10 Water Purification Tips for Wilderness Survival

10 Water Purification Tips for Wilderness Survival

Hank Robertson

Disasters can happen at any time and most of them even force you to leave your home. So, you have to prepare for them and ensure survival.

Part of surviving in the wild involves sourcing water and purifying it. You have to make sure you have enough clean water for your needs. However, that can be difficult if you are in the wilderness.

So, use the 10 water purification tips we’ll cover today to prevent waterborne illnesses and ensure survival.

Let’s dive in!

Boil Your Water

Boiling is one of the most effective water purification methods you can depend on in any situation. It kills bacteria, parasites, and other contaminants that can cause illnesses.

It’s easy to purify your water using this method whether you are at home or in the wild. You’ll have safe drinking water and never worry about catching waterborne diseases during survival.

All you need is a metal pot with a lid and a heat source. You can make a fire, for instance.

Pour the water into the pot and bring it to a boil for at least one minute. Let the water cool before drinking. Filter any contaminants out of the water before boiling it.

You can use a dish towel or a t-shirt. Place the towel over the pot and pour the water inside. Remove the towel, place the lid, and then boil. It will be safe to drink once you bring it to a boil.

Use Water Purification Tablets

Use purification tablets to disinfect your water and ensure it’s safe to drink.  The best thing about water purification tablets is that they are affordable, and you can easily add them to your emergency kit and carry them with you wherever you go.

Make sure you always have water purification tablets in your survival kit so that you can use them in case your water purifying devices get damaged.

You will have access to safe drinking water and ensure you get through the emergency without contracting illnesses.

The disinfecting process and results depend on the type of products you choose. Different products contain different chemicals. So, consider the contents, the treatment process, and how long the disinfection process takes.

Find out if there are any side effects as well to avoid complications. Simply drop the tablet into the water to purify it.

The volume of water and the number of tablets you use at any given moment depends on the instructions that come with the product. So, check what volume of water you need per tablet before disinfecting.

When you place the tablet into the water, it releases chemicals that help eliminate harmful organisms. Ensuring safe drinking water.

Note that you have to wait for 30 minutes or more before drinking for safety reasons. Depending on the tablets you choose the water may also have an odd taste and color afterward.  However, it will be safe to drink.

The best thing to do is read the product description so you know what to expect. Follow the given instructions and find out how long you are supposed to wait before drinking.

Iodine tablets are the most common purification tablets among survivalists. They are also one of the most effective tablets when it comes to disinfecting water.  However, they should not be used by people with thyroid issues or pregnant women.

Make Distilled Water

Distilling water removes viruses, chemicals, minerals, pathogens, and all impurities. It is one of the best purification methods that campers depend on.

As a survivalist, you have to know how to purify water through distillation. It will help you get through difficult times and ensure access to clean drinking water.

You’ll have safe water for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and carrying out various tasks around your camping area. If you only manage to source saltwater, you can distill it, get rid of the salt, and make the water drinkable.

The distillation process involves boiling contaminated water until it evaporates and turns into steam. Inorganic compounds and other impurities are left behind and do not evaporate.

The steam then condenses into purified water that’s safe to drink. To distill water in the wild, add a bowl, tubing, a pot with a tight-fitting lid, and any water container in your emergency kit.

Pour water into the pot and place the bowl upside down on top of the pot. Place one end of the tubing in a container that will hold the distilled water and the other end in the bowl. Boil the water inside the pot. Make sure the tubing isn’t touching the water.

After the water reaches a boiling point, reduce the heat and allow for the distillation process to take place. The vapor will slowly condense on the bottom of the bowl and continuously drip into the pot until all the water is distilled.

Once all the water has distilled, turn off the heat and remove the tubing. Another easy purification method is solar distillation. Where you will be using energy from the sun to remove contaminants.

Simply leave the untreated water in direct sunlight. It will slowly absorb heat and cause the water to evaporate, cool, and condense. Leaving the contaminants behind. Solar distillation is slow compared to the purification methods we’ve mentioned so far.

It also doesn’t remove all contaminants or eliminate all toxins. So, you will have to boil the water after distilling it.

Disinfect with Bleach

Purifying water with bleach is quick, easy, and effective. Adding the right amount helps you kill all organisms in the water and keeps the chlorine levels low enough so that you can safely drink.

To purify your water with bleach, filter the large particles from the water. You can use a t-shirt or a dish towel. Add 4 drops of bleach per liter or 8 to 16 drops of bleach per one gallon of water.

Stir and mix thoroughly then let the water sit for 30 minutes for the disinfecting process to take place. Check if the water has a faint chlorine smell. If it does, it is safe to drink.

If it doesn’t, repeat the process and allow the water to stand for another 30 minutes. Run the test again and drink if it’s safe to do so.

If the water still doesn’t have a faint chlorine smell after repeating the purifying process, discard it and look for a different source. Use standard bleach with no additives for disinfecting your water for health reasons.

Make sure sodium hypochlorite with a concentration between 5,25 percent and 6 percent is the active ingredient.

Use Water Filters

The best thing about water filters and pumps is that they are portable, effective, and easy to maintain. You can easily carry take them with you on your walks while foraging for food and other necessities in the wilderness.

They can remove bacteria, dirt, viruses, and other impurities. Some filters also remove bad water tastes and odors. So, you don’t have to worry about funny tastes and smells as you drink.

It is impossible to pack enough water to last you through wilderness survival. You will eventually run out of packed water and need to source it in the wild.

Finding uncontaminated water in the wilderness can be challenging if not impossible. That is why carrying a water filter or pump is important.

You will easily filter and purify the water as you go and prevent illnesses. The purification process depends on the type of filter you choose.

You can buy a water bottle filter, UV filter, straw filter, pump filter, or gravity filter. The purification method mostly involves forcing water through a series of filters that trap contaminants. Leaving you with safe and clean water to drink.

Collect the water with the filter you choose, push or pump it through the filter, and collect the filtered water.

As mentioned earlier, the purification methods differ. They depend on the type of product you choose. So, read the manufacturer’s instructions to learn more about the process and understand what you should do.

Use Survival Straws

Survival straws are cheap and make it easy for you to filter water despite your location. Use them to remove protozoa, bacteria, and other contaminants.

You use the straw to drink and the water gets purified as it passes through the filter. The straws have a series of hollow fibers with pores. Where water is forced through.

The fibers trap dirt, parasites, and bacteria and allow clean water to pass through. You can use the straws repeatedly and they’ll still be effective in purifying the water.

However, you have to replace them once they are worn out or have reached the expiry date. Check the usage instructions or product specifications and find out how many gallons of water the filter can purify before it’s no longer usable.

Note that you can’t remove chemicals, heavy metals, or viruses with survival straws.

Purify with Iodine

Add iodine to your contaminated water to disinfect it. This is one of the most effective purification methods everyone should master. It will help you prevent dehydration and waterborne diseases.

Iodine can be used to disinfect wounds and purify water. It has a stable shelf life. So, you can rely on it throughout emergencies. No matter how long you stay in the wild. Store iodine in a dark-colored bottle or a dark place. Away from sunlight.

To disinfect the water, filter the large particles from the water first. Then add at least 5 drops of iodine per one liter of water. Leave the water for 30 minutes. If it has a taste of iodine, it’s safe to drink.

Pregnant women, people with allergies, individuals with thyroid problems, and anyone with shellfish allergies should not drink water that’s treated with iodine. This is because it is unsafe for them to do so and some may have allergic reactions.

Use UV Water Purifiers

If you want a small and portable device that helps you purify water quickly and easily, use UV water purifiers. They use ultraviolet light to eliminate viruses, fungi, bacteria, cysts, and protozoans in water.

The UV water purifiers kill most contaminants quickly and effectively. You can easily add them to your survival kit and use them throughout the survival period. Consider quality and product features when buying.

The best UV purifier kills most harmful organisms, destroys the germ’s ability to reproduce, won’t alter the taste of water, and doesn’t use chemicals.

Most campers and survivalists depend on these devices because they are lightweight, easy to use, and highly effective.

However, they also have drawbacks. For example, UV water purifiers require a power source to operate. So, you have to carry an extra pair of batteries in your backpack.

The devices also can’t filter out solid particles and only purify small amounts of water at a time. However, this doesn’t mean you have to exclude them from your survival kit.

They can simply the water purification process. Especially when it comes to your drinking needs or if you need clean water to carry out minimal tasks.

Filter with Charcoal

Charcoal water filters improve water flavor, don’t require energy, and do not strip the water of its natural qualities. Unlike other filters. The filters use activated charcoal which sieves contaminants and effectively cleans your water.

The activated charcoal binds impurities chemically through adsorption. The carbon in the charcoal will attract carbon-based impurities in the water. Effectively removing the impurities and ensuring only clean water passes through the filter.

You naturally remove toxins from the water without using chemicals that remove essential minerals and salts. During the filtration process, the impurities remain in the water. So, once all pores are filled, you have to replace the filter.

The best thing about charcoal filters is that they are compatible with most water filtering systems. So, you can use them alongside reverse osmosis and other filtering systems.

Most charcoal filters are easy to maintain. The only thing you need to do is replace the filter element after using up the charcoal.  Inspect the filters regularly to make sure you replace them when there’s a need.

Charcoal filters also improve water taste and remove bad smells in the water.

Use The SODIS Process

Use the SODIS or Solar Water Disinfection process to purify your contaminated water. Solar water disinfection is a water treatment method that purifies water through prolonged exposure to sunlight.

The UV rays in the sunlight kill microbes in the water and render it safe for drinking. The first thing you need to do is strain the water and get it as clear as possible before starting the purification process.

Use small bottles to allow the sunlight to travel through the water and effectively kill the organisms inside. Pour water into small water bottles or small clear plastics.

Make sure the bottle is clear by removing any labels or plastics covering it. Place the bottles on a flat surface and expose them directly to the sun.

Let the bottles sit in the sunlight for at least 6 hours and allow the temperature to rise as high as possible. Then shake the bottles thoroughly.

The water will be safe to drink after this process. The most important thing is to ensure the bottles are as clear as possible and the water temperature rises as much as possible.

You can lay the bottles on a black surface in the sun, for example, to help increase the temperature.


Staying hydrated is key to surviving the wild. You need access to clean and safe drinking water at all times to prevent dehydration.

However, sourcing clean drinking water in the wilderness can be challenging. That is why you need to master effective ways to purify your water with the tools that are available to you.

Knowing the best water purification methods can help you prevent illnesses and ensure continued access to safe drinking water.

You won’t worry about waterborne diseases or impurities because you know how to treat the water. So, follow the above-mentioned tips to keep your water clean.

Boil your water, disinfect with bleach, add iodine, buy filters, apply the SODIS method, use UV water purifiers, and filter with charcoal. Understand that the water source can have a huge impact on the purification process.

So, gather water from the right sources to speed up the purification process. Collect water from streams, rivers, lakes, and other sources of moving water. Avoid stagnant water and water from animal grazing sites as they can be infected with bacteria.

You can drink the water that animals drink. However, if dead animals are floating in it, avoid it as it may be contaminated. Consider the watercolor as well. Avoid cloudy water and water with strong odors or algae.








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