1. Join the Camping Babble forums today and become an active member of our growing community. Once registered you'll be able to exchange camping photos, stories and experience with other members. If you're still undecided, feel free to take a look around and see what we're all about!

Best Way to Purify Water?

Discussion in 'Food' started by tess pfeif, Aug 17, 2014.

  1. tess pfeif

    tess pfeif Newbie

    What is the best, most effective way to purify water while camping? The only way I know is to boil water and sometimes I am iffy on how well it turns out. What are the ways you prefer to purify water while in mother nature?

    I am aware of purifying tablets, but do they 100% always work? How well would a britta filter water bottle (I think they're called bobas) or a britta filter from home work to purify water while camping?

    Thanks so much for the feedback, I look forward for any and all advice you guys can offer!
  2. Hi Tess,

    Long time no response. I'm on the search for a good water purification system for backpacking. What I have found is that there a are a lot of choices. Most filtration systems can get out giardia (protozoa 8-14 microns) and cryptosporidium (protozoa 4-6 microns). I have a Aquamira Frontier Pro that can do that, but it can't filter out bacteria and viruses. You can suck water directly through the device or set it up to gravity feed dirty water through the filter into your clean water bag. It's specifically designed for you to put dirty water in your bag and suck it from the bag through the filter. Thus, it does not need a pump like many other options. I don't like the idea of putting dirty water into my water bag so maybe the gravity approach would work, but that still leaves bacteria and viruses.

    One solution for the bacteria and viruses is to use chlorine dioxide water purification tablets (e.g. Katadyn Micropur Purification Tablets). They kill bacteria and viruses fairly quickly but can take up to 4 hours to kill the protozoans. Some people add the tablets to the dirty water then run the water through the Aquamira filter to get out the protozoans. That takes less time.

    The other approach is to get a filter that takes out everything. Now I'm looking at the Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System. It takes out everything down to 0.1 micron so that covers all but viruses - that are pretty rare in the wilderness anyway. It also can filter up to 100,000 gallons as compared to the Aquamira's 50 gallons. To do that, it comes with a backflush device that allows you to clean the filter when it gets clogged. Otherwise, it works like the Aquamira, but it comes with a dirty water pouch that you can use to squeeze the dirty water through the filter into your clean water bag or bottle. Or, you can suck the dirty water directly through the filter. I just convinced myself to buy one - we'll see how it goes.

    campforums likes this.
  3. Northern Dancer

    Northern Dancer Survivalist

    I use the Katadyn system - I have a base camp filter and a hand pump filter. If all else fails I use a rolling boil for five minutes.

    images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ_LZ2aRy1DZjQknGGzl7Mj395BM9BouUjmiwbF2AbwpIDO8x3noA.jpg images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRDtQkkBHvF3H5MkoAIXL3CGSK8EsBJwMi81zjqGH_XGbGDCOxE.jpg
    Last edited: May 3, 2015
  4. Great option. Major differences for the little one from the Sawyer is:
    • it doesn't filter as small (0.2 micron vs 0.1 with the Sawyer - probably makes no difference)
    • it requires a pump that some say is tedious
    • it costs three times as much as the Sawyer.
  5. Northern Dancer

    Northern Dancer Survivalist

    i was noting the 100,000 gallon - that is a lot of water to be purified by one system. The reviews on this item have been good and like you say the cost is excellent too. I know now that I can get them in this country but at the time I didn't have an opportunity to explore all the options. I am not unhappy with my choice - it has worked well for me especially the base camp system. I just hang it in a tree.
  6. SashaS

    SashaS Novice Camper

    I immediately thought of the Life Straw. It is what the name would imply and claims to be able to filter 1000 liters of water. They were originally developed for people living in developing countries and for distribution in humanitarian crisis but it has become popular as a consumer product because it works so well. There are a few other Life Straw products such as a bottle that incorporates the straw. They claim that it removes over 99.9% of waterborne parasites and diseases. I can see it being useful in a camping or survival situation if you are beside a lake or river and you have no access to normal water or something like that.
    campforums likes this.
  7. Northern Dancer

    Northern Dancer Survivalist

    There have been numerous developments in water filter systems of recent date. There are several products world wide that address the issue of individual use.

    When I instruct camp skills I always start the session by BOILING WATER PROPERLY. I'm always surprised to learn when introducing the topic how many people don't know how to boil water. This is always the main stay for wilderness canoeing/camping.


    This is what a rolling boil looks like - I recommend 5 minutes.
    Boiling points for water is 100 C or 212 F to be safe.
    And another thing...

    It has come to my attention more than once that the people who rely on pumps and such FAIL TO TAKE CARE OF THE EQUIPMENT PROPERLY :dead: putting themselves and others at risk.

    Like I've shared many times - "If you take care of your equipment it will take care of you!" :)

    :bear: Baden Bear says, "Northern Dancer can be a real stickler when it comes to learning basics [essential skills]."
  8. bachelor56

    bachelor56 Newbie

    I always used iodine tablets while in the Navy and I would just let the water ooze from the cap after shaking the bottle in order to mix the iodine and water together. It definitely helps when you don't have any bottled water or any other equipment in order to use the iodine tablets.
  9. Northern Dancer

    Northern Dancer Survivalist

    I have to admit I don't like the taste of chlorine or iodine. I prefer a good water filtration system like the ones that I have. But when all else fails boiling is still the preferred method.
  10. JoAnn

    JoAnn Newbie

    A good way to purify water is to boil it, at least that's how me and my family have always purified it.
  11. Northern Dancer

    Northern Dancer Survivalist

    ...a rolling boil at least four minutes. Letting it cool over night makes it a bit tastier in the morning light. But when we are out canoeing we just don't have that time so using a sound device (which we do) makes things a whole lot easier.
  12. I've been using the Sawyer Products Mini Water Filtration System for awhile now and I haven't gotten ill using it - that's the main thing. It does seem to make sense to try to keep the clean and dirty parts apart. I keep some alcohol wipes, the filter and the back flush syringe in a zip lock bag for the clean parts and my dirty water bag and the cup I use to fill it in a separate zip lock. I did learn that it's really hard to fill the bag by dipping it in a lake. I got one of those collapsable cups that folds flat and use it to dip from the lake and fill the bag. In use I'm careful to keep the dirty water away from the clean water, using the wipes to clean the barrel of the filter etc.

    The filter does clog up after a couple of days, so it is important to carry the back flush syringe too. Just produce some clean water, fill the syringe with it and push it backwards through the filter as hard as possible. A couple shots is all it takes and the filter is good as new for another couple of days. It's also important not to squeeze the bag too hard when forcing water through the filter. There are reports of the bags breaking under pressure. The filter still works as it clogs up, it's just harder to get the water through it and it becomes more likely to squeeze the bag too hard. When clean, I can fill a 40 oz (1.1 liter) bottle in about 5 minutes. Takes a lot longer when the filter is dirty.

    1eb450a7-f7d4-4883-b59c-ecb011b86d9d.jpg e466e590-81c7-42e3-aac1-29e2521108d8.jpg
  13. Alexandoy

    Alexandoy Survivalist

    I had experienced drinking water from an artificial well by the side of the river, that is if the river is stony and not muddy. What we do is to dig a well of about 5 inches and let the water spring up from under and wait for the water to clear. That clear water is good for drinking. Another source of clean water is the bamboo, the type called "buho" which is a soft kind of bamboo. There are bamboo poles with water inside that is pure, according to the natives who reside in the forest. We also use those bamboo poles for cooking in lieu of a pot.

    However, I will admit that I am now wary of water and I have no confidence in drinking water from any natural source like before. When we go on camping or hunting, the bottled water is the most important otherwise we just let ourselves go thirsty. Bacteria is now prevalent.
  14. Jasmin Cottontail

    Jasmin Cottontail Novice Camper

    I think the best way to purify water while on camping is by using organic stuffs to filter water. Since the usual camping site is in the forests or mountains, then most likely you can find these things right there. You will need a container, like plastic bottles, sand, rocks, charcoals and a fabric. Just put them inside the bottle accordingly with the bottle upside down and at the bottom would be the fabric, followed by charcoal, rocks then sand and then you can put a fabric again if you want.

    We've been using this when we camp and it really is effective. When we also visited my hubby's hometown, I saw that his aunt is using this method in purifying water from underground. And they have been using this for years now.
  15. Northern Dancer

    Northern Dancer Survivalist

    ...water is a commodity that requires specific scientific methodology and there is no room for error. There is no best way. "Best Ways" are based on personal opinion. We need facts. It really depends on your immediate situation and environment as to what you do. Have you ever seen an acid lake?

    I use to scoop a cup of aqua from the middle of the lake and drink it down like champagne. I don't do that any more. Humans have done a great job in poisoning water resources.

    The first defence in purifying water is to boil it. That is the recommend method for those of us who are outdoor wilderness camping enthusiasts. We are not talking about weekend warriors.

    With the advent of specialty products that are easy and convenient to use new options and possibilities are open to us. BUT - it is extremely important that we know [1] how to use the product correctly, [2] maintain the products integrity according to the manufacturers recommendations and [3] be able to interpret natural clues.

    In my situation I need something at the standard of the military to assure that the claims registered are authentically correct.

    Drinking Water is a Serious Topic and needs to be addressed the same.

    upload_2016-11-16_13-24-33.jpeg Unfortunately where I go tripping there are no pretty signs like this. I need to know water conditions or at least be able to interpret natural clues.

    So...what do we do with the abundance of
    fluoride, sodium, mercury, and aspartame in our drinking water?
  16. I don't know a good mobile way to remove things like fluoride, mercury, sodium, aspartame and human hormones (although activated charcoal - not what you find in your campfire - can help with some).

    I do know that the methods mentioned by @Alexandoy and @Jasminecottontail will do nothing to remove protozoans (like giardia and cryptosporidium), bacteria or viruses. Microbes like those are the things most likely to make one sick. As @northerndancer says, serious boiling will do the trick (by killing them so you can safely eat them). Using the techniques these people suggest would filter out some larger insects, but they are mostly edible anyway.

    If boiling is not practical (like for light weight backpackers in a hurry), high tech filters can handle most everything except viruses. Chlorine dioxide water purification tablets will kill viruses. Combine the two and you're all set. When you get a filter, just be sure it is designed to take out everything down to around 0.1 microns (bacteria are typically around 0.2 or 0.3 microns). Note that a human hair is about 75 microns across. Filtering through sand, cloth etc wouldn't even take out hair if it was chopped into pieces 75 microns long.

    Be careful out there, these microbes are spread by animals as well as people so, even if you are where no one else has been, you are still at risk.
  17. Northern Dancer

    Northern Dancer Survivalist

    -----------------------------------------> :)
    Right on! I guess the problem for me, perhaps you, is that I'm experienced camper/tripper and have learned over the years. I meet all kinds of nice folks who do things that curl my hair. And...yes...I suppose I may have been like that too. High on my priory list is water, fire, safety and shelter.

    I was sharing awhile ago about my buddy and I watching with pronounced attention these two guys loading up their canoe with stuff in garbage bags. Eric said, "Do you think we should say something?" "No," I said, "They just have to learn - the hard way." So finally the pushed out from the dock and immediately the canoe overturned.

    Checking to see that they were okay we pushed off and never did see them again. ;)
  18. campforums

    campforums Founder Staff Member

    I have been thinking of getting a water filtration system for home use as well
  19. Northern Dancer

    Northern Dancer Survivalist

    ...there have been some remarkable developments of recent date in filtration systems because of our water awareness.

    I have a real concern about the poisoning of our water sources and thinking that somehow we can go to a store to pick up some device or fresh water. Where to people think we get this stuff from?

    All the water that ever was, is - there is no no water.
  20. Northern Dancer

    Northern Dancer Survivalist

    That is to say - no new water.
Draft saved Draft deleted

Share This Page