The majority of people nowadays have prepared survival kits inside their homes that they can use during man-made or natural disasters. Such kits include food, medicine, clothes, gears, and water.
In an actual emergency situation, water supply will be the first to deplete and finding clean drinking water can be challenging. Water is the most important supply human beings must have, and people will die after three days without it.
There are various sources of water, and you can find it in lakes, creeks, and streams. However, this can be filled with bacteria and other harmful viruses, which can make you sick.
If gas and electricity are not available, you need to find alternative methods to convert dirty water into a safe drinking liquid. Thus, it is essential to learn how to purify your water to survive.
This article aims to discuss the several methods on how to filter water even without the use of electricity. This is helpful during survival situations, especially if you are out in the wild.
Sources of Water that needs to be purified
Due to rapid population growth, water sources nowadays are contaminated with chemicals and other waste materials, that’s why you can never be sure if it is safe to drink even if it looks crystal clear.
Here are some of the sources of water that you might find outside your homes that needs to be purified.
Lakes or reservoir
Old capped wells
Off-Grid Water Filtration Methods
One of the oldest technique in purifying water is through boiling. During an emergency, it is best if you can prepare a pot or stainless container to boil the water.
First, start a fire and put the pot over the flames. Let the water boil for about ten minutes so that the bacteria will die in the heat of the flames.
One product that you can use today is the Calcium Hypochlorite. This chemical can help you purify the water in case of emergency. If you keep it in a cool and dark place, it can even last for up to 10 years.
Calcium Hypochlorite is also known as ‘pool shock’ because a single amount of it can be able to disinfect up to 10,000 gallons of water.
In buying one, make sure that you choose those that have at least 68% of calcium hypochlorite on it.
To produce clean water, you can add one teaspoon of it to two gallons of water. Allow it to dissolve until it produces a chlorine solution. Next, add the solution produced on your drinking water at a ratio of 1:100 (one solution to 100 parts water or approximately one pint to 12.5 gallons of water).
To remove the foul chlorine odor, you can aerate it. To do this, pour the water back and forth between two containers. You can also try a pool test kit to make sure that the water doesn’t have too much chemical on it.
Chlorine Bleach or Clorox
Chlorine bleach is one of the common household products which can be used to disinfect water. However, be sure to use it moderately and on these amounts only:
4 drops per quart of Chlorine bleach in every 10ppm of clear water. Increase the amount to 8 drops if the water is cloudy.
Adding 16 drops of chlorine bleach can yield to 10ppm per gallon of clear water.
After the chlorine stays on the water for about 15 minutes, you can smell a slight odor. If there is no odor, you can add more chlorine.
Subsequently, the chlorinated bleach will lose its strength in the water. Then, after one year, it will totally lose its power, so you need to double the dosage.
Make sure that you won’t use scented bleach or those with additives because it can affect your health.
Most cities in the United States already contains chlorine in the water, thus, it is unnecessary to add more chlorine to it when storing it.
Chlorine cannot kill all other germs or bacteria in the liquid. As such, it won’t eliminate Giardia or Cryptosporidium, and you need to boil the water or use tablets to make it safe for drinking.
Also, if the water smells bad after a few years of storage, this is because it lacks oxygen. What you can do is to pour it back and forth between two containers until it tastes better. If you are still unsure if the water is safe for drinking, you can boil it. Remember, water will not rot, unlike food.
Disinfecting Water With Solar (SODIS)
When clean water is scarce especially in the wild, you can disinfect it using PET bottles and the sunlight.
First, you need to pour the liquid into PET bottles and let it expose under the heat of the sun for six hours, if the sky is bright or at least 50% cloudy. However, if the weather is not good, you need to put the bottle under the sun for two consecutive days.
PET bottles or clear glass bottles are best for this technique. With this, you can use solar energy to kill the pathogenic microorganisms that are present in the liquid which can possibly cause waterborne diseases when taken in the body.
Avoid using PVC bottles because it contains UV stabilizers which can block the solar radiation. PVC bottles are those that have slight bluish color on it.
DIY Water Filters
You can also make your own version of water filters by using the available materials around you. One of which is through the use of activated carbon, cotton ball, gravel, and sand.
To do this, gather all the materials and put it layer by layer in a bottle or container. Pour the water that you wish to filter, and you can have a safe drinking liquid for yourself.
If you don’t have a clean pot or any container with you during disasters, you can use hot rocks instead.
To do this, build a flame using logs or any wood. Then, throw a few rocks on the fire and let it sit there for about 30 minutes until it becomes hot.
Next, use some gloves or any protective material to get the hot rocks from the fire. Place the hot rocks in your water container. It is best if the vessel is glass and not plastic because the hot rocks will dissolve and damage it.
Also, the hot rocks will heat the water, kill the bacteria on it, and make it safe for drinking.
Another classic method to distill the water and make it safe for drinking is through pasteurization. It can kill the microbes in the drink, and it was discovered in the 19th century. To do this, you need to heat the water up to 149 degrees Fahrenheit for several minutes.
You can use a WAPI or Water Pasteurization Indicator to check if the pasteurization successfully took place in the process. WAPIs are small plastic tubes with industrial grade wax that melts whenever the liquid is heated to a temperature of more than 150 degrees-Fahrenheit for more than fifteen seconds.
Pasteurization is an effective method, however, it cannot remove all water contaminants such as salts, heavy metals, and other chemicals.
Pump Water Purifiers
With the advancement of science and technology, there are now various products available in the market which you can buy and utilize to purify drinking water even without electricity. One of which is the pump water purifiers.
It has many uses, whether you are hiking for leisure or you have an emergency situation. Meanwhile, there are various pump water purifiers that are available: from small and portable models to those that can be used to pump several liters of water in an instant.
The smaller versions of pump water purifiers will require an extra effort to work because you will be doing the pumping all by yourself.
The bigger and sophisticated versions of pump water purifiers will lessen the need for hand-pumping which will enable you to save your energy on times when you needed it the most in the wild.
If you have a difficulty starting a fire or if you don’t have enough logs or any wood, then you can opt to use the sun’s rays instead to purify the water and make it safe for drinking.
To do this, use a bowl or any container that can hold the water. Next, put a smaller bowl or container inside which will not float.
Fill the big bowl with water and make sure that no other liquid will get inside the smaller or inner container.
Next, cover the entire bowl or container will clear plastic tarp or wrap, secure it tightly with rubber, twine, or string. Then, put a rock or any other heavy object above the wrap and the inner bowl.
Position the bowl in a very sunny location. With this device, the water will evaporate, but it will be trapped inside due to the plastic wrap. It will form under the rock or heavy object, and it will drip into the smaller or inner bowl. As such, any particles or dirt will remain in the main container, and the water in the inner bowl will be safe for drinking.
However, this method will take days to work fully, thus it is advised to use this method along with other water purifying techniques.
Tablets or Purification Drops
Some people are hesitant to use tablets or purification drops, but these are some of the products that you can use to purify water during emergencies.
Iodine tablets can leave a bitter taste, but these are an affordable, fast, and convenient method. All you need to do is to drop one tablet of iodine to a quart of water, and it will release 8 ppm (parts per million) of iodine.
You can use two tablets of iodine when the water is cloudy. You need to wait for at least 15 minutes after you add the tablets and if the water is cold, you need to wait for 30 minutes.
Iodine tablets are not good at killing all germs, and it can have adverse effects on some people.
Meanwhile, drops or other tablets are available at most outdoor recreation stores near you.
Tree Branch Water Filter
In one of the recent studies of MIT published in PLOS One, it has been found out that you can filter water using the branch of the tree.
The tissue of the tree can effectively filter dyes and even bacteria. Indeed, this is ideal for any emergency situations and communities that live in remote areas and doesn’t have access to clean water.
However, there are more studies needed to prove the efficiency of this method. Other areas need to be explored to make it safe for people around the world.
Ultraviolet purifiers are available in stores around America. These are a convenient option that you can put in your bags especially during disasters.
It runs on batteries, and it can clean a liter of water in one minute only. UV purifiers can also eliminate almost all contaminants and bacteria in the water.
To use this product, you just need to put the UV wand in the water container and hold it for one minute. When the signal of the product lights up, it means that it has already finished cleaning the water.
This product is effective to clean the unseen bacteria in the water, however, it cannot filter bigger particles like pebbles, dust, mud, and dirt.
Water Bottles with Built-In Purifiers
Another product that you can buy today is the water bottle with the built-in purifier.
If you wish to have one, look for those that are designed for survival and emergency situations, rather than everyday bottle filters which are only intended to improve the taste of the water.
One of the water bottles that you can try is the Sport Berkey Water Bottle. This is made of non-BPA plastic, and you can use it during camping. It can clean several elements such as aluminum, cadmium, copper, chromium, lead, mercury, and other toxic chemicals.
Also, this product can remove the following:
- 99.9% of Flouride
- 99.9 % of Viruses
- 99.9% of Pathogenic Bacteria
- 99.9% of Lead
- 99.9% of Arsenic
- 99.9% of Iron
- 99.9% of Mercury
- 99.9% of Chlorine
- 99.8% of THMs
- 99.9% of Bisphenol-A
- 99.9% of Chloramines
- 99.9% of Pharmaceuticals
- 99.9% of Petroleum Contaminants
- 99.9% of Pesticides
- 99.1% of Heavy Metals
- 98.7% of Gross Alpha Emitters
If you use it to purify water from any source, it can yield up to 160 refills. Meanwhile, if you use it to purify municipal or water wells, then it can yield up to 640 refills.
In sum, during an emergency situation, water is the most important resource that you must have to survive. The body is composed mostly of water, and without it, you’ll die.
When preparing for emergencies, pack water supplies as well as water purification products. You can buy these on local stores near you. Always read the labels and be sure to learn the proper way of handling it.
Also, it is crucial to learn the basic water distillation techniques such as boiling, pasteurization, the use of hot rocks, solar silt, and others. With these survival skills, you can save your life and the life of your family and friends.