Here are five survival techniques on how to purify water in a survival situation.

RELATED: 25 Ways To Get Clean Drinking Water In An Emergency

Best Ways to Purify Water for Drinking

The Importance of Water Purification

We all know the significance of clean water in our bodies. It helps our cells, organs, and tissues to regulate temperature and maintain other bodily functions.

Without clean water, it would be difficult to survive or persevere, especially when SHTF. But what happens if you find yourself in a survival situation with no access to clean water?

You might find yourself trapped in a predicament where you have to choose between dehydration or gulping a cup of cholera-infected water.

Picture this—you’re in the wilderness and the temperature has been slowly rising since you left your campsite—a good, clear, and unmistakably hot day ahead of you.

You look up and notice a few scattered clouds offering little shade, but at least you’ve got the trees. You set your survival pack down on the ground and reach into a side pocket for your water bottle. It’s empty.

While in reasonable conditions, you might be able to survive for three to five days without water, but there’s seriously no earthly reason you ought to test how your body reacts to dehydration. It’s time to find some water.

Whether it’s a puddle or a swift-flowing stream you find, you should never assume the water that is tempting your parched lips is anything less than a bacterial breeding ground.

A bad case of diarrhea or vomiting will only decrease your chances of survival. So, how are you going to turn dangerous water into purified, drinkable, thirst-quenching hydration?

Check out the list below and learn how to purify water in the wild and drink safely.

1. How to Purify Water by Boiling

The simplest way to purify water in the wild is to boil it. To do this, you’ll need (I bet you can guess) a container and fire. To actually purify the water, you’ll need to let it boil steadily for 10 minutes.

Some say one minute is fine, while others recommend a minimum of seven minutes. In my honest and very frank opinion, the longer you boil water, the “deader” those nasty little sickness-inducing microorganisms will be.

Remember, the last thing you want to happen to you in a survival situation is to get sick. Don’t forget: the higher the altitude, the longer the boiling time.

2. Chemical Treatment

Another way you can make water safe for drinking is to chemically treat it, and you can bet your thirsty little gizzard there are a number of chemicals that will do the trick. Some examples are Iodine tablets, Hydrogen Peroxide, Sodium Chlorite, and household bleach (yes bleach).

Some of these chemicals are actually already sold as water 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 (so you’ll have to be patient).

Be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions before you use these tablets.

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

This is how to purify water with bleach: 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.

RELATED: How To Stay Hydrated In The Wild

3. Commercial Filters

Not all of us are born mountain men (although you may be one). Some of us would prefer the easy way, with commercial filters created to come to the rescue.

While there are literally loads of these filters to choose from, most of them operate in a very similar fashion. Basically, your unsafe water will go into a water hose at one end of the purifier, and the water will pass through a ceramic or charcoal filter.

This cleans the water before it goes out through another hose and into your container. Commercial filters come in all shapes and sizes.

Some are pump-operated, while others are simple filter straws. One point to keep in mind, however, is not all commercial filters will be able to remove viruses (although most of them remove bacteria, protozoa, and other microorganisms).

If for some reason, you weren’t prepared with the proper equipment to purify your water, there are a few other methods of water purification.

Personally, I prefer to travel with my Berkey light. It’s much easier than building your own purification system, not to mention much safer.

4. How to Purify Water with Natural Materials

One of the most primitive ways how 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.

Follow these simple steps below:

  • Get a container (perhaps your empty water bottle?) and place your shirt over it.
  • Place sand or soil on top of the cloth. This will be your makeshift filter.
  • Pour the water over your makeshift filter to remove any sediments and particles in your water. Repeat this process several times until your water looks clear.

Another method is to dig a hole near the location of your water source and drink the water which seeps into a hole, filtered by the soil surrounding it.

However, keep in mind, that this method does not guarantee microorganisms such as bacteria are no longer contaminating your filtered water.

5. 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.

  • Dig a hole or pit in the ground.
  • Put your container in the center of the hole/pit to collect the condensed water from the solar still.
  • 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.
  • Then, place a rock or any heavy object in the center of the clear plastic, so 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 into the pit to distill it and make it safe for drinking.

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

Watch this video by Ultimate Survival Tips and discover how to make a survival water filtration system:

Whichever method you choose to use, pay close attention to the signals your body is giving you. Staying hydrated, whether 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 Grills: “Keep your head about you, use common sense, don’t panic, and above all think outside the box!”

What do you think of these methods of how to purify water in the wild? Let us know in the comments section below!

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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on October 22, 2018, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.


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