When it comes to survival the more ways to purify water that you know the better! Water has got to be the most essential element for survival. The average human can only live 3 days without water, fewer if the conditions are hot and you are expending more energy then average.
Unfortunately, drinking contaminated water is worse than drinking no water at all. In severe cases it can cause death and frequently causes vomiting and diarrhea. So it is critical to deal with the bacteria, protozoa, and other microorganisms that can cause serious health problems!
There are numerous ways to purify water, but most systems break down into two categories - chemical or mechanical filtration. Both methods are effective for making your drinking water safe.
Water filters are probably the most popular method of purifying water amongst survivalists and preppers. A simple water filter purifies by screening out impurities. Most filter out harmful microorganisms, sediment, and bacteria, but not all keep you safe from viruses. Viruses are incredibly small. Filters must be able to filter down to 0.2 microns or smaller in order to sift them out, where 2 microns will filter out most of the rest.
Finding water filters that filter out microorganisms, bacteria, and viruses can be a challenge. Here are a few with good reputations:
- Aquapura straw style filter (great for bug-out bag)
- Lifesaver 1500UF Bottle (great for bug-out bag)
- Berkey filters (great for home)
Another water purification option (used in many developing countries) is to create a biosand filter. A correctly built bio-filter can remove 97% of bacteria in the water.
Chlorinating water in order to kill any bacteria is extremely common; just think of how many people have chlorinated pools! Chlorine is very easy to find in the store. Liquid chlorine bleach can be found in almost any grocery store in the form of Clorox. Household bleach is generally between 5.25 percent and 8.25 percent chlorine. Don’t use bleach that contains additives such as dyes and scents (i.e. color safe bleach or scented bleach).
After adding bleach to the untreated water, let it sit for at least 60 minutes.
Below is a table on how to treat water with household bleach.
Tincture of Iodine is another option for water purification. You can find it in both liquid form and tablet form. It is usually 2% iodine and 47% alcohol. It generally takes 3 to 20 drops per liter to purify water depending on how contaminated the water is, but make sure to read the bottle to learn the specifics on how much to use. If the water is still and cloudy it is going to have a higher chance of being contaminated.
According to the CDC, “boiling is the surest method to make water safer to drink by killing disease-causing organisms, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites.” Of course the down side to boiling is that it can take quite a lot of effort in a survival situation since it requires building a fire.
How to purify water by boiling:
- Filter the water to clear it of sediment. You could use cloth (maybe an undershirt if you didn’t have anything else), coffee filter, paper towel, hand towel, etc.
- Bring the water to a boil for at least 5 minutes.
- Let the water cool, then drink.
In the 19th century a chemist named Louis Pasteur discovered that water needed to reach 158 degrees to kill microorganisms. This is great knowledge to have, seeing that it takes less fuel to get water to 158 degrees than 212 degrees, making it easier to purify your water. The problem is that unless you have a thermometer, you won’t know when you’ve hit 158 degrees!
Fortunately a low cost device called the WAPI (Water Pasteurization Indicator) was developed to indicate when water has hit the 158 degree mark. Making this a must have for many preppers.
Source of WAPI info: http://solarcooking.wikia.com/wiki/Dale_Andreatta
With water being so critical to survival, the more ways to purify water that you have available to you the better! As usual, a little planning can go a long way!