One of the most useful skills, in my opinion, is the ability to make contaminated water drinkable again. If things get bad and the only water you can find is dirty, having the knowledge to fix it can easily save your life and the lives of your family. Think about it, it doesn’t even have to be a SHTF scenario. Look at the people in Louisiana right now. They are surrounded by water, but drinking it could make them much worse off than they already are. Standing water is filled with bacteria, insects, and, oils, and other pollutants.
Below I am going to discuss some methods for purifying water. Sure there are fancy gadgets out there that can do it easily, and I will discuss those too, but do you really want to rely solely on those?
Water Purification Tablets or chemicals
Iodine tablets, bleach, and germicidal tablets in general do a good job of killing the bacteria in water. What this means is that you can scoop up some pond water, add some of this, and in a few minutes you are all set. The down side to this is it does not remove solids or metals and the taste is not good. That means that if you are trying to get one of your kids to drink it, it will be like trying to get them to eat their vegetables…difficult!
If you have the luxury of a fire, boiling your water is a good option. Boiling for 5 minutes will kill the bacteria that can be found in standing water. The problem here is it also will not remove any metals, minerals, or solids from the water, and if the water is dirty, boiling won’t make it look like sparkling water. But keep in mind that if you drink tap water, you are drinking metals/solids. Get you a Ppm (parts per million) tester and see how your water stacks up.
I’m sure you’ve seen, or hopefully already know how to make, a homemade water filter. This is a good method for purifying water. For this what you need to do is:
- Get a container like a two letter bottle;
- Cut off the bottom and poke some holes in the lid;
- Add a bit of cloth or coffee filter and screw the lid back on over it;
- Add a bottom layer of charcoal (top of bottle upside down);
- Add a layer of fine sand;
- Add a layer of small gravel rock;
- Add another layer of sand;
- Add another layer of rock;
- And I like to finish it off with a coffee filter or a bit of cloth, rubber banded around the top, if I have those items (this just gets some of the stuff before it goes in the filter and will help it last longer);
- Then poor your water in from the top (bottom of bottle) and let it drip into a cup. It is that easy.
This method is good and will give you some clear tasty water. It won’t completely remove all bacteria though so boiling beforehand will cover all your bases. But if you don’t have or can’t make fire to boil, I would be confident with this method.
This is really the best way to know that your drinking water is free from metals, bacteria, and other solids. Distilling is where you turn the water into stem, the steam condenses, and is good drinking water. The process for turning the bad water into steam then into water for you to drink is not that hard and, like most other things, there is more than one way to skin a cat. This is the simplest way that I know.
- Start by getting a pot (or tea kettle if you have it. Different method, but works better);
- Sit a cup (one that won’t break or melt) in the middle of the pot;
Pour some dirty or salt water (yes, this works with salt water too) in the pot around the cup (don’t add too much causing the cup to float);
- Put the lid on upside down (this is so the water vapor will condense on the lid and drip into the cup);
- Add the heat under the pot;
- The water that drips into the cup is just about as pure as it can get.
Again, there are better ways to distill water, but this way is very easy and requires the least materials.
Using an ultraviolet pen is definitely a good way to purify and kill the bacteria in your water. There are numerous different brands on the market and they all do pretty much the same thing. They are easy to use, purifies a lot of water fast (in just a few minutes), and kills the bacteria that can make you sick. With that said, keep in mind that gadgets break, require batteries, and can be expensive. I don’t currently have one of these but I may get one some day. They do work from what I am told and might be fun to take hunting or camping.
Things you could have with you
- Portable Mini Water Filter Pump
- Portable Water Bottle with Built-In Filter
- Portable Water Gravity Pouch
- Solar Oven Bag
- FlexWare Water Bottle
- Double Up Bowl
- Campfire Kit
- FlexWare Mug
To wrap things up
Knowing how to purify your water is a skill that I think every person should know. You won’t make it too long without water and you certainly don’t want to be in a situation where you or your family are forced to drink water that could be harmful.
If anyone has any experience with this, feel free to add your insight to the comments. After all, learning from each other is what this is all about. And as always, in the event of a disaster, be prepared not dependent.
Until next time,