Drinking water is absolutely necessary for us to live; we ourselves are (usually) more than half water biologically. As much as water is our greatest lifeline on the road of pure survival, it can also be a deceptive killer and our worst enemy. In this article we will teach you five ways to purify water.

Bacteria, parasites or other toxins and pollutants can sneak their way into water, and often without any visual signs or smells go undetected until it is too late. For us to drink water (and in many other applications from science to baking), we need it to be purified. Historically, civilizations have struggled greatly to control water, both in quantity and purity. Individual people require a large amount of water for drinking and sanitation alone, and when living in groups, villages, cities and countries; the strain of keeping a population healthy or hydrated is tremendous.

In order for human civilization to grow, it requires access to a sufficient supply of potable/pure/drinking water. Whether it is found or manufactured is irrelevant.

The first step when it comes to questionable water is testing whether or not it is safe to drink. Commercial drinking water test kits are available (even here), and unless you are a scientist and you can create tests faster than it would take you to actually purify water, you should just get your hands on a kit.

Test the Waters

If you can’t locate a drinking water test kit, then just don’t risk it, purify it. Don’t even feed water to someone else or an animal to test it; apart from the ethical immorality of doing so, the subject could vomit or die all over everything and the next thing you know you have contamination of bacteria or virus everywhere. Purify it first. If you have to purify every drop of water that comes from wherever you find it until the end of time, it will remain imperative to do so.

When the water you’re hoping to drink might be riddled with parasites or bacteria particles, you can’t afford to skimp on water purification. In the very circumstances that put you in contact with questionable water (being in the wilderness, surviving or recovering from a disaster, or living in a part of the world where water isn’t purified for you) the last thing you want to do is to get sick. Read the following instructions carefully to learn how to purify your own water.

Boil It

Water boils at 100 degrees Celsius and at this temperature and in this state, most known contaminants and impurities will die off. A rule of thumb is to bring your water to a boil, then continue to boil for 10 minutes, adding an extra minute for every 300 meters above sea level. At elevations greater than 5000 meters above sea level, boiling water becomes ineffective at killing contaminants. As long as you operate within these parameters, allow for the water to cool and settle (it may still contain minerals). When cool enough, it will be pure to consume or use as an ingredient.

Use Purification Tablets or Drops

Since water purification has been as substantial of a challenge to civilization as it has, we have developed chemical tablets (and drops) to destroy viruses and bacteria in water. Strain out any large particles using a cloth or basic filter, then add the purification tablets. They should be used as directed by the manufacturer on the package, and are available here.

Use a Water Purifier

Several commercial and industrial water purifiers are available today to fill a variety of purposes from camping to city-scale use. We sell a few in our shop – you basically put water in and it filters impurities out.

Build a Basic Filter

If you are desperate and need a basic filter in a pinch you can make one by layering a few basic materials in a container that forces water to pass through these layers. Use materials like grass, shredded leaves, sand, gravel, and most importantly charcoal. You may have heard of charcoal filters before, since charcoal is effective at filtering bacteria. If you need to make a fire to produce some charcoal, it will be worth it. A simple way to contain this filter compound is by creating a cone out of a porous material, pouring water into it and then collecting it from the bottom. This is not a perfect scenario and may not filter out all impurities but it will be better than nothing.

Distillation

Much like distilling ethyl alcohol from fermented sugar, you can distill pure water from dirty water and remove most impurities. You will need to make a still or purchase a still. We can teach you how to make one here, or you can buy them in our store here.

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