aqua mira: tabs or liquid?

7:41 p.m. on June 10, 2008 (EDT)
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If anyone has experience with these two treatments, please share which one you think is better. Does it even matter? Thanx.

12:11 a.m. on June 11, 2008 (EDT)
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In terms of water treatment the results reportedly are the same. My personal preference is tabs since I don't like the hassle of mixing.

10:32 a.m. on June 11, 2008 (EDT)
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As steve t says, chemical treatments are the same in terms of effectiveness and which critters they kill. It does no matter whether you use tablet or liquid form. Iodine is faster (half hour for "room temperature" water). Chlorine (whether chlorine dioxide, hypochlorous acid, sodium hypochlorite, or the Miox-produced solution) requires about 4 hours). Cold water and turbid water ("cloudy") require extended times.

Many people consider filtering (pump filters, particularly) to be more convenient, since that is faster (no waiting for the chemical action), but that requires operating the pump and the extra weight). Some prefer chemical treatment. Some prefer boiling, which requires using your fuel.

Look back through Trailspace forums for the frequent, detailed discussion of this topic.

8:32 p.m. on June 11, 2008 (EDT)
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Sweetwater Purification System with ViralStop (sodium hypochlorite )
http://www.msrgear.com/watertreatment/sweetpure.asp

Pump rate: 1.25 liters/minute
Weighs 14 ozs. & comes with cleaning kit and bottle of ViralStop
Add 5 drops, Wait 5 minutes & Enjoy
Cost: 80.00

I have found that few thirsty hikers with empty water bottles wait the full 4 hours necessary if you don't use a filter. Of course you could always boil water for hot tea while you wait I guess.

9:06 p.m. on June 11, 2008 (EDT)
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How long is your trip and how much water do you plan on purifying? A usual pack of the tablets does around 12 Liters, while the two-part liquid does around 30 gallons.

The Sweetwater is nice, since it has a disinfectant as well (most filters do not chemically remove any viral agents in the water).

Iodine is nice, except for the taste, and that a lot of people fail to properly treat the water and container when using it.

Boiling always works in a pinch, the downfall is the water only remains clean while in the container you boiled it in...once it goes back into the old Nalgene bottle or CamelBak, it picks up whatever it contacts.

For the price and proven reliability, I'd go with the tabs and some nice mesh material if you have to "filter" any large particulates out. My t-shirts always worked well...

9:34 p.m. on June 11, 2008 (EDT)
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Well I'll be gone for 5 days on the Appalachian in Nantahala NF, so I won't need anything too serious, I think. Seems like the tabs would be the most convenient choice. I did take a look at the Sweetwater. That could be a good investment. But one question, if the liquid aqua mira treatment requires 4 hours, how long do the tabs require?

10:59 p.m. on June 11, 2008 (EDT)
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TrailScout, Maybe we will bump into one another! I'm going to the Joice Kilmer section in August. Nantahala is cool!
"Land of the noonday sun" You can still find arrowheads and pottery in the stream beds.

12:09 a.m. on June 12, 2008 (EDT)
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TrailScout asks

Quote:

if the liquid aqua mira treatment requires 4 hours, how long do the tabs require?

The answer is above - Iodine treatments, whether liquid or tabs, take 30 min. Chlorine treatments, whether liquid or tabs, take 4 hours. Both take longer if the water is cold or turbid (cloudy). (Aqua Mira distributes both liquid and tablet forms of both chlorine and iodine, the best known being the liquid and tablet form of chlorine dioxide - I recently grabbed a bottle of Aqua Mira tablets, thinking it was one, but it turned out to be the other - which says, ALWAYS READ THE BOTTLE, Old Greybeard!).

Pumping is generally fastest, with boiling very close (5 minutes or so, depending on how fast you pump or how fast you can get the stove and pot out, and the stove lit - remember that the water only needs to be heated to 155F or greater, not actually boiling).

rdavis, by the 3rd or 4th day out, I will choose something other than your T-shirt filter, thank you ;)

8:50 a.m. on June 12, 2008 (EDT)
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The instructions on my Aqua Mira(liquid drops) say to wait 15 mins before drinking or 30 mins if the water is cloudy or tinted. I have folowed these directions and used aqua mira drops for several years along with a thru-hike of the AT and have stayed very healthy!

10:46 a.m. on June 12, 2008 (EDT)
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Looking at Aquamira's website (they run the words together there), they have added filters and dropped the iodine tablets (I still have an unopened, sealed package of their iodine tabs). On the unopened, sealed chlorine dioxide tabs package I have, it says 4 hours, but their website says 30 minutes for the 2-liquid version. Ryan Jordan did a series of tests on a specific bacterium that forms a biofilm and found that chlorine dioxide penetrates the biofilm in about 30 min. Other material from Wilderness Medicine Associates I have (the professional organization of MD wilderness medicine people) indicates that giardia cysts require 4 hours to kill ("inactivate" is their term), while most bacteria are taken care of in 15-30 minutes. So it appears to depend on what critter you are dealing with.

10:56 a.m. on June 12, 2008 (EDT)
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Sorry trouthunter but I'll be out in mid-July. Enjoy your trip though.

And I appreciate the feedback. This really helps clear up some stuff. Hey one more question, is Polar Pure a more convenient method? Just a thought. Thanx.

12:32 p.m. on June 12, 2008 (EDT)
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Polar Pure is what used to be the standard treatment issued at Philmont Scout Ranch, on the thought that it was the most convenient to use. If you haven't used it, it consists of iodine crystals in a bottle that has a "trap" so that the solid crystals themselves do not get out. You fill the bottle with water right after the usage, so it will be ready for next time (from the local contaminated stream is just fine). The crystals make a saturated solution of iodine in the water, given a short time after adding water (don't remember the minimum time right now). The next time you fill up your water container (canteen, Camelbak, Nalgene, whatever), you add a certain number of capsful of the iodine solution, depending on how much water you added (refill the water in the Polar Pure bottle in preparation for next time). Wait 30 min (longer for very cold water, such as fresh snowmelt), and you can drink. Most people carry two water containers - one ready to drink, the second getting purified (both for iodine and chlorine).

Problems - Some people react to iodine (if you have thyroid problems, mostly). It is not recommended to use iodine for purification for more than 3 or 4 weeks straight (I have used it for as much as 6 weeks with no ill effects, but we also had boiled water for all our cooking). It is possible through gross carelessness to get some of the iodine crystals out of the bottle into your water bottle, posing a risk (you could also put too many chlorine tablets or too much chlorine liquid in your water bottle through gross carelessness). Polar Pure is in a glass bottle, which could break (it is thick glass, which I have seen get broken only once in 40+ years, and that was really gross negligence, almost malicious mischief).

You can also get iodine tablets, which work just as well. They have similar disadvantages, plus they only keep a few months once you open and break the seal (same as for chlorine tablets). That's why the bottles are so tiny - you get a couple weeks worth for one person in one of the tiny bottles.

1:07 p.m. on June 12, 2008 (EDT)
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Here's a new toy, as well: The Seldon Water Stick http://www.seldontechnologies.com/Products/tabid/61/Default.aspx is made from carbon nanotubes that have been proven to purifier and disinfect water from all contaminates, including heavy metals such as lead by just moving the water under pressure through the nanomesh. No contact time needed and no maintenance. The technology is interesting, it's durability is suspect right now. Their .pdf on the Water Stick says

"Note: The lifetime of this product could be substantially reduced for water with high particulate counts or high organic content. To increase its maximum useful
life draw clear water where possible"

Not great for the backpacker, but, once their engineering catches up to their technology, it has some interesting potential.

Bill - I'll have you know the water filtered through my t-shirt in an austere environment tastes like a fine, 30 year Scotch....and salt. Heh. Also, I think you typoed "Wilderness Medical Associates" above?

12:35 p.m. on June 13, 2008 (EDT)
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Wilderness Medicine Associates - corrected in the above post.

The carbon nanotube technology is really looking promising. There was a good article on the technology a month or two back in Scientific American.

I was reminded yesterday that chlorine requires 4 hours to kill cryptosporidium as well as giardia cysts, whether hypochlorous acid or chlorine dioxide. Luckily crypto is pretty rare in mountain water, though it is present in a lot of urban water that has gotten contaminated through accidents (spills and such). The dioxide requires 15-30 min for the vast majority of bacteria that are found in mountain water and giardia that is not in the cyst form.

But chemical purifiers do not remove industrial and agricultural contamination, such as the mercury runoff from the old mines down here in Almaden Valley or the selenium runoff found in our Central Valley (luckily you don't have that in most mountain water, except areas with lots of present or former mining)

"fine, 30 year Scotch", eh? Sort of a smokey taste? Maybe if you didn't stand downwind of the campfire, it would help ;)

5:44 p.m. on June 13, 2008 (EDT)
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It is not wise to drink any water that drains mining areas here in the appalachians, we have acidic runoff that has destroyed trout streams and done untold damage to amphibians.
But that information is not readily available to visitors, gee I wonder why?
For a real eye opener, check this site which has a nice article and a short video.
http://www.thestar.com/sciencetech/Environment/article/306165

Around here if the water smells like rotten eggs, don't drink it, that's of course sulfur, plus there are a couple of chemicals that are odorless. It is mostly a problem in runoff and ground water that shows up in our springs which are an inviting spot to take a break.

10:38 p.m. on June 16, 2008 (EDT)
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I believe Aqua Mira liquid takes 5-10 minutes to purify a liter, not four hours.

10:49 p.m. on June 16, 2008 (EDT)
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rambler -
Aquamira liquid takes 30 min (per their information sheet and web site) for most organisms, which is much faster than hypochlorous acid. Crypto and giardia cysts require 4 hours (same as for other chlorine treatments). Ryan Jordan's evaluation (he got 30 min, same as Aquamira states) that is much quoted dealt with a specific variety of bacteria that is also hard for the older chlorine treatments, but did not deal with cryptosporidium or giardia cysts. I am going by studies published by Wilderness Mountain Associates for this info.

The volume of the water is not important for the time, but does determine the amount of Aquamira to add to the water (2 liters requires twice as much as 1 liter, so take note of that for your 3 liter hydration bladder). Note also that temperature and turbidity slow the action of all chemical treatments.

11:07 a.m. on June 17, 2008 (EDT)
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according to the US Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine http://chppm-www.apgea.army.mil/WPD/CompareDevices.aspx the aqua Mira drops do not kill cypto. Scroll down to the bottom of that page to see the evaluation of disinfectants.

1:06 p.m. on June 17, 2008 (EDT)
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nogods,
That is a very useful website, providing you follow the links to the expanded discussions of each method. But you said

Quote:

according to the US Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine http://chppm-www.apgea.army.mil/WPD/CompareDevices.aspx the aqua Mira drops do not kill cypto.

Not quite. What the Army site actually said in the expanded discussion of Aquamira was

Quote:

Not consistently effective against Cryptosporidium oocysts when used as directed. Extending wait time up to 4.5 hours will help ensure adequate Cryptosporidium oocyst reduction.

The 4 hour recommendation is what is on the Aquamira website. If you change the sentence to "require 4.5 hours to ensure adequate crypto reduction", nogods' statement is correct.

Unfortunately, I was unable to find an evaluation of the Pur treatment system in the tables. This would be a very interesting one to have included.

1:33 p.m. on June 17, 2008 (EDT)
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What is a giardia cyst? Am I likely to encounter the cysts in backcountry water? Is Giardia bacteria different from the cyst? Just curios

4:19 p.m. on June 17, 2008 (EDT)
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Giardia are a type of protozoa. That is, they are a large single-celled animal. When they go dormant, they encapsulated themselves with a membrane (think of it as sort of an egg). Giardia is NOT a type of bacterium.

Yes, you will encounter the cysts in the backcountry. When they enter the body (from drinking the water or from your buddy's unwashed hands after s/he has a bowel movement and then handles the dishes or food - most common way of spreading giardiasis), the cysts dissolve, leaving the giardia to grow and multiply, with the resultant miserable diarrhea (from both ends, often violently) and general misery. Luckily, giardia are more rare in the water than most people think. Unfortunately, it only takes a few hundred cysts to make you thoroughly sick, or fortunately, it requires several hundred to make you sick (half full or half empty, pick your viewpoint).

Again, most backcountry illness is due to poor sanitation on the part of the backcountry travellers and their companions. Insist on everyone thoroughly washing their hands before handling any food, including using hand sanitizers, such as Purell.

6:00 p.m. on June 17, 2008 (EDT)
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It is my understanding that giardia cysts are about 10 microns and cryptosporidium are around 5 microns. Both easily removed by filtration,( 1 micron ), thus the vast difference in the amount of time it takes to chemically treat filtered water vs. unfiltered. Speaking for myself I would much rather remove as many bugs as possible by filtering first. It just makes sense.

8:39 p.m. on June 17, 2008 (EDT)
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Bill - did you mean MicroPur tabs? they are the first ones listed and the only ones with 3 checks across the board

6:51 p.m. on June 18, 2008 (EDT)
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trouthunter -
The ARmy website has 2 sections. The first is essentially filtration systems, the second is chemical systems. A combination of the two is more effective than either singly. Some filter systems use an iodine resin to get the viruses that get through the filter. Some chemical systems will kill crypto and giardia cysts with sufficiently long treatment times.

nogods,
No, not MicroPur tablets (a Katadyn product), which are chlorine dioxide just as the Aqua-Mira tablets and liquid. Note the quote I copied from the Army section on Aqua-Mira (a McNett product). In the extended section from which I copied that quote, it appears that if the Aqua-Mira instructions were more explicit on the need for an additional 3-4.5 hours to disable crypto and giardia cysts, Aqua-Mira would also have gotten 3 checks across the board. But that's hidden in the "fine print" on the Army website. You have to click on a couple links to find the extra discussion, not just look at the chart with the checkmarks.

If you are asking about the Pur system I mentioned, this is from Pur, a Swiss subsidiary of Proctor and Gamble. Pur used to manufacture backpacking filters, but sold that division to Katadyn several years ago (the Hiker, Hiker Pro and a couple others were originally Pur labels). Pur still manufactures filters for home and industrial use (attach directly to the municipal water line). The system I was referring to produces a flocculus that entrains large particles, such as crypto, crypto cysts, giardia, giardia cysts, and sediment and other turbidity particles, and chelates some heavy metals and some industrial chemicals (pesticides and fertilizers). The flocculus settles to the bottom of the container, and the water decanted off through a cloth filter (this takes about 10 minutes to this point). The decanted water is then allowed to sit another 10 minutes, sufficient to allow the chlorine dioxide that is part of the powder mix to act on the bacteria and viruses that remain (at room temperature, that is, longer if the water is cold). The process sounds complicated (mix in the powder, stir, let sit, decant, let sit), but actually is simple enough for uneducated 3rd world starving people to understand and do on a regular basis. It is supposed to be on the market in the US this summer.

Another group of systems that are not in the Army charts are ultraviolet-based systems, such as the SteriPen.

7:25 p.m. on June 18, 2008 (EDT)
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The current "field guidelines" being taught are slightly different then the website....not really sure why. For chemical treatment (iodine or chlorine dioxide), it's 30 minutes (5 minutes, open cap and shake to treat threads, close, wait 25 minutes) and, if you have reason to suspect Giardia, double the contact time to one hour.

Bill - The UV light technology is also pretty interesting.

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