How to Purify Drinking Water on Camping Trips and Disaster Situations
What water purification methods do you know?
Camping is an outdoor adventure that every person should try at least once. Of course it’s not for all, but spending time in the wilderness is definitely a special experience. However, gone are the days when you can simply dunk your head into a stream and enjoy its refreshing drinking water.
Another situation where you need clean drinking water is during disaster situations. Some countries are less fortunate than others. The Philippines for example gets numerous typhoons in a year that causes floods. A major concern during these times is securing clean drinking water.
Contamination of the water supply is a serious threat to life. Of course there are still places where nature provides safe drinking water. Unfortunately employing water purification methods is a prudent course of action. Remember, the toxic and biological threat is real.
The U.S. Armed forces are taught basic survival training with much emphasis on securing water supply. You don’t need to go to a boot camp and train like you’re out to get terrorists to learn water purification methods.
Water Purification Method 1: Boiling
The Wilderness Medical Society recommends boiling water as it kills all pathogens. What is important to remember is that altitude affects the boiling point of water. At sea level, the boiling point of water is 2120F. However, the higher you go, the lower the boiling point of water. Keep in mind that at 1600F you need to boil water for at least 30 minutes.
Although boiling is a great way to kill microorganisms, it is by no means a reliable way to take out particulate matters and impurities.
Water Purification Method 2: Iodine Treatment
Iodine treatment is a common way to chemically treat water. Compared to chlorine-based techniques, iodine is better at stopping Giardia (a common cause of intestinal problems).
Add 5 drops of liquid 2% iodine for every quart of water. But if the water is cloudy, you can add as much as 10 drops. For iodine crystals and tablets, simply follow manufacturer.
Not recommended for – pregnant or lactating moms, people over 50, and people with thyroid problems. Use chorine treatment instead.
Filter Size Matters
1.0 - 4.0 microns
0.2 - 1.0 microns
less than 0.004 microns
Water Purification Method 3: Filtration
Filtration method is another water purification method you can do when camping. As the name implies, the basic idea is to let water pass through a membrane to get rid of unwanted particulates and even microorganisms.
Remove as much sediments as possible before running your drinking water through the filter. This will avoid clogging your filter.
Water Purification Method 4: Solar Distillation
This method uses the heat of the sun to evaporate water. Then using a film or plastic sheet, the water vapor condenses and you simply collect it. This method is actually slow but when in dire situations, even the smallest amount of water matters a lot.
Make sure your containers and materials are clean. Sanitize them before purifying the water. Otherwise, your effort will be futile.
It is always best to have at least two water purification methods at hand. Having a fall back will ensure that you have safe drinking water. Water-borne diseases are a serious threat. As such, always exercise prudence and caution to avoid infection, sickness or death.
The threat to health and safety is real. But don’t buy a hazmat suit just yet. The water purifying methods above can provide safe drinking water.