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Steripen Question

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Re: Steripen Question

Postby CO Native » Wed Jul 10, 2013 12:15 pm

ezabielski wrote:I won't get into an argument about how you know what caused your crypto problem. On the other hand, some people go literally thousands of miles and never treat water.

The department of health did a fairly in depth investigation on my case due to the severity of it, and made a determination that that was the source of it. It is true that everyone tolerates those bugs a little different, however if you're going to make the effort to clean your water you might as well do it right.


ezabielski wrote:I've never heard that problem with sunlight and chlorine dioxide. I'd love to read more about it. And I also have not found anything on what constitutes "cold" water. At what temperature does McNett intend for the 15 minute treatment?


From the Aquamira packaging:
Directions For Use:
Remove one tablet from foil packaging and quickly insert into one liter of contaminated water.
Allow to react for four hours in an area away from sunlight.
The treated water is now ready for drinking.


I believe normal conditions refers to water between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and cold water is below 40 degrees. Though it looks like the 4 hours is the top end of the wait time. On the website it says in optimal conditions Chlorine Dioxide will kill even cryptosporidium in 30 minutes.
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Re: Steripen Question

Postby OrthoMatt » Wed Jul 10, 2013 12:56 pm

CO Native wrote:From the Aquamira packaging:
Directions For Use:
Remove one tablet from foil packaging and quickly insert into one liter of contaminated water.
Allow to react for four hours in an area away from sunlight.
The treated water is now ready for drinking.


I believe normal conditions refers to water between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, and cold water is below 40 degrees. Though it looks like the 4 hours is the top end of the wait time. On the website it says in optimal conditions Chlorine Dioxide will kill even cryptosporidium in 30 minutes.


Have you tried the drops? They are much faster at only 20 minutes (activation time and purification time) until ready to drink (35 minutes for cold water)... much faster than the 4 hours the tablets require. The drops also don't appear to have the same concerns with sunlight except during long-term storage.

Directions For Use (from website):

Prior to treatment, clean water container.
Place 7 drops AQUAMIRA (Part A) and 7 drops Activator (Part B) in mixing cap. If water is cloudy or tinted use 15 drops of each.
Let mixture react 5 minutes.
Fill container with 1 quart (1 liter) water. Add contents of cap.
Shake to mix. Let stand 15 minutes. If water is very cold, cloudy or tinted let stand 30 minutes.
Water is ready for use.

While I love my Steripen, it has been finicky at times and so I carry Aquamira drops as a backup. I've considered just switching to the drops altogether but with the Steripen and my backup drops it still weighs less than half of what a traditional filter weighs and the Steripen is just so easy.

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Re: Steripen Question

Postby CO Native » Wed Jul 10, 2013 2:16 pm

That sounds interesting about the drops, though from what I'm reading on some reviews is that those treatment times are based on viruses and bacteria, not protozoa (giardia and cryptosporidia). It may still be 4 hours for protozoa in cold water.

Don't get me wrong I'm not a huge fan of the steripen either. I like the chlorine dioxide solution to treat what's in the threads of the bottle, I just don't like to wait 4 hours or even half an hour to drink. I'm often on the move when getting more water since I don't like to carry a lot when I don't have to. I usually just stop and treat a liter and take off again being able to drink right away. The Steripen is nice for that, but only if I can trust it.

I still mostly use filters of one sort or another. The inline style ones (hydration tube, straw, or two bag system) are my favorite. Light, easy to use, and pretty fast. Plus they can handle all sorts of water, sometimes a muddy puddle is all you can find. Plus the decent ones that can be backflushed last for hundreds of liters.
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Re: Steripen Question

Postby ezabielski » Wed Jul 10, 2013 2:32 pm

CO Native wrote:That sounds interesting about the drops, though from what I'm reading on some reviews is that those treatment times are based on viruses and bacteria, not protozoa (giardia and cryptosporidia). It may still be 4 hours for protozoa in cold water.


Not quite correct. It's the other way around. 15 minutes for protazoa/bacteria (30 for cold/turbid water), up to 4 hours for viruses.

Andrew Skurka summarizes all of this in his book (which I currently have lent to a friend, so I don't have it on hand). And when I said Aquamira originally, I am referring to the drops.

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Re: Steripen Question

Postby MyFeetHurt » Wed Jul 10, 2013 7:52 pm

I've been using a Steripen for years. At first, I had all the same concerns listed here, and thought long and hard about the fact that the water was not "treated" in such a way that you could "rinse" the cap threads or easily refill the bottle without either dunking it or carrying a second filler container. But here are my impressions...

Batteries: The steripen I have is just the regular classic version. Batteries last FOREVER once you switch to lithium ion like recommended, but never the less I change them every season. The LED signals when they are getting low, but I've had them get low.

Malfunction: At first there were a few times I thought mine was not always turning on or working correctly, so I went back and re-read the instructions very carefully. The LED tells you everything you need to know, and I realized the most of the time what I thought was a malfunction was just me putting the lamp in too early, if you wait another 2-3 seconds for the LED to start blinking (which signals it is now ready to immerse into water) and then begin, it works perfect. At the end of the treatment, the LED also tells you if everything went correctly.

Cross Contamination: Carrying a second "filler" container is not necessary in most cases, and I've never done it once, though I was fairly careful not to contaminate the threads too much. A few years ago they came out with a Fits All Filter, which makes things much easier to just dunk the container (I still dont dunk the lid, as its easy to keep it out of the water). Somewhere buried in those instructions Steripen actually states something to the effect of "the small amount of untreated water left on the cap threads is negligible and not enough to contaminate yourself." BOOM! Once steripen reached that conclusion and actually put it in writing, I was convinced they must have put the effort in prove it statistically true under normal circumstances, and I stopped worrying about the damn threads. It is quite significant for Steripen to actually state such a fact in writing, and it shows they not only acknowledge the potential, but appear to be comfortable enough to state it is not a problem. I would also ask the question to filter users, do you really actually store all the dirty side tubing and intake float thing in a separate container than the clean side filter components, between uses??? This is a similar situation.

Lastly: I have never been sick, and that includes a few trips to the dreaded chicago basin. While it has been correctly pointed out that is not proof of anything, I will say that if I were to pick a location that was likely to have abundent Giardia, that would be one (assuming all the goats and deer are crapping in the stream in close proximity to the peoples camps on a daily basis). And as far as crypto, just read CO Native's story and you think twice about methods that dont kill that rare virus. Good thing my Steripen has that covered, and without a 4 hour wait.

And just for the record, I often bite through my wet fishing line when changing a fly, lick the dirt off my camel back bite valve after I set my pack down in the dirt, spit river water out of my mouth after being sprayed from a rapid, and brush my teeth with faucet water in foreign countries but spit it out after words, chew my fingernails teeming with bacteria, etc. The point is, your getting nasties in your mouth all day long no matter what you do. It's a question of there being enough volume to reproduce, which boils down to statistics. At some point you need to stop worrying about water and start worrying about being hit by lighting instead.

I do like the idea of chemically treated water for simplicity and less weight in the pack, but I'll carry the extra couple ounces to save 4 hours of waiting or a 6 week round of crypto. I still use my filter, but not for the clear water in Colorado.

Edit: Here is a link at their website regarding their stance on the untreated drinking surface, refer to #5. http://www.steripen.com/steripen-misconceptions/

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Re: Steripen Question

Postby caseygries » Thu Jul 11, 2013 9:48 am

MyFeetHurt wrote: Somewhere buried in those instructions Steripen actually states something to the effect of "the small amount of untreated water left on the cap threads is negligible and not enough to contaminate yourself." BOOM! Once steripen reached that conclusion and actually put it in writing, I was convinced they must have put the effort in prove it statistically true under normal circumstances, and I stopped worrying about the damn threads. It is quite significant for Steripen to actually state such a fact in writing, and it shows they not only acknowledge the potential, but appear to be comfortable enough to state it is not a problem. I would also ask the question to filter users, do you really actually store all the dirty side tubing and intake float thing in a separate container than the clean side filter components, between uses??? This is a similar situation.


This is false information which could result in severe illness. Please do not spread information relating to health and safety unless you 100% certain it is true. As was stated in the 2nd posting of this thread by CO Native, here is what is actually stated in the SteriPEN instructions (I checked both the Classic and Adventurer to be sure):

"SteriPEN™ is not intended to disinfect surfaces of a drinking container, i.e. those that typically contact the mouth when drinking. Be certain
that your drinking container has been properly cleaned/washed prior to using SteriPEN™."

On their "misconceptions" page you linked to, Steripen sates: "Microorganisms in such small levels are rarely dangerous, however, this issue can be addressed by simply drying the water off the lid, rim and threads of the bottle with a towel, bandana, etc". This by no means says that there is nothing to be concerned about; nothing about the "water left on the cap threads is negligible and not enough to contaminate yourself". In some cases (see Giardia intestinalis), only 10 viable cells are needed for infection. Many magnitudes of cells can fit into a single drop of water. Though I realize this is rarely the case in nutrient-limiting environments, the point remains.

MyFeetHurt wrote: Lastly: I have never been sick, and that includes a few trips to the dreaded chicago basin. While it has been correctly pointed out that is not proof of anything, I will say that if I were to pick a location that was likely to have abundent Giardia, that would be one (assuming all the goats and deer are crapping in the stream in close proximity to the peoples camps on a daily basis). And as far as crypto, just read CO Native's story and you think twice about methods that dont kill that rare virus. Good thing my Steripen has that covered, and without a 4 hour wait.


Cryptosporidium is neither rare nor a virus. It is a world-wide protozoan parasite, found in many environments in the US and abroad.

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Re: Steripen Question

Postby oldschoolczar » Thu Jul 11, 2013 10:29 am

^+1 Great advice. I studied water/wastewater treatment in college. Crypto is one of the big ones that is a concern all throughout the country.. it will kill people with a comprised immune system.

And yes, you should be cautious about that water in your threads.. maybe bring a second "filler" bottle to pour the water carefully into your drinking container. Mountain streams in Colorado are fairly clean water sources, but why take the chance if you don't have to!? CONative's story was enough to make me want to double up on treatment! I can't afford that much time on the toilet these days! :)
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Re: Steripen Question

Postby MyFeetHurt » Thu Jul 11, 2013 12:40 pm

caseygries wrote:
MyFeetHurt wrote: Somewhere buried in those instructions Steripen actually states something to the effect of "the small amount of untreated water left on the cap threads is negligible and not enough to contaminate yourself." BOOM! Once steripen reached that conclusion and actually put it in writing, I was convinced they must have put the effort in prove it statistically true under normal circumstances, and I stopped worrying about the damn threads. It is quite significant for Steripen to actually state such a fact in writing, and it shows they not only acknowledge the potential, but appear to be comfortable enough to state it is not a problem. I would also ask the question to filter users, do you really actually store all the dirty side tubing and intake float thing in a separate container than the clean side filter components, between uses??? This is a similar situation.


This is false information which could result in severe illness. Please do not spread information relating to health and safety unless you 100% certain it is true. As was stated in the 2nd posting of this thread by CO Native, here is what is actually stated in the SteriPEN instructions (I checked both the Classic and Adventurer to be sure):

"SteriPEN™ is not intended to disinfect surfaces of a drinking container, i.e. those that typically contact the mouth when drinking. Be certain
that your drinking container has been properly cleaned/washed prior to using SteriPEN™."

On their "misconceptions" page you linked to, Steripen sates: "Microorganisms in such small levels are rarely dangerous, however, this issue can be addressed by simply drying the water off the lid, rim and threads of the bottle with a towel, bandana, etc". This by no means says that there is nothing to be concerned about; nothing about the "water left on the cap threads is negligible and not enough to contaminate yourself". In some cases (see Giardia intestinalis), only 10 viable cells are needed for infection. Many magnitudes of cells can fit into a single drop of water. Though I realize this is rarely the case in nutrient-limiting environments, the point remains.

MyFeetHurt wrote: Lastly: I have never been sick, and that includes a few trips to the dreaded chicago basin. While it has been correctly pointed out that is not proof of anything, I will say that if I were to pick a location that was likely to have abundent Giardia, that would be one (assuming all the goats and deer are crapping in the stream in close proximity to the peoples camps on a daily basis). And as far as crypto, just read CO Native's story and you think twice about methods that dont kill that rare virus. Good thing my Steripen has that covered, and without a 4 hour wait.


Cryptosporidium is neither rare nor a virus. It is a world-wide protozoan parasite, found in many environments in the US and abroad.


I think you are confusing my "impression" as a statement of fact, but as my original post says, its only my impression. My point is this: I've had good luck with my steripen and recommend it. It comes with some risk as it is not 100% (neither are filters) effective. I put a link up for people to see the company's official statement about the threads and drinking surfaces. It's up to the consumer to decide how to interpret it and if they feel it is an acceptable risk. But for me, it's good enough to take the risk. Wipe the threads dry and have a drink. Or be paranoid. Or be somewhere in between like most people.

I'd really like to hear from more people who have gotten sick, and how it happened. It seems like CO Native was pretty darn unlucky with crypto to say the least.

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Re: Steripen Question

Postby RosieTheSummiter » Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:09 pm

There was a trip report by Rambis_21 and Zephyr_Pelicante recently for Cresonte Peak where they mention using a "Life Straw" for their method of water filtration. I just bought one of these myself (have yet to use it.) But they are incredibly light and portable!! I got mine at Bass Pro for $20, and I think my sister got hers for around the same at REI. This is what I now carry in my pack.

http://www.vestergaard-frandsen.com/lifestraw

My Steri-pen somehow developed a hairline crack after a trip. That was reason enough for me to scrap that idea and switch back to filters.
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