Whether to treat drinking water with iodine or chlorine dioxide is your basic choice if you are going to use chemicals. You might prefer tablets or liquids or iodine crystals. There are quite a few different brand names to choose from, but those listed demonstrate the basic alternatives available to you.
When you choose your chemical water treatment keep these things in mind:
- Shelf Life - just buy what you will use or its wasted if it expires
- Cost per Gallon - how much water can it process?
- Length of Use - don't plan on drinking chemically treated water for a long time. Read the product cautions.
- Contact Time - how long must you wait for usable water?
- Stability - spilling liquid is worse than tablets - how is the packaging and your dexterity?
- Neutralizer - is there a neuralizer available for the taste/odor?
AquaMira Water Purifier
Chlorine dioxide based system that treats 30 gallons for $11
Mix liquid from the two bottles and let sit for 5 minutes. Then, add it to your water, stir, and let sit for 30 minutes.
Aqua Mira has a 4 year shelf life but that is about its only drawback besides waiting 35 minutes for a drink. Oh, it is liquid and will freeze below 32F and temperatures over 100F will effect its efficiency.
To treat larger or smaller amounts of water, you just mix the appropriate amount of liquids and then dump it in. There is no long-term ingestion risk as with iodine and there is no chlorine in the mix.
Chlorine dioxide is more effective with less health risks, odor, and taste than iodine, so AquaMira has become very popular. You can also use it as a preservative for stored emergency preparation water.
This is a popular treatment solution because it is pure iodine crystals in a special bottle. It does not deteriorate over time, has an indefinite shelf life, is completely effective as long as there are crystals left in the bottle.
One bottle treats up to 2000 quarts at 1/2 cent per quart (500 gallons @ $.02/gal) depending on temperature - colder requires higher dosage.
There's a cool indicator on the side of the bottle that tells you how many capfuls are required for a liter. One prepared bottle can treat from 2 to 6 quarts depending on temperature. Just pour in the right number of capfuls and wait 20-30 minutes with the water container tightly closed.
This is a simple, effective system. It does a good job at killing off critters but it does have a couple drawbacks:
- takes 1 hour for the crystals to saturate a new dose in the bottle. This means if you need more than a gallon of water, you need multiple bottles or you wait an hour to treat more water.
- if you let the solution in the bottle freeze, you have to thaw it before treating more water.
- your water containers need to be tightly covered - Nalgene bottles work great, but not pots.
- it is in a glass bottle, so be careful
- it does not guarantee that it will handle cryptosporidium
Polar Pure works well for disinfecting individual drinking water containers. You might want something else for camp cooking water.
Chlorine-based purifier solution from MSR that ensures simple, fast virus protection. After filtering, add 5 drops, mix and wait just 5 minutes.
Liquid in a squeezable, spill-proof plastic bottle so its easy to measure drops. One 2 oz. bottle treats 80 gallons.
Potable Aqua Plus
An iodine based tablet that works on all bacteriologically impure water. Bottle contains 50 tablets to purify 25 to 50 quarts, depending on water source for $0.18 or $0.36 per quart ($.72 or $1.44/gallon). Weighs 4 oz. and takes about 35 minutes to treat water.
The Potable Aqua tablets use iodine to kill off the pests and after it is finished, the neutralizer tablets are added to clarify and de-odorize the iodine. The neutralizer tablets contain 45 milligrams of vitamin C each.
Don't use it for more than a month. It is intended to be used for short trips or emergency situations. Opened bottles should be used within a year. Unopened bottles can last 4 years.
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