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Purifying Water Using Chemicals, Ultraviolet Light, and Electricity
Purifying water in the backcountry doesn’t mean having to carry a heavy and bulky water filter. There are several products on the market that allow hikers and backpackers to have clean water and to stay hydrated while hiking.
Pocket-Sized Water Purifiers
There are now products that can clean water that fit in a pocket, and do not take up much weight in the backpack. For instance, the MSR MIOX purifier uses a salt solution and electricity to kill harmful contaminants, such as bacteria and viruses. The pen weighs about 3.5 ounces, without the salt.
Another pocket-sized water purifier uses ultraviolet light to kill harmful organisms in water. The SteriPEN Adventurer Water Purifier uses UV light powered by lithium batteries to purify water, and according to the product information it can be used up to 5,000 times. It is able to purify 16 ounces of water in about a minute, and 32 ounces in less than two minutes. The pen retails for about $99.95.
Using Water Purification Tablets to Purify Water
Water purification tablets are another common, lightweight way to clean water on the trail. Some tablets use iodine, while others are made from chlorine. Often, when the seal has been broken on the packaging, the tablets have a limited shelf life, such as one long backpacking expedition or several shorter trips spaced within a few months. Before using these tablets, check to make sure that there is not a chance of having an allergic reaction from the chemicals.
Using Filters on Water Bottles to Purify Water
Some water bottles come with a small filter built into the bottle. This allows the user to dip the bottle in a stream or pond, and then purify the water without having to use a pump. These bottles are often used by adventure racers who need to refill on water during a race, but don’t want to spend time pumping it. For instance, the lifestraw water filter is designed to be used on water bottles. If you like carrying your water bottle around, you can get the fitting size. The stage two filter cleans up to 1,000 liters of water. Its efficiency is rated at 99% in removing bacteria, protozoa and other contaminants in water.
Using a Bandanna to Filter Water
It is possible to screen out some of the larger particles of dirt and other matter without using a water purifier. When filling up a water bottle, cover the top with a bandanna. The cloth will act as a screen, keeping out the “floaties” from the bottle. Note that a bandanna will not be able to purify the water. However, combined with chemical treatment, this is a way to have water that is not only pure but also clear.
These are just some of the many different ways to purify water. They can all be used by either the casual hiker or the weight-conscious expedition backpacker to have clean drinking water while on the trail.