It is very important to know how safe your drinking water is. You should know where it is coming from and also find out how it is treated. In case your water comes from a well, you should know whether it receives the same water treatment as public water systems do. This brief guide will help you determine ways to purify water so you can keep your family healthy and avoid unnecessary diseases. These methods are especially recommended for bug out kits and emergency survival planners and preppers.
Boiling water is the simplest and easiest way to purify water. Thankfully, in almost any condition, we can always find ways to boil water, be it using the sun’s energy or with the help of a campfire. Naturally, based on the method used, the rate or the speed of boiling will vary. Bring water in a pot to a rolling boil and boil it for at least 3-4 minutes. Boiling kills most pathogens viruses and bacteria. You will have to cool the water down until it is ready for consumption.
2. Simple filtration units
Simple water filters are readily available in stores where you buy camping and outdoor gear. You can also make a basic water filter at home with steps described below. A basic water filter unit consists of a ceramic or charcoal filter. Dirty water is passed through a series of layers like sand and gravel. An absorption paper prevents the solid impurities from passing through. Here is a simple water purifier you can make at home:
- Take a flower pot with a hole at the bottom.
- Place it on a flower pot stand.
- Underneath this arrangement, place a container to collect the clean water.
- Place absorbent paper over the hole in the flower pot.
- Over the absorbent paper, add gravel.
- On the top of the gravel, add a layer of sand.
- Pour the dirty water over the sand.
- Let water percolate and drip slowly through the different layers.
This method of purification will not kill bacteria and pathogens.
3. Water purification bottles
These days, simple filter water bottles are also available with in-built filters and you can readily use them on your camping trips. These bottles are portable and filter up to 0.2microns. They remove nearly 99.99% of bacteria and viruses. You can keep a couple of bottles in the car or your bug out bag.
4. Water purification drops and tablets
This is another simple way to purify dirty water. You can easily buy purification drops or tablets at a local chemist or drug store. Most of these products use iodine, potassium permanganate or chlorine. You need to simply drop the tablets or liquid in dirty water and wait for 20-30 minutes before consuming it. A downside to using this method of purifying water is that the taste tends to be altered. So you might want to consider adding some taste enhancers like powdered water additives with orange or lemon flavors. Also, once you have opened the powder/drops bottle, you must use them up within a year as they lose their potency. Also, it is recommended that you use a dropper, a pair of tweezers (or wear gloves) when handling these pills. This will prevent oil and dirt from your hands from contaminating the water and also from degrading the potency of the pills. An example of water purification drops is Aquamira. It is ideal for camping trips and you can readily buy them online or offline. Just one ounce of Aquamira can purify nearly 30 gallons of water and contains chlorine dioxide that can kill nearly 99% germs. It also enhances the taste and purity of stored potable water.
5. Water purification straws
If you are looking for simple and non-bulky drinking water purification methods, then you could go for a purification straw. Using this method, you can easily purify up to 120 gallons of water. The straw easily fits your pocket and is ideal for hunting and hiking trips. Never drink directly out of a stream. Use the straw instead. A water purification straw is a must have method to purify dirty water for emergency survival kits and preppers.
6. Activated charcoal strips
Charcoal filter strips with Japanese technology are readily available for filtering water. They not only absorb impurities from water but also enhance taste of water. Filtering time is approximately 3-4 hours. You can reactivate the charcoal strips by boiling them for about 10 minutes and allowing it to dry. Reactivation should be done every 2 weeks.
In order to purify water using bleach, you need products like Purex or Clorox. These are readily available in the laundry section of departmental stores. However, many products are specifically created for laundry purposes and should not be used for purifying drinking water. The products that can be used for drinking water purification will specify the instructions and quantities needed for the purification task. In most cases, you can safely add 3-4 drops of standard chlorine bleach of 5% concentration to a quart of water. Double the amount of bleach if the water is turbid or colored. The resulting solution should have slight chlorinated taste. If there is no chlorine taste, repeat the dosage and wait for additional 15 minutes. Note that chlorine bleach loses potency so if the product you are using is a year old (or older), then double the dosage and time of disinfection.
8. Purifying salt water or urine (evaporation and condensation)
If you have salty water and want to purify it, you only need two metal containers with lids connected through a metal rod. Place the dirty water in one container on lower level with fire underneath. Place the container to collect clean water on a rock or slightly higher ground. Keep the metal rod so that it connects the two containers. Pure water vapors will travel through the rod into the container. This water purification method can be used for cleaning urine or salty water.
9. Biological slow sand filters
Slow sand filters were first developed in 1804 and they are a simple system consisting of supernatant or raw water, a bed of graded sand, an under-drainage system, and a system of filter control valves. This method is one of the natural ways to purify water at home. It is cheap to construct and operate, very effective and sure to give a high quality of filtered output.
- Supernatant water – The level of supernatant water is always kept constant. It helps overcome the resistance of filter bed.
- The sand bed – This is the most important part of the filter. Ideally, the sand grains should have a diameter of 0.2-03 mm.
- The under-drainage system contains porous or perforated pipes. It also supports the filter medium above.
10. Creating clean water sources using evaporation principles
Most water purification methods at home or outside assume that you have a source of water. However, in case of a disaster, this may not be the case. In such a case, you need to create a water source and trap water through evaporation. Dig up a hole in the ground and insert a container on the bottom. Cover the hole with a plastic to trap the moisture and place a rock in the center of the cover. This is needed to create a dip in the center. When water evaporates in the ground upwards, it condenses and drips into the container. This is not the fastest way of creating water but at least it is something better than going thirsty.
You can also create solar stills using distillation principle to create water when it is not available in abundance. To create a solar still, you need a dried creek with some dead vegetation and plastic sheets. Create a pit in square shape or V shape and place a container in the center for collection of water. Cover the container with the sheet and anchor the sheet with stones or sand. As water evaporates and condenses, you will get a water source. The larger the pit, the faster will be the rate of water production. You can also enhance rate of evaporation by adding unclean water like urine and crushed cactuses etc.
Apart from these methods above, you can also use a multi-stage water purification system which typically uses reverse osmosis. Most systems come pre-assembled and are very easy to install. They give you clean, pure water when you need it. Many of these units cost less than $200.