Once in a while, you find something with a purpose so mundane and yet it functions so incredibly, that the ramifications of it are staggering. To this end, I went looking for a solution to a problem that plagues (sometimes literally) many world travelers: clean drinking water. The Seldon Technologies WaterStick, was just such a thing. The WaterStick was simple to operate, had a straightforward purpose, was portable, and was relatively inexpensive,. To put it simply, the WaterStick is designed to easily, portably, and reliably make almost any source of water clean and drinkable.
How it works
The WaterStick uses some pretty amazing technology. It’s made of nano-structured material called "nanomesh" that utilizes carbon nanotubes as a filtering mechanism. Because this material has such a large internal surface area, it acts to absorb pollutants in water that are attracted to the surface of the carbon nanotubes as the water passes through them. Just think of it as charcoal filtering but a million times more advanced. This technology emerged from research conducted at Dartmouth College in 2002 and was swiftly funded by both NASA and the US military.
What it does
It purifies water; any fresh water. It won't pull the salt out of seawater, but just about anything else is fair game. While it is disposable, it’s good for about 100 gallons before it ceases to function. According to the documentation, it will remove 99.9999% of all bacteria and 99.99% of viruses from contaminated water. In addition, for those who worry about non-biological contaminants, it has been tested and shown to remove or significantly reduce lead, chromium, endotoxins, chloroform, arsenic, copper, radioactive isotopes, dioxin, guardia lambia, chlorine, selenium, carbon tetrachloride, fenamiphos, cryptosporidium, cadmium, thallium, benzene, MTBE, perchlorate, acrylonitrile, volatile organic compounds (VOCs), total organic compounds (TOCs), bis-2-ethylhexyl phalathate, acrolein, fenamiphos, vinyl chloride, uranium, nicotine, parquets, xylenes, mercury, small organic compounds, trichloroethylene, phenol, titanium, antimony, macromolecules, and a partridge in a pear tree. I don't have any idea what most of these are, but they all have impressive and dangerous sounding names. Nonetheless, I can now rest easier knowing that my water will be uncontaminated by bis-2-ethylhexyl phalathate, which I should tell you, is a load off my mind.
What's in the box?
The Seldon WaterStick comes in very basic packaging. Included is the device itself, a tube about 11" x 3" and weighing just under 7oz. It also includes an intake tube with a pump bulb and a screened entry point, and an output tube with a removable bite valve. The instructions are pretty basic, covering the essentials of operation. That is, one side says "dirty water" and the other side says "clean water."
When I got this, I had to do some serious soul searching. Just how dedicated to my readers was I? I decided that my dedication was strong, so I resolved to test this device in one of the most dreaded sources of polluted water on the Eastern seaboard, the Charles River. For those who are unfamiliar with it, the Charles is fed by a number of tributaries that have all been used for heavy industrial purposes over the last couple of centuries. Each year the students of MIT drop a five-pound block of sodium into the river to watch it explode. They say the sodium actually makes the water cleaner by its presence. When I informed my friends of my intent, several of them insisted on accompanying me on this outing so that when the inevitable stomach pains, toxic reaction, and parasitic infestations occurred, I would have someone to drive me to the hospital or the funeral home depending on the severity of the reaction.