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Mike_G

Boiling Snowmelt to make it potable?

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When melting snow or ice for drinking water, how many of you also boil it to kill microorganisms? How necessary is this, because it takes at least twice as much fuel to raise water from 0 to 100 degC as it does to melt the snow or ice in the first place (depending on the snow or ice temperature)?

 

I'm assuming, of course, that you're not carrying a filter. I'm also assuming that you're actually interested in treating water for common disease-causing microorganisms to a reasonably safe level (as opposed to folks who just sip from the creek like Grizzly Adams did).

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I personally believe boiling clean snow is completely unnecessary so I never boil snow unless I am using it to make coffee or something hot.

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Think again if you are melting snow at Camp Muir or someplace where lots of people have been camped. I know people who have become very sick from melted snow.

 

 

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My advice is to not waste your fuel (and time) boiling snowmelted water and to not camp at Muir.

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water is for pussies.

you don't need to melt snow if you just bring a case of pbr and drink that for hydration...unless there was beer in the form of snowflakes and then you could melt it. but that doesn't make sense.

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north side of baker can be filthy with poop also. Only place that I ever got sick drinking water without treatment.

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I forget which web site I read it on, but one of the coolest TRs ever was written by this dude who climbed a wall in Yosemite without water. They did the whole climb consuming cheap beer and Vienna sausages.

 

Of course they had their own stupendous problems with poop later. ;)

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A good friend of mine was in special forces, and he told me about a class on water quality that was given to him by some doctor that they brought in. The doctor had personally done some water quality experiements, and said that they had taken the most disgusting, sludge filled water and boiled it for 30 seconds. Afterwards, they couldn't find any live organisms. So screw that "boil for 10 minutes" rule that I keep hearing about.

 

Personally, I usually don't boil snowmelt because I usually take the top layer of snow which I figure is relatively pure. I've never had a problem.

 

I read in a magazine somewhere that roughly 60% of us are already carriers of giardia, and while not having immunity, will not likely feel any significant effects from an exposure to the bacteria. Roughly 20% of the remainder population will have minor symptoms, such as mild diarrhea and stomach pain, etc. The other 20% will suffer. I don't know how accurate this is, it was just one article. I've never had it, and I drink from streams and melted snow without purifying or boiling about half the time.

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...from an exposure to the bacteria.

 

Giardia is a protozoan.

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Boiling snow in most places is not necessary. At least I don't. But I grew up drinking from cesspools all over the west.

At Muir and 14K Denali etc, I am very careful to get clean snow and will walk a long ways to do so with a large sack for carrying it in.

 

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Haven't you heard? Bacteria and viruses don't cause disease (at least according to the folk for Natural Hygiene.)

 

"Natural Hygiene is teaching us that viruses and bacteria never cause disease (virus H5N1 does not cause Aviar Influenza, just like HIV does not cause AIDS!). Hygienists see clearly that disease is not contagious, like health as well."

-From INHS website

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I typically do not boil snow melt water. I, like others getting fresh clean snow is the best practice. That said after a winter climb of Broken Top I got Giardia from likelihood snow melt water. That was not fun.

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Shit happens. Hell at my house I boil water and then run it through a ceramic filter I still manage to get sick. When I was up in Mt. Kenya, I didn't boil or filter my water there and I came back with a clean bill of health.

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Giardia is not nearly such a problem as many people think.

 

This link is a great read on the topic:

http://www.yosemite.org/naturenotes/giardia.htm

 

Highlights:

- You are far more likely to get it from poor personal hygene (your partner reaching a dirty hand into your food bag) than from water.

- Giardia is present in many water samples. Good news: the # of cysts are typically very low and will not cause you health problems.

 

There's lots of money being made by those who sell water filters. These businesses have an economic interest in fostering fear of backcountry water. I feel that's why reports like this have not been printed in the mainstream outdoors press.

 

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