Water purification




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  1. #1
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    Default Water purification

    Hi everyone
    What water purification device do you use reverse osmoses or is there something else? Why do the reverse osmosis systems prices vary so much from R1200 to R4000

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    I have used the following:

    Tincture of iodine........brilliantly effective but has a slight taste, and shouldn't be used for long periods (your body has a limit as to how much iodine it should ingest in a lifetime).

    Puritabs..........very good, but not 100% effective apparently (I've never had a problem).

    Portable hand-pumped ceramic water filter with charcoal......you can drink camel pee after 30 seconds of pumping this little pump. It is brilliant, but hard work, and the ceramic cartdriges are expensive and fragile.

    Due to overdosing on the first, I now stick to the latter 2 methods......and in all my years of travelling, all over the world, I have never had the trots or any upset stomach. You need the kit, and you need discipline.

    Mike
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    AJ, I have been researching this a lot over the past few months. A friend of mine is a Micro Biologist and he explained why the Reverse osmosis is the only real way... It was very scientific and I could not understand half of it. However, it all made sense at the time. It has to do with the fact that bacteria and Guardia sinks to the bottom of a container and with reverse osmoses you pump the water through a filter and leave the nasties behind.

    If you look at prices, you should also look at lifespan of filters, flow rate and things like that. The MRS hand pump types are fine, but you'll notice that although they kill bacteria, they don't kill viruses. They generally have a .5 Micron filter and the cartridges has to be replaced every once in a while.

    Chemicals are another way to do it, but they have their own side effects and issues. On Iodine: Since the 2nd world war, where nurses who were drinking iodine treated water for years on end had health problems associated with it, there has never been another medical case recorded in the world. Taste is nasty, but easily overcome by adding some orange squash or something to it. It does kill most of the nasties and is very cost effective.

    Bacteria and viruses are not your only problems. Heavy metals is also a huge issue is some regions (Desert wells mostly) There has been studies that found birth defects and infertility in tribes drinking from wells containing heavy metals. You will never know that it is there because it has no taste. It is very unlikely that it will effect you if you're passing through and just getting some water for a short period of time.

    The last thing worth mentioning is that your body needs salts and minerals we get in water. Another bunch of fancy medical terminology, but if you should drink only 100% purified water all the time, you will actually poison yourself and die of dehydration and lack of electrolytes.

    Scared yet? I was. You should really not research this subject too much as you will possibly end up never drinking water again. ALL BEER IS SAFE

    So here are the 3 devices I came up with:

    One is a 12V unit from a South African company called Abundant Water Services. Their website has no contact details and the contact form has no send button, so I don't actually know how to get hold of one. Perhaps the website just doesn't work on my Mac, so try it on a pc. www.abundantwaterservices.co.za I think. The thing fits into a wolfpack container, kills all nasties and replaces salts and electrolytes. Lasts pretty much forever and only needs a service every 24 months or so.

    The next is a hand pump made by First Needs. http://www.generalecology.com/category/portable This is $100 hand pump with replaceable cartages that also seems to kill all the nasties.Has a .2 Micron filter which is smaller than other brands.

    The last one is called a Steri Pen. It's a simple UV light that kills all nasties, but does not take the taste of bad water away. It is however handy if you're sitting in a dirty street cafe in West Africa and you don't trust the water in the glass. http://www.steripen.com/

    There is an option to drink only bottled water. You can buy a lot of bottled water for R4 000. However, in places like Nairobi tests have shown than 8 out of 10 bottled water brands tested the same as Nairobi tap water.... So if you go the bottled water route, the advice is to go into the most expensive hotel in the region and see what brand they use.

    Good luck and don't get too scared....

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    So Freeflyd, is boiling the water not good enough then?
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    Again: Let's not get paranoid here, but no, boiling for more than 5 minutes does not kill everything. It does kill a lot of things though! So it is better than doing nothing. It does kill bacteria, but not viruses or Giardia. The only way to kill everything is through chemicals, reverse osmosis and UV light... Most people don't bother because their exposure to contaminated water is short or they drink bottled water.

    BTW: Bottled water goes thorugh the Food and Beverage regulations and screening, which is no where near as strict as the regulations and screening that your municipal water goes through. So your tap water is probably safer to use than the water in a plastic bottle that you pay so much for.

    We all know the theory of watching the baboons and birds eating fruit and thereby learning what should be safe for us to eat... Well water is a little different. People can car water diseases without knowing it, or telling you about it. So the fact that others are drinking the water does not make it safe for you to drink.

    Nature has its own filters, and disease needs humans to spread. So the more secluded you are, and the more obstacles (Plants, rocks, sand, waterfalls) the water has to pass through before you get it, the safer it is. I often remind people that the water in Maun is recycled and treated, but the water in the delta has been filtered for 1000's of km from Shakawe to Maun. I rather drink from the Delta....



    Giardia is the evil one. You can fit about 200 000 of these little suckers on the tip of a needle. It's a parasite that can cause all kinds of nasty things. If you read about it, you'll be a little scared.

    It's not only water you should be scared of in unhygienic situations. These viruses and bacteria also clings to fruit and vegetables when handled by unwashed hands. I for one love buying stuff in African markets. I never eat fruit salad than has been prepared for me, not do I bite into fruit or vegetables without either washing it with my own, clean water or cooking it, or both.

    It is pretty important to remember that unless you are immune compromised, most water borne diseases are perfectly treatable. Cholera, Bilharzia and most others can be cured if you know, or suspect you have it and get medical help soon. People die of water borne diseases because there is no medical help, or they don't realize they are infected or have diarrhea. (Don't know how you miss that one!) The biggest danger is diarrhea and loss of electrolytes that can be replaced by a saline drip or a simple re-hydration solution.

    Before I started researching this I was happy to drink whatever water I can find. Now I think I know too much. It is a dangerous thing to know too much about.

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    Quote Originally Posted by freeflyd View Post
    BTW: Bottled water goes thorugh the Food and Beverage regulations and screening, which is no where near as strict as the regulations and screening that your municipal water goes through. So your tap water is probably safer to use than the water in a plastic bottle that you pay so much for.
    Well said........but don't forget that whilst legislation may apply in SA, that certainly isn't the case elsewhere in Africa, Asia and South America. I have heard that you can buy re-sealing kits for bottled water, so that even sealed water bottles may not contain what you think they contain!

    Mike
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    I disagree.

    We had the water tested that comes out of the tap and it had a TDS reading of about 600. 125 is supposed to be good for human consumption.

    So now we have 2 filtration systems. 1 at the house and 1 at the office. The TDS reading is usually about 50.

    PS. We go through about 60l per day on the machine at the office in the summer. In the winter, about 20l
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    Quote Originally Posted by Henris View Post
    I disagree.

    We had the water tested that comes out of the tap and it had a TDS reading of about 600. 125 is supposed to be good for human consumption.
    Who tested it? The guy that sold you the filter systems?

    Plastic bottles with water in get transported on trucks and stay in the sun for days and weeks. The plastic actually melts a little and puts toxins in the water. If you have to drink bottles water, buy it in glas bottles. (South Africa)

    Henris, your water purifying systems will be the best solution.

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    Quote Originally Posted by freeflyd View Post
    Who tested it? The guy that sold you the filter systems?
    .....................
    Yes he did. But numerous others have also done the same test and come up with the same results.

    Also took some readings from our duck/koy pond and that had a TDS reading of about 250.

    PS. Beit Bridge Zim side's sewage is released 1 km upstream from the Musina pump house, into the Limpopo.

    I think we will stick with the filter system thanks.
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    Based on an article I read in GO magazine about water purification, I bought a small bottle of Aqua Salveo from Outdoor Warehouse, which I keep in the car, just in case we have to drink some water in a crummy area.

    It is apparently tasteless (mixture of copper, zinc and silver salts) and has the SABS mark.

    Their website is quite informative with long list of bugs its effective against (dont see Gardia on the list though).


    http://www.aquasalveo.com/index.html


    Regarding SA tap water - I find it depends who you talk to.

    I met the Production Manager of Nestle (bottled) Water at a braai and he said that they get all their water straight out of the municipal mains and it meets all Netsle's safety requirements as is, they just filter it to make sure it looks nice.

    Other people tell me all sorts of horror stories about local water and refuse to drink their own kitchen tap water.

    Personally I drink straight out the tap at home all the time. But I'm wary of small towns and those across the border.

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    Quote Originally Posted by alanB View Post
    Other people tell me all sorts of horror stories about local water and refuse to drink their own kitchen tap water.

    Personally I drink straight out the tap at home all the time. But I'm wary of small towns and those across the border.
    Ahmen! So do I! My research was about a Trans Africa trip including Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Uganda and a little fear for collera and bilharzia.

    Giardia carries a bunch of those nasties listed on the list of Aqua Salveo site. Nice product!
    Last edited by freeflyd; 2009/07/22 at 04:42 PM.

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    all I can say is living in Central America for a year I had Giardia and dysentery !

    and both were nasty nasty things I was just using bottled and chemical treatments ! so chances I picked it up from something washed with dirty water etc..

    but I now try to bring enough of my own and I am saving up for a large ceramic type one that rafters here in the U.S. use by katadyn for groups its quite large ! but will mount it on my trailer

    good read this thread

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    Will the system that we install in our homes work sufficiently to kill all the goggas.I was thinking of installing it in my camper with 12v pump.
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    Interesting thread.

    The scariest thing about South African water is that the authorities claim that we have of the cleanest water in the world. The way how they achieve that is to pump high dosages of chlorine and ammonia into the water. These chemicals kills bugs. Last time I checked, I was also a bug, albeit a rather large one. Apparently, our average dosage of chlorine is about 6 to 7 times higher than the maximum allowed in the USA. So, the price we pay is that we are bombarded with chlorine and ammonia. Just Google: chlorine cancer. I agree, we need to nuke the viruses, cysts, bacteria, etc with chlorine - I rather prefer high chlorine in my water, than dying of cholera or typhoid, but you need to take out the chlorine before drinking it.

    It is said that at current age chlorine is the greatest crippler of human kind.

    A good water purifier will remove the chlorine. Ours that we use at home is connected at the tap - you only purify the water that you want. I can immediately smell the difference between tap water and the purified water. The chlorine is overwhelming. Our unit uses both UV light and activated carbon (removing all heavy metals such as Uranium as well (Uranium is a by-product of mining)).

    What is nice about our unit is that it is quite small, almost the size of a shoebox. You can easily take it with if you go on holiday. The only drawback is that it operates from 220V - I think an inverter would do the trick if you go on an overlanding trip. I will definitely pack mine in on our next overland trip.

    Kind Regards,
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    The Giardia gogga made me do some reading.

    On all the reference sites, they mention that this parasite can be killed by boiling to 100C . < 1 micron particle filter will also do the trick.


    I think with the combination of proper filtration (< 0.5 micron) and boiling, you will have a good chance of survival.

    Here is a nice portable ceramic filter.
    Last edited by KobusDJ; 2009/07/23 at 09:38 AM.
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    I started my reading on a the subject on a motorbike overland forum (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/) so space was always an issue for these guys. The brand names that came up was: MSR, Katadyn, First Needs, Steri Pen and the chemicals mostly Milton and iodine.

    My second step was to look at the brand names, their pro's and con's, prices and effectiveness including services and life on cartridges. Most these filters fit onto a 1l drinking bottle and cost between $50 and $100. They typically have a flow rate of 2l/min and work on a hand pump basis. What I would like to do is fill up a 55l tank once a week and not worry about water for the rest of the time. Pumping that by hand at 2l/min is going to be a mission!

    I also looked at inline filters, but then realized that reverse osmosis is the way to go.

    So at the moment I'm leaning towards this: I like that stuff AlanB told us about. (http://www.aquasalveo.com/index.html) for most water sources, but if I think the water is really dodge, I'll still put it though a 0.2Micron filter from First Needs to make sure even if it will take me an hour and a half to fill my tank.

    BTW, boiling at 100C is great, only water boils at lower temeratures the higher above sea level you are...

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    Try and find that GO magazine with the article about the different methods they tested (it was a few months back, some guys went on a hike in the Kruger Park in which they had to drink out of the rivers, if you send them an email maybe they will send you the article).

    If I remember correctly, some of the pumps clogged up very quickly and needed a lot of work cleaning etc. At least one broke.

    They were most impressed by the Steripen thing that uses UV light.

    They were also worried about contact time needed for the different chemical options, but to me thats not such an issue - unless you are dying of thirst, one can surely wait 45 minutes or whatever before using the water.

    On most of the survival programs/books etc they say if boil the water you eliminate 99% of the nasties.

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    Something like this Ceramic filter ?

    http://www.h2o.co.za/products/outdoor/micropac.htm
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    Last edited by 3RZ; 2009/07/23 at 10:22 AM.
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    Or this reverse Osmosis unit http://www.waterwise.co.za/mobile.html

    The reverse Osmosis one looks like it will be the most cost effective solution if you look at the filter life.
    Last edited by 3RZ; 2009/07/23 at 10:28 AM.
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    What kind of cost are we looking at here?
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