It is extremely important to be educated on how to treat contaminated water prior to drinking it.
The methods below include just eight of the many ways to purify water at home, be it either for emergency purposes, outdoor survival, or, as some of the methods warrant, everyday use.
The simplest and most common method to purify drinking water is to boil it. Heat the water over a stovetop burner or open flame until it reaches a full, rolling boil, and continue to boil for a minimum of five to ten minutes to be safe (the longer the water is boiled, the purer it will become).
Since boiling contaminated water will remove all oxygen from the liquid, the resulting purified water may end up tasting flat. This is a very minor negative that can easily be fixed by simply shaking the purified water up a bit.
Also, to improve the taste, a pinch of salt may be added to each quart of drinking water.
2. Commercial Filters
There are quite a few ways to filter water for safe drinking. Porous materials such as coffee filters and cotton cloths may be used in the event of an extreme emergency, but, naturally, they are not very efficient in removing all unwanted particles.
Commercial filters, on the other hand, are highly successful in removing almost all tannins and soil from contaminated drinking water.
There are several different types of commercial filters available on the market, such as portable ones to keep on hand in case of an emergency, filtration systems that hook right up to your home faucet, and even filters that come pre-installed on water pitchers and individual bottles.
Water filters range in size, shape, and cost, yet most of them work by pushing the water through a charcoal or ceramic filter and then chemically treating it.
The most common drawback to this method is the filters can become clogged rather quickly. Some may be cleaned for reuse, while others may require you to buy a replacement filter.
3. Slow Sand Filtration
Another one of the ways to purify water is through a technique called slow sand filtration, which has been employed by commercial farmers for many years.
Sand filtration is a very effective procedure, consisting of, in simplest terms, different layers of sand that remove suspended solids in water.
What sets slow sand filters apart from all other filters used to clarify water is that they work by using not the sand itself, but rather a complex, gel-like film that is naturally produced on the surface of the sand.
There are several advantages to slow sand filtration. The greatest is its simple design and accessibility as a do-it-yourself procedure. Also, the sand filters are contingent upon little to no mechanical power, chemicals or replaceable parts, and they do not require much operation or maintenance.
However, slow sand filters have a low filtration rate, and a proportional land area is required for the optimal treatment of drinking water.
It might sound a little odd, but bleach can, in fact, be used for emergency water purification. However, because it is a chemical, working with bleach can be dangerous, and one must follow careful instructions in order to ensure proper safety and successful water treatment.
First, check to make sure you are using a soap-free and unscented chlorinated bleach. Use a new or sterile medicine drop per to add the following amounts of liquid bleach to the contaminated water:
- 4 to 6% chlorine (most common household bleaches) – Add 8 drops of bleach to each gallon of water
- 1% chlorine – Add 40 drops of bleach to each gallon of water
- 7 to 10% chlorine – Add 4 drops of bleach to each gallon of water.
After the two have been mixed, let the chlorinated water sit for half an hour before drinking. The purified water should slightly smell of chlorine. If it does not, the process may be repeated.
5. Liquid Iodine and Iodine Tablets
Small amounts of liquid iodine or iodine tablets can be used to kill toxins in water. However, like bleach, iodine is a chemical, and it is intended only for short-term use.
Use a medicine dropper to add five drops of 2% liquid iodine to each quart of water, if the water is clear. If it is cloudy, use ten drops. Iodine is also available in the form of water purification tablets.
These can be used two tablets per quart of water. Let the solution sit for an absolute minimum of thirty minutes to an hour at room temperature. Shake thoroughly before drinking.
Additives such as lemon juice, lemonade powder, and even vitamin C tablets may be stirred into the purified water to remove an residual bitterness from the iodine.
6. Non-Chemical Stabilized Oxygen
One of the quickest, easiest ways to purify water is to add drops of Stabilized Oxygen. This natural antibiotic can be bought on the market and is labeled with instructions for use.
As Stabilized Oxygen provides clean drinking water that can be consumed immediately, it would be a good idea to keep a few bottles on hand in case of any natural disasters or outdoor emergencies.
7. Solar Disinfection
Solar disinfection is a convenient, inexpensive procedure when boiling water for purification is just not possible. As opposed to using direct, extreme heat, solar disinfection employs the heat from the sun to aid in the purification process.
To experience success using this method, you will need bottles, the contaminated water, and direct sunlight. Be sure to use plastic bottles, and fill them with water until about three-quarters full.
Shake the bottled water for about 20-30 seconds before filling the remaining quarter of each bottle with water. Close tightly and put in the direct path of the sun’s rays for an absolute minimum of 6-8 hours before drinking.
8. Ultraviolet Light
UV lights have been proven to kill harmful bacteria in water, air, and even solid surfaces, marking them as very useful tools in the water purification process.
In fact, ultraviolet water filtration is one of the healthiest ways to drink water at home. Portable UV water filters can be purchased in stores and online.
However, under emergency circumstances, other forms of ultraviolet light (such as tanning bed bulbs and even black lights) may be used.