You may find plentiful water sources while out in the woods, but getting clean water is a challenge. Whether you’re camping, hiking, or canoeing, you will need potable water. Water that is virus, bacteria, and dirt-free. Practically you can’t carry your water all the time. So it’s always better to take some water purification treatment to make your water clean. Now, let’s have a look at all the conventional and unconventional ways you can treat your water in the wild.
Detecting The Source Of Your Water
The water may look clean but can consist of many viruses, parasites, and dirt. That’s why you should know the source of your water and how it’s treated. Even with bottled water, you should be careful about its origins, especially when camping or in remote areas.
Water Filtration Vs Purification
People might think water filtration and purification are the same things, but it’s not.
- Filtration of your water means it will take all the bacteria and viruses out of your water making it taste better.
- Water purification will kill the virus and bacteria but still leave some dirt behind. Purification is only for disinfecting the water and making it more drinkable.
7 Ways To Purify Water In The Wild
A portable water filter would be a convenient option to purify the water on the go. As it treats the water with chemicals after pushing it through a charcoal filter. Also, a portable filter may come in different sizes and shapes. Filtered water not only looks clean but tastes good as well. Although filtering water may remove all the bacteria and parasites, it’s more convenient to carry filters with smaller pore sizes.
They can remove microscopic viruses and sediments as well. Another downside of a filter is that dirt and residues can easily clog it. So, don’t forget to clean it frequently or you can change it as well. You can also make some DIY filters which have been discussed further.
Boiling water is the most common and effective method for purifying water in the woods. It’s the most straightforward method yet a preferable one. If you have all the arrangements and equipment for this, you should not consider any other methods at all. You can light a campfire, or a camp stove would work too.
You need to fill up a pot with water and then place it over the fire. Water heating at 160 F should be boiled for at least 30 minutes. It will kill all the bacteria and pathogens that can cause any diseases. Although under 185 F, it would be a lot quicker. A few minutes will be enough for your water to be immaculate. Don’t forget to cool down your water before drinking.
3. Purification Tablets
Purification tablets may not give you the best-tasting water. However, they would make your water potable. Iodine and chlorine are the most common chemicals used in these tablets. There are also others like halazone or potassium permanganate tablets. Toss the tablets in your water and wait at least 30 minutes before consuming them. The iodine-treated tablets taste funky.
If you don’t want to compromise the taste of your water, chlorine tablets would be a great option. With chlorine, you may need to wait a bit longer, but your water stays fresh for longer. You can also use bleach to purify your water. Bleach consists of the liquid form of chlorine, so it makes sense. But it should be your third option as it’s not as stable as iodine and chlorine.
4. Purification With UV Rays
Ultraviolet rays at a certain range can kill a good amount of microscopic organisms. Some portable devices provide UV rays for a small amount of water, but they may not be a good option when it comes to chemical contaminants. Many larger particles may block or hide the germs from UV rays, which makes them less effective.
It disinfects the water, which kills some viruses and bacteria. However, UV rays don’t give total protection against parasites that causes diseases like Giardia. Since it doesn’t filter the water, so it’s not entirely safe. Using UV rays should always be the last resort.
5. Solar Purification
The solar water disinfection (SODIS) method uses sunlight to make potable water. If you have a clear water bottle, place it under the sun for about 12 hours to get drinkable water. Besides, if it’s not a particularly sunny day, it will take much longer. It’s a time-consuming process and may not kill all the bacteria. This method of purifying water is best for survival purposes only. You never know what the weather will be like in the woods.
6. Making A Filter From Scratch
Again this is not the best option for attaining clean water as it won’t kill all harmful substances. To make a filter from scratch, you need wood, some kind of plastic tube or cloth for filtering, and a container. Place the piece of wood under the plastic tube tightly. Then pour water from one side and let it dribble into another container. The purpose of the tube is not to let the unclean water drip into the container. This is a very slow method, so you need to have some patience.
Distillation is one of the primitive ways of filtering your water in the woods. Distillation means making freshwater from saltwater. To get fresh water from the ground, you need two containers, plastic sheets, and a rubber cord. Dig a deep hole into the ground and place the container there. Cover it with plastic sheets and tie it with a rubber cord. Keep a rock or anything heavy in the center of the plastic sheet.
As soon as the water in the ground heats up, it will start to evaporate. Then water drips into the other container. You will be left with fresh water. In terms of only saltwater, you need to place a small container inside the larger one. You can use cloth in replacement of a small container as well.
Attaining clean water is difficult when you’re away from your comfortable surroundings. Whether you’re hiking or camping out in the woods, getting potable water is always a challenge. You need to know multiple ways of purifying water if you want to survive this situation. And always plan ahead as it takes time to purify water in an unconventional way.
Consuming unclean water may lead to many diseases. And trust me, waterborne diseases are not fun. Hopefully, these tips will guide you and give you many options to make your water drinkable.
Diana Miller, is a dedicated nature enthusiast and an outdoor adventurer. She began leading groups for excursions in her teens and never stopped. Following her passion for nature, she gathers her friends for outdoor trips every now and then. And for the last 10 years, she has executed workshops on backpacking, snow kayaking and traveling that included her main motive of lightweight packing while outdoors. During leisure, she loves planning for her next adventure.