This method is effective in removing bacteria, germs, salts and other heavy metals such as lead, mercury and arsenic. Distillation is ideal for people who have access to raw, untreated water. This method has both advantages and disadvantages. A notable disadvantage is that it is a slow process of water purification. In addition, it requires a heat source for the purification to work. Although cheap sources of energy are being developed, distillation remains a costly process of purifying water. It is only ideal (effective and least costly) when purifying small quantities of water (It is not ideal for large scale, commercial or industrial purification).
Whether you are on a backpacking trip or find yourself in an unplanned emergency situation our first goal is to locate water. Depending on the location this may prove more difficult than ensuring it's potability. Make sure you are familiar with water sources in the area you plan to travel. Looking at topographical maps is always a good idea. Depending on the dates of the map this could help you find water while backpacking. As with other areas of emergency preparedness, make sure to have a backup plan. Water sources can change with time and seasonal changes. Another important aspect of finding water is the lay of the land. Learning the elevational changes of the area and thinking which way the water would travel during a rain can be another way to locate a water source. For the scope of this article, we will assume that a source has been located.
Each branch of the United States armed forces has their own series of reverse osmosis water purification unit models, but they are all similar. The water is pumped from its raw source into the reverse osmosis water purification unit module, where it is treated with a polymer to initiate coagulation. Next, it is run through a multi-media filter where it undergoes primary treatment by removing turbidity. It is then pumped through a cartridge filter which is usually spiral-wound cotton. This process clarifies the water of any particles larger than 5 µm and eliminates almost all turbidity.
Formally, reverse osmosis is the process of forcing a solvent from a region of high solute concentration through a semipermeable membrane to a region of low-solute concentration by applying a pressure in excess of the osmotic pressure. The largest and most important application of reverse osmosis is the separation of pure water from seawater and brackish waters; seawater or brackish water is pressurized against one surface of the membrane, causing transport of salt-depleted water across the membrane and emergence of potable drinking water from the low-pressure side.
The EPA states that there are four main types of contaminants to be found in water. The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), a federal law that protects public drinking water supplies, defines "contaminant" as anything other than water molecules. We can reasonably expect most drinking water to contain some level of contaminant, especially since minerals such as calcium and magnesium fall into that category. The question is, which of these contaminants are harmful and how much of it is entering my system?
The addition of inorganic coagulants such as aluminum sulfate (or alum) or iron (III) salts such as iron(III) chloride cause several simultaneous chemical and physical interactions on and among the particles. Within seconds, negative charges on the particles are neutralized by inorganic coagulants. Also within seconds, metal hydroxide precipitates of the iron and aluminium ions begin to form. These precipitates combine into larger particles under natural processes such as Brownian motion and through induced mixing which is sometimes referred to as flocculation. Amorphous metal hydroxides are known as "floc". Large, amorphous aluminum and iron (III) hydroxides adsorb and enmesh particles in suspension and facilitate the removal of particles by subsequent processes of sedimentation and filtration.[6]:8.2–8.3
The first part of the purification tag team must eliminate microorganisms, like harmful bacteria and parasites. There are a handful of tried and true methods for doing this. The most familiar is boiling. Simply bringing water up to its boiling point of 212 degrees Fahrenheit will kill almost all microorganisms, so just a few minutes of boiling will do the job.

In industry, reverse osmosis removes minerals from boiler water at power plants.[15] The water is distilled multiple times. It must be as pure as possible so it does not leave deposits on the machinery or cause corrosion. The deposits inside or outside the boiler tubes may result in under-performance of the boiler, reducing its efficiency and resulting in poor steam production, hence poor power production at the turbine.

Drinking water sources are subject to contamination and require appropriate treatment to remove disease-causing agents. Public drinking water systems use various methods of water treatment to provide safe drinking water for their communities. Today, the most common steps in water treatment used by community water systems (mainly surface water treatment) include:
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.