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"Japanese Water-Purification Kit" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following report on a WWII Japanese water purification kit was originally printed in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 22, April 8, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


a. Description

The Japanese water-purification kit shown below is intended for use in rendering water found in the field fit for human consumption by chlorinating and destroying harmful bacteria. The kit consists of two vials of "germicide" (the chlorinating agent), one vial of neutralizing agent, a small aluminum spoon, and a metal box with a hinged lid.

The chlorinating agent is composed of a mixture of calcium and sodium hypochlorites; active chlorine content is 7.05 percent. The neutralizing agent, used to destroy the chlorine, is sodium thiosulfate. The vials of germicide contain about 5 grams (0.18 oz) of the agent, while the vial of neutralizing agent contains 5.3 grams (0.19 oz). The cork ends of the vials are dipped in paraffin wax for protection of the contents. The metal box measures 1.75 by 0.6 by 3.4 inches and is fitted with a cardboard liner to protect the glass vials.

[Japanese Water-Purification Kit]

b. Directions for Use

A label pasted to the top of the box gives the following directions for use:

(1) Put one spoonful of the germicide into a flask (about 1 quart) full of water. Insert the cork and shake well for about 5 minutes.

(2) After a further 5 to 10 minutes have elapsed, add one spoonful of the neutralizing agent and shake.

(3) Wipe the spoon thoroughly after using.

Comment: The spoon holds from 3 to 4 grains and a single kit can therefore be used from 15 to 20 times.

There has been very little progress in the development of newer methods of individual water purification since the days of World War I. Purification of water by the individual ordinarily consists in using a fixed dose of chlorinating agent for a given volume of water, but a more effective procedure involves hyperchlorination followed by dechlorination. The latter method demands the use of considerable judgment on the part of the individual soldier if proper water disinfection is to be accomplished, since if the dechlorinating agent is added before the chlorine, or too soon after the addition of the chlorine, disinfection of the water will not take place. Because of the variable chlorine demand of natural water supplies encountered in the field, the amount of chlorine that is specified for some water is insufficient for others; therefore, fixed-dose chlorination is not always satisfactory.

Investigations have been conducted during the past 2 years to develop a simple method which will, in one operation, hyperchlorinate the water and dechlorinate it after the proper interval. The solution to this problem should be forthcoming very soon, and should furnish a fool-proof system, and one unlike the cumbersome Japanese-type procedure. In the meantime, the safest and most efficient all-around method of individual water purification now available is being supplied to American troops. Halazone tablets, when employed in accordance with the directions contained on the label of the container, will giver proper water disinfection in practically all instances. In a few circumstances where the chlorine demand of the water is excessively high, there may be insufficient disinfection. However, evidence would indicate that this will occur less frequently and be less hazardous than the possibility of dechlorinating water at the wrong time under the method of chlorination and dechlorination as now practiced by some armies.


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