Water makes up approximately 60% of our body mass and is vital for most if not all functions. Humans can typically only go 3 days without water, so being able to create your own purified water can be life-saving if you should happen to unexpectedly deplete all of your water supply while camping overnight or taking long hikes. The main methods we’re going to cover will be Chemical and Distillation water filtration.
So…if you should ever find yourself out of H2O while hacking it in the wild, here are a few DIY water filtration techniques for you to consider:
Knowing and testing the water source in advance to determine the type of microorganisms or contaminants it might contain is the first step to being taken before applying any chemical purification method. Nevertheless, the use of chemicals for water purification has been proven to be very good for homes and outdoor events-it’s fast and very effective.
There are two basic chemicals recommended for water filtration: Iodine and Chlorine.
Most of us are familiar with Iodine in reference to food products (eggs, salt, dairy, fish) as well as its usage as an effective wound treatment. However, Iodine can also be used in treating suspected contaminated water that may living pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, and various protozoa (note: Iodine will not filtrate chemical-based contaminants or toxins).
You can purchase iodine liquid (tinctures with dropper) or tablet form. The amount of iodine recommended per liter of water will differ based on the type of Iodine product used. The EPA generally recommends 5 drops of iodine per liter or 10 drops per liter if the water is cloudy, and 2 iodine tablet per liter if you don’t have access to product instructions.
Please note that Iodine filtration is not recommended for pregnant women and those having thyroid complications, and for safety purposes, it should not be used for a long period of time or in high amounts as it can be toxic.
So we’re all familiar with the chlorine mostly from its distinctive smell in our favorite public swimming pools. This Chlorination process is actually no different, except in this case way less amounts will be used for filtrating the water for consumption. The addition of chlorine (in either liquid or tablet form) causes debris and contaminants to settle at the bottom of your filtration container. It’s recommended that you use about 14 to 16 drops of chlorine for a gallon of water. It should be mixed properly and kept for 30 to 40 minutes before consumption.
As with all chemical filtration techniques please pay strict attention to your usage levels as large amounts of ingested chlorine can cause health complications.
Distillation is one of the best methods of water purification. This filtration process kills most bacteria and micro-organisms, and can provide a safer alternative than other chemical options.
Glass Box Distillation: By creating a sealed glass box with dirty water underneath on a reflective surface, the sun can eventually cause condensation in the top of the glass. As the condensation moves down the angled glass into a small collection dish you can have water that has been pasteurized correctly that will be safe for drinking. Although this method can be time-consuming it doesn’t require fire and it can sort out salt, minerals, heavy metals and chemicals from the water as well.)
Emergency Filtration Straw: These lightweight, portable water filters are a perfect add to your camping supplies. Emergency straws contains no chemicals, require no electrical equipment or other devices, and can be purchased for as low as $10. When selecting brands, it’s a good idea to make sure that the brand meets EPA standards for water filtration, and to see what elements the straw actually filters (i.e. salt, chemicals, viruses, metals, etc.).
Enduring hot environments and engaging in high-energy activities will cause your body to deplete its water storage faster (via sweat) and under extreme conditions an adult can lose an entire liter of sweat (water) an hour! In order to avoid dehydration this water will need to be replaced-and asap. Try to plan your trips as best as possible to include adequate water supply, and always be sure to have back-ups for emergency situations.