Whether you are planning a hike in the wilderness, a trip to the mall, or are simply in need of clear, clean water for mixing liquid baby formula, you can benefit from access to a device to ensure the water you use will be clean and free from particles and contaminants. These devices are called portable water purifiers.
Unfortunately, most of the world’s water supply is not potable, or drinkable, due to its salt content. The remaining percentage of water that is potentially drinkable is predominantly contaminated; according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, it is possible that ninety percent of the freshwater supply available on Earth is contaminated in some way. Even within many cities in the U.S., the water supply coming through taps and fountains may not be safe for drinking. As a result, it is best practices for your health to have some way to purify the water you drink from both public and private sources.
Why Should I Use A Portable Water Purifier?
A portable water purifier is beneficial because most of the water in our environment is impure, even water treated through water treatment facilities in our towns and cities. Most water we would think of as clean contains a variety of different contaminants, including chemical and biological contaminants. Chemical contaminants are chemicals that have entered the water, either through the atmosphere or through pollution from factories and sewage in the Earth. Examples of biological contaminants include microorganisms, such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoans.
You can kill biological contaminants in your water by boiling it, but unfortunately, boiling water has no effect on chemicals already in the water. However, using a water purifier can remove both biological and chemical contaminants at the same time, resulting in water that is clean and safe to drink for you and your family. If you buy a travel or portable water purifier, you can then take it anywhere where you are unsure about the quality of the water supply (for example, when on vacation).
How Does A Portable Water Purifier Work?
There are two basic categories of water purifiers you can buy on the market today; these are chemical water purifiers and non-chemical water purifiers. Within these groups are several different types of purifiers, which will be described below.
An example of a chemical type water purifier is a water purifier based on iodine treatment. Iodine is usually more effective at purifying water than most other chemicals in use, which adds to its popularity in water filtration. However, iodine is a light sensitive chemical, and must be stored in a dark container to maintain its efficiency in a water purification system. Other drawbacks of iodine include its potential as an allergen in some individuals. In particular, if you are allergic to shellfish, you have an increased likelihood of being allergic to iodine. If you do have an iodine allergy, you cannot use a water purifier based on iodine treatment, as you may become sick from using the purifier, no matter how clean the water becomes. This is because iodine water purifiers work by adding iodine to the unclean water and waiting for the water and iodine to settle so the iodine can destroy contaminants in the water.
Another example of a chemical type water purifier is a water purifier based on chlorine treatment. It is commonly used as an alternative method of chemical water purification with individuals incapable of using iodine (for example, due to allergies). The process to purify water with chlorine is similar to the process used to purify water with iodine; chlorine is added to the unclean water and allowed to destroy the contaminants while the water and chlorine mixture sits undisturbed.
There are different non-chemical water purifiers available, and they tend to use a variety of different filtration systems to purify the water. Most use filters, but there are also those that use ultraviolet radiation (the kind of radiation that can cause sunburn in some individuals) for water purification. Due to the variety in non-chemical water purification systems, to understand the workings of a specific filter, check the information provided by the manufacturers of that filter.
What Should I Look For When Shopping For A Portable Water Purifier?
When you plan to buy a portable water purifier, remember that there is a substantial difference (though it is often glossed over by manufacturers and advertisers) between a water filter and a water purifier. They are not one and the same. Rather, a water filter’s job is to remove particulates from water poured into or through the filter. The size of the filter (the holes inside) will determine the size of the particles that are stopped by the filter, and the sizes of the particles that flow unimpeded into your drinking supply. Of course, the finer the grating used by the filter, the fewer particles will slip through. However, remember that no matter how good most filters claim to be, they will not remove chemicals in the water, and most water filters will not stop the majority of microorganisms that may exist in the water.
To choose a portable water purifier, decide what you need it most for. For example, if weight or space is a priority, the SteriPEN is a tiny portable purifier that may meet your needs. Alternatively, if you want a chemical to purify your water, consider the Katadyn Micropur Purification Tablets. Remember that treated water may taste strange; do your best to try the water from a purifier before buying the purifier; it does you no good if you don’t want to drink it!
Examples of good portable water purifiers include Katadyn, which manufactures bottle water purifiers (which allow you to combine a water bottle with a purifier), Berkey (which offer a variety of portable models, each of which is powered by gravity, negating the need for batteries or other power sources), and First Need Water Purifiers (they have the advantage of lightness, and are even used by the U.S. military abroad).