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Reviews > Food > Energy Bars and Drinks > NUUN - Electrolyte Tablets > Test Report by Ralph Ditton

COMBINED REPORTS
LAST UPDATE: 13TH OCTOBER, 2007

INITIAL REPORT
NUUN Electrolyte Tablets
Review by Ralph Ditton
Date: 21st July, 2007
nuun electrolyte tablet tubes
                                                       nuun electrolyte tablet tubes

Personal Information
Name: Ralph Ditton
Age: 55
Gender: Male
Height: 1. 76 m (5 ft 9 in)
Weight: 71 kg (156.5 lb)
Email: rdassetts at optusnet dot com dot au
City: Perth. Western Australia. Australia

Backpacking Background
Mt playgrounds are the Bibbulmun Track and the Coastal Plain Trail. I aim to become an end-to-end walker of the Bibbulmun Track. I am nearly there as it is 964 km (603 mi) long. My pack weight including food and water tends to hover around 18 kg (40 lb) but I am trying to get lighter. My trips range from overnighters to five days duration.

Product Information
Manufacturer: nuun & co
Manufacturer's URL: http://www.nuun.com.au
Year of Manufacturer: 2007
Made in: USA
Store below: 25 C (77 F)
Flavours: Tri-Berry, Lemon+Lime, Citrus Fruit.
Number of tablets in each tube: 12
Listed weight of container: Not stated
Measured weight of container: 70 g (2.5 oz)
Measured weight of one tablet: 4 g (0.14 oz)
Measured weight of empty tube:16 g (0.56 oz)
Listed net weight of tablets: 56 g (1.9 oz)
Measured net weight of 12 tablets out of tube: 56 g (1.9 oz)
Measured length of tube: 100 mm (3.9 in)
Measured diameter of tube: slightly tapered from 28mm to 29 mm (1.10 in to 1.14 in)
Expiry date: 01/09 for all three tubes
MSRP: US $19.50 for a mixed flavour 3 pack (12 tablets per tube)

Product Description
The nuun tablets are housed in a cylinder type tube that is slightly tapered with the base being smaller that the top. See above for the measurements. The actual tablets are what when we were children called "horse tablets" due to their size. The tablets have a diameter of 25 mm (0.98 in) and a thickness of 6 mm (0.23 in). Each tablet has a score mark indicating where it should be broken so that only half a tablet is used at a time.
Tri-Berry tablet
                                                                        tri-berry tablet

When I opened the Tri-Berry container by lifting the cap at the groove for a fingertip, it broke the filaments attached to a lower ring which enabled me to remove the cap. The inside of the cap has a spiral tension which sits on top of the first tablet to keep them in place so that the tablets do not move around on the inside and get damaged. When a tablet is removed this spiral tension will no longer be effective as it will not reach the other tablets. Looks like I will have to pack the tube with cotton wool to achieve the same effect as the tablet level drops. In the centre of the cap there is a short tube containing an item that I suspect is to help keep the tablets dry. The cap fits over a flange on the lip of the tube giving a good seal. To break the seal and remove the cap, I raise one edge at the indented finger hold. The tube is a hard plastic material but the cap is a much more flexible plastic.
spiral tension inside cap
                                                             spiral tension inside cap

On the outside labelling there is a brief instruction on how to use the tablets. "Drop one nuun into 500 ml (1 pint) of water, wait two minutes and voilà-optimal hydration". Further the labelling states that the tube contains 12 tabs (enough for 24 servings/6 litres (12.6 pints)). Under the nutrition information panel just below and to the right it is stated "servings per package-24, serving size - ½ tab in 250 ml (0.5 pint) water".
The ingredients listed on the label are: food acid (330), binder (420), mineral salts (500, 501, 518, 170), sweetener (950), natural flavours, preservative (211), humectant (1520) colouring (101), beetroot (for the citrus and Tri-Berry only). To find out what the codes mean, go to www.foodstandards.gov.au.
The label also list what is in each serve. See below the photo of the label for that information.
label on tube
                                                                              label on tube

There is a small concern in the medical field about the preservative (211) which is Sodium benzoate because it has the ability to deactivate parts of the DNA. There is no mention of how much (211) there is in each tablet. Perhaps the manufacturer should do away with it. For the weight conscious, the manufacturer states that there are 6 calories per nuun tablet.

Expectations from the web
The tubes were from the outside exactly what I expected judging by the pictures on the web page. The big surprise was the inside of the cap with the spiral spring and what I suspect is the moisture absorbing core. The tubes are indeed a tough plastic and are waterproof as claimed by the manufacturer because the cap fits with an excellent seal and the tube is a one moulded piece of plastic, so there are no seams for water entry. Different story if the cap is not fitted correctly of course. That will leave a big hole at the top.
nuun state that the drink has a light flavour and to date I have only tried the Tri-Berry. The water turned a pale shade of pink as the half tablet dissolved in a fizzy stream upwards in the water. That would be the active sodium bicarbonate in the tablet causing the fizz. The taste is not overpowering at all and it does live up to the light flavour claimed by the manufacturer. I look forward to trying the other flavours during the field test phase.

Initial impressions
Reading the label regarding the ingredients I was dismayed at the number of food additives used in each tablet. Of the ten listed, four have question marks over them and are on our household "Avoid these Additives". There is no breakdown as to the quantity used in each tablet, however, I will still use the tablets to see if there are any side effects. Two of the questionable additives are not suitable for diabetics and asthmatics. Fortunately I do not suffer from either which leaves two, 950 and 1520. The 1520 is interesting because any medications containing it have been recalled but it is still allowed in food. Are the nuun tablets a food or medication? I do not know.
I liked the symbol on the top of the cap showing how to open the cap. That is quite novel as I have never seen it before.
symbol on top of cap
                                                                     symbol on top of cap

When I placed the half portion of the tablet into the water, the tablet dissolved within a minute and mixed through the water without me having to shake the solution to dissipate the tablet throughout the water. The fizziness of the tablet did that for me. Even when I let the drink settle for over ten minutes, there was no settling of the nuun electrolyte towards the bottom of the glass. After drinking the solution there was no noticeable residue left in the bottom of the container which means that all of the tablet dissolved.
The tube itself is not bulky and will find a spot inside my backpack so I do not see a need just to place one or two tablets in a clip- lock bag. Weight is also not an issue at 70 g (2.5 oz). This will drop of course when the tablets are used up at the rate off 2 g (0.07 oz) per half tablet. I found that I had to break the tablet using a knife along the score line as it is reasonably thick. It broke evenly leaving a slight trace of the tablet on the paper that I cut it on. The crumbs left on the paper were difficult to brush off due to the high humidity. They stuck to the paper just like jelly crystals do when they get slightly damp in humidity. 

Testing Locations
Bibbulmun Track : Sea level to 585 metres elevation (0 to 1,920 ft). Within this region I backpack along old forestry roads, sandy tracks, and purpose built walking tracks.
Daytime temperatures will range during the testing period, from a minimum 11 C to 30 C (52 F to 86 F) during July to September, 2007. Overnight temperatures on average during winter and early spring range from -3 C to 15 C (26 F to 59 F). Source: Bureau of Meteorology.
Prickly Bark campsite on the Coastal Plain Trail is roughly 80 m (262 ft) elevation. The trail from the eastern terminus to the campsite is a sandy track that is mostly flat with a steep climb up a sand dune over the last half a kilometre (0.31 mi) to the campsite.
Daytime temperatures can range from 9 C to 29 C (48 F to 84 F) during  July to September, 2007. Overnight temperatures on average during winter and early spring range from -4C to 15 C (24 F to 59 F). Source: Bureau of Meteorology.
Snow does not occur in the areas that I hike, just heavy frost with occasional fog that can leave icicles.
The areas that I hike in have kangaroo ticks, huntsmen spiders, various species of snakes and many prickly bushes that shed leaves with needle like spikes such as the Parrot Bush (Drydrandra sessilis).
 
Testing Activities
I will be going on overnighters and extended trips ranging from two to five days backpacking, sometimes walking solo and/or with one or two friends.
I will be camping out between five nights and  seven days between July and September 2007. 
In addition I have just joined up with the Perth Bushwalking Club and I will be undertaking various day and overnight walks with this group. To top up the testing I also do geocaching and will be using the tablets in my water that I take when out in the field looking for caches as there is a lot of walking involved.

Testing Conditions
It is now our winter so the daytime temperatures are not very warm. We have been experiencing a number of overcast days and the forecast is for more wet weather during the testing period so there will a lot of cloud cover. When I backpack with rain gear on I do perspire on my trunk but when the weather is cool and dry I still perspire on my back against the backpack. I do not anticipate any perspiration whilst geocaching as I only carry a little day pack and I have not perspired before in winter.
I usually carry 3-4 litres (6.3 - 8.5 pints) of water when on a 15 - 20 km (9 - 12 mi) hike because there is usually no other water source in between. One of my bottles of water will be used for the testing of the tablets and the other bottle will contain straight water for cooking purposes when I stop for a tea break.

This concludes my Initial Report. The Long Term Report will be amended to this report in approximately two months from the date of this report. Please check back then for further information.

FIELD REPORT
DATE: 13 th October, 2007


My first field trip was an overnighter to the Noggerup Campsite on the Bibbulmun Track.
The Noggerup campsite is located at S 33º 33.892  E 116º 05.906. The campsite sits at an elevation of 260 metres (853 ft). The distance from the hamlet of Mumballup from where we left the car to the campsite is only 6 km (3.7 mi) but the first 2.2 km (1.4 mi) is up a long hill with the elevation going from 138 m to 272 m (453 ft - 892 ft). My walking partner and I had lunch at the pub washed down with a few beers before hitting the track. Bad mistake. During the slog up the hill carrying packs that weighed 17 kg (37 lb) the hamburger with chips and beers started to rebel in my stomach causing a lot of belching. As the distance to be walked was small, I only filled a 750 ml (25 fl oz) sports water bottle with water and added half a Tri-Berry tablet. The weather was overcast with rain threatening and the temperature was around 11 C (52 F) and there was a stiff breeze blowing at our right hand side. Needless to say, I was perspiring on my back where my backpack came into contact  with my body. During the course of the ascent I stopped twice to have a good mouthful of water with the added nuun electrolyte tablet. The drink was very pleasant going down but it did not like the contents of my stomach when it met them. I belched a number of times. For the remainder of the walk I did not have another drink until I actually reached the campsite. After the last drink I then set about preparing the campsite. The next morning I just topped the water bottle up and added a quarter of a tablet to the solution. There was no problem drinking the water on the return journey. My friend also had a drink from my water bottle and enjoyed the taste. The weather was still overcast with rain on the way and the temperature was around 14 C (57 F). When I returned home and washed my gear, the water bottle did not have any sediment from the dissolved tablet.
                                   Mumbullup to Noggerup
                                                                                           Mumballup to Noggerup
The above photo shows the hilly terrain that we walked.

My next outing was north of Perth, some 4 hours drive. A group of us left on the Friday afternoon and reached our campsite around 8 pm by the edge of Lake Indoon S 29º 51.596 E 115º 09.501. During the course of the night whilst mixing with others from our group, I was drinking a solution of water containing the nuun electrolyte. I was burning up energy to try and keep warm as the temperature by the lake was around 10 C (50 F) and fell to 5 C (41 F) by the time I went to bed. The Relative Humidity was 70%. In our group, we would go for a little walk around the lake to keep the muscles warm and generate heat. I did experience a slight amount of perspiration during these excursions on my back. The night was very still.
                                              view of our journey
                                                                                      view of our journey

The next day we walked nineteen kilometers (12 mi) through soft sand that had been chewed up by four wheeled drive vehicles and I carried a pack load of 22 kilos (48 lb). Included in this weight was 8 litres (17 pt) of water as there was no water at the next campsite. The temperature during the backpack ranged at the start of the hike from 8 C (46 F) to a high of 24 C (75 F). From around 9 am till 1 pm, the temperature was at its height. During the walk to the campsite of Stockman's Gully I drank 2 litres (4.2 pt) of water that contained the electrolyte. The water bottle used was a 750 ml (1.5 pt) container. I had to refill the bottle from my 6 litre (12.6 pt) water bladder. I noticed that my urine was a golden colour when I reached the campsite. This indicated a healthy kidney function. Elevations ranged from sea level to 100 metres (328 ft). On the return journey the following day I topped up the water bottle and added a half tablet to the 750 ml (1.5 pt) which was about half full with the previous solution already mixed from the night before. This gave me a much stronger flavour to the water. The day was much warmer and we did vary the return journey which was a little longer through scrub and more loose sand. The official temperature from the weather bureau had a high of 26 C (79 F) but with the glare reflecting off the sand the temperature at ground level was to my estimation closer to the low 30's C ( low 90's F ). By the time we stopped for morning tea after walking for 2½ hours and drinking the whole 750 ml (1.5 pt) I found that the drink was rather cloying so I had a few mouthfuls of plain water to freshen up my mouth and taste buds. I then refilled the container and added a half of a tablet. The mild flavour was much better.
                                             morning tea break
                                                                                 morning tea break

However, I certainly felt that I did need to replace my body salts with a much bigger dose of electrolyte at the start of the day, as I knew that I would lose a lot of moisture through perspiration in the heat of the day. It so came to pass. At the end of the hike I had around 3 litres (6.3 pt) of water left whereas other members of the walk group had hardly any left. They were all drinking straight water. I am positive that by adding electrolyte to the water, I was able to quench my thirst without drinking copious amounts of liquid in comparison to others who did not add anything to their water. In other words, my litre (2 pt) went further than their litre (2 pt). One observation about the tablets was that the top tablet had a slight discolouration on the edge due to moisture getting to it. I had not had the cap off for well over two weeks. All of the tablets underneath were not affected.

My next big trip was to Tasmania for eleven nights and twelve days. I did a lot of day trips carrying a day pack which involved a lot of mountain and hill climbing mixed with some beach walking. Temperatures ranged from -3 C to 16 C (27 F to 61 F) and there was some snow in places that was in the thawing stage. Despite the cool temperatures I did perspire and needed to drink my water with the nuun electrolyte tablets dissolved in the water.
Elevations ranged from sea level to a high of 1545 metres (0 to 5,069 ft). I climbed up the Nut, Cradle Mountain and drove to the peak of Mt. Wellington and walked around the scenic tracks in the snow. To give an indication of some of the terrain that I walked and climbed I have included some Google Earth pictures.
           Beach and bush walking
                                                                                Beach and bush walking
          Mt. Wellington                  
                                                                                         Mt Wellington
         
          Cradle Mountain
                                                                                    Cradle Mountain
                                                 Going up Cradle Mountain
                                                                      Going up Cradle Mountain

The terrain certainly had my heart pumping fast and I was taking in big deep breaths. All of this exercise generated a lot of perspiration which wicked to the surface of my base layer clothing but for the upper torso got trapped by the wet weather jacket that I was wearing. For each of my walks I carried a litre (2 pints) of water with the nuun electrolyte dissolved in it. At stages I even resorted to eating snow as I walked along as the gradient was very steep and I did not want to remove my day pack to get the water bottle. Most of my walks in Tasmania ranged from one hour to four hours so I only needed to carry a small volume of water. In addition, there was always fresh water at hand in the streams and melting snow should I have run out of water. I found that the litre (2 pints) was more than adequate as I do not drink as much water with the electrolyte in it as opposed to straight water. I carried a tube of the electrolyte tablets with me in my backpack and it took very little space and the weight was insignificant. I did not have to resort to any means of replacing salt such as eating salty potato chips or salted nuts and I did not suffer from any cramps during the test period. The 25 mg. of magnesium would appear to be adequate to prevent cramping. The tablets dissolved rapidly in the water and none of the tablets inside the tubes went rock hard from the minute amount of moisture that did get in due to the moist conditions that I experienced in Tasmania. The absorbent in the cap appears to have worked. To date I have not noticed any discolouration or off flavours in my water bottle from using this product. I found that when I have a drink of the solution prior to setting out on a hike, called "camel up" I am aware of the flavour of the dissolved tablet and although the flavour is not strong it says to me "yes, there is something in my water". Further into my hike when I am perspiring and take big gulps, I hardly notice the taste, but after a full days hiking drinking the electrolyte, my mouth/taste buds want a good rinse out with straight water. Which flavour did I like the best? I preferred the Lemon and Lime as I like a tart taste and the smell of the tablets remind me of the sherbet sweets/lollies that I enjoyed as a child. This is just a personal preference.

Thank you nuun & co for the opportunity to test your wonderful product which I enjoyed immensely.    





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