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Water Purification

We could run an entire course around the theme of water in China. From studying the mighty Yangtze (长江) and Yellow (黄河) rivers and their role in hydroelectric power/crop irrigation. To the history of tea culture by following the Tea Horse Road (茶马道) through Sichuan, Yunnan and Tibetan provinces of Southern China. Or how gaining control of Tibetan mountain water runoff was one of the key motivators for the Chinese acquisition of Tibet. Or the role hot and cold water plays in traditional Chinese medicine. Or the workers rights issues revolving around the migrant labor work force that make a meager living by collecting recyclable goods (mainly single use plastic bottles). In most parts of the US and some other countries we have the profound privilege of having regular access to clean, safe drinking water.

Unfortunately in many parts of China, Tibet and Kyrgyzstan we will need to take proactive measures to purify our water before we can drink it. In these areas you’ll find public hot water dispensers with about the same frequency as you see water fountains back home. This boiled water is safe to drink but you’ll need a back up purification system (plus sometimes, like when we’re in the Turpan Depression where temperatures are often over 100 degrees F/37.8 C, a cup of boiling water may not seem that appealing).

There are many options to choose from when it comes to water purification. Get ready to hop back in the car to head back to your local camping gear store!

  1. Steripens:
    Pros: Quick purification (~90 seconds per liter), no chemicals
    Cons: expensive, tend to break easily
    *Get the USB rechargeable variety. They are less likely to break than the battery powered ones. Plus they’re better for the environment because you’re not using up a bunch of batteries.
  2. Aquamira:
    Pros: Cheap
    Cons: Takes about 30 minutes to purify a liter of water
  3. Filters:
    Pros: Gets rid of sediment in the water
    Cons: Can be cumbersome, difficult to use and take up a lot of space

*We don’t recommend “Lifestraws”. They work but students have expressed frustration with how difficult they are to use. If you have one and like using it by all means go ahead and use it. Iodine is also not recommended. It works but tastes super gross.

Let us know if you have any questions!

Tindy, Noam and Zack.