How to Purify Water
How to Purify Water. Pure water is essential. If you are traveling in a country or backpacking in the mountains you need to know how to purify water.
- Filter the water if it looks cloudy or dirty. Pouring the water through a coffee filter, cloth such as a bandanna, will help, but it will not remove organisms.
- Add two drops of unscented household bleach per quart or per liter for clean looking water. Add four drops per quart or per liter for dirty water (16 drops of bleach per gallon of water). Bleach is a widely accepted method of emergency water disinfection, and is recommended by many agencies. The dosages and instructions vary somewhat though.
- Stir or agitate water to disperse the bleach.
- Wait 30 minutes and repeats the dosages if there is NOT a slight chlorine odor (you should notice a slight chlorine smell). This odor can be lessened by pouring the water between two containers a couple of times.
- Purchase Aquamira Water Treatment. It is available from most camping supply or adventure stores.
- Follow the directions. Since this is similar to bleach, use the same precautions.
- Bring water to a rolling boil, and keep it at a rolling boil for the time specified in the chart below. At sea level, water must boil for 5 minutes to be safe. Roughly, for every 500 feet increase in altitude drops the temperature of boiling one degree Fahrenheit so you must boil it one minute longer to achieve the safe level of heat. This will kill harmful organisms.
- Skim off any residue on the top, or pour into a container with a tap at the bottom to dispense the water.
|Altitude||Degrees(F)||Time (rolling boil)|
|Sea level||212||5 minutes|
|500 feet||211||6 minutes|
|1000 feet||21000||7 minutes|
|1500 feet||209||8 minutes|
|2500 feet||207||10 minutes|
|5000 feet||202||15 minutes|
|6000 feet||200||17 minutes|
|7000 feet||198||20 minutes|
- Purchase a 'still' from a camping supplies or adventure store. This process is typically used to distill ground water, not contaminated water. Also, this method may be altered to distill water when the ground is not moist.
- Dig a foot-deep hole in the ground that is at least 6 inches wide.
- Place a small container in the bottom to catch the water.
- Cover the hole with plastic, black if possible, but any color will work.
- Place stones on the edges to secure the plastic, making it semi-tight.
- Place a small stone so that the center is lower than the rest, and it is over the cup.
- Collect the water after a period of time. Water will evaporate from the ground and condense on the plastic. This purified water will the drip into the collection container in the center. Most organism are unable to cling to water that evaporates, but this isn't a guaranteed method of purifying water.
- You can use household liquid bleach to kill microorganisms. Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, color-safe bleaches, or bleaches with added cleaners.
- Always wash the container that will hold your water first. If you are using non-purified water to wash the container wash it with strong bleach water or at least rinse it with the purified water.
- Read the directions on iodine tablets before purchasing. It takes more than you think it will!
- Iodine water tastes terrible. Use a drink mix to cover the flavor.
- A rolling boil cannot be stirred down.
- In the most recent Popular Science Issue there is a new thing called a life straw, search it on Google. It is priced at about $5 and purifies over 300 gallons of water.
- You may want to filter the water before you purify it. There are two ways to do this:
- Use a piece of cotton cloth, such as a clean handkerchief or clean white sock. Pour the water through the cloth several times until the water is clear to the eye.
- Silk is an excellent filter. the water passes quickly through multiple layers.
- Cut the bottom off of a water or coke bottle. Roll a clean sock up on itself and stuff it down to the neck of the bottle. Add an inch and a half of sand. If possible, add an inch and a half of wood charcoal (not charcoal briquettes like you grill with) from a fire (rinse all the ashes off first!). If not, add an inch and a half of grass and leaves. Add another layer of sand, then roll up a second sock and stuff it into the bottle. Pour your water through the filter until it is clear to the eye.
- You'll have to gather the water first. One of the best natural sources is a stream (the higher you get, the purer the water). If the stream by chance looks muddy, take some sort of cloth(like shirt or sock or any part of your clothes) and collect the water, then wring it out in a container. The mud will stay in the cloth while the clean water goes into the container.
- Make a container to hold the water from dew or rain by taking hot coals and putting them on a tree stump. You can make a 16oz cup from a stump in one hour. Once done, just scrape the coals out of the stump (make sure you do not use a yew or any locust trees because those are poisonous and could make you sick).
- Boil water in a plastic container over a raging fire. the water dissipates the heat and prevents the plastic from melting. however it cannot come into direct contact with the fuel or coals because that will melt it.
- Other chemicals, such as iodine or water treatment products sold in camping or surplus stores that do not contain 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient, are not recommended and should not be used."
- Do not use too much or the bleach will burn your throat and stomach! Bleach can be toxic at high levels. Be sure to leave the top off while letting water sit so that the bleach vapors can dissipate.
- Brita or a simple PUR do not remove microorganisms from the water—they filter basic minerals in your tap water to make it taste better! PUR does make a filter that will remove giardia and cryptosporidium. Check the label to be sure what you're getting.
- People with thyroid problems should check with their doctors before using water treated with iodine.
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