How to Purify Water

Feb 14 , 2017

How to Purify Water

If you live in a developed country, the chances are pretty good that you don’t spend much time worrying about your access to clean water. After all, it’s literally right there in unlimited supplies anytime you turn on the tap in your bathroom or kitchen.

Even so, it’s important to know how to purify water should you ever find yourself in extenuating circumstances. Anyone can potentially wind up lost in the wilderness or stuck at home after a natural disaster. Since the human body cannot survive longer than three days without drinking water, you need to know what to do. The following are some of your best options.


Understanding the Difference Between Filtration and Purification

Although the two may sound the same, water filtration and water purification are actually completely different things, and you need an understanding of the difference between the two.


At its most basic, filtration refers to the process of ridding water of a variety of impurities. This is done via one form of physical barrier or another. Impurities removed via this process can include sediment, silt, and even very tiny particles like bacteria and microbial cysts. Although there is a safety purpose to filtering water, the process is often more about improving clarity, overall quality, and taste.


Like filtration, purification also works to eliminate impurities from water. However, the focus is placed on contaminants that truly render the water unsafe to drink. Possibilities include viruses, chemicals, parasites, biological contaminants, and so forth.


Options for Purifying Water

Although both filtration and purification are important, purification becomes extra critical if and when you ever find yourself in a true survival situation. Let’s take a closer look at some go-to ways to purify water in any situation where the safety of the water you have access to might be questionable.


Perhaps the simplest, most reliable way to purify water is to boil it. This method won’t get rid of many forms of chemical pollution. However, it will kill off any parasites, bacteria, viruses, or other biological pathogens that might be infesting it.

Bring your water to a rolling boil and let it continue for a minimum of five minutes. (Ten minutes is a lot better, so, unless time is of the essence, err on the side of caution.) In higher elevations, it may take longer for the water to boil.

Personal Water Filters

If you’re planning on spending any time in the wilderness or simply wish to be prepared for a possible natural disaster, a personal water filter is a good bet. They’re made specifically with those purposes in mind and come in two different types – pump-action filters and drip filters.  

Pump filters require either good old fashioned elbow grease or a battery-powered motor to force untreated water through a filter cartridge. Drip filters, on the other hand, leverage the power of gravity to pull water through the filtration device. Just be aware that while many personal water filters do purify water in addition to filtering it, some don’t, so shop carefully.


If you’re facing the dilemma of generating clean drinking water after a natural disaster, you may have to worry about contaminants like lead, radiation, heavy metals, and so forth. Filtering won’t really work when it comes to getting rid of high levels and will only ruin the costly water filter you may have invested in.

That said, when you only have access to dangerous water, distillation isn’t a guaranteed way to remove all toxins, but it’s still your safest bet. To do this, the water must be heated until it produces steam. The steam can then be captured and safely used.

Purification Tablets

Last, but not least, you can purchase simple, easy to use water purification tablets with active ingredients like chlorine or iodine to handle the purification process for you. They’re simple, convenient, and so easy to use that they’re pretty much foolproof. Just be sure you consider the lifespan of the product when stocking a survival pack, bunker, or cabin with supplies.

Of course, no one wants to wind up facing a situation that comes complete with a water crisis, and most of us likely never will. However, it’s still important that everyone knows how to survive and gain access to clean, drinkable water if and when the unthinkable ever happens. It truly could mean the difference between life and death for you or someone you love.