How to Treat Your Water

MSR’s Miniworks EX Filter is one way to make sure your water won’t make you sick.

It’s the height of summer and you’re out on a hike with just one Nalgene of water. You thought to yourself that 1 liter would be plenty of water for your 5-mile hike, but halfway up you’re parched and chugging it down. You think to yourself, how in the heck will I be able to finish this hike without more water? 

Enter water treatment! If you 1) didn’t bring enough water on accident, or 2) don’t want to carry loads of water (did you know it weighs 8.34 pounds per gallon?!), then water treatment is a great solution. There are lots of ways to treat water, and the best method depends on where you’re traveling, and how long you’re out for.

Boiling: Boiling kills all live things in your water like giardia and cryptosporidium, but it doesn’t improve the taste of the water or get rid of heavy metals or other pollutants. Pros: cheap. Cons: Time and fuel-intensive. What you need: a stove. Try a Jetboil. It boils water fast, and takes up minimal space in your pack. Plus it’s an OGE staff favorite.

UV Light: Avoid the taste of chemicals, and make sure that you’ve killed everything living in your water. Steripens use UV light to kill cryposporidium and giardia, but they can’t remove chunks in your water, or heavy metals and other environmental pollutants. Another OGE staff favorite!

Filter: The only solution for removing impurities from your water like heavy metals and pesticides, as well as bacteria, protozoa (including crypto and giardia), chemicals like chlorine, and particulate. We like the MSR MiniWorks EX. It’ll last you a long time, and it’s field maintainable.

Iodine: Iodine kills water-borne pathogens including Giardia cysts and micro-organisms (viruses) that pass through filters. It’s the cheapest solution besides boiling, and you can do it on the go. Simply add water to your Polar Pure bottle, or drop Potable Aqua tablets into your bottle and you’re good to go.

Aqua Mira: It’s a new E.P.A. registered water treatment designed for wilderness and adventure travelers, campers, outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds, emergency preparedness kits, and anyone concerned about the quality of drinking water. Aquamira is suitable for treating and improving the taste of water from rivers, lakes, streams, straight from the tap, and more!

Aquamira is stabilized chlorine dioxide and contains no active chlorine or iodine. Chlorine dioxide is an extremely effective and safe water treatment currently used by hundreds of municipal water treatment plants worldwide. Aquamira’s unique formula works quickly and efficiently by releasing oxygen in a highly active form to kill bacteria, viruses, and protozoa without unpleasant taste or odor! Aquamira is the first stabilized chlorine dioxide water treatment kit of its kind available in a consumer package. Aquamira is a two-part system, Part A, chlorine dioxide, 1 oz. (30ml) (2% stabilized chlorine dioxide), and Part B, phosphoric acid, 1 oz. (30ml) (5% food-grade solution). There is no active chlorine in chlorine dioxide. Although chlorine dioxide has the word chlorine in its name, the two forms of chlorine have completely different chemical structures. The oxygen is the active ingredient. Water treated as directed with Aquamira is safe to drink on a regular basis.  It will work in water temperatures from 32°F to 100°F.

Now that you know some ways to treat your water out in the wilderness, we wish you happy trails and happy hydrating!

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