If you told someone 300 years ago, that you had a little machine that created light when you cranked a handle, and this light made water safe to drink – you would have been burned at the stake as a witch.

If you told the same tale 100 years ago, you’d probably be locked up as a lunatic.

But in this age of modern marvels, it should not be too much of a shock that a device can make UV light which purifies water – and do that task without batteries.

The new SteriPEN Sidewinder is a hand crank water purification device that disrupts the DNA of illness-causing microbes in mere seconds. Other SteriPEN products provide the same UV light DNA disruption on bad bugs, and have been field proven across the globe. But those devices require batteries.

The directions to the battery-free Sidewinder are surprisingly easy.

1. Fill the water bottle (included in the kit) from your local water source.

2. Screw the bottle onto the Sidewinder housing and flip it over.

3. Crank the handle until the LED light shows green (about 90 seconds).

4. Flip the apparatus over again, unscrew the bottle, wipe the bottle threads clean and drink.

This device has two major applications: camping and disaster relief.
On the camping front, it’s no heavier than a ceramic water filter for backpacking, and it would be a great addition to any basecamp.

For disaster prep, the use is obvious – no power, batteries in short supply, water tainted – a hand crank water purifier hits the right spot. The UV bulb is rated to do 8,000 quarts of water, and the LED indicator bulb should last well beyond that.

They say the proof of the pudding is in the eating right? Well, last week I used the SteriPEN Sidewinder on my local creek water, which has tested positive for E. coli , and I’m feeling just fine.

That’s good enough for me.