Male Camper: “I’ve got the water for the pasta.”
Female Camper: “Is it filtered?”
Male Camper: “You don’t need to use filtered water – it’s going to boil anyway”
Female Camper: “But not long enough to kill the stuff!” (“stuff” is code for Giardia aka Beaver Fever”)
Male Camper: Sigh (This is followed by a long exaggerated eye roll as he dumps the lake water on the ground beside a bush.)
I am sure you have already guessed the Male and Female campers in this little exchange are married.
You definitely do not want to get “Beaver Fever”, an illness that comes with stomach cramps, diarrhea, and fatigue. There is nothing worse than being sick in a tent on a back-country canoe trip when it’s a long paddle to a hospital, your own bed, AND a flush toilet.
It is a long held belief that you must boil lake water for 5 minutes to kill the protozoan parasites. In actual fact it is much less than that. By the time water boils the parasites are already dead. This means, in this case, they were likely safe to use lake water for pasta as long as it reached the boiling point. Note: When Health Canada issues a boil water advisory they recommend a “rolling boil for 1 minute to kill all disease-causing organisms“.
In my opinion – why risk it? When I’m camping my motto is always “Safety First”. So the best choice in this situation is to cook pasta using filtered water – because it’s actually possible to cook pasta without the water ever reaching the boiling point.
A good water filter is peace of mind. However, it is good to know that in an emergency you don’t need to waste fuel by boiling water for 5 minutes.