MSR Miox Purifier

We've said it before, and we'll say it again -- pumping water ranks right up there with changing the cat litter. It's a chore we'd prefer to skip altogether. So we applaud attempts to create water-treatment devices that cut out the cranking. MSR's new and very compact, very lightweight Miox Purifier represents a step forward in pump-free purification.

We've said it before, and we'll say it again -- pumping water ranks right up there with changing the cat litter. It's a chore we'd prefer to skip altogether. So we applaud attempts to create water-treatment devices that cut out the cranking. MSR's new and very compact, very lightweight Miox Purifier represents a step forward in pump-free purification.

About the size of a Maglite, and weighing 3.5 ounces, the battery-powered Miox sends an electrical charge through salt water to create a chlorine-like solution that is stong enough to kill nasties like E. coli, giardia, cryptosporidium and anthrax. We found this to be a clever, somewhat convenient system, especially when treating larger volumes of water, and a viable alternative to traditional chemical treatments such as super chlorination and iodine tablets or solutions.

While the Miox is not overly complicated, it does require a multi-step process. First, you place a small amount of salt in a small chamber at the top of the unit, then pour a quarter teaspoon of water into another chamber below. After tilting the purifier a few times to mix the salt and water, you push a button on the side, which activates the unit so electricity can change the salt and water into a mixed-oxidant solution. (You can press the button multiple times to purify larger volumes, up to 4 liters. Very cool.)

You have to keep an eye on a set of lights on the unit to ensure that your salt/water mixture is adequate for purification. Different combinations of red and green constant and blinking lights indicate whether the solution is too strong, too weak, too salty, whether the batteries are dead, or the batteries are just running low….Anyway, the instructions include a chart to sort it all out, but ever since we had to memorize the Periodic Table, we hate charts, so this is a drag.

For steps 5 and 6, you pour the solution into a water container and shake it up. At step 7, you dip a test strip into the water, and if it turns purple, congratulations! You are, indeed, pregnant! No, wait, wrong test. OK, the strips determine whether the water has been adequately treated. If the colors are correct, in about 20 minutes the water will be safe to drink. Frankly, we began to feel like junior chemists at this point.

Practice these procedures a few times and you get the hang of it. But still, this is an involved process. The greatest benefit is that this product delivers the highest level of treatment, including protection from cryptosporidium. (Note that water contaminated with cryptosporidium requires a four-hour wait.) We also like that, unlike other chemical treatment alternatives, the Miox has no expiration date, and as long as salt is available the unit is ready to purify water, time after time after time. Another benefit is that the treatment does not alter the taste of the water like direct applications of chlorine and iodine do -- although those with sensitive taste buds will likely still notice a chlorinated flavor. Also, the pouring, stirring, mixing and test-stripping seem worth it when you're purifying four gallons, less so when doing a single bottle of water.

Obviously, one drawback is that you still need to filter the water to remove particulate matter (we expect MSR to come out with a very small and simple filter before too long to address this need). Plus, the unit runs on a 3-volt photo battery, and we always caution that people make contingency plans for electronic devices- -- especially when it's a matter of health.

We're still waiting to discover the holy grail of water purifiers, but with this product, MSR has added something new and innovative to the mix that comes closer than any before to achieving perfection.

SNEWS Rating: 4 hands clapping (1 to 5 hands clapping possible, with 5 clapping hands representing functional and design perfection)

Suggested Retail: $129.95

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