A Dozen Ways To Make Water Clean Enough To Drink
Of all the things we need for survival, water is one of the only necessities that we can only go without for a few days. In our everyday lives, water is also something that is extremely accessible, so it often doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves.
They say about 70% of our planet is covered with water. However, there are plenty of scenarios, where fresh drinking water may not be so easy to acquire. When going to the sink for an unlimited supply of pure water is no longer an option, you’ll need to know how to purify water from less sterile sources.
If you know how to remove contaminants from water, you would be able to continue drinking from your tap even after the facilities in charge of purifying the water have ceased operations. You’ll also be able to use the water you collect from streams, ponds, rainfall, and more for drinking.
Purifying means removing biological, chemical, mineral, and metal contamination. Whereas filtering only removes biological contamination (down to a certain size). We are talking about learning skills that can help you make the water you have clean enough to drink in a survival situation.
Many of the methods below will only filter water, not purify it. You may want to combine several methods to get your water as pure as possible, but it is still risky. If it comes down to dying of thirst and taking that risk, it’s better to take the risk. Just keep in mind that none of these methods should be considered 100% effective by themselves.
Below, we’ll take a look at some of the top water purification methods that you can use to ensure that you always have access to clean drinking water. I will give examples of items I have in my supply with links to get them. Some of these items are sold on Amazon. I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you!
Boiling water in order to purify it is the oldest method and continues to be the most commonly used water purification method around the world. Boiling water is completely effective at killing all living contaminants in just a few minutes. Boiling water won’t remove certain non-living contaminants such as heavy metals, but it can remove many chemicals through vaporization.
For more information on boiling water as a water purification method, check out this article.
Adding a small amount of bleach to your drinking water can kill off living contaminants without making the water unsafe to drink. To purify your water using bleach, you’ll want to add 8-16 drops of bleach per gallon of water depending on how cloudy the water is, and let it sit for at least thirty minutes.
Keep in mind that bleach will only eliminate living containments. It’s also important to keep in mind that bleach only has a shelf-life of about six months and will not be effective at purifying water past its expiration date.
Like bleach, iodine can be added to drinking water in order to kill off living contaminants. It takes twice as much iodine to purify water as it does bleach, and iodine is more expensive to purchase.
However, the key advantage to purifying water with iodine is the fact that mineral-based iodine has an infinite shelf life. This means that, if you put away enough iodine, you will always have the ability to purify drinking water.
This method is a bit more expensive than bleach or tablets but I keep it because it has an indefinite shelf life!
- Polar Pure Water Disinfectant
- The dosage chart is printed on the bottle
- Bottlecap measures and gives the solution, No other tools required
- Unique bottle design deploys pure crystallized iodine into water
- Compact size for travel convenience
4. Purification Tablets
Tablets designed expressly for the purpose of purifying water are relatively affordable and easy to acquire. Typically, the primary ingredient in these tablets is chlorine dioxide, tetraglycine hydroperiodide, sodium dichloroisocyanurate, though some water purification tablets are made with iodine as well.
Here are the ones I keep in my emergency survival storage.
- A twin pack of 50 Potable Aqua Germicidal Water Purifier Tablets
- Portable water purifier for travel makes questionable water bacteriologically suitable to drink within 35 minutes with convenient, portable water purification tabs
- Emergency water purification tablets for drinking water effective against Giardia lamblia when used as directed
- Water purifying tablets offer purification for camping, hiking, international travel, natural disasters, and emergency preparedness
- Portable water treatment tablets used by military and emergency organizations worldwide and are ideal as backpacking water purification tablets
5. Sand Filtration
With the right supplies, you can create your own sand filter fairly easily. Sand filtration won’t do anything to remove microbes, but it can still clean up dirty, murky water and turn it into something that is drinkable.
To learn how to make your own sand filter, check out this video:
6. Water Filters
One of the most effective ways to purify water is to make use of a high-quality water filter. Water filters come in all kinds of designs, from large filters that sit on your counter to portable filters that you can take with you and everything in-between. Best of all, many of these filters will last for an incredibly long time before they need to be replaced.
This is one I have in my camping gear/bug-out bag. They make some that have hand pumps to speed up the process but I like this one because you can set it up and walk away to do other things while it purifies water for you.
More about this item:
- Hollow fiber Membrane: 0.2-micron pore size. Removes 99.999999% of bacteria, 99.999% of protozoa, and 99.999% of Microplastics
- Carbon fiber capsule: improves taste while reducing lead, other heavy metals, chlorine, and organic chemical matter (pesticides, herbicides, VOC)
- Performance: exceeds US EPA drinking water standards for bacteria and parasites. Exceeds NSF 53 standard for reduction of lead and other heavy metals
- Longevity/lifetime: 2, 000 liters/500 gallons (hollow fiber Membrane) 100 liters/26.4 gallons (replaceable carbon capsule)
- Make an impact: for every Life Straw product purchased, a school child in need receives safe drinking water for an entire school year
7. Survival Straw
Survival straws are a relatively new product. However, they are quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to purify water in a survival scenario thanks to their convenience and effectiveness.
A survival straw is simply a very fine filter placed into a straw-like configuration. As you drink through the straw, the water is passed through the filter and is purified before it reaches your mouth.
There are a number of survival straws on the market, but you’ll want to purchase one that is high quality and easy to use. For that, I recommend the LifeStraw. They are affordable and easy to store in a bug-out bag, vehicle, or even your pocket.
More info on Life Straw:
- Award-winning LifeStraw water filter is a must-carry tool for hiking, camping, travel, and emergencies; no disaster kit is complete without it
- Filters up to 1,000 gallons (4,000 liters) of contaminated water without iodine, chlorine, or other chemicals; does not require batteries and has no moving parts
- Removes minimum 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites, and filters to 0.2 microns; surpasses EPA filter standards
- An alternative to iodine tablets and bulky purifiers, it weighs 2oz for ultralight portability and has a high flow rate for drinking from the source
- Comes in a sealed bag, perfect for storing in a bugout bag or other prepper gear supply kit; measures 9 x 1 x 1 inch. BPA Free materials
8. Water Bottle Filters
Water bottle filters are similar to survival straws in that the filtration system is built into the drinking receptacle. Like survival straws, water bottles with built-in filters make for a very convenient and portable water purification method.
There are plenty of water bottle filters to choose from, and they range dramatically in terms of both price and effectiveness, so it’s important to take your time and research the options that you have available. To learn more about choosing a water bottle filter, check out this article. I personally have a couple of LifeStraw Go. I have found the Life Straw Brand works well and is sustainable over time.
Why you should have one:
- Reusable LifeStraw Go BPA-free water bottle filters water while drinking; great for travel, backpacking, camping, and emergency kits
- Award-winning LifeStraw hollow fiber membrane water filter removes bacteria and protozoa from lakes, streams to ensure safe, clean drinking water
- 2-stage activated carbon filter reduces odor, chlorine and leaves zero aftertaste
- Removes 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria, and 99.9% of waterborne protozoan parasites without chemicals, iodine or batteries
- Durable, 23-ounce, leak-proof bottle made of BPA-free Tritan and features a food-grade silicone mouthpiece; replacement filters available separately
9. Solar Distillation
Distilling water can allow you to remove many heavier substances such as salt and minerals from the water, which means that it is an especially effective method for making saltwater drinkable in an emergency scenario. There are a number of ways to distill water, but you can distill water using just the energy from sunlight if you create a solar still.
One of the cleanest and primitive ways to collect water is a solar still. This requires sunlight, plastic sheeting, and a few other materials. This process basically evaporates water from the ground and condenses it back to the water for you to collect. This is the safest way to find clean water for drinking but does not yield large quantities. You will have to dig a shallow hole in the ground a bit smaller than your plastic sheet. Suspend the sheet above the hole from all four corners and place a small rock in the center so it forms a slope to the middle. Then place a container for collecting and storing the water under the plastic where the rock is in a way the water that condenses on the plastic sheet will drip into the container. The way this works is the sun shines through the plastic and heats the ground evaporating the moisture from it. The vapor rises and comes in contact with the sheeting and condenses back to water on the plastic. once enough moisture collects the droplets will run down toward the rock above your container and begin to drip into it. Make sure the plastic is not touching the container or it will run down the side and back into the ground.
Keep in mind that solar distillation won’t remove many contaminants such as microbes, so you may want to still boil the water after you distill it. You can buy these premanufactured from one of the links above or learn how to make your own solar still by watching this video:
10. Activated Charcoal Filters
Activated carbon is an impressive material that is able to filter out a wide range of contaminants. While you can make your own DIY activated carbon water filter, the process of activating charcoal is complex and you can purchase activated carbon filter pumps that are designed to fit inside a backpack. These pumps make it easy to filter large quantities of water in a relatively short amount of time.
- TRIPLE FILTRATION SYSTEM: A three-stage filtration system is up to 20 times more efficient than leading competitors, filtering to an amazing 0.01 microns.
- FASTEST FLOW RATE: Super-fast flow rate up to 1400 ml (47.8Oz) per minute. The replaceable carbon filter can be used for up to 3,000 Liters (793 Gallons) before it needs replacement.
- EASY & QUICK TO USE: The pump water purifier can be used directly from the freshwater source, pumped clean and safe water into the attached cup, or pumped into any other thermos, water bottles, or portable cups.
- ANTI-SKID DESIGN: Special anti-skid rubber on the sides and bottom of the pump helps maintain a firm and sturdy surface while the pump is in use, as well as increasing durability.
- TRUSTED OUTDOOR COMPANION: This water filter pump will turn rainwater, lake, and river water into clean and potable water quickly. Perfect for hiking, camping, backpacking, and international travelers in need of clean drinking water.
11. Stone Boiling
If you don’t have a fireproof container to boil water in, you can use a method called stone boiling to boil your water without having to place it directly over a heat source.
Stone boiling involves heating up a stone in a fire, placing it in the water, and repeating the process until the water is brought to a rolling boil.
12. UV Light
Just setting water in direct sunlight can kill containments thanks to the sun’s UV rays but is very time-consuming and not super effective. However, making use of an actual UV water purifier is an even more effective way to purify water using UV light.
UV water purifiers are small, handheld devices that can be used to quickly kill most contaminants in a small container of water.
- Compact handheld UV water purifier designed specifically for outdoor/travel use
- Destroys 99. 9 percent of harmful microorganisms, including Giardia, bacteria, viruses, and protozoa
- Treats 0. 5L in 48 seconds, or 1. 0L in 90 seconds
Have a drink on me!
I hope this helps! My goal is to help people understand that life as we know it is fragile and having these skills and knowledge could be what saves your life if things suddenly went south. Most folks don’t think they need to retain information or skills anymore because they can look it up on YouTube. It wouldn’t take much for even that to be not possible anymore.
If you PrepB4, you will be ready before you have to be. Take these skills, purchase tools, and practice using them. It is as simple as camping and fun as surviving! Give it a try and have a drink on me!