Just like in humans, water helps everything grow and thrive, including bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
Water-related illness is a huge concern, especially for the young and the old, killing nearly 3.4 million people each year.
And once you’re sick, staying hydrated while you’re “getting sick” is a massive challenge as-is, which becomes that much greater when SHTF.
What you’ll get below:
-list of the greatest concerns for your water
-5 methods to purify water fast
-infographic and video describing what works and what doesn’t
Common symptoms from drinking contaminated water are “Montezuma’s Revenge,” diarrhea, vomiting, cramps.
An E coli infection can be fatal and kills here in the US each year (usually through uncooked meat).
Staying hydrated while your body deals with these contaminants is a real challenge because you’re pooping and puking all your water up. When SHTF and water supplies are in limited, dehydration is a serious threat to your health.
I was sick from contaminated water traveling through Egypt.
The only way I can describe the feeling is to imagine eating broken shards of glass. And then setting the shards of glass on fire.
It felt like my guts were being cut apart, and nothing helped.
It lasted several days – even though I was taking a very strong antibiotic for it – and basically took me out of commission; I needed a bathroom OFTEN!
In a SHTF scenario without an antibiotic, good hydration, and a bathroom, I’d have been in some serious trouble.
Knowing how to purify water adds to the confident mindset needed to survive.
Here’s a list of what you need to treat, and how.
Below this list are more detailed instructions on how to use these treatment methods to purify water most effectively.
THE BAD GUYS
The greatest source of water contaminants is a fecal waste. Everybody poops, and it takes very little fecal waste to make water undrinkable.
All of these microbes come from human and/or animal fecal waste:
Protozoa – several types, including:
Boiling kills these bugs. Iodine or chlorine does not.
Filtration must have a “cyst reduction” rated filter, and then is effective.
Bacteria – including:
Boil these bugs to death! Iodine or chlorine will kill these too.
Filtration only has “moderate” success with removing these.
Viruses – including:
Filtration will NOT kill viruses!
Iodine or chlorine is effective at killing viruses.
Here’s a list of how to use these treatment methods most effectively.
The oldest method for making water safe to drink is by boiling.
Keeping water at 165 degrees for one minute will kill off any bacteria, viruses, and microbes like protazoa.
When at altitudes greater than 2000 meters (roughly 6,600 feet above sea level) you must boil water for at least 3 minutes.
But two big problems with this method during SHTF: time and fuel.
It takes time to treat water this way, and burns up fuel that could be used for cooking and heat.
Also, it doesn’t improve the taste of the water, or remove any of the “gunk” in it.
You’ll want to filter the water first, through a cloth, to remove any gunk.
This is a newer technology and is good to treat small amounts of relatively clean water, where your concern is only bacteria and other microbes.
You insert the UV pen into your container for a few seconds and this will kill off these microbes and purify water.
But if your water is cloudy, or has dirt, debris, or gunk in it, the light won’t get through, and won’t be effective. You could be at risk.
Best to filter this water somewhat, even running it through a porous fabric like a sock, to filter away most of the light blocking debris.
This also doesn’t alter the taste and is suggested for small amounts of water only.
Iodine or chlorine tabs have been in use for a long time.
Also, because these tabs are individually packaged, you don’t have to worry about the remaining product becoming less effective from being exposed to the air (like if it were in a bottle).
One of the biggest concerns with buying chemical purifiers is the expiration date. Make sure your packs have one (some other companies don’t list there’s).
Using this every day to treat your water won’t be good for you over the long haul, though. You don’t want to be taking either of these chemicals into your body every day!
Also, pregnant women and people with a thyroid condition must not use this method.
And it will alter the taste of the water.
Removes the sediments and “gunk,” and can get out the bacteria and microbes.
But this won’t remove viruses!
One of the reasons this filter is popular because it will filter 100,000 before needing a filter change.
It’s small and compact, lightweight and easy to carry, and has a very attractive price point of under $20.
However, if you’re in an area where virus-contaminated water is a concern you’ll need a secondary system to kill these off.
UPDATE: It’s a kind of good news/bad news update.
I found a mechanical filter with pores so small that it WILL filter out viruses, and every other microbiological organism (fungi, bacteria, and protozoa).
Actually, its filter has pores so small that it’s on par with the “gold standard” of boiling your water.
This thing stops and catches everything!
That’s the good news. Here’s the bad news:
This water purification technology does not come cheap. So be prepared for a bit of sticker shock.
It’s an expensive system (by my standards, anyway), but will filter 4,000 liters of water without needing a filter change out.
The average adult needs to drink *at least* one liter of water per day (more like one gallon to be safe, and possibly more if it’s very hot), so you can do the math.
It also has a carbon filter element that should help to eliminate a whole host of chemical contaminants, like pesticides and heavy metals. This carbon filter lasts 250 liters.
The bottle is a little bulky, but for what it does, this is a no-brainer.
The LIFESAVER Systems 4000 Ultra Filtration Water Bottle is worth taking a look at!
In an emergency, sunlight can make water safe to drink.
First, filter off the water through a cloth so the water isn’t cloudy. Then place water in clear plastic jugs on a reflective surface like aluminum foil in very bright sunlight for at least 6 hours.
None of these methods address chemical contamination.
This infographic has great suggestions on treating water, as well as storing clean water:
Here’s a video showing how to make swamp water drinkable:
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