Three ways to purify drinking water in the wilderness, Michelle Custodio

Three ways to purify drinking water in the wilderness

Water is essential to our survival so whether you are hiking for a day or camping for a week, knowing how to create safe drinking water is a skill you need to know. There are multiple ways to obtain water in the wilderness, here are three ways to purify water so it is safe to drink.


One tried and true way to purify water is through boiling. People have been detoxifying water through the methods of boiling since the beginning of time. It’s still our preferred method for purifying water today because it actually works. It takes about 10 minutes total to get water to boil (depending on your heat vs climate temperature ratio, it can be longer or shorter).

For this purification method here is what you will need to do:  put a pot of water over stable fire, let the bubbles roll for about 5 minutes before you get the pot off the fire. Once this is done, allow the water to cool for about 5 minutes before drinking it.

Boiling works best for water that is not clean but is clear. This is because boiling is effective against microorganisms but might not be effective against dirt. For this reason, it is highly advisable to use other methods in combination with boiling if the only source of water you have contains dirty water.


Filtration is another reliable way to purify water to drinking conditions. Sand filtration is one of the simplest ways to clean your water. You will need:

  • A plastic bottle
  • A filtering material such as a coffee filter, cotton cloth, or pebbles
  • Gravel and sand

Follow these steps:

  1. Cut the base off the bottle to create a cone shape.
  2. Turn the bottle upside down and cover the bottom (the neck of the bottle) with 3 inches of the filtering material.
  3. Add a inch of gravel on top of the filter material to prevent the sand from getting into the  filtered water.
  4. Fill with sand.
  5. Pour water through the filter. Clear water should come out of the bottom. If the water is not very clear, pass it through the filter again to make it clearer.

Sand filtration is an easy, cost-effective method for filtering debris and other contaminants.

Purification Tablets or Drops

Purification tablets or drops are a successful way to kill bactiera in water. The main ingredient in these tablets and drops is usually potassium permanganate, iodine, or chlorine, (chlorine being the most common.)Drops and tablets are usually made to be used for 20 litres of water. Follow these steps in order to purify water in the wilderness using this method.

Before you begin, check  the instructions that came with the tablets or drops for the number of litres to which you will be adding the tablet or drops. If possible, have a container of that size available.

  1. Fill up the container up to the brim with water up and add the drops or tablets as indicated on the instructions.
  2. Give the container a solid shake for about 10 seconds to allow the tablet or drops to thoroughly mix with the water.
  3. Let the water sit in the container for a minimum of 20 minutes before you drink it.

Text: Michelle Custodio.

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