There are countless ways to purify water at home, from professional solutions like carbon filters and reverse osmosis to makeshift solutions for emergencies like boiling your water on the stove. However, when you’re far away from your kitchen obtaining safe clean drinking water becomes more difficult.
Anyone with an interest in hiking, climbing, or camping should be able to purify water even when the source is a murky river.
Want to know how to purify water on-the-go? Here are the most effective water treatment processes when you find yourself without a source of filtered water.
Finding a Suitable Water Source
Your first challenge is finding the best source of water you can. Look for moving water to use for purification. Water flowing along a bed of rocks as opposed to a mud or sand bed will generally be easier purify as well. It might go without saying, but clearer water is usually the better water to use. Finally, when using a source of moving water try and draw as far “upstream” as possible. You want the water to come from as close to the source of the spring as you can get, as this gives it less opportunity to pick up contaminants.
If the water source you find has dirt or other heavy sediments allow the water to sit in a container so these particles sink to the bottom; then draw the water you plan to purify from the top.
Boil the Water
The simplest solution is still possible if you’re camping and have access to a fire and a large pot. Hikers and campers with the necessary equipment should fill a pot with water and bring the water to a rolling boil for a minimum of 1 minute and up to 10 minutes at higher elevations. This will kill bacteria and viruses that can lurk in rivers and streams.
The CDC suggests filtering murky water through a coffee filter or paper towel first for best results. Boiling your water will remove the oxygen, which will lead to the water tasting “flat.” To fix this taste issue shake the water or pour it back and forth between two pots before drinking and let it sit for several minutes.
Don’t have access to a camp? Iodine tablets and Chlorine are portable options for purifying water from nature.
Iodine tablets kill many pathogens that lurk in untreated water sources, but not all of them. A fair warning: water purified with iodine will have an unpleasant flavor and a darker hue. If the water you are treating is clear add 5 liquid drops or one tablet of iodine to the water; if the water is hazy add 10 liquid drops or two tablets of iodine to it. Wait about 30 minutes for the iodine to fully take effect before drinking.
Liquid chlorine bleach can be handy in a pinch to kill some disease causing organisms found in water, but like iodine it will not kill everything. You can use a household bleach without perfume or additives to purify water when you’re in a pinch. If possible filter murky water through a paper towel, cloth, or coffee filter first. For bleaches with 5.25 - 8.25% chlorine you’ll want to use 5 drops per 1 liter of water or ¼ teaspoon per 1 gallon of water. After adding the bleach and mixing thoroughly let the mixture stand for at least one hour before drinking.
Bring Filtered Water
For short treks or for a daylong excursion you can fill reusable water containers like stainless steel bottles or a lightweight water “bladders” with filtered water from your home. This method helps you experience the benefits of simple thorough water treatment even in the great outdoors.
Only bring filtered water for short trips when you can safely carry that weight. If you need a substantial amount of water you can make it as light as possible by using a durable water reservoir, sometimes called a hydration bladder. These products only weigh a few ounces, allowing you to carry more filtered water on your journey without getting winded.
Drinking filtered water allows you to enjoy clean H2O without problems, chemicals, and contaminants like pesticides, chlorine, lead, fluoride, bacteria, and disinfection by-products. Purify your water at home with easy-to-install low-maintenance reverse osmosis systems or whole house systems from Express Water. During Express Water’s treatment process your tap water is filtered through multiple layers and barriers to deliver pure, spring-like water to your tap. You won’t have to go on a hike to untouched springs to drink crystal-clear refreshing water.