The ultraviolet rays of the sun can be extremely destructive to microorganisms. We as humans avoid it as much as possible as it can cause skin cancer and other diseases. But we have learned to harness its power and use it to our advantage, especially in decontaminating our water from harmful bacteria and pathogens. UV light has been a standard in the disinfection of water supplies at the municipal level for decades but has recently become available for home use.
What many poor people, backcountry hikers, and those living in remote areas have in common are a reliance on untreated, local sources of water that may be contaminated, and must be purified before it can be safely consumed. There are two basic approaches to water purification: using a reverse osmosis filter, or a tag team of two methods working together to eliminate two separate contaminants.
If you want to take a long swim underwater, the trick is to breathe in and out a few times and take a big gulp of air before you submerge. Right? Dead wrong. Hyperventilating not only doesn't increase the oxygen in your blood, it also decreases the amount of CO2, the compound that informs the brain of the need to breathe. Without that natural signal, you may hold your breath until you pass out and drown. This is known as shallow-water blackout.
The ultraviolet rays of the sun can be extremely destructive to microorganisms. We as humans avoid it as much as possible as it can cause skin cancer and other diseases. But we have learned to harness its power and use it to our advantage, especially in decontaminating our water from harmful bacteria and pathogens. UV light has been a standard in the disinfection of water supplies at the municipal level for decades but has recently become available for home use.

When particles to be removed do not settle out of solution easily, dissolved air flotation (DAF) is often used. After coagulation and flocculation processes, water flows to DAF tanks where air diffusers on the tank bottom create fine bubbles that attach to floc resulting in a floating mass of concentrated floc. The floating floc blanket is removed from the surface and clarified water is withdrawn from the bottom of the DAF tank. Water supplies that are particularly vulnerable to unicellular algae blooms and supplies with low turbidity and high colour often employ DAF.[6]:9.46
The first continuous use of chlorine in the United States for disinfection took place in 1908 at Boonton Reservoir (on the Rockaway River), which served as the supply for Jersey City, New Jersey.[46] Chlorination was achieved by controlled additions of dilute solutions of chloride of lime (calcium hypochlorite) at doses of 0.2 to 0.35 ppm. The treatment process was conceived by Dr. John L. Leal and the chlorination plant was designed by George Warren Fuller.[47] Over the next few years, chlorine disinfection using chloride of lime were rapidly installed in drinking water systems around the world.[48]
If you want to take a long swim underwater, the trick is to breathe in and out a few times and take a big gulp of air before you submerge. Right? Dead wrong. Hyperventilating not only doesn't increase the oxygen in your blood, it also decreases the amount of CO2, the compound that informs the brain of the need to breathe. Without that natural signal, you may hold your breath until you pass out and drown. This is known as shallow-water blackout.
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.
Large-scale industrial/municipal systems recover typically 75% to 80% of the feed water, or as high as 90%, because they can generate the high pressure needed for higher recovery reverse osmosis filtration. On the other hand, as recovery of wastewater increases in commercial operations, effective contaminant removal rates tend to become reduced, as evidenced by product water total dissolved solids levels.
The other half of the tag team is to eliminate pollutants. The best way to do this is with a homemade carbon filter. This uses the same technology as Brita filters. Carbon is a chemically active substance, with a tendency to bind to most anything. At a microscopic level, charcoal is a heavily pitted and striated material, which vastly increases its real surface area. The result is that when water slowly runs over charcoal, pollutants find themselves glued to the charcoal surface. An improvised filter can be made out of ground-up charcoal, a strainer and a funnel. Bear Gryllis made a purification drinking straw out of little more than a reed and some charcoal bits for the Discovery Channel's "Man vs. Wild." It's a simple technique, but it is highly effective.
Direct contact membrane distillation (DCMD). Applicable to desalination. Heated seawater is passed along the surface of a hydrophobic polymer membrane. Evaporated water passes from the hot side through pores in the membrane into a stream of cold pure water on the other side. The difference in vapour pressure between the hot and cold side helps to push water molecules through.
The membranes used for reverse osmosis have a dense layer in the polymer matrix—either the skin of an asymmetric membrane or an interfacially polymerized layer within a thin-film-composite membrane—where the separation occurs. In most cases, the membrane is designed to allow only water to pass through this dense layer while preventing the passage of solutes (such as salt ions). This process requires that a high pressure be exerted on the high-concentration side of the membrane, usually 2–17 bar (30–250 psi) for fresh and brackish water, and 40–82 bar (600–1200 psi) for seawater, which has around 27 bar (390 psi)[8] natural osmotic pressure that must be overcome. This process is best known for its use in desalination (removing the salt and other minerals from sea water to produce fresh water), but since the early 1970s, it has also been used to purify fresh water for medical, industrial and domestic applications.

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.


Post-treatment consists of preparing the water for distribution after filtration. Reverse osmosis is an effective barrier to pathogens, but post-treatment provides secondary protection against compromised membranes and downstream problems. Disinfection by means of ultraviolet (UV) lamps (sometimes called germicidal or bactericidal) may be employed to sterilize pathogens which bypassed the reverse-osmosis process. Chlorination or chloramination (chlorine and ammonia) protects against pathogens which may have lodged in the distribution system downstream, such as from new construction, backwash, compromised pipes, etc.[24]
It’s extremely important to confirm your water has been purified or treated before drinking. If your water is contaminated and you don’t have bottled water, there are various water purification methods that are used today, and each method has its merits and demerits. Filtering is good for basic water tasks such as sediment and chlorine removal, but in the long run reverse osmosis is the best option. At Schultz Soft Water we focus on reverse osmosis units because they require a lot less energy and time required to make water versus distillation.
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.[14] 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.[citation needed]
Water conditioning: This is a method of reducing the effects of hard water. In water systems subject to heating hardness salts can be deposited as the decomposition of bicarbonate ions creates carbonate ions that precipitate out of solution. Water with high concentrations of hardness salts can be treated with soda ash (sodium carbonate) which precipitates out the excess salts, through the common-ion effect, producing calcium carbonate of very high purity. The precipitated calcium carbonate is traditionally sold to the manufacturers of toothpaste. Several other methods of industrial and residential water treatment are claimed (without general scientific acceptance) to include the use of magnetic and/or electrical fields reducing the effects of hard water.[20]
Radium Removal: Some groundwater sources contain radium, a radioactive chemical element. Typical sources include many groundwater sources north of the Illinois River in Illinois, United States of America. Radium can be removed by ion exchange, or by water conditioning. The back flush or sludge that is produced is, however, a low-level radioactive waste.
The Zip has a similar footprint and appearance similar to a pod coffee maker, but instead of serving up java, this mighty machine delivers purified water. Pour tap water into the reservoir and the Zip will give you a 0.5 gallon of filtered, pH-balanced water in about 15 minutes. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to empty the tank of purified water before you can add water to the fill-up tank for another round of filtration.
We all know that dehydration can be dangerous, leading to dizziness, seizures, and death, but drinking too much water can be just as bad. In 2002, 28-year-old runner Cynthia Lucero collapsed midway through the Boston Marathon. Rushed to a hospital, she fell into a coma and died. In the aftermath it emerged that she had drunk large amounts along the run. The excess liquid in her system induced a syndrome called exercise-associated hyponatremia (EAH), in which an imbalance in the body's sodium levels creates a dangerous swelling of the brain.

A specific "large-scale" form of slow sand filter is the process of bank filtration, in which natural sediments in a riverbank are used to provide a first stage of contaminant filtration. While typically not clean enough to be used directly for drinking water, the water gained from the associated extraction wells is much less problematic than river water taken directly from the river.
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.
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.[14] 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.[citation needed]
In 1946, some maple syrup producers started using reverse osmosis to remove water from sap before the sap is boiled down to syrup. The use of reverse osmosis allows about 75–90% of the water to be removed from the sap, reducing energy consumption and exposure of the syrup to high temperatures. Microbial contamination and degradation of the membranes must be monitored.

Use water purification and disinfection tablets. Water purification tablets are made of either chlorine dioxide or iodine and kill bacteria and viruses in water. To use these tablets, fill a pitcher or jar with water and add enough tablets to treat the water. One tablet typically treats 1 quart (1 L) of water. These tablets generally need anywhere from 30 minutes to four hours to work.[4]
Membrane filters are widely used for filtering both drinking water and sewage. For drinking water, membrane filters can remove virtually all particles larger than 0.2 μm—including giardia and cryptosporidium. Membrane filters are an effective form of tertiary treatment when it is desired to reuse the water for industry, for limited domestic purposes, or before discharging the water into a river that is used by towns further downstream. They are widely used in industry, particularly for beverage preparation (including bottled water). However no filtration can remove substances that are actually dissolved in the water such as phosphates, nitrates and heavy metal ions.
While the intermittent nature of sunlight and its variable intensity throughout the day makes PV efficiency prediction difficult and desalination during night time challenging, several solutions exist. For example, batteries, which provide the energy required for desalination in non-sunlight hours can be used to store solar energy in daytime. Apart from the use of conventional batteries, alternative methods for solar energy storage exist. For example, thermal energy storage systems solve this storage problem and ensure constant performance even during non-sunlight hours and cloudy days, improving overall efficiency.[13]
The clarified water is then fed through a high-pressure piston pump into a series of vessels where it is subject to reverse osmosis. The product water is free of 90.00–99.98% of the raw water's total dissolved solids and by military standards, should have no more than 1000–1500 parts per million by measure of electrical conductivity. It is then disinfected with chlorine and stored for later use.[citation needed]
The water from this unit is pretty much tasteless to me, which is ideal since tap water tastes awful. I grew up with Culligan, which has a certain taste to me, versus this which is just pure. Haven't tested it but plan to. We also added a line to the fridge ice maker so our ice is purified. It was easy to install in our home, and we've used it three months with no issues. The cables are long. today when our sink clogged and we had to drain it, got a mess over all the filters, and they water tubes were all long enough to put the whole unit (still assembled and attached), into the sink to rinse it off. I'm glad it's made in the USA so I know all the parts have stringent manufacturing guidelines. The only thing I would change, is ordering directly from apec instead ... full review
Chlorine can also come in the form of pre-dosed tablets which would be dropped into a container of water and allowed to sit for 30 to 45 minutes while the chemical begins to destroy the pathogens. Water purification tablets are very convenient for those who are traveling overseas or hiking in the wilderness. The convenience of not having to measure the amount of liquid chlorine and being able to carry the lightweight tablets in a backpack have allowed these tablets to gain much popularity among campers, backpackers, humanitarians, and those traveling to areas where clean water is questionable. Read our article on water purification tablets for a detailed guide on how they work and which brands to use.

One of the most frequent compliments of the Home Master Full Contact Reverse Osmosis Water Filter System is that it delivers great water pressure when compared to other reverse osmosis kits. This can be credited to the permeate pump along with the 3/8 inch dispenser tubing used in this system, which results in a faster flow of water than the typical ¼ inch tubing found on many other reverse osmosis systems.


There are multiple levels of filtration. As long as the water has been purified properly, filtration at this point would mostly be to make the water more attractive. Since most of us are not used to, drinking water with, leaves, algae, dirt, etcetera. So, at least a minimal amount of filtration is recommended. Since, while you can ingest/digest the aforementioned, most of us would prefer not to.
According to a 2007 World Health Organization (WHO) report, 1.1 billion people lack access to an improved drinking water supply; 88% of the 4 billion annual cases of diarrheal disease are attributed to unsafe water and inadequate sanitation and hygiene, while 1.8 million people die from diarrheal disease each year. The WHO estimates that 94% of these diarrheal disease cases are preventable through modifications to the environment, including access to safe water.[1] Simple techniques for treating water at home, such as chlorination, filters, and solar disinfection, and for storing it in safe containers could save a huge number of lives each year.[2] Reducing deaths from waterborne diseases is a major public health goal in developing countries.
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