Knowing how to do survival water purification is extremely critical. The fact is that having a simple device like a survival straw on you can actually save your life.
When on extended day hikes, hunting trips, or even real life survival situations, access to clean drinking water is the top priority.
Humans can survive several weeks without food, but without water we only have several days. Also, we only have hours before we can die from exposure.
In a lot of environments, finding a water source is not an issue.
However, drinking it as is can lead to severe gastrointestinal issues from bacteria and protozoa such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium.
Once you have located a water source, your next step is to ensure the quality of the water is safe.
Simply stated, you need a great method to purify the water that you find.
The best ways to purify water in the wild is by:
- boiling it
- treating it using chemical tablets
- filtering it
In this guide, we will look at the top five solutions to purifying your water using the three methods listed above.
We will describe how to boil water, what are the best water purification tablets, and what are the best portable water filters.
Disclosure: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, where I make a small commission at no extra cost to you.
1. Boil it
Our first solution to purifying drinking water is to boil it. The great aspect of boiling water for safe drinking is you don’t need any special tools.
All it takes is the right type of container to transfer heat from your fire into your water to bring it to boiling temperature for enough time.
Having a small and portable steel cup for boiling water makes everything a lot simpler.
It really is as simple as having a good fire and something to boil the water in.
The Glacier stainless steel bottle cup produced by GSI Outdoors is an excellent container to have handy when out in the wilderness.
It is compact and easy to carry by slipping it over the bottom of most 1 Liter water bottles so that it doesn't take up much space.
It weighs only 5 ounces and holds up to 18 ounces of water.
The price, compactness, and ruggedness make this cup an excellent container to purify water in.
A campfire with hot coals will be sufficient to bring water to a boil within several minutes as will a gas burner canister.
Set your cup or pot with the water directly on hot coals or above your gas canister. This cup even works well with the Esbit pocket stoves.
Another trick is to find a flat top rock and place it right at the edge of your fire so that you can sit your canister on top of it so that it will heat up.
To make your water safe to drink, you will need to bring the water up to boiling temperature (100°C) and let the water boil vigorously for 5 minutes.
This temperature and time is hot enough and long enough to remove any pathogens.
2. Chemical Tablets
Chemically treating your water is another method to purify water before consuming it.
The most common method of this is using iodine tablets.
Iodine is a very effective method of killing bacteria and protozoa that might be present in the water source.
Chemically treating your water is also quick and convenient.
One of the best and most trusted purification tablets on the market is the Potable Aqua water purification kit.
The pack contains 25 tablets that can treat up to 25 quarts of water. They are a great option for emergency water purification, because you can use them across multiple containers for several people.
After addition of the tablets to the water it takes thirty minutes before the water will be safe to drink.
What is great about this kit is the addition of tablets that can be added to the water to remove most of the undesirable iodine taste.
It is important to allow the proper time in between adding the iodine tablet and drinking the water.
Another important factor is to adhere to the amount of tablets needed purify a given volume of water. Diluting the iodine too much renders it ineffective.
3. Filter Straw
Filtering is a third option to purify your drinking water. We have three of the best survival water filters that round out our five solutions.
These products utilize filters with very small sized pores that inhibit bacterial and protozoan cells from passing through them.
Filters are great because they allow you to consume the water almost instantaneously.
We will discuss the three best portable water filters next. Having an emergency water filter on you can be a life saver.
It's important to note that these do not filter out chemical contaminants.
The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter is a compact, easy to carry filter that allows you to consume water in the wild immediately.
There is an incredible story behind its development.
Weighing in at 2 ounces, the LifeStraw can be carried anywhere effortlessly.
The filter works on particles down to 0.2 micro-meters.
That means it'll filter almost everything except viruses.
The LifeStraw filter is able to filter up to 1,000 Liters of water before replacing the filter is necessary.
To clean the filter, simply blow back through it to expel dirty water and debris. The small size of this filter makes it the best hiking water filter.
As far as a LifeStraw review, I personally have one of these in my bug out bag as well as one in my emergency vehicle bag. They work amazingly well.
Similar to the LifeStraw filter, the Survivor Filter company also provides an easy to carry filter for purifying your water.
This product utilizes a three-stage filtration system able to remove 99.9% of bacteria and protozoa.
This incredible technology will filter particles down to 0.05 micro-meters, which is 4 times smaller than the LifeStraw.
This filter is made from lightweight, durable material and has a lifetime warranty. It weighs in at 3.5 ounces.
It can be used to drink directly from the water source or screwed into most water bottles for faster flow rate.
The kit comes with an extra carbon filter and 5 cotton pre-filters. It is the best camping water filter you can get.
A third option for a tested, hand-held water filtration system is the Sawyer Mini Water Filtration System.
This small filter weighs only 2 ounces. The filters have been shown to remove 99.9% percent of harmful agents in the water source.
It can filter particles down to 0.1 micro-meters, so it is in between the LifeStraw and the Survivor Filter.
The unit can filter particles twice as small as the LifeStraw, but cannot filter viruses. It also has the slowest flow rate of the three filters discussed.
The filter is tested to handle up to 100,000 gallons of water giving you a long-lasting filtration system. It is often considered the best water filter for backpacking.
The filter comes with a 16 ounce survival water bottle that is a squeeze pack and a cleaning plunger. It can be used to drink directly from the stream or can be attached to the squeeze pouch or most water bottles.
Finding drinking water in the wild should always be one of your top priorities during any outdoor activities.
Hopefully, we have answered your question for how to purify water in the wild.
We have covered the three best methods for water purification in the wild including boiling, treating with chemical tablets, and filtering.
We also listed and described 5 products that have been proven to provide clean drinking water consistently.
Water filters are the easiest method by far. The three products we recommend are all incredible technology that has only recently come to the market in the past 5-10 years at the performance levels they are currently at.
All three filters will remove the dangerous bacteria and protozoa and are the best water filters for camping. The Survivor Filter stands apart in its smallest filter size out of all three. If you want something that also filters viruses, you will have to pay more and go for the Survivor Filter Pro.
However, viruses are not near as commonly found in North America water sources, but if you want to be ultra safe, consider getting the more expensive Survivor Filter Pro.
Let's not forget that sometimes the best water solution is carrying what we need with us. That is where hydration packs are very useful. We cover some great options in this review.
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