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Water is one of the most essential aspects of life. You can live only about three days without water. So good, clean water is important to our very survival.

How can you clean your water to make it safe to drink? We will go over a few methods.


Boiling is the easiest method to clean water. You can first filter it through a cloth to take out debris and then boil it for a good amount of time (up to 20 mins). High temperatures cause the bacteria and virus to dissipate, removing all impurities from the water. In doing so, chemical additions cease to exist in the water. However, the dead microorganisms and impurities settle at the bottom of the water, and boiling does not help eliminate all the impurities. It is often recommended to strain again through a finer weave cloth or a microporous sieve to completely remove the impurities.


This is a reliable older method that can be used in an emergency and has often been used by backpackers when other methods are not available. This simple method requires 5% chlorine to be added to the water. This creates an oxidant that kills the microorganisms to make the water safe for drinking.


While iodine is powerful at killing bacteria and viruses it is unpleasant and can be fatal if used in high doses. This method is best avoided if at all possible. However, in an emergency, a few drops will make the water safe for drinking.

Solar Purification

This method involves treating the water with the ultraviolet radiation of the sun. The process involves filling a BPA-free plastic bottle with water, shaking it to activate the oxygen, and leaving it horizontally in the sunlight. This effectively kills bacteria and viruses present in the water, making it safe for consumption. It can also be done using a clear tarp or a large clear plastic container. This method is slow and there is some water loss due to evaporation.

Clay Filtration

This is a very old method but is still used in some parts of the world. Using a clay pot and placing it in muddy water, they block out the mud and allow the potable water to pass through.


There are two ways to do this and both take mechanical methods to assist. “Reverse Osmosis (RO) desalination uses the principle of osmosis to remove salt and other impurities, by transferring water through a series of semi-permeable membranes. Thermal desalination uses heat, and according to IDE-Tech often the waste heat is from power plants or refineries and used to evaporate and condense water to purify it.”

Water Purifiers

There are a variety of types of purifiers available for the home and road. Keep in mind that some are really good at removing particles and other contaminants. Some may not be available in your area or might work better than others. You will need to do your own research to see what works or is available in your area.

Water Straws or Tablets?

Straws and Tablets are methods used while away from home. For convenience, straws are usually preferred. They are quick and much easier to use than tablets. However, tablets will remove viruses which the straws do not. These include small ones like norovirus, rotavirus, hepatitis A and E, and adenovirus.


These work by filtering water through layers of micro filters. Often they are built-in your water bottle. They are easy to use, cheap, and lightweight. Some are designed to do larger quantities of water up to 100,000 gallons.


These are easy to use by placing them in a container of water that allows them to dissolve and release chemicals such as iodine or chlorine that kill harmful microbes. They are cheap, small and lightweight and have a really long shelf life. The drawbacks are that they take time to be effective and the times vary. They both leave a taste that many do not enjoy.

The methods that will work for you vary on availability, cost, and personal needs. Look around, what are others in your community using? What are your water issues? Then what will best treat those issues? Have fun researching and looking for different methods that will help you clean and provide the water needs for you and your family.

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