View Full Version : Bleach vs. Chlorine Dioxide

04-22-2003, 10:44
I just wanted to get input from people who have done some research on bleach vs. aquamira (chlorine-dioxide) for water treatment. I frequently see people saying they used bleach and I was one of them. After some research I don't think I will be a bleach-drinker anymore:

Bleach comes diluted and aqua-mira is not. Therefore for every drop of aquamira (from the bottle containing chlorine) you would need to use about 40 drops of bleach for equal water purification. Needless to say the taste of the bleach at these levels would be undrinkable.

Bleach makes harmful by-products that the chlorine-dioxide does not.

chloine dioxide reacts with the water much faster than bleach. Since you already have to wait 20-minutes for the aquamira to work, bleach would be so long I don't know if I could wait.

So you can see what my choice is going to be. I hope others can offer more insight on the matter. Thanks for your input.

04-22-2003, 12:25
I have not used bleach for purification though I would consider it. in 2000 i took a course put on the AMC about thru-hiking. 2 former thrus hired by the AMC and their gusts gave us some good insight. Hawk, the main instructor, used bleach. Before he left he went to his town's water board to get the formula they put into the tap water. He then used a ratio to figure out how much chlorine they put in per liter. Then based on bleach's ingredients was able to determine that 2mls/liter (2 drops more or less) was equivalent to what his town fed the population.

BLeach i think is simpler than Aqua Mira. MOre readily available. Much much much cheaper.

04-22-2003, 12:59
I don't think bleach effectively kills, one or more if the critters AquiMira does.

04-22-2003, 16:37
For what it's worth, following is taken from Polar Pure's Water Treatment Fact & Fancy about chlorine disinfectants.:

Ordinary household chlorine bleach (e.g. Clorox, Purex), a 5% solution of sodium hypochlorite, can be sued as a water disinfectant. It is readily obtainable in many parts of the work, but in dilute solution which makes it awkward to use because such a large volume must be carried.

Halazone is an effective water disinfectant but the tablets have a shore shelf life and deteriorate rapidly when warm. They should be discarded after the container has been open for 3 months.

04-22-2003, 16:40
Originally posted by Peaks
but in dilute solution which makes it awkward to use because such a large volume must be carried. You need 2-4 drops per qt. Large volume?!?!

04-22-2003, 17:09
I think what peaks is saying is what I stated earlier - because household bleach is diluted to only 5% bleach, you would need 17 drops of bleach for one drop of the mixed ingredient in Aquamira. Aquamira is not diluted and has one bottle of Chlorine and one bottle of sodium chlorite. Roughly 75% chlorine is in this mix as opposed to 5% for bleach.

04-22-2003, 20:49
Aqua mira is 2% chlorine dioxide (one bottle); the other is 5% food grade phosphoric acid, according to one ad I saw.

Donít know what conclusions Peaks came to but the ad was probably comparing Polar Pure with 5% chlorine bleach. One small bottle of pure treats a small lake and it would take a hundred time the volume of chlorine bleach to do the same job. Of course replenishing your bleach supply shouldnít be a big problem.

1 ml=15.4 drops; 1 teaspoon=76 drops=5 ml. A drops size depends on the orifice from which it is dropped; the figures at left are those used in liquid kitchen measurements. You might see how many drops it takes to make a teaspoonful with your dropper.

I did a bit of online research at one time, but lost all my info about bleach, iodine, etc. If memory serves, neither iodine nor chlorine bleaches were satisfactory treatments for all nasties, though results were sometime contradictory. Water turbidity, pH, cold water temperature could make these treatments even less satisfactory.

I would appreciate any scientific data on chlorine dioxide efficacy. I emailed a federal agency and got a reply that aqua mira was a useful antibacterial agent only. This was several years ago. It seems there should be some study confirming effectiveness against giardia, etc. Chlorine dioxide has a lot of advantages over other chemical treatments. It would be great if this stuff really worked.

About half my hiking life was spent without treating water. Exceptionally dirty water was boiled. I still drink, without treatment, water from some springs, piped springs are my favorite. I have never been sick, but your results could vary. I now filter my water. I used Clorox for a while before that. Seen too many sick people, and too many filthy toilet seats. Not to mention the loose fecal mass dripping into a springÖ

Many gastro-intestinal are probably passed by the fecal to mouth route. Figure out a way to keep your hands clean, and clean them after toilet trips at the very least.

BTW, did the authorities ever determine the source of the Norwalk virus around the Catawba part of the Trail? I think it was them goats.

Ainít life complicated!?

04-23-2003, 09:34
Interesting. I assumed that the Aquamira was not diluted that much. I retract my statement about that. Thanks for all of your insight.

04-23-2003, 10:04
Using chlorine (i.e. Clorox) to treat water can cause the formation of a couple of hazardous byproducts that chlorine dioxide (i.e. Aqua Mira) does not. Specifically, trihalomethanes which are a known cancer causing chlorinated hydrocarbon are produced when bleach reacts with organic matter. Alot of research has been done on this and you can get some facts on the net pretty easily. Remember that when we are taking water form a source on the trail that the amount of organic matter (leaf matter, organic sediment) is alot greater than when we are served pre-filtered water in a community which uses chlorine for water disinfection, so weigh the risk accordingly. The risks of short term chlorine use (or iodine, or no treatment at all) can be debated, but for me, I think $12 for Aqua Mira is worth it, it works more effectively over a wider pH and temp range than other disinfectants, kills crypto and viruses iodine may not, AND it makes your water taste better. I get about a month out of $12 worth of Aqua Mira on the trail.

04-23-2003, 10:20
Taste alone may be a good reason to use Aqua Mira. My brother was hiking in the Wayne National Forest (SE Ohio) using just a filter (PUR Hiker). The water tasted like crap (I think there is too much sulfur and iron in the water). It was so bad he had to force himself to drink it over a 3 day hike.

When he came back from the trip to clean-up (at my house) he still had 1.5 qts left in his bladder. I poured 1qt of it into a Nalgene and treated it with Aqua Mira. The difference was amazing. You could actually drink the water without having to hard swallow.

Now the few springs along the AT that I have drank from (filtered) had a wonderful taste, so I'm not sure how much of an issue this would be along the AT.

BTW, Aqua Mira is only $10 ($9.99) at Galyan's. So, you might be able to find it cheaper online somewhere. Also, look for Pristine (http://pristine.ca/) (same stuff) on Canadian sites. It is available in a larger container (2x the size of Aqua Mira) for only 50% more at retail prices. Given that the shelf life (and current conversion rate) of Aqua Mira is quite long, you might be able to buy in "bulk" now.

www.mec.ca (http://www.mec.ca/Products/product_detail.jsp?FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=584189&PRODUCT%3C%3Eprd_id=17633&bmUID=1051107639593) has the larger size listed at $14 USD. Of course, it is on backorder.:mad: It looks like you must bring along your own mixing cup if you buy the larger size. But if you have an empty Aqua Mira kit laying around you could just bring its cup.

04-23-2003, 11:13
These folks (http://www.southsummit.com/Pristine%20Purification%20Page.htm) sell the larger Pristine for $20.

05-20-2003, 23:31
Municipalities generally DO NOT use Chlorine as a purification method for their water. They filter the water first, then use chlorine as a stabilizer to keep the water clean in storage and transport. It is FAR easier to supress bacteria and protozoan growth in already clean water than it is to kill those cooties once established. The chlorine they are using is also not household bleach.

So using municipal use of chlorine as a model for trail use is not really appropriate.

05-20-2003, 23:39
I use pure chlorine at work to eliminate fecal coliform residuals in waste water before sending it to the river.

On the trail, I pre-filter with coffee filters, and then treat with chlorine-dioxide (aquamira). It's a lightweight and effective means to purifying water.