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Staying Healthy on the Road Medical info, e.g. malaria, vaccinations, travel medical tips, medical insurance, where to find a doctor.
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  #1  
Old 7 Feb 2011
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Steripen to purify water?

Am heading to southern africa soon and was thinking I might need some water purifying tablets. Came across this - the steripen. Used ultraviolet light to kill bugs. Does it work? Has anyone used it? What advice would you have for getting safe drinking water in southern africa.

[url=http://www.ellis-brigham.com/kit-list---kilimanjaro/steripen/265351/steripen-adventurer]SteriPen Adventurer by SteriPen for
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  #2  
Old 8 Feb 2011
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I used a steripen through Turkey, the 'Stans, Russia and Ukraine.

I mostly used it on water from hotels and other sources where the water was clear but not necessarily fit to drink. I used it a few times on water taken from streams- again clear water.

The unit is easy to use (read the directions!) and worked reliably- at least I did not get sick from water on the 3 month trip.

Take a few sets of extra batteries, the size they use (Lithium CR123A) were not easy to come by.

..........shu
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  #3  
Old 9 Feb 2011
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They work fine on perfectly clear water, but if there is any particulate matter at all; sand, silt, twigs etc then you would need to filter first.
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  #4  
Old 9 Feb 2011
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Steripen

I have been using the Steripen for about 3 years now, the Australian Army uses it, as well as some hosipitals. I have found it excellent. But I don't really think you would need one in Sthern Africa as you can buy good bottled water everywhere.
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  #5  
Old 10 Feb 2011
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Thanks for the comments. Still haven't made up my mind but I did come across this:

Eco 100% stainless steel micro purification filter pure water bottle with dustcap 1600 litre: Amazon.co.uk: Garden & Outdoors

a filter water bottle. Looks like it would do.
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  #6  
Old 10 Feb 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shu... View Post
I mostly used it on water from hotels and other sources where the water was clear but not necessarily fit to drink. I used it a few times on water taken from streams- again clear water.

Take a few sets of extra batteries, the size they use (Lithium CR123A) were not easy to come by.

..........shu
If your filtering just tap water which is clear and you suspect is tainted. Could you just use simple chlorine bleach, to kill the bugs, then use a DIY filter to improve the taste?

YouTube - Make it yourself water filter

daryl
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  #7  
Old 10 Feb 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dlh62c View Post
If your filtering just tap water which is clear and you suspect is tainted. Could you just use simple chlorine bleach, to kill the bugs, then use a DIY filter to improve the taste?

YouTube - Make it yourself water filter

daryl
Yes, you could. The advantages of Steripen are: you have drinkable water in 90 seconds. Using chemical treatments you are often told to wait as much as 4 hours contact time before drinking.

I'm not a doctor so you should do your own research- mine tells me that chlorine may or may not be effective against some pathogens. Also there seems to be a general recommendation against ingesting water treatment chemicals over a long period.

For example, this: Ultralight Backpacking Water Treatment

Treating with bleach should be thought of as an emergency method. Although countless websites list this method of treatment, they do not show data for effectiveness against giardia, cryptosporidium, and other pathogens. And these sources do not list the effects of long-term use on the body.

Whether this is true or not, the Steripen does not seem to have these disadvantages.

My traveling partner solved the problem by buying all his water in bottles. I didn't want to be throwing away 4-5 plastic bottles everyday, or spending my travel money on water (though the price of the steripen probably makes that statement ridiculous.)

Anyway, no clearcut answers I think. I was happy using the steripen.

.........shu
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Old 11 Feb 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shu... View Post
The advantages of Steripen are: you have drinkable water in 90 seconds.

Anyway, no clearcut answers I think. I was happy using the steripen.

.........shu
I didn't know that the original poster had a specific time limit regarding the treatment of water. It may take 4 hours to kill the big stuff, but less for the small stuff.

It wouldn't be a waste of time to view some of the You Tube videos on DIY water filters. The more you know the less you need to carry. What knowledge one stores in their head weights nothing.

This is what I carry: YouTube - Ultralight Gravity Pro Water Filter.

Its not perfect either, but it's light, small and compact. Doesn't need batteries and has no moving parts. But it does have a 50 gal limit. I hoping to push that, if I need too, by frequent back flushing.
YouTube - AquaMira Frontier Pro UQC (military version)

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  #9  
Old 12 Feb 2011
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Went the steripen route as well. Haven't used it yet though. I find I usually buy water as it's almost everywhere. I always used to travel with a filter but got sick of carrying it around when I nearly never use it as it's really only as a back up. So for those instances the pen is the way to go. You really don't end up drinking out of muddy streams anyway. At least I never had to. AA batteries are everywhere as well, and on a bike you always have power for rechargeables.
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  #10  
Old 15 Feb 2011
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We have been using a Steripen in South America, every day for 3 months for 2 adults daily water. (minimum 4 litres a day - often much more)

There are 2 models, one that works on CR batteries or the one we have which works on 4 AA batteries.

I use recharchable batteries and carry a small wall/12v charger.

As mentioned it will only purify clear water.

We have not been sick from any water on our trip and it has worked fine.

It has also saved a lot of plastic bottles from the garbage where there is no recycling and has easily paid for itself over the course of our trip
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Old 15 Feb 2011
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I used a gravity feed Platypus brand system all last year. I got bored watching the video linked above, so I don't know how the one I bought pre-assembled might differ from the home-made one shown, but it sure looked similar: two 3 or 4 liter Platypus water bags, connecting tubing and a filter; pure gravity feed, i.e., no pumping. I used no chemicals, although I do understand the theory that says you need chemical treatment to deal with viruses; I don't know who gets sick from waterborne viruses, but apparently it's not (yet) me.

I ran two, three, four or more liters of clear water through it per day for most of the year. I never had to backflush or clean it. I never got sick....except when I left it behind to go trekking in famously-pristine Torres del Paine. Wrong choice; I should have brought it and kept using it.

I bought it at REI. I've used a lot of filters over the years, and this one is by far the most convenient and versatile for long motorbike trips: virtually no effort, no waiting, and no maintenance. Also no taste, no batteries, and essentially limitless capacity. Also cheap.

YMMV.

Mark
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  #12  
Old 27 Aug 2011
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Coffee filters

I use a SteriPen a lot on hotel/hostel/suspicious water...and if I'm using water with sediment or dirt I just pull out my drip coffee thingy, bung a #2 filter in and pour slowly...and wait...and wait...it's slow but since I'm already carrying filters I just use them...or a shirt, anything to get the chunks out...I don't mind a little duff.

Zig
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  #13  
Old 13 Jan 2012
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Just recently went to the local travel clinic to get some of my vaccinations brought up to date and the nurse asked me what I used on my last trip (including Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey) for water treatment. I rather sheepishly told her that I used a SteriPen... half expecting her to start laughing... but her response was "Excellent!". She felt it was the best way to go. At least for relatively clear water. I was surprised. I really only used it for hotel or campground tap water.
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  #14  
Old 13 Jan 2012
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Chlorine should kill most bacteria provided you give it enough time. Cold water will take much longer than in warmer water. A lot of chemical reactions are so called first order and with these, the reaction time is double for every 10 deg C drop in temperature.

Filtering will not remove the taste of chlorine from the water. Add some Vitamin C to the treated water and that removes the chlorine taste, cheaply available at the chemist's shop. The reason chlorine is considered bad in treated water is that the chlorinated by products of the sterilisation reaction can be dangerous/carcinogenic, but they will only be present in tiny quantities and unlikely to be a problem for a short period of time. Certainly better than not treating the water against bacteria.

I think iodine is frowned upon and now banned in Germany for water sterilisation in filters.

I have made up a survival kit/first aid kit and will carry chlorine dioxide tablets plus Vit C tablets. I also bought a Lifesaver UF 4000 Water Filter, which apparently does not require any chemicals. It is self contained, but a little bulky - size of a one litre bottle of water. Can filter 4000l of water before a main cartridge change, but you need to take care of the supplemental activated charcoal filter, as these are a potential breeding ground for bacteria.

My local outdoors shop assistant was luke warm on the SteriPen units, although they did sell them. OK for hotel and camp site clear water, but you would always have the option of buying bottled water there (check seal is in tact).

Grey Beard

Last edited by Grey Beard; 14 Jan 2012 at 00:12. Reason: Correction
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  #15  
Old 13 Jan 2012
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A course I did covering a variety of stuff including filters suggested a steripen kind of disables any bugs, to the extent that hopefully they won't still do you any harm. However dead they may or may not be, they're still in what you're drinking!

PreMac filters use iodene, but then the carbon bit takes it out again.

The filter on the Lifesaver bottle has small enough holes to not allow any bugs through at all, and I believe there is a cleaning process to flush it within the filters lifespan? If there is nothing left after these holes, what is there to grow on the carbon bit? I'd not heard that before? Is that specific to a Lifesaver or generally?

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