BackpackGearTest
  Home Guest - Not logged in 

Reviews > Water Treatment > Chemical Treatment > Aquamira Water Treatment 2007 > Test Report by Richard Lyon

McNETT AQUAMIRA WATER PURIFICATION TABLETS

Test Series by Richard Lyon

Initial Report May 29, 2007
Field Report August 6, 2007

Richard Lyon
Male, 61 years old
6' 4" (1.9 m) tall, 200 lb (91 kg)
Dallas, Texas, USA
rlyon AT gibsondunn DOT com

Personal Information and Backpacking Background:  I've been backpacking for 45 years on and off, and regularly in the Rockies since 1986. I do a weeklong trip every summer, and often take three-day trips. I'm usually camping in alpine terrain, at altitudes 5000 to 13000 ft (1500 - 4000 m). I prefer base camp backpacking, a long hike in with day trips from camp, but I do my share of forced marches too. Though always looking for ways to reduce weight, I'm not yet a lightweight hiker, and I usually choose a bit of extra weight over foregoing camp conveniences I've come to expect.

INITIAL REPORT

May 29, 2007

PRODUCT DETAILS

Aquamira is a chlorine dioxide water purification treatment. According to McNett's website, each tablet "produces a powerful germacidal agent when released in water. This formula meets the stringent EPA guidelines for Microbiological Water Purifiers making it the safest solution on the market." The tablets are new this year, supplementing McNett's Aquamira water purification drops. For this test McNett very generously supplied three packets of twenty-four tablets each. Each such packet (called a "pouch" by McNett) contains four sheets, each with six tablets in individual wrappers connected at the edges. In the picture are shown, clockwise from left, an unopened packet of 24, a single tablet, a single tablet in its foil wrapper, and four connected wrapped tablets, next to an AA battery for size comparison.Aquamira Tablets

Manufacturer: McNett Corporation.
Website: www.mcnett.com.

Packaging: Re-sealable foil packet of 24 tablets. Also available in packets of 12.

MSRP: $13.95 US for a 24-tablet packet, $7.95 US for a 12-tablet packet

Weight, as measured: Packet of 24, 0.7 oz/ 21 g; individual packet 0.04 oz/ 1 g; individual tablet, 0.4 oz/ 1 g. (My digital scale's smallest measurement is one gram, which was the measurement obtained for the individual packet and individual tablet. Given the measurement for a full packet I expect that an individual tablet weighs slightly less than one gram.)

Size, as measured: Packet of 24, 6.4 x 4 x in/16.4 x 10 x 0.6 cm; individual packet, 1 x 1 in/2.5 x 2.5 cm; individual tablet, 3/8 in (0.9 cm) diameter, 0.8 in (23 mm) wide.

Ingredients: Sodium chloride 6.4%, sodium dichloroisocyanurate dehydrate 1.0%, inert ingredients 92.6%.

Recommended dosage: One tablet per liter/34 fl oz

Instructions for use: Insert a tablet in a one-liter container of water and steep for four hours in an area away from sunlight. This will generate "a use solution of 4 ppm [parts per million] chlorine dioxide."

FIRST IMPRESSIONS.

Both the pouch of 24 tablets and the foil wrapping on each individual tablet are said to be childproof and McNett directs they be opened with a knife or scissors. I couldn't open the individual packets, or separate one from another on the sheet of six, without scissors, but a notch on the top of the pouch permits it to be opened easily by hand. The pouch has a Zip-Lock type sealer and I had no problem using that to re-store the unused packets. Each pouch includes a sheet of first aid instructions in case of accidental ingestion of a tablet or rubbing an accidentally-powdered tablet into one's eyes.

At first glance a pouch seems an efficient and lightweight means of taking water treatment into the backcountry. With its thin width and ability to fold or curl, the pouch will fit almost anywhere. I successfully stored it inside a cooking pot, coffee cup, Jetboil PCS system, food box, jacket pocket, first aid kit, hipbelt pocket on my ŰLA Catalyst pack, and fly fishing tackle box. Empty individual packets from Tablets that have been used are small enough to slip pack into the pouch for packing out.

I first used a Tablet on a one-liter Nalgene bottle of tap water to test for discoloration or taste. I popped a pill into this about 11 pm and left the bottle on my kitchen counter. Early the next morning there was no color to the water and no noticeable taste. Our municipal water is likely already treated with some form of chlorine, but at least the Tablet did not add to the taste.

I should disclose that I have been a satisfied user of many McNett products. Chlorine dioxide has been my preferred method, and Aquamira drops my preferred product, for backcountry water treatment for several years. I have a special interest in the Tablets. In addition to backpacking on my own or with friends I am active in two volunteer organizations that plan and operate service trips in the wilderness. These trips range from one-day work to weeklong base camp backpacks, usually with a group of ten to fifteen volunteers performing trail maintenance and stream and erosion control in wilderness areas. I thus often need to arrange a water supply for a large group. For example, on a weeklong trip our group will use one or two collapsible five- or seven- gallon containers for drinking and cooking water. The Tablets should be well suited for group use: fill a container just before bedtime, letting it steep overnight, and fill and treat another just before the group leaves for work so that it steeps during the day. One of my trips occurs in early August and I have a couple of group overnighters scheduled before that.

This concludes my Initial Report.

FIELD REPORT

August 6, 2007

Field Conditions. I have used the Tablets in the fields on two trips. On an overnight car camping in Broken Bow, Oklahoma, in early June I treated two two-liter (~2 qt) Platypus water containers with the required two tablets each, just before going to bed. Overnight temperatures were in the 60s F (16-21 C), and the water came from the stream below the dam that holds the trout we came to catch. This water was clear and cold, but of course untreated.

I reserved almost all of my allotment of the Tablets, however, for my service trip in the Scapegoat Wilderness of Montana in late July/early August. After an initial backpack to camp, our group of nine volunteers spent a week performing trail maintenance, mostly using crosscut saws to remove trees that had blown across the Mineral Creek Trail. We had two 2.5 gallon (9.5 liter) and one 5 gallon (19 liter) collapsible plastic water cubes for group water, used for cooking and from which each volunteer could fill his or her personal water containers. We regularly filled the cubes just before retiring to our tents at night, allowing overnight steeping, and again just before setting off to work so the water would be treated when we returned in the afternoon. My Tablets (about 60) supplemented AquaMira drops that were our principal means of treatment for group water. Our water source near camp was Lost Pony Creek, a tiny tributary of the East Fork of the Blackfoot River. The Blackfoot watershed is renowned for the clarity and purity of its water, though in this particular corner of the drainage the water had a relatively high metallic content, as evidenced by light residue on cooking pots. Temperatures at night were about 65 F (19 C) at 10 pm and 50 F (10 C) at 6 am. During the day it often reached 90 F (32 C).

Observations. Water treatment exemplifies the adage that no news is good news. My fishing buddy and I in Oklahoma and all members of our volunteer group suffered no gastro-intestinal disorders. Either we were lucky or AquaMira does what it's supposed to do remove bacteria and other disease-carrying microorganisms.

After overnight steeping the Tablets gave the treated water a pale green cast that vanished after about an hour of exposure to sunlight. I detected no taste from the Tablets; water treated with them tasted the same as water filtered with a hand filter that we sometimes used at our work site.

As noted in my Initial Report the Tablets are extremely easy to pack. I simply placed the three packets inside a cooking pot for packing in, and in camp placed unopened individual packets inside an opened pouch until we exhausted our supply. Packaging and Tablets added negligible weight to my pack, and used packaging was easily disposed of into a trash bag without adding appreciable volume for packing out.

Wrapping individual Tablets greatly reduces what I believe could be the Tablets' biggest advantage over liquid chlorine dioxide treatment, ease of use. As noted, a knife or (preferably) scissors are the preferred method for first separating the desired Tablets from the sheets and then for opening an individual wrapper. McNett's "childproof" is understatement; the packaging easily merits "adult proof" or worse. In plain English, opening each Tablet separately is a real nuisance. Even after scissoring open a wrapper the Tablet tends to stick to the foil, requiring that I squeeze the Tablet into the water container. Once or twice I tried to separate individual packets without scissors and the pressure (or perhaps my frustration) resulted in a Tablet's crumbling inside its wrapper, requiring me to press powdery pieces into the water. Popping a pill should be easier than counting drops and waiting five minutes for the two parts to mix. Supplying the Tablets in a small jar or plastic pillbox, without individual wrapping, would be a big improvement, both in simplifying application and reducing overall packed size.

Because of my penchant for base camp backpacking the Tablets' four-hour gestation time isn't a particular problem. Even when solo backpacking I regularly treat water for tomorrow's use just before bedtime. If they were easier to open the Tablets would be ideal for treating larger water containers in this manner. Until the gestation time is reduced, though, the Tablets can't be the only water treatment method in my pack, as I can't use them for bottles or water bladders refilled along the trail and needed posthaste.

Pros. Lightweight, low volume, no mixing, and easy to store and pack. They work as advertised.

Cons. Unwrapping individual Tablets is difficult and time-consuming.

Suggestions. Put 'em in a jar. I'd also like to have the option of larger dosages a single Tablet for two liters/quarts or a gallon (~4 liters) in addition to a liter.

* * * * *

I consider the Tablets a very useful niche product, particularly suitable for group use. I'll buy more for my group trips, and pack a few for solo trips, though together with some chlorine dioxide drops. I thank McNett Corporation and BackpackGearTest.org for the opportunity to test this product.

 



Read more reviews of McNett Corporation gear
Read more gear reviews by Richard Lyon

Reviews > Water Treatment > Chemical Treatment > Aquamira Water Treatment 2007 > Test Report by Richard Lyon



Product tested and reviewed in each Formal Test Report has been provided free of charge by the manufacturer to BackpackGearTest.org. Upon completion of the Test Series the writer is permitted to keep the product. Owner Reviews are based on product owned by the reviewer personally unless otherwise noted.

If you are an avid backpacker, we are always looking for enthusiastic, quality reviewers. Apply here to be a gear tester.


All material on this site is the exclusive property of BackpackGearTest.org.
BackpackGearTest software copyright David Anderson