These Colors Don't Run - Remember 9.11.2001 Equipped To Survive
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Repackaging Potable Aqua

Size comparison - Potable Aqua (L), new vial (R) While Potable Aqua (Globuline-Tetraglycine Hydroperiodide) from Wisconsin Pharmacal Co. is the most compact of the available water purification products, even the small bottle of Potable Aqua, 1 x 2 1/4 inches (25.4 x 57.15 mm), is too big to fit in many personal size survival kits, such as made from a tobacco tin, or inside a hollow handle survival knife, etc. Repackaging the tablets into a smaller container has always been a problem because Iodine, the active ingredient in the tablets, is one of the most reactive substances known and it attacks almost all common materials including most metals and most common plastics.

When I repacked some for my own personal size kits, it required a complicated process that included epoxy coating some very small tins (that I just happened to have found at some point) with some high-tech epoxy and then sealing them, a real pain in the you-know-what and not very practical for most people. Hardly a week goes by that I don't get a request from someone asking how I repackaged the Potable Aqua and I've been searching for an easy answer for years.

Another question that I am often asked is whether opening the original bottle and repacking the Potable Aqua tablets will affect their potency? The company says that the tablets have a virtually indefinite shelf life as long as they are kept sealed. Off the record discussions with employees of Wisconsin Pharmacal Co., which has always declined to provide an official company statement on the matter, indicate that as long as they are properly packaged and resealed immediately, there should be no concern. Chemists with which I have consulted agree.

A Solution!

Repackaged Potable Aqua in vial Eureka! I finally found the solution through a bio-chemist friend. There are only two common substances that are impervious to iodine, glass and PTFE (Polytetraflouoroethylene, along with some related compounds) known better by the brand name "Teflon." I've finally found a small, sturdy, high quality glass vial that is available with a cap having a Teflon lined seal! These vials and caps are used for holding samples for laboratory work. Most of these vials we looked at were either too large or have too small a neck to get the tablets through, but these are just right.

Size comparison - Potable Aqua (L), new vial (R) The vial is 19/32 x 1 7/32 in. (15 x 31 mm), including the cap. As you can see from the photos, the difference in size between the original and the new vial is substantial. Each wide neck (8 mm inside diameter, nominal) vial holds 25 tablets, exactly half the amount in a regular Potable Aqua bottle. This leaves just enough room left over for a small piece of cotton to keep all the fragile Potable Aqua tablets from rattling around and crumbling (see below right, the cotton is stained brown from the iodine after only a few days). The vials are clear, not brown, but since they're going to be packed away inside something light proof, it doesn't much matter. Besides, by the time you put a small label on it, there's not much clear glass left.

Cap w/ Teflon seal (L) and cotton in vial (R) (stained brown from iodine) The biggest drawback was that these vials and caps are only available in minimum quantities of 1000 and nobody we could find retails them individually. Yikes! A call to Exploration Products and some begging and groveling on my part has solved the problem. They have ordered a quantity and will have them available, at least for as long as the initial order lasts, so don't wait, order now. The small vials are also useful for holding other items, so you may want to order a few while they are readily available, which will also serve to spread out the cost of shipping and handling.

Exploration Products has priced the vials at $2.00 each for the vial and cap together, $1.75 each if purchasing 10 (or more). Shipping and handling is $5.00, for 1 to 10 vials (for mainland U.S. delivery).

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