Could You Purify Water in a Survival Situation?

No matter what type of crisis results in a survival situation, it’s likely the quality of available water will be compromised.

Most tap water already has contaminants in it. Whether it’s extreme weather, blackouts or an attack against infrastructure, clean water might be impossible to locate. You need to know how to purify water.

Nothing will make dealing with a disaster more challenging than getting sick from drinking impure water.

But if you can eliminate a vast majority of contaminants from the water you’ll use for drinking, bathing and cleaning, you’ll put yourself in a much better position to survive the crisis.

First you have to find it

Today I want to offer a variety of ways to make contaminated water drinkable. For the purpose of this communication, I’m going to assume that you will either have to bug out or that your home tap water will be contaminated. 

The first thing you may have to do is find the water you will filter and purify. Here are a few tips:

  • Avoid water with a strange hue or film on it. And avoid water that is not clear.
  • Try to find moving water as opposed to still water.
  • Avoid water where there is active growth in it. Such as algae or scum.
  • Avoid water near roadways or pavement. It likely has oil and pollutants in it.
  • Stay upstream of industrial facilities, mines and construction.
  • Avoid water from farmland. It might have large amounts of fertilizer and pesticides in it.

Boil away pathogens 

The most common way to rid water of bacteria is by boiling it. Humans have been doing this since the time of the ancient Greeks. And probably earlier. 

I’m guessing your community has had a boil order at one time or another. They usually follow a contamination or possible contamination of the water supply. This can occur after an extreme weather event or a pipe or water main break.

Boiling water for about 10 minutes won’t eliminate heavy metals and some other contaminants. But it usually does a good job of destroying pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria.  

Heat can destroy bacteria cells in water. It does this by damaging the structure of the cell’s proteins, altering the cell’s metabolic processes and striking its nucleus.

DIY filtering tactics

If you want to attempt a primitive DIY way to filter water, try the birch cone method. Cut a one-foot by one-foot square of birch, aspen or other paper-like bark from a tree. Roll it into a cone. 

Place some small stones in the bottom to keep your material from falling out. Tie a couple of pieces of string around the outside to keep it in the cone shape. Now alternate placing layers of charcoal, grass and sand in it.

The sand and grass will filter the suspended solids in the water, and charcoal can filter bacteria. Run your water through the filter at least three times and keep changing the materials inside it for best results. 

You can also use the earth to filter your water. Dig a hole next to a stream and let water filter through the sand and silt into your hole. This water will be reasonably clean, but may not be free of all bacteria.

Use the sun to distill it 

Our old friend, the sun, has a great solution for us. A solar still works by causing water to first evaporate, then condense on a surface where you can collect it. Because 99 percent of solids and bacteria won’t evaporate with the water, the condensed water will be pure.

As far as purifying rainwater is concerned, follow these steps after conducting a “how-to” Internet search.

  • Install a downspout filter on your home’s roof drainage system. This will divert grime, insects and bird waste from your water supply. 
  • Install a rain barrel below the downspout filter. Make sure you have a spigot and smaller water vessels so you can transfer your water inside.
  • Set up a simple gravity filtration system to clean the water. 

Additional purification methods

Here are some other ways to purify water:

  • Solar cooker. This is another way to boil your water in order to remove pathogens and other harmful microorganisms that can make you sick. The solar ultraviolet light rays are converted into infrared light rays inside the cooker for purification. Water is contained in the “thermos” during the process. So you lose very little to evaporation.
  • Portable water filter. Often called straws, these lightweight, portable devices are highly effective at filtering out a vast majority of the contaminants present in water.
  • Bleach. After filtering the water to remove sediments and debris, a gallon of water can be disinfected with only eight to 16 drops of chlorine bleach. Use less for clear water, more for murky water. Shake the container well, then let it sit for about 30 minutes before drinking. If you keep bleach in your emergency supplies, rotate it every three to six months. Its potency will diminish over time.
  • Purification tablets. Filter the water first, then add iodine tablets per the instructions. One small tablet can purify approximately one quart of water. As with bleach, shake the container and let it sit for 30 minutes. Keep in mind that water treated with iodine is not safe for everyone. Particularly the elderly and pregnant women.

Patriot Pure Aqua-Bright 

Two of the biggest needs you’ll have during a survival situation are clean drinking water and light. Wouldn’t it be nice to combine the solutions to those two issues in one lightweight, collapsible item? 

Well, now you can with the Patriot Pure Aqua-Bright Water Bottle. It delivers safe and delicious drinking water by using powerful UV-C light to disinfect your water in only five minutes.

UV-C light can kill up to 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria. And it works quickly. Often in as little as 30 seconds.  

This collapsible water bottle doubles as a lantern so you can light it up to brighten a campsite or use during a blackout at home. Take it with you to the gym or anywhere you go, including road trips. And when it’s empty, you can fold it up and carry it in your pocket.

And now is a great time to get some of these bottles for you and your family. That’s because we’ve got a Buy 4, Get 1 free offer going. In addition to free shipping, this deal includes a $25 off certificate for your next purchase and a free digital report.

Here’s how to get yours…  


  • Sherylen - August 12, 2022

    I just bought a couple UV water purifying bottles from another company. They require to be plugged in and are made of metal so can’t fold up as these do. Wish I’d know about these prior to the other purchase. It would, however, be interesting to compare the two.

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