How To Purify Water – Survival Water Purification

Let’s say you’re out in the wilderness. Slowly the temperature has been rising since you left camp.

…you know that you’re in for a good, clear, but unmistakably hot day.

You look up to see that there are a few clouds in the sky and there are some trees for shade to keep you cooler.

Taking a quick break, you put your survival pack down and reach for your water bottle….only to find out it’s empty.

While you know that in reasonable conditions you might last 3-5 days without water, there’s no reason you should bother testing your body to see how it reacts to dehydration. It’s time to find water.

Walking around, you find a puddle or a flowing stream and you assume the water is good to drink. However, you do need to keep in mind that the water could be a bacterial breeding ground…. and you know a bad case of diarrhea or vomiting will highly decrease your chance of survival.

Now it’s time for you to think.

How do I turn this dangerous water into purified, drinkable water?

Whether or not you are prepared, there is a way to purify the water. We’ll give you 5 of these different ways in this article.

Survival Water Purification Methods:


You are probably already aware of purifying water by boiling it. To do this, you’ll need a container and fire. To actually purify the water, you’ll need to let it boil steadily for 10 minutes. Some say 1 minute is fine while others recommend a minimum of 7 minutes.

Personally, I feel the longer you boil it the more likely you are to kill the nasty micro-organisms in the water. Remember, you don’t want to get sick during these situations so boiling longer is in your favor. Also a tip to remember is that the higher the altitude, the longer it takes to boil.


Chemical Treatment

Another way you can treat your water is to chemically treat it. Some examples of chemicals to treat water are Iodine, Hydrogen Peroxide, Sodium Chlorite, Potassium Permanganate, and bleach.

Some of these chemicals are actually already sold as purification tablets designed specifically for campers, hikers, and survivalists. These tablets are pretty easy to use.

Simply drop the correct number of tablets into your container filled with water and let the tablets work their magic. Usually the water is safe to drink after about 30 minutes. Be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions before you use these tablets.

Plain old household bleach – one that has no scents, cleaners, or was manufactured to be color safe – is also a good water purifier if you know what you’re doing, but be careful!

To make your water safe, add around 1/8 teaspoon of the bleach to a gallon of water and let the bleach do its thing for no less than 30 minutes. Similarly, mix 5-10 drops of iodine (specifically 2% tincture of iodine) for every liter of water and wait for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Commercial Filters

Some of us would prefer to use commercial filters, which tend to be a little easier for us. That’s why Commercial Filters were created!

There are tons of these filters on the market now and most of them operate the same.

Basically the unsafe water goes in one hose of the purifier, passes through either a ceramic or charcoal filter (which cleans the water) and then the clean water comes out another hose and into a container.

One point to keep in mind, however, is that not all the commercial filters will be able to remove viruses (although most of them do remove bacteria, protozoa, and other microorganisms).

To see for yourself how these filters work, check out the video below:

Methods for the Unprepared Survivalist

While many of us are prepared, there are some of us who are still learning. If you for some reason aren’t prepared with the proper equipment, here are a few other ways to purify your water….

Method One:

Soil/Sand filter

One of the most primitive ways to filter water is by using soil or sand.

To do this, you’ll need to create a makeshift filter that will hold the sand or soil and clean your water.

1. Get a container (perhaps your empty water bottle?) and place your shirt over it.

2. Place sand or soil on top of the cloth. This will be your makeshift filter.

3. Pour the water over your makeshift filter to remove any sediments and particles in your water. Repeat this process several times until your water is looking clear.

Another method is to dig a hole near the location of your water source and drink the water that seeps into that hole which was filtered by the soil surrounding it. However, keep in mind that this method does not guarantee that microorganisms such as bacteria are no longer contaminating your filtered water.


Method Two:

Solar Still/Distilling

For microorganism-free water, a solar still is actually a great method to use when safe, drinking water is not readily available.

1. Dig a hole or pit in the ground.

2. Put your container in the center of the hole/pit to collect the condensed water from the solar still.

3. Cover the hole/pit with transparent plastic and secure it tightly by placing dirt or rocks on the plastic around the edges of the hole/pit.

4. Then, place a rock or any heavy object on the center of the clear plastic so that it points towards the container. Like a greenhouse, the water in the soil will evaporate and condense on the plastic sheet. When it condenses, the water will run down into the cup.

Tip: You can add some vegetation into your pit/hole to increase the water output. You can also pour unclean water in the pit so that it can be distilled and made safe for drinking.

The concept of a still is far from new. Follow our steps and create an emergency still of your own.


Whichever method you choose to use, pay close attention to the signals your body is giving you. Staying hydrated, whether or not you are in a survival situation, is absolutely essential to your well-being.

If you find yourself in a less than ideal situation, remember these tips for hydration and these wise words from Bear Grylls:

“Keep your head about you, use common sense, don’t panic……and above all think outside the box!”


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