When we set out on our hiking and camping trips, we know that we need to carry plenty of water, but on longer excursions, it just may be physically impossible to take all the water we will need. We also need to be prepared if, GOD Forbid, we become stranded for any reason. We simply MUST have water – as a general rule of thumb, that would be one liter of water for every 2 hours we are on the trail. In this post, we will discover the steps needed to filter and purify water from the great outdoors.
Here is a list of 5 efficient ways to purify and filter the water we come in contact with in nature:
The UV Method
Boiling water is an easy and almost foolproof way to purify water. All we have to do is collect the water, preferably from a running water source. If we must get water from a still body of water, we should retrieve it from the top only, as the bottom is where most of the sediment, silt, and contaminants will be lurking. Place the water on a camp stove, and let it come to a rolling boil for at least one minute. If we happen to be at altitudes above 6,562 feet, we need to let the water boil for at least three minutes. This is due to the lower air pressure, resulting in water taking less time to reach the boiling point. This simply means that water will boil at a lower temperature than usual, but the boiling time needs to be increased to fully purify the water.
Boiling our water will kill bacteria, viruses, and protozoa, but it will not remove mud or other particles. We simply need to let the water sit for a little while and wait for the sediment to settle to the bottom of our container. We can then filter the boiled water by pouring it through a clean piece of clothing to remove larger solid particles.
If we go with chemically treating our gathered water, we have two options:
Chlorine – Available in tablet form. We simply drop the tablets in our water, then let it sit for 15 minutes.
Iodine – Available in tablet, crystal, or tincticure form. It works the same way as chlorine; add it to our water and let it sit for 15 minutes. One Very Important Safety Factor – Iodine Should Not be used by pregnant women, or by anyone that has thyroid problems!!
For both of chemical treatments, it is best to pre-filter the water to help remove any dirt and free-floating particles. The drawbacks to chemically treating our water are: the water will not have a very pleasant taste or smell, we will still have heavy metal contamination, pollution, and debris in the water, and over a long period of time, we will be loading our bodies with chemicals.
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A water filter works by straining the water through an internal element by means of a hand pump, gravity, or a sip tube. They will filter out the mud, protozoa, and bacteria, which will give us a clean drink of water. However, water filters will not take away any viruses present in the water. A great advantage to water filters is there is no wait time – just filter and right away you are able to drink the water.
A water purifier is a combination filter plus chemical compound, or a multiple filter system. They would be our best bet at giving us clean, safe drinking water. To be marked as a water purifier in the U.S., the device must meet or exceed the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) Guide Standard. EPA-registered devices must kill 99.9999% of bacteria, 99.99% of viruses, and 99.9% of protozoa.
Ultraviolet light contains more than enough radiation to destroy DNA in microbes, which will shut down their reproductive abilities, which will give us clean, safe drinking water. It works by passing water through a UV Irradiated chamber to sterilize it. One key thing to remember is to pre-filter the water first to remove sediment, so we don’t obstruct the UV Light. We simply gather our water, and the UV Light will kill any bacteria, protozoa, and viruses present.