we really know about what chemical species are generated and their long-term effects on our health? Water treated with this system also tastes bad, like bleach. Perhaps the oxidation of Cl- creates hypochlorite ions (OCl-, active ingredient in bleach). In that case, it would be much more convenient, economical and lightweight just to bring a dropper full of household bleach.

Well I ended up swigging iodine water on that trip, which probably isn't great for you either, but at least there's decades of empirical evidence showing no major health risks.

Edited by Guyenet on 09/07/2005 23:29:05 MDT.

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Joel Dulude
( joeldude )
OK but has it's faults on 09/14/2005 08:32:12 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I've used mine for about a year now with good consistant results and have had no real issues other than having a battery 'short out' or go dead during soggy trip. Extra battery wouldn't hurt but relying on electronic tech vs chemistry has it's risks. Chemical methods(although MIOX IS also a chem method with the creation step) such as using Aqua Mira is proven much more reliable and almost foolproof although the taste I find is stronger than the MIOX. I've stopped using iodine years ago after hearing my doctor telling me it's bad for my liver.

I like it's light weight and carry it on most, if not all, of my forays into the wilderness. Cool factor is nice but doesn't matter... Get the job done is the important thing.

My second filtering system is the K. Hiker Pro.... I like it's charcoal filtering out nasty tastes and it's compactness... It's fairly light as well but by no means 'ultra light'.

Edited by joeldude on 09/14/2005 08:36:59 MDT.

James Pitts
( jjpitts )

Midwest US
I was very disappointed on 01/05/2007 23:59:33 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

The only reason I gave this a "2" was because it's very cool and uses lithium batteries and has LEDs. Anything with LEDs deserves more than a 1 because each LED adds to the "nifty factor" of the device. The fact that it uses lithium batteries and makes a cool “foam” when you turn it on gives it a “2”.

...but that’s about it. There was little I found redeeming in the MIOX.

I found a number of reviews for this product that I read before I purchased it. I have to confess that I was a bit shocked at some of them.

First, why do people insist on reviewing products that they don’t even own nor have used in the field? I took my MIOX into the field on three separate occasions to give it a fair shakedown.

Second, why do people insist on drawing comparisons with other products/treatment methods that are fundamentally different? Example: It’s not a strike against the MIOX if it can’t remove floaties from drinking water like a filter can. It’s not expected to.

Finally, do people even read the instructions before they use the thing? All sorts of reviews out there complained about shortcomings of the product that was clearly the result of the user not reading the product documentation. An example was a reviewer that posted that they would treat water with the MIOX and found it was “treated” only to retest several hours later and find it was “unsafe” and had to be retreated. They kept dosing the same water over and over. Well that’s not the process MSR documents for determining if the water is safely treated. The fact is that the oxidants dissipate over time and hence it is expected the water would test to have an oxidant level that was low relative to the initial “safe” dose.

I had a great many problems with the MIOX.

The unit worked really well at home with tap water. It consistently produced oxidant and treated water. I practiced a great deal with the unit before I took it into the field. I think I can say with all honesty that I never had a failure of the unit at home.

When I took the MIOX into the field I made sure to bring a backup water treatment method (chlorine dioxide tablets) just in case my field results were drastically different from my home results. It turns out on all three trips I had to break them out.

Also, I did considerable research on the unit before my field tests. One particular problem was related to the batteries used. I am not sure of the history here but I do know that SureFire batteries were the ones to use. I bought new batteries right from SureFire so I was certain to not experience the problems people had when they took “weak” batteries into the field.

Bottom line: The unit simply would not produce a reliable dose of oxidants with clear water from streams and lakes where I was hiking in all three instances. I know that the standard solution for this was to “shake and shake and shake” the thing until you finally got an oxidant batch. This very rarely worked. I finally got tired of shaking. With each attempt to produce oxidants a little of the brine would be lost and once you were forced to “top off” the salt chamber with water you were back to square one. In one weekend trip I consumed more salt than I should have consumed in more than a week of hiking and never got a reliable dose of oxidants. All I got was a lot of “low salt” indicators and a sore wrist from all the shaking.

When I got home, of course, the unit worked fine with tap water.

After my first experience I tried carrying tap water with me into the field. Frankly I can’t imagine what would be wrong with the water I was using but this was a suggestion that I think MSR made to another customer. It’s not very practical, to carry water to make oxidant from (why not just carry Aqua Mira at that point) but regardless of this I tried it. The results were no different. Note that this was a cold weather trip with temps hovering just above freezing during the day. There were differences between the field any my kitchen.

Other aspects of the MIOX that people complained about were irrelevant to me. Given its failure to perform its basic function (to produce oxidants to treat water) I found all other concerns to be secondary. Frankly, if it did the job it was supposed to do I think there would be little else I would have to complain about.

There were a few annoyances that I asked MSR to address.

When I mixed the salt and water in the brine chamber the water wouldn’t flow down into the oxidation chamber. It would “stick” in the salt chamber until I broke the suction by opening the top cap. It’s sort of like holding your finger over the opening of a straw to keep a liquid inside it. This was very, very annoying.

Also, it was unclear to me why a second “retest” is done of the water. As you may know this setup involves using test strips to determine of the oxidant level in the water is sufficient for treatment. The instructions tell you to test when you add the initial mixture and then to test again after a brief waiting period. If both tests are positive than you have water that has been effectively treated once the dwell time is satisfied. The part that was unclear to me was why two tests were done. Why not just add the oxidants, skip the first test, and then test 10 minutes later? If that test is positive then you should be good to go. You would use half the number of test strips and cut down on the weight of the treatment kit.

I did take the time to contact MSR about these last two issues. My email drew a prompt and professional response. Here was what I sent:

Hi! I recently purchased an MSR MIOX. So far so good. I do have one problem that is minor. Perhaps I am doing something wrong. After I create the brine mixture I remove the salt chamber but the brine isn't in the "oxidation chamber" or whatever it's called. It remains up in the salt chamber. If I loosen the top to the salt chamber the brine drops down. I am betting it's like filling a straw with water and holding your finger over it, the water will stay in the straw until you remove your finger. I have read and re-read the instructions and I can't see where I am doing anything wrong. What's up? It's really annoying, but I get a good batch of oxidant every time I have tested it so far so annoying is all that this is.

Here was their response:

Thank you for contacting us here at Cascade Designs Inc. I've heard from some consumers about water staying in the top salt chamber. Some suggestions are to only fill the chamber 3/4 full of rock salt leaving a small gap for air. Another suggestion is to use wet salt from the beginning and make sure the screen at the bottom is unobstructed. Sometimes you may need to loosen the very top cap to break a vacuum which may have formed and tap the bottom of the unit to force the water into the bottom of the chamber. We recommend that you test the water initially to make sure the purification process will be effective. Two reasons for this is that it is the safest approach since double checking eliminates false readings and second if you wait 10 minutes before testing and the initial dosage was inadequate then you basically wasted 10 minutes.

In summary I can’t recommend this water treatment. I have owned a lot of MSR products over the years and still use many of them. The experience I had with the MIOX was 100% opposite what I expected coming from MSR. Instead of “bombproof” I got “bomb”. I regret not returning the device for a refund. I remained hopeful that it would work. Honestly, I applaud the innovation that has been shown here and hope that eventually it can be made to work reliably.

I want to offer one final comment to close this review. I saw lots of posts that the MIOX has been used by all kinds of people and has been used for ages by the military. It escapes me why my bad experience and what appears to be the bad experience of so many other backpackers should be trivialized by such a statement.

Price comparison from GearBuyer: Surefire Batteries priced at: $2.99
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Gregory Stevens
( wolverine70 )

Near the KT Trail
Reliability???? Still working to find that answer on 01/13/2007 22:19:56 MST Report Post Print

Rating: 3 / 5

I have recently purchased a MSR Miox and the few times I have used it 2x's worked good 1x had to redo it. But I think the concept is good, Although the 4 hour wait is kinda long. It does have the after taste thing goin also but I trust it and will keep on using it.

Scott Bentz
( scottbentz )

Southern California
Left Me Hanging on 06/03/2008 17:04:23 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 2 / 5

We used a MSR Miox on a trip with 9 people (Scouts). We got very spotty results and ended up playing with the unit more than we wanted. It seemed like the perfect solution but was not worth the wait. Fortunately, I had a good supply of Chlorine Dioxide tablets and another kid had a pump.

Following the instructions closely we had more failures than good results.

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Dan Durston
( dandydan )

I'm a happy owner on 05/09/2009 19:15:34 MDT Report Post Print

Rating: 4 / 5

I've had a Miox for over 2 years now and I've generally been happy with it.

The battery life is excellent. As long as my batteries are relatively new, I have no worries about going on a weeklong trip with 2-3 people with it. I leave the test strips at home and just bring the actual gadget plus a small bag of salt. You certainly don't need nearly the whole baggie of salt that comes with the Miox.

I haven't had any troubles with inserting the batteries like BPL did.

The taste is acceptable in my opinion and my wife's. I find you can smell it pretty clearly, but there isn't much actual taste. If you do find taste to be a problem you can leave the lid off your water container for 30 min once the treatment period is over to let the chlorine evaporate off.

I don't wait longer than 30 minutes to drink mine. I'm not sure why BPL felt the need to wait 4 hours, since most other treatment methods don't even kill crypto in the first place. Just forget about the crypto and wait 30 minutes. Also, 4 hours is the time at which you have a 99.99% (or something like this) chance of killing all crypto. After 30 minutes you've probably got a 98% chance that any crypto is dead. Considering how rare crypto is, those are pretty darn good odds even after 30 min.

What's not to like? It can be a bit finicky to get enough salt in the water. If you don't shake it enough, you get the low salt light. If you remember to pre-wet the salt and also don't overfill the salt chamber then it's easier to use.

Also, the whole unit is a bit heavy compared to the drops and pills on the market. I'm at work so I don't have the weight spec on mine, but it's a lot heavier than carrying a few droppers of chemicals (ie. repackaged Aquamira).

If I do stop using the Miox one day, it will be because of the weight. The smell/taste and potential for unit failure are not significant concerns for me. I find that most other people do not complain about the taste. When I've been camping with large groups, people often ask me to treat their water too and everyone loves it. The Miox is really cool to see working.

Two weeks ago my wife and I were camping with another couple that were using a microfilter pump. Initially they said they preferred pumping their water for the fresh spring water taste, but by the second day in bug infested conditions they were much happier to use the Miox and not have to spend 5 minutes down at the stream pumping water. When time is tight, weather conditions are adverse or the bugs are really bad then the Miox shines. I carry mine in my hip belt pocket and I can fill up my Platypus 1L, treat it and be on my way in well under a minute.

The reason I'm writing this review is because last night I mentioned to my wife I might sell the MIOX and use drops instead to save weight. She was really surprised and asked me to keep the MIOX because it is her favorite piece of gear. I had no is pretty darn cool...and fast....and safe.

I think I'll keep the Miox until someone comes out with drops that work as well the Miox without the 5 minute waiting period that Aquamira has. Waiting sucks when it's pouring rain.

Now that I think about it, how many water stops do you do in a full day of hiking? 4 or 5? If the Miox saves you 4 minutes per stop (1 min vs. 5 min) then that's 16-20 minutes per day. Shaving a few ounces off your pack isn't going to make that back so the MIOX hiker should be faster than the Aquamira hiker.

I weighed my MIOX to see how it all adds up. Here's the results:

99.8g - MIOX wand loaded with batteries and salt (all you need for 1-2 nights)
62.5g - MIOX wand without batteries and salt
16.5g - One CR123 Lithium Battery. The MIOX uses 2.
31.7g - MSR Salt Bag filled with Salt. This is a LOT.
10g - The amount of salt I'd bring for a 2 person 7 day trip
13g - My test strip container about 1/3 full of strips. A full container is likely around 20g.
15g - Supplied Bag

For trips that are 1 or 2 nights, I would just bring the wand loaded with fresh batteries and salt (99.8g). For trips up to a week, I would bring about 10g of extra salt. For trips longer than a week I would bring 2 spare batteries (33g) and more salt. So a MIOX setup would weigh between 100g - 150g depending on weather you are going for a few nights or a few weeks. If you wanted to bring the bag and test strips you'd be adding another 50g or so.

Edited by dandydan on 07/31/2009 20:14:14 MDT.

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