How to Purify Water

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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.


Bleach Treatment

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Stir or agitate water to disperse the bleach.
  4. 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.

Aquamira Treatment

  1. Purchase Aquamira Water Treatment. It is available from most camping supply or adventure stores.
  2. Follow the directions. Since this is similar to bleach, use the same precautions.

Boiling Treatment

  1. 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.
  2. 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


  1. 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.
  2. Dig a foot-deep hole in the ground that is at least 6 inches wide.
  3. Place a small container in the bottom to catch the water.
  4. Cover the hole with plastic, black if possible, but any color will work.
  5. Place stones on the edges to secure the plastic, making it semi-tight.
  6. Place a small stone so that the center is lower than the rest, and it is over the cup.
  7. 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.



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