Water Purification Survival

With various water purification survival techniques available ranging from chemical treatments to transpiration bags, access to clean drinking water in most survival situations is entirely feasible. Since many toxins and parasites exist in the majority of natural water sources, drinking untreated water from creeks, rivers, and lakes is dangerous.

For that reason, you should use common and dependable methods such as boiling, filtering or purification tablets before drinking from any natural water source.

Guidelines for Assessing Water Purity

Some natural water sources are considered less toxic if the sources are:

  • Running water sources as still, stagnant water is highly conducive to bacterial and parasitical growth.
  • Water bubbling out of the ground or springs is usually less toxic than water running over the ground.
  • Clear water is preferable to opaque or cloudy water, which indicates the presence of bacteria, pollutants, and parasites.

Avoid water containing algae as well as swamp water. Do not drink unpurified creek or river water located near industrial establishments, towns or mine sites. In addition, water near rural farm areas will probably contain substantial levels of pesticides and fertilizers. Even if you are suffering from dehydration, the effects of drinking contaminated water may kill you faster than dehydration.

Diseases from Drinking Contaminated Water

Unless water purification survival techniques are implemented, you stand the risk of developing one or more of these debilitating diseases:

  • E. Coli or dysentery is caused by the amoebic agents. E. Coli symptoms include vomiting, rapid dehydration, severe gastroenteritis, fevers and bloody stools.
  • Hepatitis A produces symptoms such as jaundice, anemia, fever, inflamed liver and extreme fatigue.
  • Cryptosporidiosis is a protozoan parasite infection that results in diarrhea, severe stomach cramping, vomiting, fever and appetite loss.

Other common diseases contracted through dirty water include the protozoa Giardia that causes extreme diarrhea and dehydration, helminths or parasitic worms, and industrial waste possibly containing carcinogenic substances.

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Water Purification Survival Methods

Boiling water for at least five minutes will kill disease-causing microbes, bacteria and protozoans. Always bring water to a full, roiling boil to ensure pathogens are destroyed; however, boil water in mountainous areas longer due to high altitude interference.

Be aware that boiling does not heat water past 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius. Some toxins such as botulism needs temperatures at least 244 degrees Fahrenheit or 118 degrees Celsius in order to kill the bacteria, which is something only attained by utilizing a pressure cooker.

Filtering Water

Individuals needing fresh water to drink can filter water for water purification survival needs using several approaches:

  • Commercial water filters
  • Constructing a water filter
  • Solar still distillation
  • Chemical treatment
  • Transpiration bags
  • Pour water through a clean t-shirt

Once the water has been filter of impurities, then you can purify the water using iodine tablets or bleach; the simplest method of making water safe to drink. Drop one or two tablets into one quart or liter of water and wait for about 30 minutes before drinking the water.

To purify water with bleach, add 1/4 teaspoon or about 10 drops of household bleach to one gallon of water. Shake well and allow 30 minutes to elapse before drinking. Properly disinfected water should exhibit a slight odor of bleach. Once the bleach treats a large amount of water, the odor should diminish after a few days.

You don’t need me to tell you that drinking bleach (however diluted) is a dangerous pursuit – and this method is only to be used, in desperate conditions when you have nothing else.

When surviving in forests or jungles, transpiration bags will provide enough water to prevent dehydration. To construct this bag, follow these steps:

  • Find large deciduous bushes or trees that are not poisonous but receive plenty of sun during the day.
  • Pull branches together to form a good-sized bunch of leaves and cover them with a clear garbage bag.
  • Tie the bag securely using a thin cord, making sure it is tight enough to eliminate air leaks.
  • Pull down on corner of the bag to facilitate water collection or tie one corner to a ground stake.
  • When the sun heats the interior of the bag, water evaporates and condenses, creating a drinkable water source.
  • Depending on the amount of sun striking the vegetation, you may get anywhere from a cup to a quart of purified water each day.

Learning about water purification survival techniques is one of the most important information sources needed to survive emergencies where water resources are scarce.


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