Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Guest Post: the Potable Aqua Pure Portable Electrolytic Water Purifier Device

by Gwen Patton

There are hundreds of gadgets, devices, and chemical additives on the market today intended to disinfect or clean drinking water. Most gadgets are complicated and difficult to use; filters require special hoses, pumps, replacement filter media, and usually require cleaning or backflushing, while chemical additives like halazone, iodine, and bleach have hazards, limited lifespans, and special storage needs to keep them fresh and to prevent children from getting into them.

Ideally, you want an effective water treatment that doesn’t require special storage, isn’t poisonous in case your kid gets into it, and will be cost-effective and available for years. I believe I’ve found that very solution with the Potable Aqua Pure Electrolytic Water Purifier (just "Pure" for short). It comes with a manual, a quick-start guide, a container with 25 chlorine test strips, a power brick and USB cable, a 1-oz squeeze bottle, a wrist lanyard, and the electrolytic device itself. You supply salt, water for the brine bottle, the water you want to sanitize, and the container to sanitize it in. (I used a one liter Nalgene bottle.) The instructions are very complete, and there are videos available as well.

How It Works
The Pure is a small device about the size of a candy bar. It has a long-life lithium battery for power that can be charged by any USB power source or by putting it in the sun with its built-in solar panel exposed. It works by electrolytically splitting table salt ions into a mixture of chlorine and oxygen compounds that are the same chemicals used by municipalities to treat tap water. It will make enough doses for 150 liters of water on a single charge, and the battery should last for over 60,000 doses until it ceases to hold a charge. It charges on USB power in a few hours, and an hour of sun on the internal solar panel will make two doses.

The device has two storage cells in the top, protected by silicone covers. You fill these with table salt, Kosher salt, or even rock salt, so long as it’s sodium chloride. Included is a 1 ounce squeeze bottle, to which you add the contents of one salt cell and then fill with any water, even the water you want to treat, and then shake to dissolve the salt.

On the front between the salt storage cells is a narrow compartment protected by another silicone cover. You open that, drip in about 50 drops of your salt solution, then press a button on the front to cycle through how many liters of water you want to treat at one time. This can be between 1 and 20 liters, though you’ll have to do a second cycle to treat that much. You can treat up to 10 liters at a time per dose.

You hold the button for 2 seconds to start the process. The solution in the electrolizing compartment fizzes for a while, then the lights go out. You carefully pour the solution in this compartment into your container of water you want to treat, shake it up, and close it.

There are other instructions, based on how dirty the water is, and what microorganisms you’re trying to kill, because some conditions (such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium ) require a stronger dose and some require a test stage after 10 minutes to make sure you have enough chlorine in the solution. All treatment requires the water to sit for 30 minutes for the disinfection to complete, except for Cryptosporidium which requires 4 hours of sitting, as those cysts are very hard to reliably kill. There are other conditions in the user guide that say what to do if the water is really dirty or cloudy, but the most common solution is to run the water through a simple pre-filter, like a coffee filter or a clean t-shirt, to get particulates out.

Another side use of this device is to make a strong dose of the disinfectant solution, but to add it to a smaller quantity of water to make a sanitizing solution. You can use this to clean surfaces, disinfect dishes, and to clean wounds in an emergency. It doesn’t make the same compound as what is found in laundry bleach, but it is a bleach, and it can sanitize like one.

Test & Evaluation
I tested this device on my home tap water by running the 10 minute chlorine test, though for this use I didn’t have to, and it showed there was plenty of chlorine in the water. I let it finish the half hour cycle, opened it and sniffed. I could barely detect a hint of pool chlorine smell. I poured a little into a glass and tasted it, and  I could detect no chemical flavor at all. I left the bottle open for 5 minutes and sniffed again, and detected no chlorine odor. I filled the glass and drank it, and I believe it actually tasted better than the water fresh from the tap. I had my wife Maggie taste it as well, and she made the same observation. Of course, I don’t have laboratory facilities to test the water before and after to show it working, but it certainly tasted perfectly fine and I felt no unpleasant side effects.

My Rating: 5 Stars
To recap:
  • We have a very small device with an extremely long lifespan. 
  • It uses a very common and easily acquired substance to electrically make a sanitizing solution of variable and controllable strength. 
  • It can kill or deactivate 99.99% of all usual biological water contaminants in ½ to 4 hours. 
  • It is not a filter, so it does not remove particulates or dissolved materials,  dirt, toxic chemicals, or heavy metals. To remove those would require very powerful filters or even distilling. 
The Potable Aqua Pure Electrolytic Water Purifier is an excellent addition to any disaster response gear you might wish to have. It costs $115 from Amazon, and might be found for less at your local camping store.

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