Steripen for Safe Drinking Water

My best friend and I have an upcoming trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. Last time I was in Mexico, I was informed to not drink the water, and ended up buying bottles of water, or refilling them from larger plastic containers at the homes where I was staying. It was disheartening as an avid pursuer of recycling and as a person who always has a reusable water bottle with me, to discover there weren’t many recycling facilities around the beautiful Yucatán.

To avoid this in the future, I did some research and discovered what many already know about: the Steripen! It is a small pen-like device that will sterilize water in less than two minutes. I decided this was the best option for me, even though there are others out there that filter water at the same time. The water does need to be mostly clear for the Steripen to work, so perhaps it is not the best option for when you are in the backwoods and can only find a water source with much sediment.

The device cost just about $100 USD and was purchased at my local REI. There is a registry for it as well, so when the bulb fizzles out after 8,000 uses, the company will replace it. That’s a great deal for the price. I tested it out to ensure the bulb was working and to practice using it before taking it out in the field. The model I bought is the Steripen Ultra and specifications can be found here.


Here is the entire package outside of the box. The only “trash” would be the twist tie, but I’m going to use that to keep the cord wrapped up tightly. Oops, it looks like the USB cord is not pictured. Sorry! It comes with the package, I promise. The device is not too big and therefore is an easily carried item and also very practical on a variety of trips.

It needs to be charged before use and simply has a USB plug. I used an apple plug-in and my wall instead of a computer. When it was ready, it showed a battery symbol with  full lines. It took maybe 4 hours to fully charge.

You need to remove the blue cover to expose the bulb. There is actually a discrepancy in the directions. On the actual pen you can see that the directions are to push the button once to sterilize 1 liter of water or two times to sterilize one-half of a liter. That is incorrect, it is the opposite. The display screen will show you what you have selected. However, the Steripen is so simple to use as there is only 1 button!

Once the bulb is totally submerged in water, simply press the button once or twice, and the countdown will start. The screen will also remind you to stir the pen around in the container while it is counting down.


When water is sterilized, you will simply see a happy face. You will feel happy to have sterilized, fresh water to drink wherever you are! You will also be happy to know you do not need to purchase any plastic water bottles that will fill our lakes, rivers, and oceans and harm the beautiful planet we all love to explore.

**This was more than 1/2 liter, and I did test it out with 1 liter as well. The pen needs 45 seconds for 1/2 liter, and 90 seconds for 1 liter.

***The first time I tried this, I was using a stainless steel water bottle from Klean Kanteen. The display screen only showed a sad face so I thought to pour it into a glass container. The pen worked in the glass jar shown. When I was at REI, I asked an employee if this worked in metal containers and he said it would. After testing in the glass jar, I poured the water back into my metal water bottle and tested the pen in there, and this time it worked, so it was just a first time use fluke it would seem.

Overall, I am extremely pleased with this purchase because it is:

  • small
  • lightweight
  • simple to use
  • universal charging
  • charge lasts 50 – 100 treatments
  • device works for up to 8,000 treatments
  • will save money in the long run because 8,000 liters of bottled water at $2 each = $16,000. Or 1 gallon of water = $1.29. 1 gallon = 3.78 liters. Each liter costs $0.34. 8,000 × 0.34 = $2,729. Yikes! I was surprised at this calculation, so correct me if I’m wrong, but it does not make financial sense to purchase water. EVER.
  • can be shared by a whole group of people
  • life changing

Peace and love,