SURVIVAL

How to Purify Water: Removing All Threats to Make Water Potable

Purify water
Dennis Owens
Written by Dennis Owens

Water is a very precious commodity and you want to make sure you drink it in its most pure form in order to benefit from it properly. That’s why it’s crucial for you to learn how to purify water.

The sad true is that tap water or even bottled water isn’t safe. As you probably already know, there is a multitude of chemical substances and bacteria in water that may cause health problems.

Finding out a little more about each is an important step in the water purification process.

Instead of nourishing our bodies with fresh, qualitative water, we might ingest unwanted substances. As it follows, you’ll learn how everyday tap water can become reliable and how to turn water found in the wilderness in potable water as well.

What Are The Threats Present In Water?

Because tap or bottled water has its own set of problems, we’ll have to discuss them separately from that found in the wilderness. We’re looking at multiple chemical substances that cause immune system failure, which are not totally absent from river water either. However, viral infections such as hepatitis can’t come from tap water since those are taken care of.

Threats present in water

Purifying water is a necessity, but you can learn about it in a very fun way. Practicing all the available methods can turn out to be relaxing procedures that will bring countless benefits to your health.

Health enemies found in tap or bottled water

By drinking tap water you can seriously damage your health because it contains considerable amounts of chemical substances that are also carcinogenic, such as arsenic, radon and chlorine compounds. In addition, nitrates may be part of it. These are an essential source of nitrogen for plants and are without color, odor or taste.

When lacking a proper filtration system, you might even drink viruses and parasites resistant to chlorine like Giardia, Cryptosporidium and the Norovirus. The consequences are catastrophic, so preventing infestation is the best way.

You can recognize water problems when you taste it. For example:

  • if you identify a metallic taste, it means it contains a lot of iron
  • a brackish taste signals too much calcium
  • a bitter taste is a clear sign of too much magnesium
  • the chloride content will cause a salty taste
  • the chlorine and phenol cause a medicinal taste

Both calcium and magnesium are in inorganic state, so our bodies don’t absorb them. They are basically dissolved sedimentary rocks. Bacteria and viruses don’t taste like anything, so when in doubt, proceed to the purification process. If you’re planning to use water purification tablets to make water safe, read our article review of the best ones to use.

Drinking tap water

For all we know, bottled water can be tap water, so we’ll have to treat it in the same way. The only exceptions to this rule are those types of water that come from natural sources like known natural springs located in the mountains or unpolluted areas and bottled in compliance with the afferent health standards. Bottled water may be better than tap water if:

  • It doesn’t contain chlorine;
  • It’s properly transported and stored away from direct sunlight, frost and heat;
  • It was bottled in bottles made of glass, which is a material that preserves the original taste of water, freshness and is a natural barrier against bacteria;

Things that affect water in wilderness

Among the things that can make water not drinkable in wilderness are bacteria, protozoans, viruses and chemicals.

  • Chemical issues are chemicals in the water like herbicides and pesticides.
  • The protozoan issues are transferred from fecal material most of the time and are Giardia and Cryptosporidium; just to name a few.
  • In addition, viruses such as hepatitis may come from cadavers located near the water and salmonella is not excluded either.

Steps To Obtain Pure Water

Since there are so many things that have to be removed from water in order to make it pure, multiple steps are needed. For example, the good old method of boiling the water will not take care of all the issues, but only of microorganisms. So, you’ll have to focus on removing metals and chemicals as well.

Steps to obtain pure water

The number of ways you can do this naturally is amazing. Man succeeds in polluting water and is still able to find a solution to undo that process in nature. Also, using already made filters proves to be very useful too. Let’s learn more about the natural ways first!

Boiling water kills microorganisms

This is the most common way for anyone to kill microorganisms found in water. It is a reliable method for both surviving in the wilderness and obtaining purer water at home.

Some people argue that this method is not 100% efficient. They say only the weakest microorganisms are actually killed and the rest of the water evaporates. Professionals disagree and confirm that when using the right boiling temperature for the right amount time, all microorganisms are killed, including Giardia.

Boiling water kills microorganisms

You’ll find all sorts of instructions on the Internet, but the truth is that water doesn’t need more than 1 minute to purify. The only exception to this rule is when altitude changes. So, if you want to go up the mountain and boil water in order to kill bacterial infections and viruses, let it on fire 2 to 3 minutes longer.

According to experts, letting it more than that will only waste it. The right boiling temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Remember that boiling water doesn’t remove chemicals from it. It is not a method of filtration. It is a method that only removes bacteria and viruses. Those are microscopic living organisms that you can ingest by drinking infested water.

Let the chlorine evaporate

Regardless of how you use the water that contains chlorine, namely drink it or cook with it, you will not be safe and, in time, you can develop serious health problems. Among the affections that you can get from constantly drinking water with high levels of chlorine are: bladder cancer, high cholesterol, asthma and allergies. Numerous health organizations from around the world want you to be aware of these aspects and remove chlorine before you use water.

Let the chlorine evaporate

There are several simple ways to remove chlorine from water. The easiest way is to just let it evaporate. So, fill a vessel with how much water you want, and leave it in the open for about 2 days. Don’t use plastic bottles or any other bottles because the chlorine will take longer time to evaporate this way. You can place a piece of gauze over the vessel to prevent dust from going in.

Another way of having access to chlorine free water is to let it evaporate in a glass for just a few minutes and then add lemon juice in it. The reason why you should do this is because lemon neutralizes the effect of chlorine, it contains vitamin C and gives a better taste to what it should be tasteless water!

Repurpose that banana peel!

Like having to drink polluted water wasn’t weird enough, here’s a weird method that helps you clean water. Banana peels are rich in organic compounds, nitrogen, sulfur, and so on. What do these do to water? Well, they can destroy certain microorganisms and retain heavy metals too.

Repurpose that banana peel!

Why does water contain heavy metals? It’s because of copper that is found on pipes or because of mercury that travels from certain areas that are seriously affected by pollution. So, wash a banana peel thoroughly and then leave it in the water that you’re going to drink overnight. Remember to not use plastic bottles or bottles because you want that chlorine out as well! Moreover, this method is verified and used to industrially purify water in places like farms.

Obtain the perfect ionic balance of water

Okay, this might not make perfect sense to non-chemists out there, but it’s a good thing and you can try it! We all have some tomato peels and apple peels around the house before or after we eat. Therefore, repurposing these can result in cleaner water. What you need to do is soak them in alcohol for one hour and then let them dry.

The next step is exactly the same as in the banana peel case. Just put some in water and let them work for you during the night. This method was tested in rural circumstances.

Water filter made of natural ingredients

Getting clean water was almost always an issue. That’s why, in 1970s, some scientists tried to remove industrial waste from water with the help of a water filter made of coconut fibers and rice husks. As unusual as this method may sound, it has solved many problems back then. Unfortunately, this method isn’t 100% safe. You can use it when you want to make water better, not clean it from scratch.

Coconut fibers

The steps are really simple, namely place coconut fibers at the bottom of a vessel filled with water and leave it overnight. Next, repeat the process by replacing the coconut fibers with rice husks that you previously burnt. They will kill a few types of microorganisms that you don’t want transferring inside your body.

Put that freezer to work and eliminate deuterium

First of all, what is deuterium? It is a hydrogen isotope. What does that mean? Let’s say that all you have to know is that by eliminating it, your metabolism will function properly, as well as all living cells. Biologists say that less deuterium means smaller tumors too. So, this process involves freezing water.

Fill a bottle with water and leave it overnight for the chlorine to evaporate. Next, seal it and place it in the freezer for 2 to 3 hours. When you take it out, you have to break the ice and filter the water that didn’t freeze through a piece of gauze. In order to understand why, you have to know what deuterium-contaminated water freezes faster than clean water. That’s why that thin ice has to be removed.

Using coriander’s bio-absorbable properties

When using coriander’s bio-absorbable properties, you can eliminate heavy metals from water. Now, you should do a bit of research regarding the state of the water in the area where you live because not all of it is polluted with heavy metals. Some of the most met heavy metals are nickel and plumb.

If you need to go through this step, you can also use active coal. However, that is more expensive and harder to find than coriander. This method was especially developed for those who live in Mexico City. It can be used by anyone on the planet now, thanks to the research made Americans.

Coriander’s bio-absorbable properties

What you need to do is take dry coriander and put it in something that resembles a teabag or come up with an orifice that can contain coriander while you pour water over it. Scientists say coriander absorbs heavy metals on contact, so it has to stay in water for just a few minutes. One teabag is enough for 0.30 gallons of water.

Microbiologic purification with silver

If you are skeptic right now, it’s totally understandable! Even so, if you look at the facts, you’ll find out that silver can purify water because it stops microorganisms from developing and destroys them eventually. It can do so because it ionizes water. Sadly, this is all it can do. Silver doesn’t clean water from chemicals, heavy metal or other deposits.

How do you do this? By simply placing an object made of silver in water.

Drink water made with active clay

Active clay is great for absorbing chlorine, smell, taste and some microorganisms from water. It also ads microelements and minerals to the water it is placed in. What you’ll need is a vessel made of glass and active clay.

Drink water made with active clay

2.6 gallons of water require 10 spoons of active clay. The clay should be added in the vessel and left there until it goes to the bottom. Then you can filter the water with the help of a piece of gauze and drink it safely.

Chemical Methods to Obtain Pure Water

Mostly applicable in cases when you cannot use fire or you are strolling through the wilderness, the following 3 methods can come at hand if you like to properly plan your trip.

  • Iodine 2% tincture will kill almost everything in your water, but it is not 100% effective against Cryptosporidium. You’ll need 4 to 5 drops per US quart.
  • Chlorine has been known to kill Giardia, but not Cryptosporidium. You’ll need 2 to 3 drops or double the amount if the water is cloudy.
  • Chlorine dioxide has been known to kill both Giardia and Cryptosporidium. 1 tablet is needed for ¼ gallon.

All these methods take 30 minutes to be effective. Check out our article on how to purify water using bleach to get safe drinking water.

DIY Water Filter to Get Rid of Impurities

Making your own water filter is no rocket science. All you have to do is follow the next steps and think about all the measures that can be taken against threats.

DIY water filter

Making sure your water is 100% pure will most likely require you to apply more than one method.

You’ll need:

  • a plastic bottle
  • a bowl filled with sand
  • a bowl filled with gravel
  • pieces of cotton
  • activated carbon
  • a glass

Steps to follow:

  • Cut off the bottom of the plastic bottle
  • Make a few holes in the bottle stopper
  • Place 2 or more pieces of cotton
  • Add activated carbon, sand and gravel in this order and equal quantities
  • Pour polluted water and place the bottle over a glass
  • Drink clean water

This method cleans impurities, but you have to keep in mind that bacteria and viruses might still be in there! Read our guidelines on how to purify your water using 7 survival methods.

Opt for The Curative Effects of Pure Water

Pure water stimulates your metabolism, contributes to the health of your blood, lymph and acts like an antioxidant. None of the above methods are difficult to apply, so if you really want to drink pure or purer water, then you can follow them.

Those that involve the use of fruit will diversify the taste of water, making it not only tasty, but also richer. This is one of the ways you can improve the quality of your life without spending on expensive water filters that are controversial as well. What are you waiting for? Start nourishing your body with quality water and tell us all about your experience!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dennis Owens
Dennis Owens

Dennis Owens is a graduate of National Camping School and REI Outdoor School. He knows everything about what gear to take with you, how to plan your trip to stay safe and what to do if you get lost in the mountains. We are lucky to have Dennis with us as he is a ‘walking encyclopedia’ when it comes to the wilderness.

  • Jason Delgado

    Unless you know your water is pure, then it is important to make sure you have clean water with you at all times. When in doubt, always boil your water. Personally, if i was to make a choice i would opt for a filter of some sort and then if i was not to sure after filtering the water, then i would boil it from there.

    • Dennis Owens

      My best advice to my friends and co-hobbyists is to always boil water when it came from an external and non-controlled source. Do not take chances because getting sick from contaminated water is not limited to just gastroenteritis. Purify your water each and every time.

  • Christopher Mills

    As you know we don’t have a water substitute, and without it, the human body, which is up to 86% consists of the miraculous moisture, is simply losing vitality. In the context of the above, I can only say, that for drinking and cooking we need only clean water. Unfortunately, the coming to our home water on the degree of contamination is far from perfect. It’s glad, that there are many ways to efficiently purify water at home and make it drinkable.

    • Dennis Owens

      Water will always be our universal solvent, and there is nothing in this world that can ever replace its purpose and extreme importance. The best thing we can do to address impure water is the availability of various purification systems that we have today.

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