If you find yourself facing a survival situation and don’t have water already stored, or if your situation drags out and your water supply gets low, you will have to locate water quickly. And if you can’t find bottled water you must take steps to ensure your water is drinkable.
The oldest method of water purification is boiling. Bacteria and protozoa are dead when the first bubbles appear, but to kill viruses the water must be boiled for at least three minutes, according to Emergency Essentials’® Tips For Preparedness.
And boiling doesn’t remove pollutants, sediment, foul taste or odors. In fact, boiled water may have a stale taste that is created just by the boiling process. To remove sediment and other particulates, always filter your water through a piece of clean cloth before boiling. And if the water tastes flat after it has cooled, try pouring it back and forth between two containers a couple of times to add oxygen.
Chemical treatments are also used for water purification. Iodine has been proven effective against viruses, bacteria and protozoa (with the exception of cryptosporidium), according to Emergency Essentials’®.
To purify with iodine, add three drops of tincture of iodine to each quart of clear water or six drops to each quart of cloudy water. Stir or shake and then let stand for 30-40 minutes to give the iodine an opportunity to kill the bacteria.
Chlorine bleach will work as well. Use two drops per quart for clear water, four drops per quart if the water is cloudy. Stir or shake and let the water stand for 30-40 minutes.
Water purification tablets are good to have on hand. Follow the instructions that come with the tablets to purify the water.
Additionally, emergency water purification and filtration systems are available that will filter the water through various strainers and/or charcoal. Most of them consist of a pump to transfer the water from one container, through the filtration system and then into another container. There are also gravity-fed systems available.
Finally, consider using a solar still. Emergency Essentials’® says solar stills are easy to construct and require only two essential components: A container to catch water and large sheet of clear plastic. Optional items include a long plastic drinking tube with end cap, a small shovel and duct tape.
The plastic covering allows solar rays to pass through, evaporating the water. The water vapor rises and collects on the underside of the plastic. The water can then be collected as drinkable water.
A solar still can distill almost any tainted water, even sea water. It will not work on water containing high amounts of chemicals, radiator fluids, fuels or materials that give off toxins.