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How To Survival Guide on Water Purification and Filtration

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Feb 15th, 2013
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Water is a known source of life and is important for human survival. Life on earth began in water and the space missions to different planets aim to detect water on or under the surface to confirm if life exists or existed on the planet in the past. The human body can go 3 weeks without food however dehydration can kill you in less than three days. Dying of thirst as anybody would imagine is a horrible way to go. While you can locate water source nearby there is no way to know if it’s teaming with deadly bacteria. This is why you must know how to filter water in case of a doomsday scenario.

To put the importance of water and proper hydration into perspective consider this.

In the year 2004, approximately 518,000 hospitalizations were primarily due to the dehydration. Nearly 5.5 billion dollars in hospital charges were resulted from dehydration admissions. Approximately 88% were either an emergency or urgent type admissions; over 54% were admitted to a hospital through the emergency room; nearly 2% of admissions died at the hospital.

For this reason water needs to be your second priority in a bug out. First being finding shelter and starting a fire to prevent the elements from impacting you.

Water filtering and water purification are essentially different levels to which you can purify water. Water filtering involves separating the water from dust, floating particles, undesirable chemicals and taste from a source of water. Water purification on the other hand is filtering on a more microscopic level and involves removal or bacteria and viruses from the water. This is achieved by using an effective water filtration system which has a filter that is 0.2 microns. You can stock such water filters and purification system which can be found in a hardware store or amazon however the filter would require to be changed after a set number of gallons have been purified.

When stranded in the wild or due to some natural calamity you can get water from different sources. Some of these sources are groundwater, rainwater and surface water which include lakes, rivers, reservoirs and even sea water if you can desalinate it. When fighting for survival you should not expect to filter water to mineral water purity levels. The water after filtering might still have an odor, taste and color however after filtering it your body should be capable of absorbing the water without getting sick. Depending on the region you live in you may also have to take into account salt water. Salt water if drank as your source of water will dehydrate you faster. You have to separate the salt from the water before you can drink it.

Gadgets and Devices to purify and filter water.

Purification Tablets – you can buy water purification iodine tablets and solutions to add to water that will kill off bacteria and viruses inside the water. These will do nothing for the quality of the water but will make it safe to drink. These can be a good back up in your bug out bag. Click here to buy potable Aqua Water treatment tablets.

Water filtration Straws – These straws are compact and a awesome backup water filter. They will filter down to 2 microns and improve the tastes some with their charcoal filter. They don’t have a long life with only 20 Gallons of water. That’s 1 person for 20 days given the typical water usage. Having a couple of these in your kit is a good idea. Where to buy Water filtration Straws.

Portable Filtration systems – My favorite in this market and what I have in my bug out bag is a Katadyn Pocket water Microfilter. It’s a little pricey at around $300 but it will filter up to 15,000 gallons of water before you need to change the filter. That means 1 gallon per day, for one person 41 years of usage before changing the filter. Another great option are the Sewyer water filters which boast 1 million gallons of water, far exceeding the Katadyn for only $40. There are many devices on the market in this category, including the Lifesaver 4000 filtration water bottle and more. Pick on that works with your financials and plans.

Non-portable filtration systemsBerkey Water filters are some of the best simple non-portable water filters on the market. However you can also get whole house filters such as the RainSoft Reverse Ozmosis Filters. While these are designed to filter city water they can be rigged to do more.

Improvised Water Purification and filtration

Charcoal and sand filters — You can create an effective water filter by using three containers or even creating three layers and pouring the water through it. The first level which is topmost level should be made up of gravel. This will get rid of any suspended particles and some dirt in the water. The second level is made up of fine sand which is a good natural filter and will separate dust and dirt from the water. The final layer which is charcoal can help get rid of any chemicals and odor by absorbing them. Charcoal is an amazing natural filter provided by nature. If you have some chlorine handy you can use it to get rid of bacteria in the water. Or you can boil the water to make it safe. Watch this video on how to make a BioSand Water Filter.

Boiling water – Boiling water is a tried and true way to make it safe to drink it this doesn’t filter it but it does kill off the bacteria. You will need to bring it to a boil and let it boil for 1 minute, if you are in higher altitudes above 1 mile you should boil for 3 minutes. You should have a steel canteen in your bug out kit. This will allow you to boil water.

Solar Water Stills (Especially great for salt water) – Do you remember seeing in movies with mad scientists where they boil are boiling a liquid and you see vapors travel up into a series of tubes above the boiling liquid and then down into another beaker where it forms as water again? This is in essence a still. The idea is as the water heats it turns into vapors and separates from the contaminants such as salt or other elements. If you catch that vapor you can cause it to collect like morning dew and drip into pure water. This is one of the best ways you can filter the water. You can create fire based water stills like this video, or there are also Solar Stills using a trash bag or other plastic, a canteen some rocks, and a hole in the ground, watch the How to make a Solar Water Still video.

Solar stills are very important tool for a prepper near sea water. No water filters on the market will remove the salt from the water. You must use a still to separate them. Sea water will dehydrate you faster. So you do not want to drink it.

Sun purification – UltraViolet Radiation can kill off bacteria in water. So using a clear plastic bottle in direct sunlight for 6-10 hours can make it safe to drink. Watch the video on how to use the sun to purify water in a clear plastic water bottle.

Plant Purification – You can use Mint and other volatile oil plants to purify the water, this last stitch effort shows how to purify water with mint and other plants. The longer it sits the better. Give it a few hours.

Regardless of the source of water you need to be careful and at least purify it of bacteria. Just because water looks clear does not always mean it’s pure. Water Purification and filtering can be used to survive on your own when there is no help at hand and is one of the most important tools for any doomsday prepper.


Recovered Comments

From: Christopher de Vidal

Look into a Sawyer filter. In my estimation it is superior to the Katadyn in many ways:
* 1 million gallons vs. 13,000 (not a typo!)
* 0.1 micro vs. 0.2 (and they have .02 for a few more bucks)
* 3 ounces weight vs. 20 ounces
* $40 vs. $300 (not a typo!)
* Backpacker Magazine Editor’s Choice 2012

The Katadyn may be better when filling both the pre-filter bag and post-filter containers (like a pot). This may be a little easier with the Katadyn. But it’s certainly possible with the Saywer.

Also the Sawyer’s squeeze bag is apparently fragile when squeezed too many times; Bring an extra or get an Evernew bag, reported to fit the Sawyer. Sawyer also sells a squeeze bottle. And it’s possible to gravity flow filter for zero squeezing.

And you should take care not to let it freeze; Water still inside the filter can expand and burst the filter. Keep it close to your body or in your sleeping bag.

Lots of discussion on this gem over at the BackpackingLight.com forums.

1 Comment to “How To Survival Guide on Water Purification and Filtration”

  1. […] Ideally at a 1 to 1 ratio. This way if a drought shows up you will be fine. Keep in mind collected water should be filtered to prevent it from getting you sick. The rule of thumb is an adult needs 1 gallon of water per day. […]

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