Every prepper knows the importance of water. Quite simply, you can’t live without it. Within three days, dehydration will take hold and death soon thereafter. The procurement and catchment from a water source is step one. Water Purification is step two.
The water you’re hoping to drink might be riddled with parasites or bacteria particles, you can’t afford to skimp on water purification. In the very circumstances that put you in contact with questionable water (being in the wilderness, surviving or recovering from a disaster) the last thing you want to do is to get sick with dysentery.
For preppers, having an adequate water supply requires three steps: Catchment, Purification + Storage. Last month we shared our methods for Water Storage here on APN:
This month we will deal with the basics of water purification as an integral part of a preparedness plan.
METHOD ONE: BOILING WATER
This is one of the most common water purification methods in a survival situation. Place the water you wish to purify into a pot. Try to strain the water through a cloth or an unused coffee filter. Place the pot on the stove and turn the stove on to high. When water boils, any bacteria that may have been living in it will be killed, thus ensuring that you do not get sick when you drink the water.
Watch for rolling bubbles. When bubbles begin to appear, it means that the water is boiling. Let the bubbles continue for a solid five minutes for the heat to have the most effect upon any bacteria that may have been living in the water. Boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes will kill off 99.9% of any organisms living in the water. It also removes most chemicals by vaporizing them. However, be aware that boiling the water will not remove solids, metals, or minerals.
Remove from heat, carefully. Let the water sit and settle. You do not need to do this if you are boiling water that came from a tap and you feel sure that there are no solid items, minerals, or metals in the water. If you let the water settle, any items in the water will sink to the bottom naturally, allowing you to drink the pure water from the top.
METHOD TWO: PURIFICATION TABLETS
Using purification tablets or drops is the easiest water purification methods. You can purchase these drops or tablets at sporting goods and adventure stores. Keep in mind that this is not the best tasting method, but protection from bacteria is worth a bitter taste in your mouth.
Iodine tablets, often used by campers, are the most commonly sold purifying tablets, but you can also use chlorine tablets with the same result. These tablets are most effective when the water you are purifying is 68 degrees F (21 degrees C) or higher. These chemical tablets will kill bacteria living in your water. We recommend the Potable Aqua Water Purification Tablets.
Strain the water if it has large particles floating around in it. You can do this by pouring the water through a cloth and into the bottle or container that you will be purifying your water in. The cloth acts as a strainer that removes the particles floating in the water.
Place the tablets in the water. If your tablets or drops came with instructions, follow these now. In general, you will want to use one tablet for each quart or liter of water you wish to purify. Be aware that these tablets generally have an expiration date. If you use them after this date, they are much less likely to be effective. Always check the bottle before using these tablets. Mix the tablets into the water until they dissolve. They must be completely dissolved so that they can mix most effectively with the water you are purifying.
Wait 30 minutes before drinking the water, as the tablets need that time to effectively kill any bacteria in the water. You should also be aware that tablets are generally less effective in water that is very cold. If the water is 40 degrees F, you should wait at least an hour after the tablets have dissolved before drinking the water. You can place the water in the sun to warm it up before using the tablets if you have the time to do so.
To lessen the strange taste the tablets give the water, add flavoring to the water (if it is available to you.) Powdered lemonade mixes or a pinch of salt will mask the tablet flavor.
METHOD THREE: USING A WATER PURIFIER
Use a pump purifier. You can use these types of purifiers in conjunction with a canteen or water bottle when out in the wilderness. These pumps are generally hand held and made out of a synthetic or ceramic cartridge. Most filters have two separate hoses, one for clean water, the other for dirty water. On the hose that pumps the dirty creek or lake water, you may find a foam flotation device that keeps the hose from sinking to the bottom and sucking up the silty bottom water. The pump will have a plunger or lever that can be pulled and pushed so that water is sucked up, run through a series of filters within the plunge, and then pumped out and into your water bottle.
Buy a water bottle with a built in purifier. You can now buy water bottles that have their own filters already built in. These work much like the pumps in that they run the water through a filter before dispensing the water into the bottle.
Try out a gravity fed purifier. These are filters like the Katadyn Base Camp Water Filter.
As the name suggests, these filters use gravity to pull the dirty water through a filter and into the reservoir that contains clean water. To use this purifier, all you have to do is pour unpurified water into the dirty water section, and wait until all of the water has run through the filter. Often, these filters will have two sections–one for dirty water, and the other for clean. These filters are best used at home or at a campsite as they are generally pretty large and would be a pain to tote around in the wilderness.
For your bug out bag, we strongly recommend the LifeStraw Personal Water Filter
BLEACH/WATER PURIFICATION METHOD
If using Chlorine/Clorox, use a non scented and non soapy version. Use about six drops per gallon (or two drops per liter/quart). Mix and let set for at least five minutes. The six drops per gallon ratio is the best and proper mixing ratio. However, two drops in a liter or quart sized bottle is overkill but much safer than adding just one drop. When able, work with gallon or larger volumes of water (try to avoid working with just quart or liter volume sizes of water such as canteens or refilled soda bottles).
The active ingredient in liquid bleach, sodium hypochlorite, is very sensitive to high heat and freezing, but under normal home storage conditions, it should still perform well for nine to twelve months. Which brings us to an excellent alternative.
CALCIUM HYPOCHLORITE, POOL SHOCK
The suggestion of using Calcium Hypochlorite, or Pool Shock as an alternative to liquid bleach was brought to my attention by APN contributor Dan Wolfe. Here is what Dan wrote for APN in February 2014:
Calcium Hypochlorite Granular 68% is actually better for storing water then using liquid bleach, because of its longer shelf life. It is generally sold in two forms, dry and hydrated. Although the hydrated is safer to handle the dry granular can have an indefinite shelf life (a yellow white solid which has a strong smell of chlorine). It can be purchased by the common name as “pool shock”.
The thing to watch for when buying pool shock is if they add anti-scaling agents (water softeners), you want a 68%-78% calcium hypochlorite without the water softeners added, although calcium chloride is often added as well.
One pound of granular Calcium Hypochlorite Granular 68% will treat up to ten thousand gallons of water (37854.1 litres). The process is rather simple. First you make a solution of the Calcium Hypochlorite(approximately 1 teaspoon) to two gallons of waters (8 litres). Do not drink the solution! The ratio for stored water is 1:100, one part solution to 100 parts water.
SURVIVAL SKILLS: MAKING A SOLAR STILL
A solar water still is a simple of way to create distilled water using the heat of the sun. As illustrated below, and in the step by step instructions, you create a barrier using a plastic sheet to trap moisture in the form of evaporation from humid soil. The impure water outside the container is evaporated by sunlight shining through the clear plastic. The purified water collects on the underside of the plastic sheet and then drips into the container. Wallah, pure distilled water!
1: Dig a hole in the sand or dirt that is deep and wide enough to hold your water tight container.
2: Place this container in the center of the hole.
3: Fill the gaps surrounding the container with anything wet, such as vegetation or even urine.
4: Place your plastic sheet over the hole.
5: Anchor the sheet in place with larger rocks around the edges of the hole.
6: Place a small rock in the center of the plastic, just over the container.
7: Condensation will occur on the underside of the plastic and run down to the center. It will drip into the container filling it with distilled drinking water
Pure as the driven snow my friends. Drink up!
Because you never know when the day before … is the day before.
Prepare for tomorrow.
~ by Bobby Akart
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