Oct 30, 2013

Water Treatment with Aquamira Drops

In my quest to lighten up, I've move from the heavy and slow MSR Miniworks filter (but very reliable), to the expensive Steripen UV sterilizer.  This is a great tool.  You can drink water 90 seconds after filling your bottle.  The problem is that it is battery powered.  While doing a 10 day hike in the Wind River range of Wyoming, my pen failed on the second day.  And the device takes CR123 batteries, which I didn't have spares for.  Thank God I had a small bottle of bleach for a backup.  And I didn't get sick using bleach for water purification drawing water from glacial lakes shared with pack horses.

So this experience prompted my to know more about chemical treatment.  One of my hiking partners uses Polar Pure iodine crystals.You can't buy this today because meth cookers use iodine and that put Polar Pure out of business.  Another hiking partner uses bleach.  Simple and cheap.   So I researched bleach and found that it was ineffective with cryptosporidium.  

Then I read Mike Clelland's Ultralight Backpacking Tips.  He recommends using Aquamira, and using a separate "mix" bottle to solve the problem of having to wait for the mixture of part A and part B to activate.
Researching chlorine dioxide, I see that this is the best of chemical water treatment.

Using Aquamira

Aquamira is a two part chlorine dioxide system.  Part A is a stabilized chlorine dioxide solution, and part B is the activator.  The standard $12 kit includes 1 fl.oz. (30cc) of each.  The kit says to use 7 drops of each and can treat up to 120 liters.  

Mike Clelland recommends using a mix bottle.  Normally you need to mix the 7 drops of part A and B and wait 5 minutes.  This is very inconvenient.  Instead, I put 35 drops of each in a "mix" 3cc dropper bottle.  When the solution is activated, it turns yellow.  The mixture will stay activated for over 24 hours (as long as its kept away from heat and light).  If its no longer yellow, it's expired. 

Mike Clelland also recommends using only 7 drops of mix for typical "good" water sources.  More up to 14 drops can be used for questionable sources.  Assuming 10 drops per liter which includes discarding bad mix, a kit should treat up to 180 liters, which is about 30 days of water treatment.  I typically hike for a maximum of two weeks, I only need to carry 1/2 oz of part A and B.  I got 15cc dropper bottles so I carry the proper amount of chemicals.  


2 (Two) 3cc black PET dropper bottles (1 spare)
2 (Two) 15cc white PET dropper bottles
      Labelled Part A and Part B


1. Repackage Part A and Part B into the labelled 15cc dropper bottles
2. Add 35 drops each of Part A and B into the 3cc mix bottle in the morning. 
(I keep the mix bottle in my pant pocket.  Wait 5 minutes for the mix to activate.)
3. Add 7 drops to each liter of water.  10 if water is questionable.

Note: I use the "Smart Scoop" to filter out sediment and floaties when filling my water bottles before treatment.  See post on my Smart Scoop.

Source of bottles

I get my bottles from US plastics.  http://www.usplastic.com
15cc White Boston Round Bottle with Dropper Cap 
3cc Black Cylinder Bottle with Dropper Cap 

While ordering, I would get some 30 and 60cc natural dropper bottles for repackaging other liquids, and some fliptop bottles for alcohol, olive oil, etc.

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