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How Many Of These 10 Water Purification Methods Do You Know?


10 Water Purification Methods

Our most basic survival need is water. We can last for several days without food, but take away water for just 24 hours and our ability to survive drops dramatically.

We believe that knowledge is power and, when it comes to something as crucial as water, having multiple survival plans is better than just one. So, we decided to dive into (pun intended) the subject of water purification.

We consulted our friends over at Outdoor Life for their list of 10 ways to purify water:

1. Boiling

In order to kill the parasites, bacteria, and other pathogens in water, the most reliable thing to do is boil the water. Boiling will not evaporate all forms of chemical pollution, but it is still one of the safest methods of disinfection. Five minutes of a rolling boil will kill most organisms, but ten minutes is safer.

2. Distillation

In a scenario where the only water available is dangerous water, there aren’t many options. The safest solution is water distillation. Water can be heated into steam, and the steam can then be captured to create relatively clean water, despite its prior forms of contamination—including radioactive fallout.

3. Survival Straws

One of the smallest, lightest of water disinfecting tools to hit the marketplace lately is the straw style of water filter. Newer models can be used as you would a drinking straw and can also connect to the drain valve on a water heater to clean up the water you might find in a water heater after a disaster.

4. Filters

The two main types of water filters in use today are pump-action filters and drip/suction filters. The former utilize a pump to force raw water through a filter cartridge. The latter are filter cartridges that use a gravity drip action (like an IV bag) or are placed in line on hydration bladder hoses. When used on a hydration bladder, the user simply sucks water through the filter as needed.

5. Ultraviolet Devices

UV light is very damaging to small organisms. When used as a disinfection method, it’s surprisingly effective.


Solar water disinfection (SODIS for short) is a water treatment method that uses the sun’s energy for disinfection. The most common technique is to expose plastic bottles full of contaminated water to the sun for a minimum of one day. The sun’s abundant UV light kills or damages almost all biological hazards in the water.

7. Disinfecting Tablets

Two of the most common and popular water disinfection tablets are Katadyn’s Micropur tablets and Potable Aqua’s iodine tablets. They can both work very effectively, but there are some differences. If you’re stocking a cabin, cave, or BOB with purification tablets, you certainly want to consider the life span of the product. The iodine tablets from Potable Aqua have a one-year shelf life. That’s not bad, but Katadyn’s Micropur tablets last for two years or more. While these two products are using different chemicals, they both seem to be better than 99-percent effective against water-borne pathogens.

8. Household Chemicals

Either bleach or iodine can be carefully used to disinfect water with good results. Generally speaking, the amount of the chemical you use will depends on the water quality and temperature. Cold or murky water needs a little more disinfectant (four drops per quart) than warm or clear water (two drops). After adding the chemical, put the lid back on your water container and shake it for a minute.

9. DIY Filter

We’ve all seen the survival books displaying a water filter made from charcoal-filled pants hanging from a tripod. Sorry to burst your bubble, but that is not a reliable system. It will screen out larger particles, but don’t expect bacteria-free and virus-free water to shoot from this contraption. What could work, however, is a filter made from some flexible hose, glue, and a chunk of pine sapwood

10. Drink It Unpurified

Drinking raw water is certainly a gamble. Even in pristine wilderness areas, the water can be contaminated with all kinds of bowel churning pathogens. Unless you are lucky enough to find a spring that is issuing clean water out of the natural water table, drinking unprocessed water is risky at best.

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Photo by Avi licensed under Creative Commons 2.0.