Craft & Design
SteriPEN portable water purifier

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The SteriPEN looks pretty clever, you pre-filter the water, then dip a UV light in to kill the bugs – $150-ish and it can do over 140 16 ounce water treatments – “SteriPEN is the only portable water purifier that uses ultraviolet (UV) light to destroy waterborne microbes. Whether your source is a woodland brook or an overseas hotel tap, SteriPEN sterilizes clear water by destroying viruses, bacteria and protozoa–including Giardia and Cryptosporidium–in seconds. Carry a SteriPEN to disinfect water wherever you travel, hike, camp or trek. It’s the fastest route to pure, safe drinking water anywhere….SteriPEN has been shown to destroy in excess of 99.9999% of bacteria, 99.99% of viruses and 99.9% protozoa” [via] – Link.

18 thoughts on “SteriPEN portable water purifier

  1. “SteriPEN has been shown to destroy in excess of 99.9999% of bacteria, 99.99% of viruses and 99.9% protozoa”

    Then I ain’t buying it… You’ll see that when I buy it I get ill and all the other buyers won’t. I’ll pass on that one….

    – Unomi –

    1. Top grade purified bottled water is purified the exact same way to the same 99.99-whatever% purity. The only way to be sure you won’t get sick is to never drink any fluids ever again.

  2. The site is very sparse on anything beyond the exact front page. No list to their clinical tests or anything else. I love the idea – could prove to be very helpful for developing nations, but still not very informative.

    1. UV sterilization isn’t new or unique to this product. Most companies that purify water for bottling use UV to sterilize the water and many municipal water systems are abandoning chlorination and switching to UV systems. There is plenty of studies and literature out there about it.

  3. Took one of these with me to India last year — my girlfriend, myself, my best friend and his fiancee were the only people in a group of 20 that didn’t get sick from the water while travelling. Amazing tool, rock solid design in terms of ease of use and compactness. Compared it to a pile of filters from Katadyn and MSR before buying (I have several others for camping) and it is perfect for travellers where your biggest problem is bugs… won’t help you with sediment, solids or disolved chemicals, but if you are in a place where you can get clear filtered water you just don’t trust it is free of creepy crawlies then this is for you! (NiMH batteries are a MUST with it though.)

    –Neil

  4. Neil,

    Is the light generated by LEDs or a UV tube? I’m thinking one of these could be made way cheaper if LEDs are used. Going rate for a UV LED is around 10 cents each.

    Just wondering what justifies the $150 price tag when UV fluorescent bulbs are only a couple bucks too.

    Russ

  5. gravy and boatbuilder – it’s not an ad, i thought a cheap(ish) water purifier that uses a UV bulb looked handy/cool – we cover all sorts of tools and gadgets, this is one of them. it’s not going to be in MAKE 07, no one got paid – please see the other comments. seems like some folks have used it and/or are thinking about how to make a DIY version (that was kinda the point).

  6. I would agree that this posting is more about an interesting product than anything else, so might not belong on the Make blog.

    That said, I have been interested in hacking up a version. I suspect that it uses an mercury vapor discharge lamp. It has to create short wave UV to kill bugs. The “glass” outer envelope must be quartz for the same reason. You would need a good inverter to convert the low battery voltage to the high voltage required to run the mercury discharge tube.

    By the way, UV LEDs do not operate at a short enough wavelength to kill nasty bugs. There are some R&D LEDs that are getting down to the right wavelengths, but garden variety UV LEDs are no good for this task.

    Finally, what stops me from even trying to hack a homebrew steripen would be the difficulty of testing the darn thing to see if it was effective.

    Gardia is a nasty illness

  7. asailer – the point was to have folks think/talk about diy versions and other water solutions… and you just did :)

  8. I find this thing to be pretty scary. Yes, you can use UV light to kill bacteria etc, it’s very effective but it takes a while to work. The way its works is by causing serious DNA damage, in a manner similar to sun exposure causing skin cancer. We have better DNA repair than bacteria but UV still hurts us too. I don’t think that nalgene bottles will effetively block the UV rays and you can actually burn your eyes by looking into germicidal UV lights. In a lab setting UV lights are used to decontaminate confined areas behind protective glass, our bulb won’t even turn on without the glass shield being fully closed. Scary.

  9. i’m sorry, this looks like a neat toy, but i don’t think that i would trust it! why risk dysentary?

    a little chlorine or iodine does wonders, and you can get either for very cheap. that way i don’t have to wory about how long to hold it in for the whole bottle to get treated, chlorine and iodine are very soluable in water and very deadly to bacteria. sure it tastes funny, but after a few sips you get used to it.

    i’m just not willing to sacrafice practicallity for coolness.

    1. To me, waiting a minute for a UV light to kill everything in the water is a lot more practical than counting drops of bleach or dealing with little tablets and then drinking chemicals that aren’t exactly healthy to be drinking. UV sterilization has been around a long time, bottled water companies and municipal water systems use it in many places, it’s not risky cutting edge technology. Although I would keep some tablets handy anyway since it is electronic.

  10. As a SteriPEN employee, I’d like to add a couple of points of clarification. First, Iodine won’t kill Cryptosporidium which is common and nasty. Chlorine takes 4 hours to do it (although there are conflicting results). SteriPEN zaps this protozoa, as well as bacteria and viruses in 48 seconds in 1/2 liter or 90 seconds in 1 liter.

    Next, SteriPEN uses a very specific wavelength of UV light (254nm). Like an opera singer who can break glass using a specific note, SteriPEN damages DNA with this precise wavelength.

    This wavelength of UV light will not pass through Nalgene bottles, glass etc. That is why the bulbs and their protective sleeves have to be made of lab quality quartz. As an additional safety feature, SteriPEN has water sensing pins to insure that the bulbs will not turn on until the lamp is safely submerged in water. We test 100% of the pens by serial number before they leave the factory to insure that the lamps are working correctly.

    NiMH rechargeable or lithium batteries are recommended for use in all SteriPEN products.

    Finally, SteriPEN sells for $99.95 at retail as opposed to $150.00. Because there are no filters or chemicals to replace, this makes SteriPEN not only effective, easy to use and light, but the lowest cost per gallon personal water treatment system.

  11. the best way to have pure and tasty drinking water is to have a glass of water from a quality water filter. In U.S.A., Aquasana is the leading name in water filters. The water filters of Aquasana have been found to be effective in all conditions. The Aquasana water filters are good in performance; it can remove COPEPODS, chlorine, lead, VOCs, THMs, Crypto, MTBE and over 100 common tap water contaminants. It only allows the essential minerals to pass through water. Aquasana products are of highest quality and the products come with lifetime warranty. Products like AQ-4000 Dual-Filter Drinking water system have made its name in the market. It is considered as one of the safest water filter because of its ability to remove turbidity and 99.99% of cryptosporidium and Giarida.

  12. Steripen is very necessary when travelling in India. I found a company that deals in these gadgets. they have a website called northstonehealthcare.com. Thought I would share it with anyone whos looking for that here in India

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