There are five types of contaminants that are found in water: particulates, bacteria, minerals, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals. Methods to remove these elements range from simple and inexpensive to elaborate and costly. Often to achieve purely potable water, several technologies must be combined in a particular sequence. Listed here are general brief descriptions of the twenty-five methods to purify water.
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."
Strain the water. For water that’s contaminated with large particles like pebbles, insects, plant matter, or dirt, you can strain out the contaminants. Line a fine-mesh strainer with muslin, cheesecloth, a clean dish towel, or even a clean cotton shirt. Place the strainer over a bowl, and pour the water through the strainer to remove the particles.
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.
Within the United States Marine Corps, the reverse osmosis water purification unit has been replaced by both the Lightweight Water Purification System and Tactical Water Purification Systems. The Lightweight Water Purification Systems can be transported by Humvee and filter 470 litres (120 US gal) per hour. The Tactical Water Purification Systems can be carried on a Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement truck, and can filter 4,500 to 5,700 litres (1,200 to 1,500 US gal) per hour.
In the literature, there is much debate and confusion over the usage of the terms coagulation and flocculation: Where does coagulation end and flocculation begin? In water purification plants, there is usually a high energy, rapid mix unit process (detention time in seconds) whereby the coagulant chemicals are added followed by flocculation basins (detention times range from 15 to 45 minutes) where low energy inputs turn large paddles or other gentle mixing devices to enhance the formation of floc. In fact, coagulation and flocculation processes are ongoing once the metal salt coagulants are added.:74–5