What would you do if you’re out there in the wild and you run out of drinking water? Imagine that you’re out camping, fishing, hunting, hiking or backpacking when this happens. What next?
Do you fill your empty bottle with water from a nearby river or lake? Do you decide that it looks clear and must be clean enough to drink as you gulp it down? Did you know that a lot of campers and hikers suffer from diarrhea every year because of drinking contaminated water.
So, you might be wondering how can you treat water from the wild?
Easy. Boil it.
Water from lakes or streams, no matter how clear it looks, is not devoid of bacteria, Giardia, and parasites. One of the most reliable and oldest ways to kill pathogenic microorganisms and parasites is by boiling the water. Take note that the boiling point of water decreases as the air pressure decreases. So at higher elevations, where air pressure is lower that at sea level, you need to boil water much longer. At sea level, boil your water for at least 1 minute. At 6,000 feet above sea level, you need to boil your water for at least 7 minutes. The rule is to add another minute of boiling time for every 1,000-feet of elevation.
The downside of boiling is that you sometimes don’t have the equipment and time for it.
Portable water filters
This is probably the quickest and easiest way to turn river or creek water into clean drinking water that won’t make you sick. Most of these portable systems are user-friendly and fairly effective in eliminating bacteria and protozoa. You can’t rely on them to remove viruses, though. Portable filters can be gravity, pump, or squeeze bottle filters. Of these, the LifeStraw personal water filter is probably the most popular if you ask us.
Gravity filters are fast and reliable. You only need to hang them on a branch. A typical gravity filter can give you one liter of water in a minute.
Pump filters allow you to collect water from a source and draw into a container. They are handy and can produce more water per minute than gravity filters.
Squeeze bottle is the cheapest of all portable water filters for hikers and campers. All you need to do is collect water from a source and then screw the filtration mechanism on the top. You then have clean water.
This is pretty straightforward. An example of ultraviolet treatment uses a battery-powered UV wand, which you stir into your water sample for about 1 minute or as suggested in the instructions. After that, you can drink your water. UV radiation renders microorganisms sterile, keeping them from reproducing. The water is safe to drink after treatment.
Chlorine and iodine are two of the most commonly used chemicals for water treatment. This is the cheapest and most convenient way to treat water. The drawback is that these chemicals take a while to actually clean your water, anywhere from 30 minutes to 4 hours. Also, they alter the water’s taste and smell. Still though, it doesn’t hurt to always leave the house with some iodine tablets when going on in the wild.
You’re better off subjecting water from lakes to more than one treatment procedure to eliminate more contaminants and pathogens and render water safer for drinking. For instance, you can treat it with chlorine and run it through carbon filtration. Or filter water first and then treat it with UV light.
Click here to view all the water purifiers at Amazon for campers, backpackers, hikers and hunters. Or, watch the video below for tips.