Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Types of Water Treatment for Backpackers

There are generally five ways to treat your water, so you've got water filters, water purifiers, you've got UV light treatment, chemical treatments and of course, you can also boil your water. With filters and purifiers you have a couple of different options. In this case we have a synthetic cartridge. So these style filters usually pump water very quickly, so you get a lot of water output for not as much work time. They are not field maintainable and they tend to clog faster because of that synthetic material that's not able to be cleaned. And you end up replacing the filters more often, but they do pump a lot of water very quickly. Then you have a ceramic style filter. And this is basically a piece of clay here. These pump a lot slower than synthetics, however they are field maintainable. As you can see on this piece, you can use a Brillo pad and kind of scrub the outside and clean off any dirt that's built up on there and put it back in the case and start pumping water again. So they're field maintainable and they last a really long time. You're not going to be spending perhaps as much time or money replacing them. However, they do pump slowly and they are a little bit more brittle and delicate than a synthetic. This is a piece of ceramic, so if you were to drop it really heavily or if it were to freeze in the wintertime, it could potentially damage that cartridge. A third option is going to be a filter or purifier that offers you the best of both worlds. So in the case of this model, we have a ceramic filter here at the top.

You’ve got the best of that and then underneath here you can see you also have the synthetic, so this is a combination version that basically gives you the best of both worlds. There are also models that have systems that allow you to back flush them. What this means is you can kind of rearrange how this system works so the water is going the opposite direction and forces water back through that filter system and cleans up some of those built-up contaminates in it. So it extends the life of those filter systems as well. So UV light is another form of water treatment and this is a technology that is frequently used in urban municipalities to treat large quantities of water, so it's not just an application that's being used for backpacking. It consists of this lamp here that the UV light comes through, which can be very delicate. Most models come with a protective covering to keep that safe. The upside to these models is that they are extremely small, compact and lightweight. They also will treat your water for different forms of bacteria – protozoa, kryptosporidium and viruses. So you're good there. The downside to them is that they do run on batteries or are going to need to be charged after multiple uses. so potentially you could be out in the field and have this item stop working on you. And they don't give you an option with just the model by itself for cleaning particulate matter out of water. That would be things like leaves, mosquito larvae and chunky stuff that gets in the way. So you would want to strain your water or run it through a pre-filter of some sort before using this. Chemical water treatment options have some upsides and downsides to them. The upsides to them are that they're going to be really affordable.

 They're really lightweight and barely take up any space in a pack or emergency kit. The down side is that you typically need a lot of them to treat water especially over a longer period of time. And a prolonged period of time needs to pass for chemical water treatments to break down viruses and other bacteria and other contaminates in the water. A couple of these treatments would be iodine which is an extremely common one that has been used frequently by backpackers in the past. It does have a pretty bad taste with it and there are studies that show long term side effects to using this over extended periods of time and quite a few people are also allergic to iodine. So it may not be as easy to find in shops as it once was. Another good chemical option would be Katadyn MicroPur tablets. This is a product that is based on a chlorine treatment that's really similar to what you might find in your tap water. It has very little taste and is also affordable and lightweight. So your fifth option is boiling water, which will remove all of the things we discussed in this video from your water and can be used in conjunction with all of the methods that we talked about here.

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