Friday, August 22, 2008

Recent Advances in Water Filtration

"Society, my dear, is like salt water, good to swim in but hard to swallow."
- Arthur Stringer, "The Silver Poppy"

Several years ago my wife read an article about the LifeStraw, "designed for those unfortunate people in the third world who do not have access to clean drinking water. The pipe is composed of two textile filters, followed by a chamber with beads impregnated with iodine." The pictures showed people drinking directly from dirty water through the fat straw. This is pretty cool we thought but at the time the LifeStraw was not approved for sale in the US. On reason might be that the LifeStraw did not protect against Giardia which is common in the US. Giardia has 5 micron spores which pass through the 15 micron filter and Giardia is resistant to the level of iodine within the straw.

This morning I read about a new water bottle called the "LifeSaver" with built-in filter for easy fill and sip in about 20 seconds. The bottle weighs about 1.5 pounds and can filter one and a half pints of clean drinking water each go. The LifeSaver 4000 can filter up to 4000 liters of dirty water before it has to be replaced and sells for $229. The filter is supposedly 15 nanometers; 1000 times smaller than the original lifestraw and "removes all waterborne pathogens".

Curious, I did some Googling to find out whatever happened to the LifeStraw idea. What I found are several filter straws sold in US camping stores.
The SuckUp Survival Water Filter Straw, weighs 1 oz and sells for $9.97. It claims to filter Giardia. As the article suggests, this could be a great backup when hiking and your primary filter breaks.
The Frontier Filter Straw, has a 2 micron filter (blocks Giardia) and is good for 20 gallons of water. It sells for $9 to $15.
The Aquastraw is good for 50 liters of water, uses Iodine to purify water up to "96%" and sells for $15.

Bottom Line
These straw filters are very affordable and lightweight. There is little excuse now for drinking untreated water and getting sick while outdoors.
I have not tested any of these products and can not verify the claims made by their web sites. This is provided solely to let you know about new products that are now availble.

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