Q: Can you use a shot of whiskey to purify your water? I don’t want to try it if it’s going to waste good whiskey.

A: This has been an ongoing debate around the campfire for as long as I can remember.

The first argument you get is that good whiskey is for sipping, not diluting in water. That debate can get as hot as a good campfire.

Then there’s the notion that whiskey and branch water go hand in hand.

Then there’s the idea that why would you want to pollute good spring water with whiskey? I remember a group of old fly anglers in southeast Idaho who’d always stop at a spring by Whiskey Flat (no kidding) near the Preuss Mountain Range, and toast the day’s fishing at Crow and Stump creeks. Those creeks on the Idaho-Wyoming border were incredible cutthroat waters back in the day.

They’d always mixed their whiskey with that “sweet-tasting” branch water, and I never heard of one of them ever getting a stomach ailment like giardia.

Of course, it was a fresh underground spring seeing daylight for the first time at their watering hole along the forest road on their way home.

Anyway, I remembered reading something about whiskey and water purification in Backpacker magazine a while back. It stuck in my mind. After a little research, I found the article from October 2010 where wilderness-medicine guru Buck Tilton said “add a shot to your liter of water and then wait 20 minutes.

“You want dead — not drunk — giardia,” he said.

I like the idea of being able to purify drinking water with a shot of good Canadian whiskey, but I’m still a little leery of not using a water filter. Debate or no debate, I’ve had giardia, and it isn’t fun. It’s something you long remember. Driving Idaho 21 from Stanley to Boise and hitting every outhouse along the way tends to make you remember the ailment.

That’s enough details on the effects of giardia; now back to the sipping versus mixing-with-water debate.

Do you use a shot from your $50-a-bottle Canadian whiskey to kill giardia, or do you use $10-a-bottle tequila? Oh well, I’ll sip the expensive stuff by the campfire after a good day of fishing and use my water filter for purification

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