Water Purification Tablets

#1 Apr 21st, 2009, 01:02
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#1
We will not be in many rural areas and will have a car and driver at all times when we are. Should we consider bringing water purification tablets in case we can not get reliable bottled drinking water or is that being overly cautious?
#2 Apr 21st, 2009, 02:28
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We will not be in many rural areas and will have a car and driver at all times when we are.
You will be able to get bottled water then.

But, better tell us where, just to be sure

(a pack of tablets is a very small thing to carry just in case, but they do take a few hours to work)
#3 Apr 21st, 2009, 03:53
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#3
Since you'll have a car and driver, I'd just stock up at a reputable source and carry the bottles along. Your post brought to mind the scene in Slumdog where the staff in the kitchen is re-filling water bottles from the tap; that part wasn't as scary as the guy with the glue sealing the bottles to appear as though they'd never been opened. I could tell the Indiaphiles in the theater by the groan they/we all let out when we saw that scene.
#4 Apr 23rd, 2009, 23:58
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I don't trust bottled water after what happened to me last summer - my husband and I ate lunch at a restaurant in Kathmandu and drank bottled water - the bottle was sealed with the plastic wrap, no problems... that night on the news there was an expose that bottles of the same brand of water we had been drinking had insects in them - they showed a sealed bottle with mosquitoes in it... If they are not filtering out the big bugs then you can assume they aren't filtering out the small ones....

The next morning I was dead - couldn't move, vomiting and diarrhea, couldn't even keep water down for a while... My husband(the Nepali with the iron stomach) was not affected - I begged him to run to the pharmacy for Cipro and ORS(Jeevan Jal), didn't really feel strong enough to walk around for 3 days. Of course it could have been something else that made me sick but after seeing that news report I think it had to be the water. My plan is to use iodine and coffee filters this time(iodine alone will not kill all protozoa), as well as drink boiled water, Coke or tea in restaurants.

Does anyone know if iodine tablets are readily available in Nepal? They are so expensive here and would rather buy them over there, or use liquid iodine - good to have on hand for cuts anyway.
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#5 Apr 26th, 2009, 23:46
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#5
I brought chlorine tablets and neutralising tablets on my last visit, and used them to purify tap water as an alternative to bottles on some occasions. I've read rather contradictory advice on chlorine and iodine tablets, to be honest I'm not sure which is better. Anyway, I had no problems using them (chlorine works in 10 minutes). With the neutralising tablets, the water tasted OK, actually it wasn't too bad even without them.

After Giripriya's story, it may be that purified tap water is rather safer than bottled water!

Also all those plastic bottles are not very environmentally friendly. :-)
#6 Apr 26th, 2009, 23:57
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Giripriya's story sounds suspiciously just like my experience in Varanasi a year ago. I thought it was a sealed bottle of mineral water, but... a few hours later... falling off the toilet and into semi-unconsciousness, vomiting and diarrhoea; the illness struck my husband about half an hour later with the exact same symptoms. We nursed each other as best we could but were extremely ill for several days. Self-administered Cipro helped. But upon returning home I visited the doctor for his opinion and he prescribed another five days of Cipro plus rehydration salts.

Now I still drink mineral water but fastidiously examine the bottles. Just back from India without any illnesses this time around.

About the water purification tablets: I have been carrying them around with me for emergencies but never actually used them. As Nick says, they don't take up much space in your bag and they are still good even after many years.

About mineral water: as well as checking the seal, be sure to check the Sell-By date.
#7 Apr 26th, 2009, 23:58
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Reminds me of the scene in Slumdog Millionaire where they're gluing the seal on the bottle cap back together.
#8 Apr 27th, 2009, 11:00
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Originally Posted by giripriya View Post Does anyone know if iodine tablets are readily available in Nepal? They are so expensive here and would rather buy them over there, or use liquid iodine - good to have on hand for cuts anyway.
You can use liquid iodine: 10 drops per liter of water. Shake it and then let it sit for an hour. Tastes terrible, but it got me through Afghanistan, India and Nepal before bottled water was available.

I did, however, get food poisoning in kathmandu; that was terrible. You have my sympathy.
The map is not the territory. --Alfred Korzybski
#9 Apr 29th, 2009, 19:05
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I don't know if it is available where you are but I used a Katadyn water bottle filter the last time I was in India. Basically it's a water bottle with a filter in it. According to the Katadyn website: "Just fill the bottle and drink – without pumping. The 3-phase water filter eliminates bacteria, protozoa, viruses and improves taste. The only EPA-registered Purifier."
I never had any problems with my stomach and what's really nice about this system is there is no strange after taste, plus no messing around with tablets.

www.katadyn.ch
#10 May 1st, 2009, 18:27
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Having done a lot of trekking, i'd recommend a device called Steripen. It's expensive but kills everything in the water (hard UV-C radiation). Treatment takes about a minute and you can drink it right away, no chemicals, no difference in taste. ( www.steripen.com ). The katadyn is also very good.

Be careful with bottled water, as others said, the bottles are frequently refilled. Whenever I finish a bottle I punch a hole in it with my pocket knife before throwing it away.
#11 May 1st, 2009, 21:17
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Punching a hole in the bottle is a brilliant idea. I'm less impressed with the Steripen, since previous reviews indicate that it does not work well in extremely hot and humid climates; of course, for trekking in the Himalayas, this could be the answer. Google "steripen reviews" for more info.
#12 May 1st, 2009, 22:29
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Originally Posted by arkyelephantlover View Post We will not be in many rural areas and will have a car and driver at all times when we are. Should we consider bringing water purification tablets in case we can not get reliable bottled drinking water or is that being overly cautious?
I think for your purposes it's absolutely unnecessary.

I brought water purification tablets once; as I've described before, the only situation where I felt I needed them was where having a bottle of water was so exotic that the locals would drink it all before I'd get half a chance. (You can hardly refuse them a drink when asked for, can you. Now try to explain to them that particular bottle of water is Really Important and Just For You -- in a language you don't share.)

The tablets are light-weight btw; but also expensive. And under the described circumstances, they run out very quickly.

I think it's normally (trekking on your own or otherwise going way out to nowhere it becomes a very different ballgame of course) safe to assume the locals will be drinking water that has been somehow made fit for consumption, so there's really not much harm in it. There seems to be this idea that Indians will somehow be immune to any of the serious diseases involved; I don't believe in that, and again people will take measures to prevent themselves from getting them. (I'm not talking about sharing some slum dweller's drink from the local well or sewer of course, or even drinking tap water anywhere just like that, without enquiring first at least. Just use your common sense.)

However: Kindly don't quote me on that, I'm not responsible for anyone's intestinal problems. More generally, these days you have to do your best indeed to get anywhere in India without a supply of bottled water. Or soft drinks. Or thoroughly boiled tea (or milk, or coffee, or whatever), for that matter. (Or again: Boiled water at least, if not filtered or chlorinated or iodized. Those locals aren't crazy, and they're alive still for a reason.)

Footprint's '09 guide btw features the handy advice to simply ask for "filter paani" (filtered water, in Hindi; may not work so well in non-Hindi speaking areas) when unsure. I haven't tried it much, and/but wasn't under the impression this is widely understood; however, you can just ask for "plain paani" (handy since many will be under the assumption you're otherwise asking for mineral water), which will be readily understood, and should normally result in something non-lethal, certainly not the dish water. Except for areas where water isn't called paani, again (I generally found in such areas English may function more as the lingua franca, so just "plain water" may lead to good results.)
Last edited by machadinha; May 2nd, 2009 at 07:15..
#13 May 1st, 2009, 22:46
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nb On that water business (I should do a separate post on it one of these days I guess -- dread the no doubt endless yes and no's on what to drink though), mineral water (however mineral it may really be) goes for something like 10-15 Rs. a liter, perhaps 8 if you're lucky.

There are however sachets of water on sale (and widely so, usually at any place where you might buy a bottle of water or soft drinks etc.), known as "paani ki pouch" (a pouch of water. A bottle would then be "paani ki batli.") These cost 1 Rupee for 250 ml. (the retail price is printed on them); in other words, you can get a liter of water this way for 4 Rs.

I found them sometimes noticeably less tasty than the bottled water; on the other hand and for those who worry about it, they'd be extremely hard to tamper with you'd think. (They're stamped and printed by the manufacturer and whatnot.)

(btw The way to drink them is bite off a corner, then not tilt your head, but hold them to your mouth in one hand and gently squeeze up the water into your mouth. With a little practice, this is fairly non-messy.)
#14 May 1st, 2009, 22:50
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Mach, did you already get the Indian knack of drinking water out of a bottle without touching the bottle to your lips? When I have tried it I take an inadvertent shower. Not very elegant. (Cooling though in the heat.) If you are not afraid of ridicule - who is? - then it is really good fun to practice during boring journeys.
#15 May 1st, 2009, 23:06
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#15
Heheh, good question. No, I never did. My way to (hopefully) somewhat elegantly resolve the situation is to put the bottle to my mouth alright, but not quite squeeze my lips around it. Works out messily enough in itself; you're going by a mouthful at a time here, something I'm really not used to. I just hope that it gives off some signal that you're trying; people didn't seem too adverse to using the bottle afterwards, and I think they really do understand that a) you can't and b) at least you try, and anyway I found most of such taboos are really quickly fading, probably lingering on for generations to come more as a matter of usage, not of taboos as such.

With my knack for Spanish travel I hope to master the art of using the bota (wine sack) some time soon; hopefully this should be a good introduction
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