Review by George Granlund
PUR markets its latest water-purification product as a “mini water treatment plant in a packet.” Indeed, the PUR Purifier of Water employs the exact chemical process as used in many municipal water-treatment plants around the Western world.
Developed more than a decade ago by Proctor & Gamble, and used in municipal as well as humanitarian applications, the process introduces iron sulfate and calcium hypochlorite in a powder form to water tainted with sediments and microorganisms. Unlike iodine or other typical treatments used in the outdoors, the P&G process pulls all the gunk in water together, coagulating nasties including cysts, microbes, viruses and bacteria into clumps you can then filter out.
As a two-step process, calcium hypochlorite, a bleaching agent, kicks in after the initial coagulation to kill off any remaining gastrointestinal disrupters. The final result is water that’s 99.99 percent pure, according to data from PUR parent company Reliance Products, which needed U.S. Environmental Protection Agency approval before introducing the chemically-potent product to the consumer market earlier this year.
Scott Mitchell, a spokesman for Reliance, explains the iron sulfate coagulation process by referring to the chemical reaction as a “dirt magnet.” “It reacts in the water and pulls everything in suspension together in clumps,” he said.
During the cleaning process, I watched the clock for timed waits while chemical reactions triggered. Slowly, the brown water began to turn clear, with sediment clumping together in a disgusting reddish mass at the bottom of the container.
Filtering the flocculent — the technical term PUR uses to describe the clumped putridity — was slow. I worked with a friend near our campfire for 20 minutes, pouring the water through a cloth that kept clogging up. The cotton caught the flocculent fine, though it allowed only a small stream of clean water through its tight fabric weave and into the vessel below. Note- a looser weave cotton such as a t-shirt presented no problem in filtering.
The PUR method yielded water that was indeed quite clean. In front of my eyes, the final product transformed from a container of gloppy river water into a gallon of sparkling, crisp H2O that seemed siphoned from a spring.
PUR (www.purpurifierofwater.com) sells two Purifier of Water products, including the kit as well as a package that has chemicals for six treatments and a cotton filter cloth, though no containers.
Compared to hauling gallons of water in your kayak or canoe Purifier of Water is a superior way to clean large quantities of suspect liquid. The chemical reaction in dirty water was amazing to watch, and the mix-and-stir process is easy to follow and manageable if you have a half-hour or so to work with your water in camp.
Compared to pumps and other traditional chemical treatments like iodine, PUR’s system is purportedly the most thorough. There is almost no smell or chemical aftertaste, just hydrogen and oxygen mixed and pure, sloshing, swirling and ready to drink in a bucket below.
I tested the product in both the tannin-tainted Manistee River and the chocolate brown and “cow flop” tainted Missouri River. In both instances, the powder clarified and purified the water and it tasted great. The advantage for Cathy and I on the Missouri River was that we did not have to carry over 125 pounds of water for the weeklong trip. We carried only one partially-filled four gallon container and an empty bucket to dip the water. With that, we had more than enough drinking and cooking water. PUR sells a “kit” with collapsible containers but testimonials said that those smaller mouthed containers were a weak link in the system. We simply bought ten of the packets, a cheap bucket, and some cut up t-shirts for final filtering. If you travel where you need to carry your drinking water and don't want the weight, this product is the answer to your prayers.