DO: Avoid shark-infested waters, unless you are Andy Casagrande. As for bears, always carry repellent pepper spray when hiking; it can stop a charging bear from as much as 30 feet away. To reduce the risk of an attack, give bears a chance to get out of your way. "Try to stay in the open," says Larry Aumiller, manager of Alaska's McNeil River State Game Sanctuary. "If you have to move through thick brush, make noise by clapping and shouting."
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.

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 [27]


While reverse osmosis systems are widely used for industrial and commercial purposes, smaller home units can be purchased and installed under the kitchen sink and dispensed through the faucet. Home RO units typically run on a 3-stage system which includes a carbon filter, RO membrane, and re-mineralizing filter for taste. Some systems can include 5, 7, or even 10 stages. While the additional stages offer extra benefits such as pH level balance and UV filtration, a simple 3-stage system has everything required to produce pure, drinkable water. RO systems require frequent maintenance and replacement of filters in order to keep it functioning properly. Read our article on reverse osmosis systems for home use for a detailed guide on how they work and which brands to use.
Distillation involves boiling the water to produce water vapour. The vapour contacts a cool surface where it condenses as a liquid. Because the solutes are not normally vaporised, they remain in the boiling solution. Even distillation does not completely purify water, because of contaminants with similar boiling points and droplets of unvapourised liquid carried with the steam. However, 99.9% pure water can be obtained by distillation.

Visual inspection cannot determine if water is of appropriate quality. Simple procedures such as boiling or the use of a household activated carbon filter are not sufficient for treating all possible contaminants that may be present in water from an unknown source. Even natural spring water – considered safe for all practical purposes in the 19th century – must now be tested before determining what kind of treatment, if any, is needed. Chemical and microbiological analysis, while expensive, are the only way to obtain the information necessary for deciding on the appropriate method of purification.
A reverse osmosis filter is the do-it-all of water purification. The process is the only one that addresses both harmful microorganisms and pollutants at the same time. It works by forcing water under pressure through a membrane made of thin film composite, with a inner matrix of dense polymers. The result leaves purified water on one side of the membrane, and contaminants on the other side. The technology is reliable, but expensive and relatively cumbersome, and requires electricity to work. It is therefore a sound choice for use in fixed positions or by those who can afford to tow a small trailer with a small electrical generator around, but anyone on the move or without access to electricity needs to use other methods.
Ultraviolet light (UV) is very effective at inactivating cysts, in low turbidity water. UV light's disinfection effectiveness decreases as turbidity increases, a result of the absorption, scattering, and shadowing caused by the suspended solids. The main disadvantage to the use of UV radiation is that, like ozone treatment, it leaves no residual disinfectant in the water; therefore, it is sometimes necessary to add a residual disinfectant after the primary disinfection process. This is often done through the addition of chloramines, discussed above as a primary disinfectant. When used in this manner, chloramines provide an effective residual disinfectant with very few of the negative effects of chlorination.
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