SteriPen's Ultra UV Water Purifier is All Smiles

10:23 a.m. on February 6, 2013 (EST)
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This thread is for comments on the article "SteriPen's Ultra UV Water Purifier is All Smiles"

SteriPen has expanded its 2013 lineup with the Ultra, which it calls "the most advanced UV water purifer in the world."

Full article at http://www.trailspace.com/articles/2013/02/06/steripen-ultra-uv-water-purifier.html

10:02 a.m. on February 7, 2013 (EST)
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The concept of the SteriPen is great... sterilization without chemicals. Glad to see it with a rechargeable lithium battery now.

I have a couple of questions...

1. Can it be called a 'purifier' if pathogens are killed, but not removed? Plus, it does nothing to remove toxic chemicals, which again makes me think that it is mis-labeled as a 'purifier'. You still have to drink whatever is in the water.

2. Is the new indicator (smiley face) based on a timer? I assume the power on the UV lamp is regulated so that you can be sure that a certain amount of time is sufficient to kill all pathogens?

Thanks for the info. The SteriPen could be an important part of a multi-step purification process.

11:14 a.m. on February 7, 2013 (EST)
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Cautions not listed or explained in the instruction booklet.

(From an original version of the SteriPen)

Notice in the photo, there are NO DROPLETS on the glass, above the water line… Because they will NOT be cleaned.

When you dip your Nalgene bottle into the source water, the threads get contaminated and therefore the cap gets contaminated too, when you put the cap back on.

Any spillage over the top, or water droplets above the water line in the container are suspect contamination.

Micropur (and other products too) recommend that after dissolving their product in the water, that you crack open the bottle while holding it upside-down and let a bit of water flow out of the cap. The activated cleaning solution then cleans the cap and threads on the outside where you put your lips. All the water inside the container is cleaned too, not just the water below the water line.

Instruction page #4, Item #5 says:

•  “SteriPEN is not intended to disinfect water above the surface of the water in the container, i.e., droplets of water suspended on the side of the container.”

Caution: You cannot clean the cap and threads or water droplets above the waterline with the SteriPEN product.

Note: The product is designed to kill all micro-organisms. Giardia lamblia is 2 microns. They could be anywhere where there is even the smallest speck of water.

11:35 a.m. on February 7, 2013 (EST)
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A 'flow-through' system such as on the: 'Platypus GravityWorks Water Filter' and incorporating the SteriPen ultra violet technology placed INLINE with the GravityWorks FILTER, would be the best of both worlds.

A pre-filter would also be an improvement on the GravityWorks Water Filter.

 

 

4:17 p.m. on February 7, 2013 (EST)
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Hi MoeIsMe,

Good questions:

1. Can it be called a 'purifier' if pathogens are killed, but not removed? Plus, it does nothing to remove toxic chemicals, which again makes me think that it is mis-labeled as a 'purifier'. You still have to drink whatever is in the water.

I'm not aware of any laws that regulate the use of the word "purifier."  You're correct in that a properly functioning UV disinfection device like the SteriPen won't remove dissolved heavy metals, hydrocarbons any any non-pathogenic contaminants.

2. Is the new indicator (smiley face) based on a timer? I assume the power on the UV lamp is regulated so that you can be sure that a certain amount of time is sufficient to kill all pathogens?

Another good question.  I think that it delivers a 45 second dose, and that if this dose is interrupted, you get a warning.  I know that other versions of the SteriPen recommend multiple doses for highly turbid (cloudy) water.  I'll check with the company and post the reply here.

For a great primer on all the concepts related to treating backcountry water, check out Bill's article here: http://www.trailspace.com/articles/backcountry-water-treatment-part-4-methods-for-making-water-safe.html

2:46 p.m. on February 10, 2013 (EST)
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UV light is not used to kill tough organisms such as protists in drinking water, but to denature their DNA, so that their oocysts cannot reproduce inside the host organism - you. Even municipal drinking water standards do not require the removal (usually by filtration) of 100% of oocysts, but the amount that can legally remain is extremely small. It takes a critical mass to infect most people. Whether that might be available in the residual water drops that are not treated with UV light in a container would depend on the amount of untreated water and the concentration of the oocysts. Although I have a SteriPen, I most often use chlorine dioxide to disinfect water; it takes more planning and the water has a bit of a taste, but I think that it is a more sure method. That said, if you need to make water quickly, the SteriPen is a reasonable alternative.

3:59 p.m. on February 11, 2013 (EST)
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I just don't trust the thing, the way it is made to be used!

11:47 a.m. on February 18, 2013 (EST)
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Hi MoeIsMe,

SteriPen got back to us with some answers to your good questions.  Here they are:

1. Can it be called a 'purifier' if pathogens are killed, but not removed? Plus, it does nothing to remove toxic chemicals, which again makes me think that it is mis-labeled as a 'purifier'. You still have to drink whatever is in the water.

SteriPEN meets the purifier standard USEPA Guide Standard and Protocol for microbiological purifiers. When dealiing with chemicals, you are getting into a different segment known as water treatment.

2. Is the new indicator (smiley face) based on a timer?

Like all of our products, there is a timer, yes.

3. I assume the power on the UV lamp is regulated so that you can be sure that a certain amount of time is sufficient to kill all pathogens?

Yes, the product has been tested extensively (http://www.steripen.com/micro-biological-testing/). It is simply the same light intensity over a consistent time frame producing consistent results..time & intensity of lamp. Tested. over....and over....and over....and over :}

7:00 p.m. on February 19, 2013 (EST)
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@ Moe: Yeah, I hear your concerns...like Bob C notes, one of the more interesting parts about the SterPen-style systems are that they actually don't kill the organisms.

All the SteriPen claims to do is mutate the organisms beyond their capacity to reproduce. You then ingest the live, mutated organisms, hoping for the best case scenario...one where the random mutations don't include that one-in-a-trillion mutation that creates the next "superbug," that you then ingest...

Personally, I don't want to roll those dice for now...especially when a liter of creek water can have billions of microorganisms...

11:58 a.m. on February 20, 2013 (EST)
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Hi pillowthread - it's probably more accurate to say that the UV radiation denatures the DNA and RNA of the pathogens. A mutation implies a heritable trait. They way I look at it is essentially that the organisms are cooked by a higher frequency of electromagnetic radiation than heat.  It's qualitatively equivalent to cooking a steak, just using UV radiation, rather than IR radiation.  The question of natural selection isn't as relevant with "overwhelming force" as it is with antibiotics. For example, we don't worry about creating heat-resistant organisms in the meat that we cook. Forgive the fuzzy explanation - I remember my High School biology teacher telling me I was "worse than hopeless!" Bill, our resident physicist, will likely chime in and explain exactly what I've gotten wrong.

That all said - water purification is a very personal decision. I don't use UV myself, and have a whole "water selection" ritual when I get into camp that is far beyond rational.

8:38 p.m. on February 20, 2013 (EST)
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These devices had the biggest failure rate of any gear on the A/T. I dont think they are up to the task yet. Can't wait until they are.

September 2, 2014
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