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.

Electrodeionization:[11] Water is passed between a positive electrode and a negative electrode. Ion exchange membranes allow only positive ions to migrate from the treated water toward the negative electrode and only negative ions toward the positive electrode. High purity deionized water is produced continuously, similar to ion exchange treatment. Complete removal of ions from water is possible if the right conditions are met. The water is normally pre-treated with a reverse osmosis unit to remove non-ionic organic contaminants, and with gas transfer membranes to remove carbon dioxide. A water recovery of 99% is possible if the concentrate stream is fed to the RO inlet.


The high pressure pump supplies the pressure needed to push water through the membrane, even as the membrane rejects the passage of salt through it. Typical pressures for brackish water range from 1.6 to 2.6 MPa (225 to 376 psi). In the case of seawater, they range from 5.5 to 8 MPa (800 to 1,180 psi). This requires a large amount of energy. Where energy recovery is used, part of the high pressure pump's work is done by the energy recovery device, reducing the system energy inputs.

Treatment with reverse osmosis is limited, resulting in low recoveries on high concentration (measured with electrical conductivity) and fouling of the RO membranes. Reverse osmosis applicability is limited by conductivity, organics, and scaling inorganic elements such as CaSO4, Si, Fe and Ba. Low organic scaling can use two different technologies, one is using spiral wound membrane type of module, and for high organic scaling, high conductivity and higher pressure (up to 90 bars) disc tube modules with reverse-osmosis membranes can be used. Disc tube modules were redesigned for landfill leachate purification, that is usually contaminated with high levels of organic material. Due to the cross-flow with high velocity it is given a flow booster pump, that is recirculating the flow over the same membrane surface between 1.5 and 3 times before it is released as a concentrate. High velocity is also good against membrane scaling and allows successful membrane cleaning.
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]
Only a part of the saline feed water pumped into the membrane assembly passes through the membrane with the salt removed. The remaining "concentrate" flow passes along the saline side of the membrane to flush away the concentrated salt solution. The percentage of desalinated water produced versus the saline water feed flow is known as the "recovery ratio". This varies with the salinity of the feed water and the system design parameters: typically 20% for small seawater systems, 40% – 50% for larger seawater systems, and 80% – 85% for brackish water. The concentrate flow is at typically only 3 bar / 50 psi less than the feed pressure, and thus still carries much of the high-pressure pump input energy.
Storage – Water from rivers may also be stored in bankside reservoirs for periods between a few days and many months to allow natural biological purification to take place. This is especially important if treatment is by slow sand filters. Storage reservoirs also provide a buffer against short periods of drought or to allow water supply to be maintained during transitory pollution incidents in the source river.
That brings us to filtration by manufactured filters. These devices allow us to go into microfiltration and ultrafiltration. By simply running the water through these porous ceramic filters we can effectively remove bacteria and viruses depending on the quality of the filter and the pore size. See chart above. This is where high quality filters such as the Katadyn Combi Filter can filter down to 0.2-micron level capturing Giardia, Crypto, bacteria and most viruses. Some filters are chemically impregnated to ensure complete removal of bacteria. The information below will give more detail.
The desalinated water purity is a function of the feed water salinity, membrane selection and recovery ratio. To achieve higher purity a second pass can be added which generally requires re-pumping. Purity expressed as total dissolved solids typically varies from 100 to 400 parts per million (ppm or mg/litre)on a seawater feed. A level of 500 ppm is generally accepted as the upper limit for drinking water, while the US Food and Drug Administration classifies mineral water as water containing at least 250 ppm.
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:

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.


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.
Groundwater: The water emerging from some deep ground water may have fallen as rain many tens, hundreds, or thousands of years ago. Soil and rock layers naturally filter the ground water to a high degree of clarity and often, it does not require additional treatment besides adding chlorine or chloramines as secondary disinfectants. Such water may emerge as springs, artesian springs, or may be extracted from boreholes or wells. Deep ground water is generally of very high bacteriological quality (i.e., pathogenic bacteria or the pathogenic protozoa are typically absent), but the water may be rich in dissolved solids, especially carbonates and sulfates of calcium and magnesium. Depending on the strata through which the water has flowed, other ions may also be present including chloride, and bicarbonate. There may be a requirement to reduce the iron or manganese content of this water to make it acceptable for drinking, cooking, and laundry use. Primary disinfection may also be required. Where groundwater recharge is practiced (a process in which river water is injected into an aquifer to store the water in times of plenty so that it is available in times of drought), the groundwater may require additional treatment depending on applicable state and federal regulations.

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.

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).


The APEC Ultimate 6-Stage Reverse Osmosis system removes up to 99 percent of bacteria, contaminants, and solids. But it also adds back in calcium and magnesium, which are beneficial minerals for your health and improve the taste of drinking water. The system is rated for purifying up to 75 gallons per day, which is plenty for the average family’s daily needs. The system includes a flow restrictor and an automatic shutoff valve that help to reduce wastewater to 3 gallons for every 1 gallon of purified water produced. Some other systems produce in excess of 5 gallons of wastewater to every 1 gallon of purified water.
This system can purify up to 50 gallons of water per day and has 5 stages of filtration to remove up to 99 percent of TDS. For every gallon of purified water produced, there are 3 gallons of wastewater. This is an average conversion rate and is much better than some water filtration systems that have 4 or 5 gallons of wastewater for every purified gallon produced.
That brings us to filtration by manufactured filters. These devices allow us to go into microfiltration and ultrafiltration. By simply running the water through these porous ceramic filters we can effectively remove bacteria and viruses depending on the quality of the filter and the pore size. See chart above. This is where high quality filters such as the Katadyn Combi Filter can filter down to 0.2-micron level capturing Giardia, Crypto, bacteria and most viruses. Some filters are chemically impregnated to ensure complete removal of bacteria. The information below will give more detail.
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.
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.
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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