How to purify water
As we all know water is one of the main items for survival, so learning how to purify water is very important. Merely having access to water may not be enough, as there is very little water on earth that is safe to drink without purification. Sometimes natural springs and rainwater can be safe to drink as is. But because this isn’t always true, the water should always be purified just to be safe. Currently, most of the water we get from the tap is purified and safe to drink. So why would we need to purify water? There are a few reasons why everyone should know how to purify water. If you travel to a third world country, the water is not always safe. If you are camping or bugging out to a place that has a ground water source, it would be important to know how to purify water. Additionally, if there were to be a major disaster or social unrest that stops the water supply, knowing how to purify water and store it safely would be extremely important.
Ways to Purify Water
The most common and well known way to purify water is to boil it. Boiling the water will not remove large pieces of sediment or debris so you will want to first pour the water through a piece of cloth or mesh to take out all of the big debris. In order to kill pathogens, the water must reach 160 degrees F. Generally, once the water starts boiling (which is 212 degrees F depending on altitude), your water should be free of pathogens. The only circumstance that this would change is if you are at a really high altitude such as Mount Everest where the water will start to boil at 160 degrees F. If you are at a very high altitude such as this, you will want to allow the water to boil for a longer period of time in order to ensure that all pathogens have been killed. To be safe and make sure all pathogens have been killed boil for at least 15-20 minutes at any elevation.
When thinking about how to purify water, one of the easiest and safest ways is to use a camping water purifier or a Berkey style gravity flow through water purifier. I have just ordered the MSR Microworks filter for my personal use and will review as soon as I have used it. Many of these purifiers can be used with very mucky water. These purifiers also have a long life, are field cleanable, and have replaceable filters within them. The three most popular brands I have seen are the Katadyn, MSR, First Need and the Steripen. The first three use different types of materials to pass the water through and purify it while the Steripen uses UV purification technology. A water purifier is a fantastic addition to your survival items and survival storage. Not only can it be useable during a disaster, but it can be used while camping, fishing and traveling which makes them really versatile. The Berkey water purifiers are much larger than the previously mentioned camping water purifiers. These are great for home use and can also purify large amounts of dirty water that can be used for household use. The other benefit to a Berkey water purifier is that you do not need to use man power to pump like the camping water purifiers. All you have to do is pour the water to be purified into the top of the purifier and let time and gravity do its job. Each of these purifier brands have different models and quality, so I recommend doing your homework before you make the investment.
Homemade Gravity Water Filters to Purify Water
The survival television series, “The Colony”, did a great job in showing how to purify water. The participants actually build a gravity water filter. I believe this filter uses cloth sand and charcoal inside of a container to hold it all together. A quick overview of how to make the water filter is as follows:
1) Get a food grade bucket or other container.
2) Drill approximately 50-100 1/8” holes in the bottom of the bucket.
3) Line the bucket with a sheet or other piece of cloth that is large enough to hang out of the top.
4) Line the bottom with gravel.
5) Put a layer of charcoal on top of the gravel to kill microorganisms.
6) Add sand to almost the top of the bucket. This will act as a pre-filter and get out larger debris and muck.
7) The holding container of the water could also have a UV filter to be extra safe.
8) Pour the water through. It may take a while for the water to start coming out of the bottom. This means the filter is working and purifying the water.
Chemical Purification to Purify Water
When learning how to purify water, chemical purification can be very clean and safe, but can be problematic if you do not do it correctly or use too much of the chemical. There are many different chemicals that can be used. Some of these include: chlorine, bromine, bleach, hydrogen peroxide and iodine tablets (these tablets are made specifically for purifying and are used mostly by campers). Bleach is a good thing to have in your survival stockpile and here is the procedure to purify water with it. (Note: This procedure was even posted by the Washington State Department of Health as an alternative to boiling. Boiling water is a better way to purify the water, but this can be used in a life or death situation.)
1) Collect the water you will use and filter out the big debris with cloth.
2) You will want to use household bleach with 5-6% chlorine. Make sure the bleach does not have any additives or fragrances.
3) Make sure the water is in a clean container.
4) 8-16 drops can be used per gallon. The cloudier the water, the more drops you should use.
5) Mix the water and the bleach thoroughly.
6) Let the water mixture set for 30 -60 minutes. The cloudier the water, the longer it should set.
7) The water will have a slight chlorine smell which means that the chlorine has worked. (Note: I can not be held responsible if you get sick as boiling water is a better solution. This should only be used as a last resort.)
Here are a couple more links about water:
There are a few other ways to purify water that I really have not touched on in this post and can be beneficial if you know how to do it. When in a real disaster situation, having these water purification skills may save your life. Don’t forget to have some of these items in your survival stockpile. This is just as important or possibly more important than your food stockpile. Being able to purify water should be one of the first things you learn!