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Water Filtration And Purification

Updated on August 25, 2014
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Water, the source of Life

If you are a camper or back packer, you know you need to provide a gallon of water per person, for every day you are in the wild. That can add up to a lot of weight. This is why most outdoors-men and women carry portable water purification or filtration systems with them. If you have the right equipment, you can purify almost any water source, including sea water and those yellow bodily fluids in an emergency.

The Basics Of Water

At home, if there is no emergency, the water comes out of the tap or bottle already safe to drink. But in the wild, that clear lake may be full of bacteria, algae, and fish poo--so you can't drink it. Likewise, if you are traveling in foreign places, water treatment ma not be as good as in the USA. So it's a good idea to be prepared. Most campers buy inexpensive water purification pills, filtration straws, or other portable purification kits. These range in price from a few dollars to almost 100.00.

If you are a prepper, or you like really roughing it, then you might have some hydrogen peroxide, iodine, bleach (all in small bottles), some blakc plastic garnage bags, a few coffee cans, some candles, and perhaps some activated charcoal like that used in fish tank filters. All of these things will give you safe drinking water--you can even desalinate sea water, and have sea salt to season your fish dinner.

Simple ways to purify water

  1. You can purify a gallon of water by adding either: 2 capfuls of bleach, or 1 teaspoon of iodine, or 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide, and letting the open container stand in the sun or anywhere for a few hours to settle and clear out. If you use bleach, it should taste like tap water--anything stronger, let it sit longer after shaking. If you use iodine, take vitamin C--oxidized iodine creates free radicals.
  2. Make distilled water: 1. take a clean coffee can and fill to within an inch of the top with water. Place on level surface. Take two sticks and stick in the ground so they extend about an inch above the top of the can. Take the second can and place next to the first, partially in a hole, so the rim is about 2 inches lower than the full can. Stretch a piece of black garbage bag tight over the sticks, and tie to sticks. 3. stretch the plastic tight over the empty can, and tuck underneath it to keep it tight. Take a small rock and place on top of the plastic ob=ver the middle of the empty can. Depending on how hot and sunny it is, the water in the full can will evaporate and condense onto the plastic, and run into the empty can. In rainy weather, build a ring of stones with a hole in the middle. The ring needs to be small enough to support the can, and high enough so you can put your votive candles under it with 2 inches to spare. You only need one or two candles.
  3. Light the candles and boil the water (you can cook like this too). If you are using sea water, then set the other can lower than your hot can, and stretch the plastic as with the regular distillation. You will end up with a full can of distilled water, and an empty can with sea salt. To clean the salt, put a small amount of distilled water in the salt, swish around, and pour out excess--then dry the salt in the can over the candles.

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Securing Water In Domestic Emergencies

Whether you live in the city or country,if there is an emergency, you will need water! It's a good idea to always keep 2 gallons on hand per person, just in case, plus 2 in the trunk of the car for road emergencies.

If you do happen to have an emergency, before the water supply is lost, fill the sinks and bathtub with water, and any available bottles. You should also have water filtration and purification supplies in your home and the trunk of your car.

Learn from the recent disasters, like Hurricane Sandy--if bad weather is coming--leave. Just because the weather man says it won't be too bad, or the mayor says you don't have to go--leave anyway! No personal possessions are worth your life.


A good emergency backpack has water purification tablets, some clothesline, a Swiss army knife, strike anywhere matches, candles, a good small headlamp (so your hands are free) with spare batteries, a change of clothes, and several pairs of socks and underwear. You should also have some shelf stable foods you can eat out of the can or cup cold, toothbrush and toothpaste, and medications, and a small roll of toilet paper. Every family member should have a "go bag" for emergencies. The car should have a first aid kit, a road emergency kit, spare fan belt, hose clamps, and fluids (oil, power steering, and brake, and anti-freeze--ad some of the stop leak products) and a full tank of gas.

Take care of filling the bathtubs and containers at home first--the stores will be mobbed with people who waited too long to get prepared. Also--no showers or baths--sponge baths only! this water might have to last a while, especially if you are without power for more than a few days or there is significant damage to the water delivery system. No power, no water flowing.

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Home Water Filtration And Purification

Though the bottled water companies would like you to believe that all the water you drink is contaminated, this is usually an exaggeration. The majority of tap water that comes from any county or city system is completely safe to drink. But if you want to know what is in your water, then you can contact you city or county and get copies of the testing reports for your area. By law, your local water company has to test the water regularly, and make those results available to the public. If you are still worried after you read the reports, then you can consider getting a home purification system. There are several different kinds, ranging from simple filtering pitchers you fill and keep in your fridge, to expensive reverse-osmosis systems.


Bear in mind, just because you have "hard" water, doesn't mean you have a problem. Hard water does cause mineral buildup in appliances, faucets and on bathtubs, but the minerals in water can actually be good for you. It's interesting to note that before the bottled water craze, when people were drinking fluoridated tap water, children and adults had fewer cavities. Water experts and scientists have come to the opinion that bottled water isn't any better for you than most treated tap water--and it certainly isn't "greener". Plastic bottles, after all, are made with petrochemicals--which are a finite resource, and not recycled very efficiently. Additionally, testing has shown that a lot of bottled water is really no cleaner than what comes out of your faucet. But if you want to get a filtration system for home, there are a few options listed below.

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    • MichaelsA profile image

      MichaelsA 4 years ago

      While I enjoyed reading this article, there are a few points that aren't correct. First of all, the bottled water companies saying that tap water is contaminated is very true, but bottled water is usually tap water that is bottled. Our tap water contains many contaminants varying from common contaminants such as iron and mercury, to chlorine, chloramines, trihalomethanes and radiation. You can read more about these on http://www.aquasafecanada.com and their blog, but once you do, you won't want to drink water from your tap anymore, but is important to know.

    • profile image
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      Eva 4 years ago from Tucson

      I agree- there is a lot of contamination in much of the tap water, and I should have made that more clear. Ideally, people should always filter their own water, or have it tested regularly. Unfortunately, some people don't have the time or the money to spend on filtration--and the money they could save by getting off bottled water so they could get a home filtration system would make more sense.

      Home filtration is something I'll be covering in another hub--because it is so important, and thanks for the link--very cool site.

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