By: Heaven Bassett
Have you heard of ‘Preppers’? Well, they’ve got few handy tricks that might help you in a pinch. In fact, they suggest storing one gallon of clean water a day for each person, but you may not have thought ahead that far. It’s okay, just remember the water may be sparkling, but that doesn’t mean it’s digestible. So, let’s talk about how to purify your water when you’re in a pickle.
You need water, but not just any water. You need clean water, and you should be drinking six to eight glasses per day. Lucky for us, water tends to be accessible with a flick of the wrist and a kitchen sink. So, what happens when water isn’t as easy to obtain? I’m talking to you outdoor survivalists, and hurricane-battlers.
I want to make this clear:
Don’t drink contaminated water if you want to avoid some back-side repercussions, or worse. Keep the Cholera away and the Dysentery at bay with these water-hacks.
- Boil, boil, and boil some more.
Boil that liquid-life from one to three minutes, and let it cool-down. Burns are a problem too, so practice some thirst-patience.
WARNING: For those slammed with water straight from the sea, boiling water cannot eliminate heavy metals, such as salt, or your next-door neighbor’s teenage-garage band.
- Bleach it, baby.
We aren’t talking about your family-camping trip with a water fountain nearby. We’re talking survival through decontamination. Bleaching and boiling are one in the same on efficiency depending on the source. However, bleach might not be available. If it is, and your faucet cannot be trusted, here’s the get-it-done method:
For clear, but questionable, water:
Start with unscented bleach, since you don’t want to drink lemon-perfume. Add 1/8 teaspoon to one-gallon of water. Now, mix and practice that thirst-patience again. Wait for 30 minutes until you guzzle it down.
For foggy/cloudy water: Stick to the unscented household bleach, add ¼ teaspoon to every gallon of water, and insert 30-minute thirst-patience. Are you seeing a theme?
- Master of distillation.
Let’s bring it back to boiling, and the reminder that boiling alone cannot take saline-water and make it fresh. Add the distillation-step to your boiling technique, and defeat dehydration.
Water distillation is the process of collecting the steam off boiling, or solar-heated water. Here’s where that patience comes into play again. You won’t get much water at one time, but each sip might save your life.
The idea is to catch the evaporated water through a drip process. Put your dirty water in a container that can handle heat, such as a pan, metal bowl, or an empty soda can. Then, find a closed container, and fashion a lip in which the evaporated water can drip into at the bottom. With this technique, you are using the green-house effect. You can do this with the sun, or while you are boiling water with a heated surface.
Think of this basic shape, and construct it from your resources:
This can be done with something as simple as a plastic bottle with the bottom cut off and a bit of folding, like this fellow does here. However, heating plastic should not be used outside of an emergency. The heat can cause the toxins within the plastic to break down and leech into your drinkable water, so think glass if you can.
This method can also be done to pull water right from the ground by digging a hole and placing an empty cup inside of it. Then, cover the hole with plastic and anchor on the sides with rocks. Place a rock in the center of the plastic, above your empty cup. This will cause the plastic to bow toward your cup. The water from the Earth will evaporate, reach the plastic, then drip down to the center point, and into your cup. Voila.
Another minor way to distill water, is by finding a live branch, breaking it off and placing it in a plastic bag. Tie the bag closed, and hang it in the sun. The water from the plant will slowly drip to the bottom. Watch out for the poisonous plant life, you don’t need that problem in your life.
- Filtration does wonders.
You don’t have bleach, or a heat-source for boiling is out of the question, and your lighter is missing in action. This is when filtration becomes priority. Filtration can be added to any of the previous steps for ultra-cleaning, and smart thinking. So, let’s talk techniques.
Filter through grass, sand, and charcoal.
You can take the time to construct a system with a tripod, or simply place these items on a cloth, and over your empty container. Drip the contaminated water through the grass covered fabric, and into your cup. Then, with that water, take it through sand. Finally, drip it through charcoal from a recent fire. Your water is clean to drink; however, this filtering method won’t protect against feces contamination.
Find your inner-schoolyard kid, and dig in that dirt.
If you happen across a water source, don’t dip your face in and chug. Remember that patience-thing we talked about? Instead, make a DIY water-well. You can do this by digging a hole approximately a foot away from that water source. The water will seep through the dirt, filling your well. Try to resist tossing a penny in and wishing for better circumstances. This well won’t help you with that, but it can filter the water from the water source by flowing through the dirt, gravel, or sand. The trick is to watch the speed. If your water-well fills up too quickly, then you are probably too close to the source and proper filtration hasn’t happened. The well should fill up slowly, and you should wait… yes, again… 30 minutes before drinking.
- Running water may be your last friend, but be wary.
Don’t trust stagnate water. It might look wonderful, but it’s a lie. The truth is, it’s full of harmful bacteria. Bears really do their business in the woods, it’s not just a saying, and that animal-activity is probably in that water you’re desperately drooling about.
Find running water. This might take a bit more time, but waterfalls and rivers are the better friend in survival circumstances. This is still a bit risky, but you can lower that risk by checking the conditions upstream. Be wary of the running water, but take it over stagnate pools.
Remember, bottled water is the best bet. If that’s not possible, keep this in mind:
When in doubt, purify.