Steripen Question

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Stone_man
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Re: Steripen Question

Postby Stone_man » Tue Jul 02, 2013 12:17 pm

Kelly, good point about the conductivity issue. I've purified water flowing directly from a melting snowfield and it worked fine--so I would think it doesn't take much in the way of dissolved ions to provide enough conductivity for the Steripen (and I seem to recall the Adventurer Opti improved upon this compared to earlier models). In any case, I believe one could easily get around this potential issue by carrying a little bit of table salt along and adding a bit to snowmelt water to add enough ions for operation.
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TheOtherIndian
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Re: Steripen Question

Postby TheOtherIndian » Tue Jul 02, 2013 12:19 pm

moon stalker wrote:In my opinion, there is one critical drawback to the steripen: it only turns on if the conductivity of the water is above some threshold. Basically, unless it senses an electrical connection between those two little knobs near the UV source, it won't turn on. This is not a problem unless you are trying to sterilize very pure water that has not had much contact with soil in order to pick up enough (harmless) cations and anions like calcium, magnesium, sodium, chloride, sulfate etc.



I dont have a steripen, but lazily researching it over several months. But in my understanding the Adventurer opti overcomes this by using an optical sensor instead of an electrical sensor (like in other steripens). Am I wrong?

Edit: Stone man beat me to it
"There's only one thing I hate more than lying. Skim milk. Which is water that's lying about being milk" -Swanson, Ron
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painless4u2
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Re: Steripen Question

Postby painless4u2 » Tue Jul 02, 2013 1:30 pm

Here's an article that will make you consider treating that backcountry water:

http://www.journals.elsevierhealth.com/medline/record/ivp_00029262_105_330

It's an older publication (1977) but I've read the trends have worsened with time. :-&
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9

Bad decisions often make good stories.

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Kiefer
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Re: Steripen Question

Postby Kiefer » Tue Jul 02, 2013 3:00 pm

I've used the Steripen for upwards of six years. I've NEVER gotten sick. I don't 'wash' or 'rinse' the threads of the bottle either.
Soon as the light turns green, I start drinking right away.
Of course, without the benefit of a filter, sediments will have to be dealt with or careful dipping to minimize what gets inside the bottle. But
if you're dipping to fill the bottle, you should be skimming the very surface of the stream anyway.

Places like Grizzly Gulch and California Gulch should be avoided (downstream from any mine) because of heavy metals. Filters, unless you carry around a porceiln filter
won't do any good & even then, I'd wonder. Most toxins are smaller than viruses anyway.

I can appreciate the Girardia findings but at 3%, I don't put much stake into it. You need to ingest no less than 22-25 cysts to fall ill.
Though I have 'treated' my Nalgene twice on occasion (Willow Creek) just to ensure.
There's never guarantees of course (unless you're boiling- >5minutes) but in my experience, Girardia is over-hyped.
I've drank straight from the stream, tarn more times than I've treated water (the source) and I've never gotten sick.
But, use common sense, consider the source. 8)

I like the Steripen. I'll never go back to filters.
Only downside, carry extra batteries.
But if you're used to carrying around a filter, it's still a win situation!

Buy one. I think you'll be happy with it!
climbingaggie03
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Re: Steripen Question

Postby climbingaggie03 » Tue Jul 02, 2013 8:11 pm

I've used a steripen for 4-5 years now and i've never worried about the threads or gotten sick. However I do use the prefilter, which strains out any big particles, and keeps the threads on the bottle from being contaminated with stream water. It does add a couple of ounces but not much and its a nice thing to have.
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San Juan Ron
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Re: Steripen Question

Postby San Juan Ron » Tue Jul 02, 2013 8:55 pm

I have used the SteriPen for 6+ years and love it. I use it on long thru hikes and have never had a problem. That includes some very nasty water sources. It's great spending a few seconds to "SteriPen" the water and have it available immediately. I change the Lithium batteries at the beginning of every year and have never had an issue. They have newer models that are now solar powered, but my old model has never let me down through 1000s of times being used. SJ Ron :)
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Re: Steripen Question

Postby Dancesatmoonrise » Tue Jul 02, 2013 9:08 pm

The testimonials for this method are encouraging, especially considering the weight savings.

Thanks SJ Ron, Kiefer, everyone. Personally, I'll probably go with this method as the next round in the weight-saving strategy.

Kelly, no, it was when I talked to Steph. I may not have remembered the details, but that was the gist of my understanding.
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moon stalker
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Re: Steripen Question

Postby moon stalker » Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:25 am

aaron479 wrote:I doubt, highly doubt, you will ever find pure water (that will be an issue with conductivity). This type of water is found in an environment that is not relevant in the outdoors. I personally feel that filters are the best way to go. However, when out of the country, I use the MIOX and have never been sick.
Aaron

Doubt all you want but I've run into this problem three times in the high country. Once in glacier basin in Rainier in early July, we were steps away from where the glacier started - I think that trip we had multiple steripens in the group and not one single one turned on. We drank the water and no one got sick. Once in the basin below Fletcher, again, steps away from a snow field in May. Once in Holy Cross Wildnerness and actually quite a ways down from big snowfields. Two steripens wouldn't turn on. In all cases, got home, tested it with tap water and it worked fine. Conductivity is a limitation with some steripen models with snowmelt-dominated water in the backcountry, period.
I like the idea of the new one that gets away from the conductivity problem. But the salt idea is a better run-around.
LIFE is what happens when plans go awry.
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Rock-a-Fella
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Re: Steripen Question

Postby Rock-a-Fella » Wed Jul 03, 2013 8:04 pm

moon stalker wrote:
aaron479 wrote:I doubt, highly doubt, you will ever find pure water (that will be an issue with conductivity). This type of water is found in an environment that is not relevant in the outdoors. I personally feel that filters are the best way to go. However, when out of the country, I use the MIOX and have never been sick.
Aaron

Doubt all you want but I've run into this problem three times in the high country. Once in glacier basin in Rainier in early July, we were steps away from where the glacier started - I think that trip we had multiple steripens in the group and not one single one turned on. We drank the water and no one got sick. Once in the basin below Fletcher, again, steps away from a snow field in May. Once in Holy Cross Wildnerness and actually quite a ways down from big snowfields. Two steripens wouldn't turn on. In all cases, got home, tested it with tap water and it worked fine. Conductivity is a limitation with some steripen models with snowmelt-dominated water in the backcountry, period.
I like the idea of the new one that gets away from the conductivity problem. But the salt idea is a better run-around.


4 years + ! The conductivity with "pure water sources" can be an issue. I get Fast food salt packets and keep them in my "spare parts" bag. It works well and you don't taste in in the water as you only need a pinch. If you have some left over gatorade or similar drink left in a container that will also do the trick.

From Steripen Site:Yes, SteriPEN water purifiers effectively disinfect snow melt waters. In some very rare instances, the SteriPEN may not readily activate if the water is so pure that there is not enough trace mineral content to cause the water sensors to recognize that the unit is submerged in water. Very pure water is a poor electrical conductor -- the sensors may not conduct enough electricity to recognize the water. This can easily be corrected by adding a small pinch of salt, or a drop or two of some kind of electrolyte beverage to the water.
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--bb--
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Re: Steripen Question

Postby --bb-- » Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:56 pm

i love my steripen.

nice find rock-a-fella! i'm headed to rainier this weekend and will test out my steripen. you've got me all curious and excited to test it out. if it doesn't turn on, i'll add some electrolytes and re-test. when i was there in may, we didn't sterilize, drank the water and no one got sick. but, it's worth the weight to be on the safe side.

one thing to consider - if lake water was the only water source, then i would definitely bring a filter over the steripen.
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Rock-a-Fella
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Re: Steripen Question

Postby Rock-a-Fella » Thu Jul 04, 2013 5:52 am

--bb-- wrote:i love my steripen.

nice find rock-a-fella! i'm headed to rainier this weekend and will test out my steripen. you've got me all curious and excited to test it out. if it doesn't turn on, i'll add some electrolytes and re-test. when i was there in may, we didn't sterilize, drank the water and no one got sick. but, it's worth the weight to be on the safe side.

one thing to consider - if lake water was the only water source, then i would definitely bring a filter over the steripen.


You can use the Steripen in lake water. I have a n older "Discovery" unit. It came with the "FitsAll" filter kit. Get that piece and you are good to go for any water .

The failsafe process is to turn on your Steripen and allow it to cycle for the proper container size (1 litre or 0.5 Liter) and "THEN" submerge the electrodes into the container.
(older units. I am familiar with the newer "photo cell" referenced in this thread) For glacier water or high altitude snow melt just put the salt or electrolyte in before you fill.
Shake bottle to mix well and you should get the " :) "

Have a great trip!
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nyker
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Re: Steripen Question

Postby nyker » Thu Jul 04, 2013 4:13 pm

To add my two cents: I've used a steripen for 5yrs (the old yellow/black versions).

I got them originally due to their light weight and convenience. The UV also kills viruses, which for going abroad is helpful. However, after several annoying issues, I now carry another filter by Sawyer.

Problems with Steripen (at least my versions, perhaps they have been corrected in later models):

1. the batteries are very short lived and expensive and not always available places you travel, so you need to carry a few spares, and these also might not be viable by the time you need them.

2. the underwater light is barely visible under bright sunny conditions and its hard to see if its working correctly

3. The red indicator light often comes on after 10 seconds, indicating nothing has been properly "zapped" and you never really know if it has worked.

4. doesn't filter particulate matter, so you still need to run it through a shirt/linen/coffee filter to get out bugs, rat hair, silt, minute pieces of fecal matter, etc.. taking more time, (a pain when you are either in a summit rush to beat weather, or its 20 degrees out).

5. the glass bulb is fragile, despite having a hard cover, and if it breaks, you are SOL.

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