Ways To Purify Water

There are several easy and effective ways to purify water for emergency preparedness, outdoor survival, camping, and travel.

These water purification methods, portable filters, or chemical additives, are not only used for emergency situations and remote areas...

but they can also be used to treat safe municipal water by removing chlorine, bad taste, heavy metals, and odors prior to drinking or storing the water.

Topics On This Page:

1. Boiling Water

2. Portable Filter Devices

3. Chemical Water Purification -
Chart for Using Household Bleach

4. Non-Chemical Water Purification

5. Ultraviolet - UV Water Purification

6. Solar Water Purification Methods

Ways To Purify Water For Emergency

1. Boiling Water

Ways To Purify Water:

Following a disaster or emergency situation, a easy and effective way to purify water is to bring the water to a rolling boil, which will kill pathogens effectively.

Boil Water In Emergencies
  • Boiling is the best and easiest method (in most circumstances) to make water safe to drink. Bringing water to a rolling boil (100 °C) for 3 minutes will kill bacteria as well as *most pathogens. High altitudes such as mountain area's, require a few minutes longer (5-7 minutes) boiling time. This method of purification requires working household cooking facilities with fuel, or when working facilities are not available, some type of emergency or survival cooking equipment would be required.
  • Regular boiling will not heat water past 100 degrees Celsius. *Certain pathogens and their spores, (eg: botulism - clostridium botulinum) must be heated to 118 degrees Celsius, this higher temperature can be achieved by using a pressure cooker.

Shop Our Store for emergency cooking equipment and pressure cookers

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2. Portable Filtration Methods

Ways To Purify Water:

  • Water Filters can be an efficient way to purify water. Many types of water filters have been shown to be effective at removing microbes and other suspended solids. Simple maintenance of most units, consists of scrubbing the filter element to unclog pores, and washing the container and spigot to prevent bacterial growth. If properly maintained a good quality water filter device can last a long time.
  • Portable water purification devices such as the MSR water filters, also known as point-of-use (POU) water treatment systems, are self-contained units used in disaster situations, by recreational enthusiasts, military personnel, and others who must obtain drinking water from untreated sources. The objective of these personal devices is to render un-safe, un-chlorinated water, as safe and palatable for drinking purposes. They are excellent to keep on hand for your emergency disaster kits or any type of emergency water situation.
  • Many of these types of water filters are commercially available: Gravity Drip Filters, UV light filters, MSR Water Filters, Pocket or Travel Filters.

    Visit the Emergency Water Filters Page
    to read about the different types of filters in more detail.

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3. Chemical Water Purification

Ways To Purify Water:

Liquid household chlorine bleach may be used for emergency water disinfection. Use bleach that contains 5 to 6 percent sodium hypochlorite. Standard household bleach is generally 5.25% soldium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleach.

Add the bleach according to the following recommended doses, using a clean, uncontaminated medicine dropper or measuring spoon.

Dosage Chart For Household Bleach:

  • Sixteen drops bleach - per gallon or four-liter container of water.
  • Four drops bleach - per quart or liter container of water.
  • Eight drops bleach - per two-quart, two-liter or half gallon container of water.

When treating larger quantities of water, use the following table to convert drops to standard measuring units:

  • 15 drops = 1/4 teaspoon (Treats 1 gallon/four liters)
  • 30 drops = 1/2 teaspoon
  • 60 drops = 1 teaspoon
  • 180 drops = 1 Tablespoon
  • 360 drops = 1/8 cup which is equal to 2 Tablespoons

(Conversion source: Glover, Thomas. Pocket Ref, Sequoia Publishing, Inc. Littleton, Colorado, 1999.)

Water Treatment Tablets
  • Kits are available that include an iodine pill and a second pill (vitamin C or ascorbic acid) that will remove the iodine taste from the water after it has been disinfected. The addition of vitamin C, in the form of a pill or in flavored drink powders, precipitates much of the iodine out of solution, thus it should not be added until iodine has had sufficient time to work. This time is 30 minutes in relatively clear, warm water, but is considerably longer if the water is turbid or cold. Follow the package directions.

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4. Non-Chemical Way to Purify Water

Ways To Purify Water:

Stabilized Oxygen is effective against harmful bacteria and microbes in drinking water without the need to boil the water.

OxyStabile Water Treatment Drops For Emergency

Laboratory reports shows that 10 drops of Oxy-Stabile Stabilized Oxygen in 8 ounces of mountain water is effective against Giardia in just three minutes. It's a must for disasters, hiking, camping, mountain climbing, or when traveling… especially to third world countries where untreated water can be a major problem.

Non-toxic and virtually odorless and tasteless when used as directed. Stabilized oxygen is a liquid concentrate of non-toxic stabilized electrolytes of OXYGEN in molecular form.

Oxy-Stabile is a "quick and convenient" way to purify water for immediate drinking. It can also be used as a natural antibiotic, for disinfecting scratches, cuts and minor wounds.

Oxy-Stabile - Original formula can be purchased here

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5. Ultraviolet - UV Water Purification

Ways To Purify Water:

  • Ultraviolet (UV) light destroys DNA and thereby prevents microbes from reproducing. Without reproduction the microbes become far less dangerous. Water treated by a ultraviolet filtration system is about the healthiest water that you can possibly drink. The water will be pure and safe once it has been filtered, UV treatment is not intended for water with heavy sediment.
  • Hydro-Photon introduced the portable UV water purifier. These UV water purifiers with the brand name SteriPEN, are lightweight and work very quickly.

The SteriPEN can be found at the Nitro-Pak Preparedness Store

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6. Solar Water Purification Methods

Ways To Purify Water:

Solar Disinfection

  • Solar disinfection (SODIS) is an effective water treatment method that is applicable to emergencies, especially when no chemical disinfectants are available.

    Ultra-violet rays from the sun are used to inactivate pathogens present in water. This technique involves exposing water in clear plastic bottles to sunlight for a day, for example on the roof of a house.

  • In emergencies, empty bottles can be used that are left over from juice or drinking water. Bottles need to be cleaned, filled to three quarters full and shaken thoroughly 20 times, before being filled completely.

    The bottles are then exposed to sunlight for 6 hours (or for 2 days if the sun is obscured by clouds). The water should be consumed directly from the bottle or transferred in a clean glass for drinking. To be effective, solar disinfection must be applied to relatively clear water.

Solar Distillation

  • Solar distillation may be utilized with a pre-manufactured and easily portable still, commonly referred to as a solar water still, but its roots originated in a makeshift still that can be constructed simply from readily available components, usually a plastic sheet suspended as an inverted cone.

    The solar still relies on sunlight to warm and evaporate the water to be purified. The water vapor condenses, dripping into a collection dish placed beneath the still's suspended device.

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