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#179274 - 08/19/13 02:02 PM Re: Water treatment [Re: skcreidc]
ndsol Offline
member

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 673
Loc: Houston, Texas
Originally Posted By skcreidc
Kinda late to this party....But...

In the interest of this discussion, and note that I have NOT read ANY of the link,

Quote:

1. The information from the link is that "the initial claims from the bulk supplier for Aquamira Water Treatment were 'bacteria, taste and odor', and all testing was done in potable water. . . . " So that pretty definitively states how far Aquamira can go in making its claims, which is not far enough for backpackers.


That statement in itself suggests that if your backpacking water issue is bacteria, you would be fine as most of us would select potential "potable water" sources to drink from. I take this statement more as an indication that the water chemistry is within acceptable drinking water standards and isn't abnormally high in one or another chemical component such as say Ca and SO4, or maybe water percolating through mine tailings. Acceptable as treatment is assuming that these tests showed Aquamira was effective at treating bacteria of course.

Interesting there is no mention of virus or Protozoa treatment testing.

This discussion is interesting and it was informative to read the responses. I'll have to check out the links later. Personally, I am not inclined to use any chemical additives in my drinking water. But I am curious about all these different methods of water purification. I am also curious, NDSOL, if not developed for backpacking use (and/or to make money with), what do you think this stuff was originally developed for? Third world water treatment for bacteria?


I would interpret the statement, "all testing was done in potable water" as just that. The water that was used to do the testing was drinkable, which dovetails into your question about the uses therefor.

Potable water exposed to air (and everything in the air) does not stay potable after a period of time (dependent on numerous factors). Aquamira liquid is labeled to keep that period of time greatly extended. So if you have stored water for emergency purposes or perhaps in your RV water tank, then the Aquamira liquid will keep it still potable by killing bacteria. Similarly, if you have a animal watering trough that is filled by a well that delivers potable water, then this should help keep the water safe and free from slime caused by bacteria.

By analogy, think of the liquid you buy to add to gasoline to ensure that the gasoline will not break down and will still be good next year when you pull your lawnmower out after the winter.

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#179277 - 08/19/13 02:25 PM Re: Water treatment [Re: ndsol]
topshot Offline
member

Registered: 04/28/09
Posts: 241
Loc: Midwest
Anecdotally, I've not yet heard of any backpacker using the AM drops having any illness issues and FAR more use the drops than tablets because they're less expensive. I'm sure they don't follow the directions really precisely either. Some even premix a day's batch worth to save time, especially if in a group setting. However, I also think the danger of infection in the wilderness is overblown, which is why you rarely hear about people getting sick.

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#179280 - 08/19/13 04:34 PM Re: Water treatment [Re: topshot]
ndsol Offline
member

Registered: 04/16/02
Posts: 673
Loc: Houston, Texas
Originally Posted By topshot
Anecdotally, I've not yet heard of any backpacker using the AM drops having any illness issues and FAR more use the drops than tablets because they're less expensive. I'm sure they don't follow the directions really precisely either. Some even premix a day's batch worth to save time, especially if in a group setting. However, I also think the danger of infection in the wilderness is overblown, which is why you rarely hear about people getting sick.


I agree that it is probably well overblown (especially in the areas where I generally backpack). What is more important is practicing good hygiene for which hand sanitizer plays a crucial part IMHO.

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#179297 - 08/19/13 08:42 PM Re: Water treatment [Re: ndsol]
topshot Offline
member

Registered: 04/28/09
Posts: 241
Loc: Midwest
Originally Posted By ndsol
What is more important is practicing good hygiene for which hand sanitizer plays a crucial part IMHO.
goodjob

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#179320 - 08/20/13 01:01 PM Re: Water treatment [Re: topshot]
skcreidc Offline
member

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Totally agree that good hygiene is crucial. In my last solo trip, I didn't carry any treatment method at all. But I was confident as to what quality water I was going to get.


Ndsol, interesting take on what Aquamira was developed for. The line of reasoning makes sense in as far as what I have read. I'll have to see if I can use it for my rainwater collection system (off my roof).

Just as an aside, potable water = drinking water. Pretty simple really. But in the United States, this does indicate to me that it must be potable water as accepted in the US. These are basically chemical guidelines, including a maximum total dissolved solids (TDS). There would still be a broad range of chemistry accepted, and would depend upon the source. Certain water chemistry could potentially interfere with the intended chemical process rendering the treatment ineffective. Anyway, this is just part of the thought process that goes through my head when looking at this stuff.

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#179410 - 08/25/13 01:32 PM Re: Water treatment [Re: skcreidc]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
I think it's worth noting in this thread that water in a clear plastic (PET) container left in the sun for 5 hours at 86º F is an effective and recommended treatment. When used with a charcoal filter you'll end up with as good of water as you'll get just about anywhere. While this may not always be an optimal method for backpacking there are certainly times when it can be.

Solar Disinfection

_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#179417 - 08/25/13 07:27 PM Re: Water treatment [Re: ndsol]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
Originally Posted By ndsol


I agree that it is probably well overblown (especially in the areas where I generally backpack). What is more important is practicing good hygiene for which hand sanitizer plays a crucial part IMHO.


Here is the collected thoughts I have on the topic:

Giardia is out there. When, where and how much is the question that will never be answered - there is no test we can do to verify, so the only completely safe thing to do is treat ALL WATER.

How do I know it is out there? I keep running into people who have had it - not just "got sick" but "went to a doctor, verified the diagnosis and had to have a bunch of antibiotics because it was giardia." This includes water rescue team members (who do not backpack, and therefore there is no "hygiene issue" to blame) who have been treated 2-3 times apiece for giardia, thanks to white water kayakers who go hike in miles and get into some mid elevation stream (Cherry Creek, the Kings River backcountry, and Dinkey Creek are but three central Sierra locations where they do this kind of thing, and sometimes things go wrong and they die - this happened just a couple years ago in Dinkey).

Do I know where it is? Nope. But I go up there 3 - 10 days per month. Odds are in my favor of exposure. At some point (don't know when, don't know where) conditions will be such that the little buggers may just hit critical mass just as I arrive at the stream to take a drink. So I'll keep ignoring comments about "overblown" and keep filtering, thanks all the same.

Someone who spins the wheel twice a year (the majority of the population I'd guess) and doesn't get sick has no impact on my belief that it's out there, because they don't go often enough to have that much of a risk. It's like fishing. If you stand in one place long enough, pitch the same lure every few minutes, eventually some dumb fish will swim by and bite - it doesn't mean the fishing in that spot is good, or that you're a good fisherman, or there are a lot of fish in the water, it just means you spun the roulette wheel often enough to get lucky. That's why rangers will tell you to treat the water. If enough tourists head out on enough trails to enough waterways.... some fraction of them will be unlucky, and some smaller fraction of them will have a good attorney.

I will always do my best to be safe. I'm the only one I have to take care of me. Depending on some decade old study or some edumacated hunch someone has is not good enough.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#179424 - 08/26/13 12:32 AM Re: Water treatment [Re: lori]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2837
Loc: Portland, OR
As I recently told another backpacker in a fairly untrammeled Oregon wilderness area that's at least 350 miles from any major metro area, if it were a question of getting dehydrated for lack of a filter or treatment, due to some accident or oversight, I wouldn't hesitate to drink the water there straight out of the stream, untreated, because the chance of getting a waterborne illness was extremely remote, whereas dehydration is much more immediate and life-threatening -- however, I always do bring a filter and I always use it, just because giardia is a nasty, serious disease I would not wish on anyone.

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#179440 - 08/26/13 03:10 PM Re: Water treatment [Re: lori]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By Lori
Giardia is out there. When, where and how much is the question that will never be answered - there is no test we can do to verify, so the only completely safe thing to do is treat ALL WATER.

...

I will always do my best to be safe. I'm the only one I have to take care of me. Depending on some decade old study or some edumacated hunch someone has is not good enough.



Well, I'd counter that you're using treatment as a first line of defense. I believe it should be used when there is a high degree of known personal risk.

One of the ways a body build immunities is by exposure to small amounts of the substance that cause an illness. There are many, many, people who are immune to Giardia variations that thrive where they live. ( one of many credible sources )

That is what I meant when I said drinking untreated water may help build your immunity to Giardia. Getting taken down hard with Giardia is almost always a sure sign of a weakened immune system.

There are many ways to strengthen your immune system that are well documented. Also well documented are many ways to weaken your immune system. Using chemical water treatments is a surefire way to reduce or stop your natural defenses against giardia, so is taking antibiotics.

I choose to try and keep my immune system strong with a selective diet, exercise, and if my diet is lacking, nutritional supplements made for that purpose, and by avoiding antibiotics and toxic chemicals like Chlorine Dioxide, which are known to weaken the immune system. I have never gotten sick drinking untreated water from clear running wilderness streams.

It's important to note that most Giardia infections are transmitted human to human, not by drinking water. Your hiking partner can be immune and still be a carrier and if you don't sanitize them too you're still at risk no matter how well you filtered your water.

In short, I'd rather work on building an immunity than preventing exposure.

You might call all that "some edumacated hunch", but there is well documented scientific research to back it all up and there are risks involved in ignoring it.
_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#179441 - 08/26/13 03:20 PM Re: Water treatment [Re: billstephenson]
lori Offline
member

Registered: 01/22/08
Posts: 2801
What do you do to boost your immunity to e coli? Cryptosporidium? any other bacterial infection?

e coli is another semi-common problem that appears in waterways. Particularly along the John Muir Freeway, it's been detected in rivers in the parks.
_________________________
"In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few." Shunryu Suzuki

http://hikeandbackpack.com

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#179442 - 08/26/13 03:43 PM Re: Water treatment [Re: billstephenson]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1342
Loc: Southwest Ohio
I'm late to the party (nothing authoritative to contribute), but now that we're in the "summing up/what's done in practice?" stage of the thread, I'll chime in.

I agree that building immunity is important, and maybe the best defense (which is why I don't make use of any of the alcohol dispensers that are at the entry to every public building.) While ole Dan'l Boone had better quality water to drink, mostly, he probably also had a sturdier immune system from prolonged exposure. (Of course, no one's going to carve "D. Boon had diarrhea here" on a tree, so we may not have all the evidence available.)

In practice, I also tend to take the "belt and suspenders" approach to water purification: choose reasonably safe sources, but still purify. At 4 ounces and minimal effort (gravity filter), it's pretty cheap insurance.

Like someone else said, reasonableness and situation also play a role. When I've seen it bubbling up out of the ground, 2500 feet above and 20 miles away from the nearest village or farm, I will drink without purifying, maybe (I'm not immune to that temptation), but often I'll even purify then. And, given the choice between dehydration and drinking unpurified water, I'll drink the water.

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#179444 - 08/26/13 03:58 PM Re: Water treatment [Re: billstephenson]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2837
Loc: Portland, OR
A strong immune system is an excellent thing to cultivate, but a strong immune system is not a foolproof answer. Any immune system can be overwhelmed by a large enough exposure to a disease organism.

To my way of thinking, drinking untreated water is a crapshoot. All wild water will contain an unknown number of organisms of unknown type. The risk that the type and number of organisms in the water you are ingesting will be sufficient to make you sick can be guessed from observable clues, like turbidity, odor, proximity to grazing, etc, but unless you have a laboratory with you, you are only making guesses.

I happen to prefer filters because I would rather remove things from my water than add chemicals to it. For me, the choice is bringing the filter and using it or doing nothing at all. Filtering may not be 100% effective, but it will certainly reduce the numbers of organisms in my water. I let my immune system deal with any organisms that escape the filter. This seems like the proper utilization of my immune system, rather than having it bear the brunt of anything and everything that wild water might contain.

How does this work out for me? So far, so good.

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#179446 - 08/26/13 04:08 PM Re: Water treatment [Re: Glenn Roberts]
ETSU Pride Offline
member

Registered: 10/25/10
Posts: 931
Loc: Knoxville, TN
Originally Posted By Glenn Roberts
I'm late to the party (nothing authoritative to contribute), but now that we're in the "summing up/what's done in practice?" stage of the thread, I'll chime in.

I agree that building immunity is important, and maybe the best defense (which is why I don't make use of any of the alcohol dispensers that are at the entry to every public building.) While ole Dan'l Boone had better quality water to drink, mostly, he probably also had a sturdier immune system from prolonged exposure. (Of course, no one's going to carve "D. Boon had diarrhea here" on a tree, so we may not have all the evidence available.)

In practice, I also tend to take the "belt and suspenders" approach to water purification: choose reasonably safe sources, but still purify. At 4 ounces and minimal effort (gravity filter), it's pretty cheap insurance.

Like someone else said, reasonableness and situation also play a role. When I've seen it bubbling up out of the ground, 2500 feet above and 20 miles away from the nearest village or farm, I will drink without purifying, maybe (I'm not immune to that temptation), but often I'll even purify then. And, given the choice between dehydration and drinking unpurified water, I'll drink the water.


Maybe someone or he did and it just hasn't been discovered!!!
_________________________
It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy.-- Horace Kephart

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#179448 - 08/26/13 05:27 PM Re: Water treatment [Re: ETSU Pride]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1342
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Or the thought better of it after he did, and went back with his axe to erase the evidence? smile

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#179455 - 08/27/13 12:39 AM Re: Water treatment [Re: lori]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By lori
What do you do to boost your immunity to e coli? Cryptosporidium? any other bacterial infection?


In short, you build your immune system up with probiotics and antioxidants. Here's a more detailed description of how your body does this for you, given a chance:

Immunity to Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli

"Seventeen students and other community volunteers were given 106 or 108 organisms of E. coli B7A (O148:H28), which produces heat-labile and heat-stable enterotoxins. Ten individuals developed diarrheal illness closely resembling natural travelers diarrhea; of these ten, rises in titer of serum antitoxin and anti-O antibody occurred in eight (80%).

Eight of the volunteers who developed diarrhea in the first test agreed to undergo rechallenge 9 weeks later with 108 B7A organisms. Only one of these eight “veterans” developed diarrhea versus seven of twelve controls given the same challenge (P = 0.05).
"

The mechanism by which Cryptosporidium causes diarrhea is still poorly understood, and so is the immune system's response to it, but for certain the risks of exposure is much higher for municipal water supplies than clear running streams in a wilderness area. It's also certain that your body can fight off small exposures if your immune system is strong. It's very unlikely you'll be overexposed when drinking from a clear running stream. Still water (a pond or pool) would increase that risk a lot if the cyst were present (and as you said, there is no fast and easy test for them).

I already pointed out that for Giardia human to human exposure is (by far) the most common way to get sick from it. The next most common is from dirt.

All this is not to diminish the need to know when you should treat your water, or knowing to err on the side of caution if you don't. It is to focus on the need to know how to evaluate a water source and to try and put the risks into perspective.

The facts are that we are most likely to get Giardia from our friends and after that the dirt we're walking on, and we're most likely to get Cryptosporidium from our kitchen faucet, and we're most afraid of getting them from water in the wilderness.

I understand the first three, it's that last one that trips me up. crazy



Edited by billstephenson (08/27/13 12:48 AM)
Edit Reason: clarity
_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#179456 - 08/27/13 06:58 AM Re: Water treatment [Re: billstephenson]
DTape Offline
member

Registered: 11/23/07
Posts: 654
Loc: Upstate NY
Bill raises excellent points. In one, he refers to probiotics. It wasn't too long ago when all bacteria was considered "bad". As we learn more, we are finding that all micro-organisms aren't bad and some are not only beneficial but necessary. Our species evolved to live in the environment including all the micro-organisms. Since we are already discovering some of the beneficial micro-organisms, it isn't a giant leap to think there could be more. One can wonder whether purifying water in our municipal systems while reducing transmission of the really nasty "bugs" has also eliminated many/most of the ones we evolved to have in our bodies. Has eliminating these good bacteria, protozoa, etc... had a deleterious effect on our general health? Could many of our other diseases be a result (or made worse) due to having our intestinal flora out of balance? IIRC, our appendix served as a bacteria well to jumpstart our intestinal flora when needed. It became a vestigial organ as man started to live in larger and larger groups. We could then get our jumpstart just from being near others. With the constant purification of our municipal water, is it possible that drinking wild water could actually be beneficial to our general health? Is it possible this benefit outweighs the potential risk of "contaminated" water especially that which is found deep in the wilderness?
_________________________
http://ducttapeadk.blogspot.com

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#179483 - 08/28/13 06:37 PM Re: Water treatment [Re: DTape]
Jimshaw Offline
member

Registered: 10/22/03
Posts: 3938
Loc: Bend, Oregon
Not so far off topic - I live with dogs. My dogs can get in and out on their own and have a very large space (in a forest in the country) to play in. In short, I am exposed to everything on the ground in my dog yard via my dogs appreciative kisses goodjob
. Am I healthy? Yes very.

I got one o' them ultraviolet light thingies and used it in clear mountain stream water with no ill effects. I guess ya just sick it in yer mouth while ya drink... confused
Aimless - I WAS a very long way from a large population center...
Jim
_________________________
These are my own opinions based on wisdom earned through many wrong decisions. Your mileage may vary.

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#179485 - 08/28/13 07:17 PM Re: Water treatment [Re: Jimshaw]
aimless Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/05/03
Posts: 2837
Loc: Portland, OR
Aimless - I WAS a very long way from a large population center...

When I am in the high Wallowas and there's not much above me but snowfields or else there's a nice spring bubbling up, I'll sometimes drink wild water straight, no chaser, even if I have a filter sitting in my pack. The risk in a place like that is vanishingly small. Besides, it tastes sooooo good!

(I guess that means I lied when I said I "always" used my filter.)

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#179492 - 08/28/13 11:34 PM Re: Water treatment [Re: billstephenson]
OregonMouse Online   content
member

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6371
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
I had to boil water the last three days (lake close to the trailhead and with no active outlet this time of year) because my Sawyer Squeeze turned out to be blocked. It worked just fine at home with tap water the week before! And I forgot the MicroPur tabs I usually take along. Fortunately I had plenty of fuel!
_________________________
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

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#179502 - 08/29/13 08:37 AM Re: Water treatment [Re: OregonMouse]
topshot Offline
member

Registered: 04/28/09
Posts: 241
Loc: Midwest
Originally Posted By OregonMouse
my Sawyer Squeeze turned out to be blocked.
It couldn't be backflushed either?

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#179506 - 08/29/13 12:21 PM Re: Water treatment [Re: topshot]
finallyME Offline
member

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
The first trip I took this year, I didn't take the syringe to backflush, and it was blocked....really sucked. I carry the syringe every time now.
_________________________
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

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#179509 - 08/29/13 12:47 PM Re: Water treatment [Re: OregonMouse]
Glenn Roberts Offline
Moderator

Registered: 12/23/08
Posts: 1342
Loc: Southwest Ohio
Suddenly I don't feel so bad about carrying that full (or mostly full) canister with me on an overnight!

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#179511 - 08/29/13 02:42 PM Re: Water treatment [Re: aimless]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Originally Posted By DTape
With the constant purification of our municipal water, is it possible that drinking wild water could actually be beneficial to our general health? Is it possible this benefit outweighs the potential risk of "contaminated" water especially that which is found deep in the wilderness?


After reading your line of questions I have to say you really summed up my own broader thoughts on this better than I ever could have. For me, right now it is impossible not to conclude there are huge and important benefits. I couldn't find a study that focused on that, but I'll keep trying.

Here are a couple good articles that describe how important gut flora is:

NY Times: How Microbes Defend and Define Us (DTape sent me this link. It's packed with info.)

Science Mag: Using Gut Bacteria to Fight Diarrhea (This describes some impressive progress on the above work)

When I consider the above, and then consider the likely effects Chlorine or Iodine have on gut flora, I have to conclude it's best to avoid them.

We know that water can contain some bugs that are bad for us, but as far as I can tell no one has ever looked for bugs that might be good for us. It's pretty near impossible for me to conclude there are none.

Originally Posted By aimless
Aimless - I WAS a very long way from a large population center...

When I am in the high Wallowas and there's not much above me but snowfields or else there's a nice spring bubbling up, I'll sometimes drink wild water straight, no chaser, even if I have a filter sitting in my pack. The risk in a place like that is vanishingly small. Besides, it tastes sooooo good!

(I guess that means I lied when I said I "always" used my filter.)


I plan trips around water sources, and have for years. Drinking good, pure, wild water is one of the pleasures in life I enjoy and appreciate most. The water here in the Ozarks is one of the main reasons I moved here.

This year has been especially remarkable. We've had huge floods in `08 and `11, and lot of hard downpours this and the years in between those. This has really flushed system, so to speak, and has resulted in visibility in our local lakes up to 50 ft. at times this year.

I know this is not an option for everyone all the time, but it's worth the effort to learn the skills of identifying good water, doing some research on locating sources, and experience bending over a cool running pristine stream or spring and drinking from it. There are probably few things in life you could do that would be better for you. Maybe someday our medical industry will study the effects of that.

_________________________
--

"You want to go where?"



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#179512 - 08/29/13 02:48 PM Re: Water treatment [Re: Jimshaw]
billstephenson Offline
Moderator

Registered: 02/07/07
Posts: 3865
Loc: Ozark Mountains in SW Missouri
Quote:
In short, I am exposed to everything on the ground in my dog yard via my dogs appreciative kisses
. Am I healthy? Yes very.


Jim, they're contributing to your immune system too, no doubt about it. I've read that kids that grow up with cats and dogs, and those that play outside, have fewer allergies and healthier immune systems. Makes sense to me...
_________________________
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"You want to go where?"



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#179555 - 09/02/13 08:14 AM Re: backflushing Sawyer Squeeze filter [Re: finallyME]
topshot Offline
member

Registered: 04/28/09
Posts: 241
Loc: Midwest
Originally Posted By finallyME
The first trip I took this year, I didn't take the syringe to backflush, and it was blocked....really sucked. I carry the syringe every time now.
Depending on what else you may carry, the syringe isn't necessary. If you have the version with the nipple, you could connect a tube to a bladder to backflush.

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