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5 Ways To Purify Water On A Camping Trip

Updated on December 5, 2019
Tejas Shahakar profile image

Tejas Shahakar works on content related to outdoors and survival.He is also a nature enthusiast and writes about nature conservation.

Are you planning to venture out on your next outdoor expedition? It doesn’t matter if you are hiking, camping or walking those unfrequented trails. Any unexpected train of events could lead to a survival situation where you will be left to fend for yourself. In such situations staying hydrated will surely be of utmost importance.

Necessary hydration on such long and hefty expeditions cannot be overlooked. On a normal trek, a person will drink 1 gallon of water per day. This could easily increase up to 3 gallons in humid and dry climates. Thus, if you end up consuming the supply of water you had stocked up, you will need to obtain portable water to keep yourself hydrated along the journey.

Is the water from a river, waterfall or a creek safe to drink?

The answer is NO. Raw water could contain harmful contaminants, parasites, bacteria, and viruses. Drinking unfiltered or unpurified water could lead to serious health conditions. And since you are outdoors, getting help would pose a big challenge.

Therefore, it is always safer to filter and purify the water before consuming. Before diving deeper into the ways to purify water, let’s first understand what the difference between water purification and water filtration is.

Water filtration is a technique of removing impurities from water. Water can be filtered using a physical barrier, biological and chemical process. Filtering water removes the murkiness, most of the bacteria and microbial cysts. However, water that looks clean need not be safe to consume. It can still contain harmful viruses and chemical contaminants that are not removed just by filtration. Unlike filtration, water purification is a process that deals with making the water safe to drink. Water purification implies the use of chemicals like chlorine or iodine to get rid of all the harmful components like biological contaminants, viruses, and chemicals.

It should be noted that water filtration should be followed by purification to get completely safe water to be consumed.

Water Purification Techniques

1. Boiling

Simple and effective way to treat water is by boiling. Boiling the water will kill any bacteria and viruses. Collect some water and rolling boil it up to 1 minute. However, at higher altitudes, since the air is thin, it takes more time to reach a high temperature. Boiling the water for 3 minutes at higher altitudes, generally above 6500 feet will purify the water of any harmful pathogens and is safe for drinking.

2. Distillation

Water distillation is an efficient method to obtain drinkable water. In hot or humid climates where temperature is generally high distillation proves to be an effective method. Impure water may contain many salts and harmful chemical elements which has the potential to generate serious health problems.

At its very basic level, distillation is very simple to carry out. You’ll need a large container, a small container, a plastic bag, and a rock. Dig a hole placing the water-filled large container in it. Place the small container in the middle and cover the pit using the plastic. Finally, place the rock at the center of the plastic creating a depression over the small container.

This is nature’s way of applying physics. Water evaporates; the water vapor gets condensed on the plastic. The clean water then gets collected into the small container which is safe to drink.

3. Water purification tablets

Easy to use and carry, effervescent tablets is one of the easiest and most effective way to get portable water. Generally, a tablet will treat 5 gallons or 25 liters of water. Powerful tablets can treat up to 70 liters for a large group. It takes 30 minutes for a tablet to completely get rid of the parasites.

Cryptosporidium present in impure water causes your stomach to get severely upset and you suffer a constant coughing. Iodine based tablets cannot get rid of this parasite. Chlorine dioxide tablets tackles this problem for you, but you will need to wait for up to 4 hours before you can drink the water.

4. Water filters

When you are on the trail, carrying a light-weight water filter is the best way to go. Water filters can purify water with a specifically designed filtration system that gets rid of the parasites like Cryptosporidium and Giardia which causes serious health problems.

A squeeze water filter can be your travel buddy. It’s light-weight and can be packed in the sack. You can directly sip water from a pond or a creek or store dirty water in a bottle attached to the sipper.

Pump water filter work on the same technology but instead of sipping the water, you have to pump the water through the filter using a pump. For filtering water for large groups, gravity water filter would prove to be a good decision. Hang a large container filled with murky water. Water will pass through the filter at the bottom giving safe water to drink.

5. UV Rays treatment

This is probably one of the easiest ways to purify water naturally. All you have to do is fill plastic or glass bottles with filtered water, remove the label and keep the bottles in sunlight. The UV rays from the sun will kill all the harmful parasites leaving behind purified water.

Depending on the weather, keeping the bottle for 4 hours on a sunny day and longer in case of cloudy day will surely do the job.

Winding Up

While on a trekking or camping adventure, keeping yourself hydrated is one of the most underrated things. Though, you won’t face any problems during short family camping trip, but if you utilized all the water supply, you have to know various ways to get clean water to drink. The above mentioned easy and affordable ways to make water safe for drinking will surely make you feel more relaxed.

So, if you are planning your next adventure, you already know various ways to purify water and you bag one more skill in the survival techniques.


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