By: Heaven Bassett

As a gal with zero qualms about collecting water from the source, filtering, and purifying on the fly, I don’t hate the idea of “Raw Water.” However, what I’ll fight with two clenched fists and a bad attitude is the ridiculous namesake “raw” and its dangerous claims to safe water fame.

Sure, I’ve boiled some water in the mountains and filtered it on hand; but, I also will drink my perfectly treated water I’ve carried into my campsite prior to self-treating. Why? Because I know the risks of undertreated water, and weigh the possibilities with need. Raw does not mean safe. In fact, raw can be attributed to risk. Yes, there are plenty of nutrient heavy treats out there that are healthiest raw; but, raw needs to be paired with “clean.” That is where my problem with raw water festers; and when I say festers, I mean it in all the parasitic, bacterial possibilities, and pathogen ways.

“Raw” Water Trend

My angst toward this trending fad can be summed up in one statement by the popular raw water brand, Life Water:

“Blasting water with ozone changes its molecular structure. Ultraviolet germicidal irradiation uses synthetic ultraviolet light, different from our natural environment UV, to kill or inactivate micro-organisms by destroying nucleic acids and disrupting their DNA. A difficult fact to swallow, but your drinking water might be considered a genetically modified organism. GMO seeds and GMO water don’t have the capacity to reproduce life. Perhaps this could influence human’s capacities also.”

That’s kind of jumping the gun a bit.

If us humans are going to start taking shots at Ozone water treatment on a basis of what’s natural, we’ve got to look at what we’re battling against. Ozone is the MVP of safe drinking water. Generally, if a treatment is needed for water, Ozone can handle it. Sure, filtration may be necessary on top of Ozone treatment for certain man-made chemicals, but Ozone has some excellent stats. Speaking of natural, Ozone comes in with an effective hit and steps away politely after its work is done. That’s because Ozone is short-lived in water and can revert to O2 in an exothermic reaction.  Ozone water treatment isn’t a new gig, this process has been around for over 100 years. As technology advances, so does our ability to produce and stabilize ozone at ground level.

Moving on past the passive aggressive take raw water enthusiasts have on the ozone process, I want to focus on the “changes its molecular structure” statement. Firstly, no it doesn’t, sorry. Secondly, let’s pretend it does. What does that mean? Well, don’t let that heavy statement induce panic. We change the molecular structure of water all the time. In fact, we change the molecular structure of water for an unnecessary perk regularly. How do we do it? We make ice. Freezing water is simply changing the molecular structure of water, and ice is a natural process. I know, I’m from Utah and the winters here remind me of just that.

Let’s also look at the dangers of human mishap. Part of this growing fad is urging the public to get out there and collect their own raw water. That’s a wonderful idea, but not everyone can rightly see water and say, “Yep, safe.” Though the water source may have been tested for pathogens, consistent testing is needed to verify changes. That water may have been a bounty of contaminant free deliciousness one day, but what about the next? That’s how nature works. Take one migratory pattern, cross that upstream from your source, add a bad day for a wildlife creature, and you get contamination. Whether it’s an expert in water safety, or a high-level survivalist, a knowing eye is a smart choice to take along with you on your scavenging forays. Sadly, not everyone has an outdoor educated pal who will take the trip with them every time their thirst needs to be clenched, and if they do they are likely to lose a friend for being that aggressively needy.

Speaking of taking a trip for hydration…

Economic and scientific advancements have brought the water to us. We no longer need to be nomadic for survival. Adventure is wonderful, but for a society to thrive, access is crucial. Cheers to the ability to turn on the tap, and a round of applause to science.

My last qualm with raw water foraging is safe storing. Though, many of these raw water companies are offering moderately safe methods for storage, the public may not have the access to do the same. Filling up that bottle of water and tossing it in your closet is not going to keep you healthy forever, no matter how clean the water is at the time of collection. Keep in mind, warm and wet equal a bacteria playground. Think clean, sealed, and safe.

Yes, get out there. Learn how to forage, I’d love it if you do. However, remember when it comes to water:

  • Bottled first
  • Consider the source and the possible contaminants
  • Boil
  • Filter
  • Disinfect
  • Store Safely

Happy Camping! Stay healthy out there!