Reverse osmosis per its construction removes both harmful contaminants present in the water, as well as some desirable minerals. Modern studies on this matter have been quite shallow, citing lack of funding and interest in such study, as re-mineralization on the treatment plants today is done to prevent pipeline corrosion without going into human health aspect. They do, however link to older, more thorough studies that at one hand show some relation between long-term health effects and consumption of water low on calcium and magnesium, on the other confess that none of these older studies comply to modern standards of research 
Because the the semi-permeable membrane filters particles at the molecular level, reverse osmosis is extremely effective at removing bacteria, viruses, parasite cysts such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium, heavy metals such as lead and mercury, hard water minerals such as calcium and magnesium, and even fluoride and arsenic. It will not, however, remove certain pesticides and solvents small enough to pass through the membrane.
Photo by mr.smashyContingencies in the wilderness abound, so it is important to plan for as many as possible. A compass will help you find your way; even better is a handheld GPS device. Flashlights and glow sticks help you find your way in the dark, and a flare gun will assist others in finding you during an emergency. For setting up camp, Paracord or rope, a tarp, duct tape, and cable ties are indispensable. Also vital is a good multi-tool, folding shovel, and gloves. Include waterproof matches, lighter, and fire starting kit; redundancy is a good thing in this instance. In a small tin, pack fishhooks and line, razor blades, sewing needles and thread, safety pins, nails, a small magnet, and some cash.
Slow sand filters may be used where there is sufficient land and space, as the water flows very slowly through the filters. These filters rely on biological treatment processes for their action rather than physical filtration. They are carefully constructed using graded layers of sand, with the coarsest sand, along with some gravel, at the bottom and finest sand at the top. Drains at the base convey treated water away for disinfection. Filtration depends on the development of a thin biological layer, called the zoogleal layer or Schmutzdecke, on the surface of the filter. An effective slow sand filter may remain in service for many weeks or even months, if the pretreatment is well designed, and produces water with a very low available nutrient level which physical methods of treatment rarely achieve. Very low nutrient levels allow water to be safely sent through distribution systems with very low disinfectant levels, thereby reducing consumer irritation over offensive levels of chlorine and chlorine by-products. Slow sand filters are not backwashed; they are maintained by having the top layer of sand scraped off when flow is eventually obstructed by biological growth.
As with any other filter type water purification method, careful attention has to be taken to pathogen/virus and chemicals size. During hurricane Katrina a lot of the water was contaminated with petroleum based chemicals from flooded cars. What is removed from the water is dependent on the filter pore size. However, it is difficult to beat the lightweight option that water purification straws and bottles provide for most situations.
I'm Jeremiah Castelo, the owner of World Water Reserve. I'm a writer and researcher with a particular interest in sustainability and rural living, water scarcity, and innovative water purification methods. I utilize my multimedia and communication experience in the NGO and humanitarian fields to bring light to important topics. My passion is to educate others on the reality of the global water crisis and on ways to sustain themselves and their families in the midst of it.
You do not want to wait until you are thirsty to begin gathering water, as the urge to drink directly from the contaminated source can become unbearable. Due to the negative effects of drinking water contaminated with Giardia and other bacteria/viruses, this is a bad idea. Becoming sick from drinking bad water, will further dehydrate you, worsening your situation.
Pretreatment is important when working with reverse osmosis and nanofiltration membranes due to the nature of their spiral-wound design. The material is engineered in such a fashion as to allow only one-way flow through the system. As such, the spiral-wound design does not allow for backpulsing with water or air agitation to scour its surface and remove solids. Since accumulated material cannot be removed from the membrane surface systems, they are highly susceptible to fouling (loss of production capacity). Therefore, pretreatment is a necessity for any reverse osmosis or nanofiltration system. Pretreatment in sea water reverse osmosis systems has four major components:
Pre – Membrane filters: The tap water is pollutant with harmful molecules that even we can’t notice from our naked eyes. Pre-membrane filters remove those materials that may damage the RO Membrane and cause a great loss. The solids like dust, rust gets eliminated from the water. This makes the water ready to filter more. Mostly RO water filtration systems have 3 pre-filters.
The remineralization stage is an additional feature of this water purifier. The name itself explains the function of this stage. After passing through the basic 5 stages of filtration the water is treated in the remineralization stage. At this point of purification, some advantageous minerals restored into the water again. The added minerals improve the taste and raise the pH to more alkaline. You will definitely enjoy the fresher tasting mineral water.