7 Ways to Purify Water
In a survival situation, having clean water to drink is going to mean the difference between life and death. There are a lot of ways to purify water and how you do it will depend on what type of water supply you need to purify, where you are (at home or in the wilderness) and what tools you have at your disposal. Here are 7 ways to purify water:
1. Ultra-violet Light
The best way to purify water on the go is ultra-violet light, which zaps bacteria, viruses, giardia, and other protozoa in water. Municipal water companies and bottled water companies use this method. The most popular and easiest way to do it yourself is with the SteriPEN Adventurer Opti. It won the 2011 Backpacker Editors’ Choice award. All you have to do is press a button and stick the light into your water and it is purified in 90 seconds.
2. Portable Water Filters
You can buy portable water filters that are easy to pack in a backpack or bugout kit. There are many options on the market from which to choose, such as the LifeStraw® Personal Water Filter, a straw with a built-in filter that won the Time Magazine invention of the year. It has a shelf life of 5 years, doesn’t need batteries, contains no chemicals, and only weighs 2oz, which leaves room in your emergency pack for other items.
This Lifestraw® is more of a one-person filter, however, so if you’re looking for the ultimate in portable water filters that will purify water for a larger group of people, the highest rated one on Amazon is the Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter. Katadyn water filters are used by the U.S. military and hardcore adventurers who want the very best water available in extreme situations.
Another highly rated portable option is the Lifesaver Bottle 4000 Ultra Filtration Water Bottle.
If you have fire and a pot, boiling is a tried and tested way to purify water in an emergency. You should boil water for a minimum of five minutes at a rolling boil. If you want extra peace of mind, you can then run it through another filtration system or use your SteriPen. You should have a way to boil water outdoors in your survival kit. You can get something really cheap but functional like the Ultralight Backpacking Canister Camp Stove with Piezo Ignition or something more substantial like the Camp Chef Explorer 2-Burner Stove
If you live near the ocean, a desalinator will come in handy during an emergency when other water sources are not available. A powerful desalinator like the Katadyn Survivor 35 Desalinator could ensure that you, your family, and your friends have unlimited amounts of drinking water. The Katadyn Survivor is used by the military aboard ships and can produce as much as 1.2 gallons of drinkable water per hour.
To make your own distilled water, halfway fill a large pot with water. You’ll need a lid for the pot and a cup as well as some string. Make sure it’s heat resistant string. Place the cup on a flat surface, put the lid upside down over the cup, and then tie the cup to the lid so that it will be able to dangle into the pot but above the water line when you place the upside down lid on the pot. Lower the upside down lid into the pot of boiling water. The condensed water will collect on the pot lid and flow into the cup, free of impurities.
6. Water Purification Tablets
Water purification tablets usually use either chlorine or iodine for purification. These are easy to pack in a survival kit or hiking backpack and are a good backup for other water purification methods. The resulting water doesn’t always taste great, but in a survival situation that isn’t really the issue. If you pack powdered drink mixes in your kit you can mix them with the water to make it taste better. See our list of the 3 Best Water Purification Tablets.
7. Household bleach
Using a dropper, put 16 drops of household liquid bleach (it must have 5.25% sodium chloride) in a gallon of water in order to purify it and get rid of microorganisms. Make sure not to use scented bleach, color-safe, bleach, or anything with any added solvents. Also, chlorine-free bleach will not work. Stir the water and let it sit for 30 minutes. It should have a slight bleach smell. If it doesn’t, repeat the whole process. Note: bleach has a short shelf life of about six months so isn’t ideal for longterm storage and preparation.
Of all the ways to purify water, we prefer a combination of all of the above. If you’ve got your bases covered and are ready for any situation, you’ll never find yourself without drinking water no matter what happens.