Potable Water…what’s potable?

The word “Potable” means suitable for consumption. While in the woods you may not have access to clean, drinkable water. To deal with this situation you should carry some method of filtering or purifying the water you find. There are many very good ways to get drinkable water. Let’s start with the least expensive. Just add water and boil, yep that is it. Now your first question is “How long do I boil the water?” the answer is 0 minutes. Just be sure it gets to a boil and you are good to go.  Ok, so the down side to me about boiling water is that it takes time and when it is hot outside nobody wants to drink warm water. There is nothing like getting to a beautiful, ice cold, babbling brook and then having to wait to boil the water to drink it…yuk. There are some other methods to make your water drinkable. One method is to filter the water using a water filter. There are many great filters on the market. Many of these filters filter to .2-3 microns these micro filters are able to filter over a quart per minute. This means ahh…cold, refreshing drinkable water. Now that is what I’m talking about. Another method is the purifier, which usually employs both filtration and a chemical like iodine to kill the water borne virus.  Both micro filters and purifiers are usually pumps where you put the intake hose into the water source and the outtake hose goes to your water bottle. I recommend a micro filter but you should have a bottle of iodine tablets as a backup. Some people use the iodine tablets and don’t use a filter and that is fine too as long as you are willing to deal with the wait for the iodine to work and the taste of the iodine. One way to deal with the taste is to add tank or some other drink mix to the water after the iodine has done its work. Another way is a vitamin C pill crushed and added to the water to counteract the iodine. Be sure to wait the required time for the iodine to work then add the mix or vitamin C pill. The micro filter that I recommend is the Katadyn Hiker. The reason I recommend this over the MSR Sweetwater is simplicity of design and reliability is what you need if you are depending on it for you water. When I sold these products at the outdoor store we had more returns on the Sweetwater than the Hiker due to the pump handle breaking. When reading the descriptions on these micro filters it will tell you that the pump will tell you when you need to replace the cartridge. What this means is that the flow of the water going through the pump will slow down and the pump gets really hard to pump. So be careful not to break the pump when that happens. I am not saying the other micro filters are bad I just like the ease of use and simple design of the Hiker. Please do your own research before buying the pump for your situation. This material is provided by the author for educational use only and is not a substitute for specific training or experience. The author assumes no liability for any individual’s use of or reliance upon any material contained or referenced herein.

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