Clean, potable drinking water is vital to the survival of virtually all living species. However, sometimes disaster strikes, contaminating major water sources.
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.
Minor Correction: Solar Disinfection is not dependent on Solar Heat, but of Solar Ultraviolet. It is an effective method of Decontamination for Bacteria & Viruses. It does not, however, remove VOCs (Volatile Organic Chemicals) or other chemical contaminants. It was put forward as the ideal method for developing countries, because it is low tech and low cost.
Some of this is not accurate.. boiling water does not make it pure no matter how long you boil it, it only removes bacteria it does not remove all contaminants.
Ahmad Haujee says
I would like have a solution with water from bathroom,kitchen in my house.
I want to save and purify this water to use for another purpose.
I have 3 feet in left and right on my house 7 feet in front.
Please give a solution for this issues.
Thanks in advance.
Melanie J Barnes says
which is best material for uv filter ? aluminum or stainless steel ???? which is more hygienic ????
Your dad says
Save water💧 save life
Lhazin rai says
Of course yes
Srushti Borkar says
I am here for my project name ‘5 sentence on Purification of Water’ can you please suggest me some lines on Purification of Water before 17th August 2021 please
Stark Toni says
Hey, i am doing a school project i need to know how i can filter and purify water in one step instead of several thanks!
Bhumika shahi says
Yes I am also
Thats the same as me 🙂
I’m doing it for fun!
Important topic, Mike and excellent information.
The most wide-ranging, complete and accurate information on drinking water treatment that I know of in one place is…
and it is used by people all over the USA in their Emergency & Disaster Preparedness planning.
Nice Piggy says
Woah thanks bro, was really helpful-
I have a question. ..We have a high water table in my neighborhood. With a lot of rain lately, the sump pump is running constantly. Is this water safe to drink ‘as is’, or would it need to be filtered after being pumped from the ground ? I’d appreciate any info from someone who knows. thanks. zuki
Water from a sump pump is really surface water and I wouldn’t consider it safe to drink at all. And of course who knows what kind of a septic/sewer system you have as well, that too can add to this water being very unsafe to drink.
“However, under emergency circumstances, other forms of ultraviolet light (such as tanning bed bulbs and even black lights) may be used.”
This is a bit misleading …. while tanning beds and black lights use ultra violet light, they are the long wavelength UV-A variety. Germicidal action only occurs when using the short wavelength UV-C.lights. This wavelength does the job on bugs in water, but can also fry your skin in seconds. So be careful. Save the black lights for gazing at neon pictures of Elvis.
Robert Mazurek says
How about arsenic? I had my water lab tested three years ago and it measured 10x above the EPA min. allowable. I’ve read about point-of-use and whole house filtration, reverse osmosis, and arsenic specific filters. I’m a Depression, WW2, era born and raised individual, I waste nothing and fix (not throw away) everything I can. I also believe nothing of what I hear and less than half of what I read.
My reasoning may be wrong but it seems that rev. osmosis wastes a considerable amount of water(well sourced or not)and whole house arsenic filters are extremely expensive and I am skeptical of their claims of efficiency (you know, that “better mousetrap” theorem). My local Health Department was about as useful as my water, their advice, “don’t drink the water or use it for cooking”. Wow!! I told them the last time I heard that advice was on my meeting trips to Mexico when I was gainfully employed. I’m now a retired burden on society with a limited income, which makes my improvement and maintenance decisions difficult at times.
Can you advise me? Thank you.
THE NO WATER METHOD (YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE ANY MEANS TO ACCESS WATER)
Place green organic material around the sides of an open top 55 gal drum and a large mouth container in the center. With a (preferably black) plastic bag and a string form a cone that covers the mouth of the drum attaching the string to the center of the cone, making sure the string reaches the container and tie a small rock or lure at the end just inside the container. The sun will heat the drum during the day and evaporate water from the organic greens, which will condensate on the plastic at night and drip down the cone to the string, down the string to the container, so you’ll have clean water in the morning.
We have a dehumidifier that produces “distilled type water by the gallon every day. Will be safe.
thanks for that info. Most imp. because in an emergency you may not have any water. I have put black plastic trash bags in my emer. backpack. Endless uses for those. Now another very imp. use.
Grandpa Mal the kiddies' pal says
Note that this distilled water has no minerals: it is quite corrosive! With regular use it will dissolve the enamel from your teeth. (short term use is no problem.) Hence, add some salt or a bit of antacid tablet to the water. Similarly, do not buy distilled water in the supermarket for use as drinking water.
Manju o says
So nice answer
You can do he same thing with a hole in the ground. 3’X3’x3′. Just don’t get any dirt in the container. The Dew on the plastic will collect in the container. Insert a long straw in the container and leave it hanging on the outside of the hole. Need more water; dig more holes.
Slip a large plastic bag over a bunch of Willow Tree branches tied together on the tree and you will collect water from the leaves.
Brad Miller says
Activated bamboo or bone charcoal is the best. One of them will even take fluoride out of the water.
where can one get those items?
Great article Mike. I am very happy to receive your crazy newsletter 🙂
Just one question. Will any of these procedures remove fluoride? TIA
I don’t honestly know, but maybe somebody else will jump in here with better information.
Those stainless steel drip-type ceramic filter purifyiers work very well, if you have the money. Buy just the ceramic filter, Berkey is a common one. They cost about $50, but can filter many, many, hundreds of gallons of water.
Buy, or scrounge, two food-grade five gallon buckets with lids. Put one lid on the bottom of one bucket, center it and drill through both with the proper sized bit for the filter’s stem. Put the filter element stem through the bucket and the lid and tighten the wing nut. Set this assembly on the second bucket. Fill the upper bucket with the water to be purified and top with the second cover to keep the debris out. A fluoride after-filter can be added to the primary filter, if you are worried about fluoride. Unless you are trying to purify municipal water where fluoride is a known additive, there probably isn’t anything to get excited about. It’s the amoebas and bacteria that must go.
Some people like to add a spigot to the lower side of the bottom bucket. I think it is just as easy to dump the filtered water into a carboy, and start another batch.
Bleach may be cheaper, but this is very good water.
Love our Berkey!
HELEN BARCUS says
no it will not remove floride but a filter called ;zero water; will got mine at target like 45.00 it takes it all out especialy floride, id recomend it,
I like it
I have a question rather than a comment. In method #7, can you use clear glass jars rather than plastic bottles? I don’t particularly like using plastic bottles. Just wondering.
I was wondering the same thing. I do not like the use of plastic bottles.
My mother’s husband is a plastics engineer and he advises against any sort of consumptive uses with plastics left in the sun, particularly water. He even advises against drinking water from those cases of water everybody buys. He says that most of it sat in the sun and heat at some point in its delivery to your store. Use of food grade plastics is important, but he says they should only be used once for foods. Glass is perfectly safe from that standpoint, even preferred, but it should be noted that glass gets very hot in the sun and should be handled with extreme caution! It is best to let them cool over night before handling. I have used this method myself.