To avoid a science lesson, let us just say that our bodies are made of mostly water in an abundance of water. The only problem with the 70% of Earth’s water supply is that only .7% is accessible fresh H2O. When the SHTF, there is a chance you may have bottled water stashed in your house or bag. The truth is you can only carry so much of it if you are obligated to head for the hills. Being able to tell the difference between toxic and biologically contaminated water is the key. It will be helpful to know how to properly quench your thirst when the local water works goes up in flames. Here are some useful tips towards successful survival water purification.
Toxic vs Biologically Contaminated
Basically, biologically contaminated water is one of which will require a bathroom. Your 1194 centimeters of intestinal track is going to be writhing in pain if you cannot keep it healthy. The microorganisms that live in this type of water are bacteria that can be contained with proper water treatments.
Toxic water contains chemicals from mine tailings, pesticides, and animal fecal matter. This water can not be treated and will never be safe to drink. Good luck.
In a live or let die situation, you better be safe rather than sorry when determining water quality. A great survival pack necessity is a home water testing kit. While most are not made for field purposes, they still test for the types of materials to conclude if the water is toxic. You can use easy to read strips that tell if there is lead, pesticides, nitrates, or chlorine hiding in the clear blue stream.
Another great tool a digital TDS water quality tester. With a short test in a sample cup of water, this little device can read the water’s quality in parts per millimeter. A ppm above anything readable on the device is toxic water. It may only contain potassium or salt but it could also contain lead or nitrates that can cause mental and physical problems. Personally I want to reserve the violent death scenes for Zombie slaying.
Purifying With Iodine and Chlorine
If the stream simply has microorganisms hiding in it, chemical treatment is one option you have for purifying it. Iodine treatments work best if the water is above 68 degrees Fahrenheit and the clarity of the water before treatment ensues. It comes in three forms; liquid, crystals, or tablets. Each one comes in a small dark bottle because, similar to vampires, it is sensitive to light.
The downside to iodine is if you are allergic to shellfish, you may be allergic to iodine as well. If you do not know, go with one of the other following options.
Chlorine is chemical found in toxic water that heightens cancer risks, brain problems, and creates bad tasting water. Chlorine dioxide, however, dissolves more efficiently than typical chlorine in water. It is most soluble at a slightly higher temperature than iodine but performs the same results. It kills the stomach demons. The downside is it separates into chlorine and oxygen if it is stored for too long. It needs to be replaced regularly so it really works better as a back up plan than as your main source of survival water purification.
You cannot carry around a Brita adapter for a faucet while hiding in the woods. Backpacking filters are portable and allow you to pump water directly out of your discovered water source.
Carbon and ceramic filters are the most common, easiest to care for, and longest lasting in the filter world. Carbon filters tend to be less expensive but require a new filter every 750 Liters pumped. These filters are effective in removing protozoa and bacteria from the water you are thirsting.
Ceramic filters tend to pump more quickly and remove a higher amount of bacteria. The downside to these filters is they cost well over $300.
Using a bandanna to remove any debris from the water will allow your filter to last twice as long as well. Even better, we highly recommend the Katadyn Hiker Pro filter. It contains a screen around its filter to keep any foreign objects from compromising the effectiveness of the filter before its time to go.
Boiling water is the only 100 percent way to remove all pathogens from water. By the time water reaches a boiling temperature, it has successfully surpassed the temperature where biological contamination goes to die. At high altitudes, water boils at a lower temperature so make sure to boil the water for a minute before consuming it.
Boiling may be highly effectual but it can take up precious time. You may wait ten minutes before your water is at a consumable temperature. Plus, the flame of your heat source can give away your position and it requires more materials. Still, it is better than suffering from Montezuma’s revenge.
Water purification is an important skill to have. There are many methods you can choose in creating safe drinking water but these are among the most well-researched. It is important to practice these skills before the time comes. You do not want to harm your filter figuring out the wrong way to use it when the situation is in full throttle.
Always have at least one backup purifying option. When the .7% of the water available on this planet is suddenly a great bargaining tool, you will be happy you know how to manufacture your own.