Use sedimentation. When you don’t have access to anything that you can use to filter the water, you can remove large particulate from water by letting it settle. Collect the water in a bowl or jar. Leave the water to settle for one to two hours. During this time, heavier particles will sink to the bottom, and lighter material will float to the top.
The process of distilling seawater into drinking water has been used by the Ancient Greeks since about 200 AD (Wikipedia). Many cultures throughout history have used distillation as an effective method of ensuring potable water. Although the materials used in the distillation process have changed over time, the science has remained the same, proving that distillation is a purification method that has stood the test of time.
The first documented use of sand filters to purify the water supply dates to 1804, when the owner of a bleachery in Paisley, Scotland, John Gibb, installed an experimental filter, selling his unwanted surplus to the public. This method was refined in the following two decades by engineers working for private water companies, and it culminated in the first treated public water supply in the world, installed by engineer James Simpson for the Chelsea Waterworks Company in London in 1829. This installation provided filtered water for every resident of the area, and the network design was widely copied throughout the United Kingdom in the ensuing decades.
Remove heavy metals with cilantro. Just as pine trees are effective at removing pathogens, so too is cilantro excellent at removing heavy metals from water. Fill a pitcher with water and place a handful of cilantro leaves into the pitcher. Stir the water and let the leaves sit in the water for at least an hour. Remove and discard the cilantro before drinking the water.
Iodine solutions kill bacteria by upsetting the ion balance within the cell, replacing chemicals that the bacteria needs to survive with iodide ions. Iodine can also be poisonous to humans, and can be especially harmful to young children, and pregnant women. You should be careful not to use too much iodine when purifying your water, and if at all possible avoid using it as a primary purification method for extended periods of time. If you find yourself in a survival situation, for an extended period of time, you should consider setting up a still, or boiling the water if possible.
There are multiple built in filters water bottles choices. Vestergaard's Lifestraw Go and Sawyers Personal Water Bottle are two examples. The Lifestraw Go filters specs say it will filter up to 1,000 liters (264 gallons) of water down to particulate matter larger than 0.2 microns Source Sawyer's Personal Water bottle absolute hollow fiber membrane inline filter down to 0.1 micron. Source
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.
In recent years, energy consumption has dropped to around 3 kWh/m3, with the development of more efficient energy recovery devices and improved membrane materials. According to the International Desalination Association, for 2011, reverse osmosis was used in 66% of installed desalination capacity (0.0445 of 0.0674 km³/day), and nearly all new plants. Other plants mainly use thermal distillation methods: multiple-effect distillation and multi-stage flash.
Furthermore, animals have to drink and are known to visit water holes. This raises several concerns, 1) Animals are not very mindful of their toilet etiquette and 2) Predators will sometimes use water holes as a place of attack. If we were desperate, (dying of thirst) and had no way to purify the water, first we really should ask ourselves how we got ourselves into such a situation, then we would have no choice but to drink the water in hopes that we are rescued before the water borne disease kills us. Think outside the box, is there a way to get a makeshift bowl (wood, vegetation) and use hot rocks to boil the water. Is there any material around, bamboo etc that can be used to slowly bring the water to a boil. Build a multiple stage filter using sand, charcoal and sphagnum moss which has been known to contain some levels of iodine. If all that fails then we would be faced with the choice of drinking the untreated water. We know that moving water is preferable to standing water, but what can we do. We can walk around the water source, find the area with the least animal traffic and preferably a sandy shoreline. We can then dig a hole near the water deep enough to allow water to collect. The distance from the water source will have to be judged by the soil we are digging. The hope here is that the water will slowly seep into the hole and begin to collect while being "filtered" by the sand and rocks. At this point we have to get creative to get the water out. Perhaps make a straw out of natural materials or simply soak a bandana and squeeze it into our mouth. This would be a last resort and very risky.
Upland lakes and reservoirs: Typically located in the headwaters of river systems, upland reservoirs are usually sited above any human habitation and may be surrounded by a protective zone to restrict the opportunities for contamination. Bacteria and pathogen levels are usually low, but some bacteria, protozoa or algae will be present. Where uplands are forested or peaty, humic acids can colour the water. Many upland sources have low pH which require adjustment.
Household reverse-osmosis units use a lot of water because they have low back pressure. As a result, they recover only 5 to 15% of the water entering the system. The remainder is discharged as waste water. Because waste water carries with it the rejected contaminants, methods to recover this water are not practical for household systems. Wastewater is typically connected to the house drains and will add to the load on the household septic system. A reverse-osmosis unit delivering 19 L of treated water per day may discharge between 75–340 L of waste water daily. This has a disastrous consequence for mega cities like Delhi where large-scale use of household R.O. devices has increased the total water demand of the already water parched National Capital Territory of India.
Water filters can come in smaller, portable forms which are convenient for travel and outdoor activities. Those who go hiking and backpacking often come across bodies of fresh water such lakes and rivers. While lakes and rivers are considered fresh in comparison to the seawater, they still need to be filtered before drinking due to the presence of sediment and potential bacteria. Having a portable water filter handy will eliminate the worry of ingesting harmful contaminants such as bacteria, parasites, sedimentary rock. Read our article on portable water filters for a detailed guide on how they work and which brands to use.
The tourist season got off to a grisly start this year in Gulf Shores, Ala. During a two-day period in early June, four men drowned after being caught in rip currents. The unusually strong currents were invisible, not even roiling the surface. Rip currents occur when water rushing back from the shoreline is channeled through a narrow gap between two sand bars, accelerating the outward flow.
Bioremediation is a technique that uses microorganisms in order to remove or extract certain waste products from a contaminated area. Since 1991 bioremediation has been a suggested tactic to remove impurities from water such as alkanes, perchlorates, and metals. The treatment of ground and surface water, through bioremediation, with respect to perchlorate and chloride compounds, has seen success as perchlorate compounds are highly soluble making it difficult to remove. Such success by use of Dechloromonas agitata strain CKB include field studies conducted in Maryland and the Southwest region of the United States. Although a bioremediation technique may be successful, implementation is not feasible as there is still much to be studied regarding rates and after effects of microbial activity as well as producing a large scale implementation method.
Many books and articles suggest this method as a safe alternative when lacking water filtration or purification methods. Without testing equipment some methods are difficult to prove. Norseman of Survivology 101 posted two great blogs which include testing done while he trained with the Norwegian school of Winter Warfare. The testing shows that the Mash or Seep showed zero improvement in lowering the bacterial count. Norseman is a retired Marine who held a Scout Sniper Survival instructor position at the First Marine Division, and SERE instructor.
Chlorine is a powerful chemical that has been in use for many years to treat water for home consumption. Chlorine is an effective water purification method that kills germs, parasites and other disease-causing organisms found in ground or tap water. Water can be purified using chlorine tablets or liquid chlorine. As an off-the-shelf water purification product, chlorine is cheap and effective. However, caution should be taken when using chlorine liquid or tablets to treat drinking water. For example, people suffering from thyroid problems should talk to a medical practitioner before using this product. When using chlorine tablets, it is important to apply them in heated water, as they dissolve well in water that is at 21 degree Celsius or higher. Chlorine tablets kill all bacteria leaving your water clean and safe.