We’ve covered some easy water purification techniques here, including using the sun, but I’ve got even more for you.
The first order of business, however, is to try to find the cleanest water to begin with. Here are some rules of thumb:
- Avoid water with a strange hue or film on it, and avoid water that is not clear
- Try to find moving water as opposed to still water
- Avoid water where there is active growth in it such as algae or scum
- Avoid water near roadways or pavement as it likely has oil and pollutants in it
- Stay upstream of industrial facilities, mines and construction
- Avoid water from farmland, as it might have large amounts of fertilizer and pesticides in it
Now onto some easy tips for making sure you have clean water anywhere, any time.
This seems obvious but is really the surest way to make sure your water is clean. Water should be boiled at least 5 minutes straight to kill the bacteria existing in most water. Every “bug out bag” should include a way to heat and boil enough water for everyone in your family. Don’t skimp on your pot or your stove, as these could be your lifeline if there is no clean water available.
There are many commercial filters available. Stick to brands you trust and make sure they are made in the USA. There are plenty of crappy filters out there that are made in China that could leave you literally high and dry.
For a more primitive method, try the Birch cone method. Cut a 1ft by 1ft square of birch, aspen, or other paper like bark from a tree. Roll it into a cone. Place some small stones in the bottom to keep your material from falling out of the bottom. Tie a couple pieces of string around the outside to keep it in the cone shape. Now alternate putting layers of charcoal, grass, and sand. The sand and grass will filter the suspended solids in the water, and charcoal can filter bacteria. Run your water through the filter at least 3 times and keep changing the materials inside it for best results.
You can also use the earth to filter your water. Dig a hole next to a stream and let water filter through the sand and silt into your hole. This water will be reasonably clean, but may not be free of all bacteria.
Distilling with the Sun
Once again our old friend the sun has a great solution for us. Mother Earth news has a great article about how to build a solar still from scratch.
The still works by causing the water to first evaporate, then condense on a surface where you can collect it. Since 99% of solids and bacteria won’t evaporate with the water, the condensed water will be pure.
Let me know in the comments what your favorite water filtration methods are.