Expert Advice: How to Purify Water When You Are in the Great Outdoors

Have you noticed that all major cities are built near water? London is built on the Thames, and New York is built on the Hudson. We could go on, but the simple matter of it is that we need clean water to survive.

At home, we are usually lucky enough to have more or less clean water when we turn on our taps. In the wild, however, water can contain all sort of viruses and bacteria that could make us sick and even kill us.

That’s why if you are planning on making a trip into the great outdoors you should always consider ways in which you can purify water.

Four Ways to Purify Water

  • Boil Water – You can boil water and then let it cool down to kill all sorts of bugs, viruses and bacteria.
  • Filter Water – You can filter water using water pitchers and even homemade filters.
  • Use Chemicals – You can use chemicals such as chlorine bleach and water purifying tablets, often in conjunction with a water filter, to rid the water of any organisms still living in it.
  • Use UV Light – You can use UV light, such as that created by a steri pen, to stop a microbe’s ability to reproduce; if only temporarily.

Boiling Water

Boiling water is a good idea if you are out camping and you have prepared a nice open fire. While you are cooking your sausages and beans, or whatever you enjoy, you can put on a saucepan of water and bring it to the boil. It will kill most of the viruses and bacteria found, but not all. If you want perfect results, you should use it in conjunction with one of the other methods below. For example, boiling water won’t destroy particulates such as toxic metals. To remove these, you will need to filter the water.

Filtering Water

Water filtering is perfect for use at home. You can buy a water pitcher with a filter already attached to so when you pour the water into your glass or kettle the filter traps any major viruses and bacteria. Its downside is that the filters are expensive to replace. Again, filtering water is far from fail-safe. Yes, it will remove the particulates, but some of the smaller viruses will still get through. To destroy them, you will need to use chemicals.

If you’re really stuck in the wilderness, you could always build yourself a homemade, filter using basic material such as sand and rocks that will take out any chunks or lumps. You will still need to boil it so that it’s safe to drink, but this method allows you to turn dirty water into clean.

Water Purifying Tablets

One of the purest forms of chemicals you can use is water purifying tablets. Not only are they easy to find, but they are also easy to pack. In comparison to a water filter, you can stuff them into your bum bag or a side pocket of your rucksack. Like with boiling water though they can’t kill particulates, and if you want perfect water you should use them in conjunction with a water filter.

UV Light

The UV light is the real survival option. When you don’t have anything else, you can use it to stop the microbes in the water from reproducing temporarily. You have to drink the water as soon as you have applied the treatment.


Without water, you’re likely to last three days at the most. As a consequence, take your water intake seriously, if you’re going out camping for more than a couple of day, make sure you have at least three methods for purifying water. Remember, all it takes is a broken leg, and your two days on the hillside could quickly turn into a five-day problem. If you did not prepare, you could have real problems.

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