AQUAMIRA WATER PURIFIER TABLETS
TEST SERIES BY TIM TESSIER
May 28, 2007
6' 2" (1.88 m)
221 lb (100.00 kg)
Backpacking Background: I hiked as a child with my father and started hiking with my now 16 year old son 8 years ago. We now routinely take 20 mile weekend hikes (2 nights) approximately once a month year round. Additionally, we take one, 5 - 7 day extended trip each summer. Most of our hiking is done in North Carolina, southern Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia. We go regardless of weather so we have experience in all types of conditions. We do not tend to travel very light, with a typical pack weight of 25 lb (11.3 kg) exclusive of food.
PRODUCT INFORMATION & SPECIFICATIONS
Manufacturer: Aquamira Technologies
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Manufacturer's Website: >
Listed Weight: Not listed
Measured Weight: 1 oz. (28 g)
Other details: The Aquamira Water Purification tablets are designed to purify clean water so that it is safe to drink. They are effervescent tablets that are designed to be added to water in order to kill potentially harmful microorganisms commonly found in stream/lake water collected in the outdoors. These tablets would normally be used in place of boiling or filtering water.
The tablets come in packages of 12 or 24 tablets each. I was provided the 24 count package for testing. The tablets come packed in foil packs with six tablets per pack. Each of these inner sheets is approximately 4" X 2.5" (102 mm X 64 mm) in size. The tablets are individually enclosed in small compartments 1.3" X 1.25" (34 mm X 32 mm) which must be opened with a knife or scissors. Four of these packs are then enclosed in a 6.5" X 5" (165 mm X 127 mm) foil package.
There is a tear-off notch approximately .8" (20.3 mm) below the top of the outer package. I opened the first package by simply tearing the top off of the package. Inside the package is a Zip-Lock type sealer which makes the package resealable so that it remains waterproof and airtight.
READING THE INSTRUCTIONS
The instructions are very straightforward and easy to follow.
In order to use the tablets simply take out a sheet of tablets, cut open one of the individual pouches, and drop the tablet into a liter (34 oz.) of water. Place the water container in a shady spot and wait four hours. The effervescent tablet releases Chlorine Dioxide (the active ingredient) to a solution of 4 parts per million (ppm). This is certified by the EPA as a microbiological water purifier. Once tablets are open they should be handled as little as possible and should be used immediately.
There is a sheet inside the package which details first aid instructions in the event of directly ingesting a tablet or getting the tablet material on skin or in eyes. Based on this, though the instructions don't specifically recommend it, I will attempt to drop the tablet directly into water without handling it directly. This is probably more of an issue with wet or very sweaty hands. My greatest concern would be handling the tablet with sweaty hands, then rubbing my eyes, transferring some of the material to my eyes.
TRYING IT OUT
I have to say, I approached this test with deep misgivings. I have used chemical water treatment in the past with unacceptable results. The chemicals certainly made the water safe but the taste was so poor that I had to mix the water with Gatorade in order to choke it down.
I was particularly skeptical of the manufactures claim on the package that the tablets would "Improve the taste of Treated Water." According to the Aquamira website: "Unlike iodine, chlorine dioxide does not discolor water, nor does it give water an unpleasant taste. In fact, chlorine dioxide is often used to improve the taste of water by neutralizing unpleasant flavors."
To test this method of purifyling water I took two Nalgene bottles, the Aquamira tablets, and my trusty PUR water filter along on a family picnic to the New River in VA. I walked to a point where a side stream came tumbling down a hillside and into the river. This is exactly the type of water source I would tap for water on your average backpacking trip. I then pumped water into one Nalgene with the filter and filled the other directly from the stream, being careful to fill it to the rim. Using the blade on my multi-tool I opened a tablet pouch and dropped the tablet directly into the water bottle.
I then noted the time and set both bottles aside in the shade. A little over 4 hours later I pulled them out. First I took a drink of the filtered water. It tasted fine, much as I would have expected. Then I tasted the Aquamira treated water. To my surprise it was even better. It had a very crisp clean tast with absolutely no chemical taste. I was very happy with the taste of this water treatment and would be pleased to drink it on a regular basis.
My testing strategy is simple. Aquamira generously supplied us with 3 of the 24 packs of tablets. As my son and I hike this summer we will use these in place of our normal water treatment routine. We will attempt to do a few weekends, leaving the filter at home. The largest obstacle to this will be developing strategies to overcome the four hour wait time for the product to become fully effective.
We will pay particular attention to any difference in flavor of the water, and whether there is any discoloration. We will also pay particular attention to any side effects such as bad breath or intestinal distress.
This concludes my Initial Report. Please check back in approximately two months for my field report.
Field Report - August 5, 2007
Per our test protocol, we have continued to use the Aquamira tablets throughout the summer hiking season. We have used them on overnight trips to Mt. Rogers Virginia and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, as well as using them on a three day trip to West Virginia July 4 week. I have found that the tablets do perform exactly as advertised.
Now, as part of our daily routine I simply take my 4 liter (4.2 quarts) Platypus bag to the nearest water source at the end of the day and, pulling the top completely open I simply scoop it full of water. Carrying it back to camp I drop in 4 tablets and set it aside. I then have safe drinking water to fill both my hydration system and my son's the next morning. This is handy and convenient as it saves me the trouble of having to pump water at the end of a long day of hiking.
There are two factors, however, that prevent me from being able to carry these tablets exclusively, leaving my filter at home. The first is that a filter is also a pump that allows you to capture water from unlikely sources. This can best be illustrated by an experience we had in the Dolly Sods Wilderness in West Virginia. We were in a campsite that we understood to have "undependable" water. Fortunately, that night while we were in our tent we had a long, heavy, rainstorm. This meant that any water source in the area would indeed contain water so, rather than start a twelve mile (19 km) day without full water bladders I set out to find water. I found a depression in the ground that was filled with collected rainwater from the previous night's cloudburst. Because I had the filter/pump I was able to simply pull the float all the way down to the inlet, lower the collection hose into the water and pump out what I needed. Without the filter collecting this water cleanly, without also collecting mud and other organic material, would have been tricky at best.
The second limiting factor is that the tablets take four hours to be effective. This limitation becomes a problem if we are doing a long hot day and need to refill our drinking water at lunchtime. The only strategy I have come up with to eliminate this obstacle is to pull my stove out and boil water immediately upon reaching our lunch destination. Then the water can cool while we are having our lunch. To hasten the cooling process I could even set our hydration bladders in the running stream with the hot water in them. This would surely cool them down relatively quickly. To be honest, while I have, with all good intention, meant to try this procedure, I haven't done so yet. It seems to be a LOT of trouble to go through in order to save a few ounces or grams of pack weight. I will make it a point to try this out and include my findings in my long-term report.
My only other comment on the tablets is that the packaging, while certainly tough for a reason, can be annoying to try to get into. I can not tear the tough plastic/foil packaging that surrounds the individual tablets with my fingers. I have to use my multi-tool each time. As long as I don't lose my multi-tool this is not a big deal but it's just annoying. It seems they could develop packaging with a perforation or a notch that would allow you to simply rip it open to get to the product, rather than force you to cut it each time. It's a minor detail but worth noting.
The McNett Aquamira tablets do an admirable job of treating water, making it safe to drink. We have used them several times now with no ill effects whatsoever. They don't leave any negative after-taste. The largest drawback I have found to the product is the four hour wait time in order for it to treat water. This precludes me from being able to use this as an exclusive water-treatment method, and makes it merely a convenience product. The only real saving for me is not having to pump at the end of a long day.
This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.
Copyright 2007. All rights reserved.
Things I like:
They really do leave water tasting clean and good.
They are lightweight and compact, adding virtually no weight or bulk to your pack.
Things I don't like:
They take four hours to work, meaning I still have to carry a filter.
The packaging is a bear to open to get the individual tablets out to use.
Read more reviews of McNett Corporation gear
Read more gear reviews by Tim Tessier