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SOL Water Project: An Innovative Concept For Clean Drinking Water

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drinking water

Anyone who has traveled somewhere without clean drinking water understands the struggle of finding the perfect water sterilization product. There’s a wide variety available, ranging from UV sterilization pens to chemical tablets to straw filters, each with their own list of pros and cons. Many are expensive, bulky or unsafe for long-term use.

drinking water
Image courtesy of Tortoise Gear

Backpacker and survivalist Eric McCormick, well aware of these challenges, decided to create a new product, one that used the UV technology of other products but was both environmentally responsible and economical. The result was the SOL Water Bag, which is both a filter and storage unit, and can be used alone or in combination with other filter products to ensure better water quality.

Eric, who is currently using Kickstarter as a way to fund the creation of the new bags, answered a few questions about what I think could be the next must-have backpacking item.

When did you begin working on the SOL Water Bags? What was the inspiration behind the product?
We began working on our project two years ago after becoming annoyed with all of the setup, work, price and weight required to purify water while backpacking. We didn’t want to use chemicals and we wanted something that wouldn’t require batteries to operate. Prior to this, we had two different top name brand water filters crack or split without warning. There had been no abuse to the filters, just normal use. We discovered later that we were actually drinking straight unfiltered water. With this we realized that no water treatment method is perfect and we wanted to add to the arsenal against waterborne pathogens.

One day while camping with a friend he pulled out a UV sterilizer pen and that’s when the idea for the SOL Water bag was born. Would this work with the UV power of the sun?

In simple, non-scientific terms, how does the SOL Water bag work?
The SOL Water bag works by using three different mechanism. The primary microbe killing mechanism of the bag is its ability to collect and concentrate ultraviolet light from the sun. The UV light slices through organisms and destroys their cell membranes and DNA.

Second, when UV rays strike dissolved oxygen molecules in the water, natural free radicals are created that tear apart microorganisms.

Third, UV energy trapped in the bag creates heat. This heat creates a pasteurization effect on the microorganisms. In this triple kill environment microbes don’t stand a chance.

drinking water
Image courtesy of Tortoise Gear

What can’t the SOL Water bag do? When is it non-effective?
The SOL Water bag is a water collection, treatment, and storage device in one. Simply scoop water out of a lake or stream, lay it in the sun for the appropriate amount of time, and its drinkable. With adjusted treatment times, the SOL Water bag is effective even if the sky is light but 100% overcast. The SOL Water bag is effective even with cloudy water. The large front SOL logo is a built in cloudiness meter. If the water is too cloudy to work properly you won’t be able to see the rays on the SOL logo and you’ll have to let some water out or let it settle first.

If it is dark overcast outside or raining, the SOL Water bag will not be able to collect enough UV energy to be effective. With extreme latitudes in winter time, the SOL Water bag won’t be able to gather enough light to be effective.

It’s mentioned that the SOL Water bag can be used to improve other products. What are some examples of this and what would you recommend also traveling with?
Because the SOL Water bag is actually a container and treatment device, it can be used easily with other water treatment methods. In fact, the SOL Water bag can be used in conjunction with other treatment methods to make them more effective.

Water Filters: Filters can take out larger micro organisms, but they don’t remove viruses because they are too small. Even the best backpacker filter can’t filter out the smallest viruses. A little time in the sun will kill the smaller organisms in the bag quickly, this water can then be run through a filter to purify it.

Chemicals: The most popular and safest water treatment chemically known as chlorine dioxide is actually greatly enhanced by the addition of UV
light. Using this treatment chemical in addition to the SOL Bag will greatly reduce treatment times and increase microbe kill efficiency.

drinking water
Image courtesy of Tortoise Gear

You offer a humanitarian option on your Kickstarter page. Can you tell us more about how you plan to use SOL Water to help others?
Helping others is at the center of our project. We want to make our technology available to those who are in dire need of clean drinking water. To do this, we are setting up a direct donation portal. For those who are able to donate we have a special reward tier in our Kickstarter rewards that allows backers to purchase an entire box of SOL Water bags that will be sent directly to a non-profit disaster relief agency. Each box will go out to directly help hundreds of disaster victims in need of clean drinking water.

These bags can be filled with fresh drinking water and distributed to those in need. When the bag is empty it can be reused again and again for many months if needed to provide a continuous supply of clean drinking water to disaster victims, and the instructions for use are printed on the bag with detailed pictoral directions.

We plan to keep this donation option available on our website after the Kickstarter campaign has ended. We will also have a page on our website dedicated following up on these donations and giving updates on where they are going and the people they are helping.

What uses does the SOL Water bag have besides providing safe drinking water? Why is it great for traveler’s?

In order to carry water, a container is required. Why not have a high quality, light weight container that can also treat water if needed? They are water tight, so the SOL Water bags make great containers to keep your electronics and other hydrophobic gear dry, and the plastic even works with touch screen devices. The special laminate plastic is designed to be very temperature tolerant for UV treatment use, because of this, they can be used for rehydrating meals with hot water like an MRE pack. They can also be frozen with water or juice and used in a cooler instead of ice cubes to keep food cooler for longer, once it has melted you’ll have a nice cool drink instead of a soggy mess. The SOL Water bag can also be used as a sun shower while camping or backpacking.

Check out the SOL Water bag on Kickstarter and visit the Tortoise Gear website.

By Sky Fisher

Also Check Out:

Global Good: Your Responsibilities As A Traveler In Any Destination [Blog Inspiration]

Free As A Bird Necklace [Travel Style]

Water: The Epic Struggle for Wealth, Power, and Civilization by Steven Solomon [Good Reads]

Sky Fisher

Sky Fisher is a small-town country girl with a passion for travel. She has a love affair with Central America and currently calls Costa Rica home. Follow her adventures at Sky vs World.

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