Woman drinking water while camping

When it comes to surviving in the wilderness, getting enough water should be a top priority. In fact, water is more important than food since whilst it’s possible for a human to survive for up to a few weeks without eating, you’ll only last a maximum of five days without water, and even less if the temperature is high.

The trouble with exploring in the wilderness, especially if you go on long excursions, is that it’s not always possible to carry enough bottled water with you. Sometimes, even if you set out with what you think is the required amount, there’s always the risk that you’ll end up running out earlier than expected. Therefore, the best solution is to know what to do make the most of the water in your environment.

The water that you’ll find in the wild will be contaminated with various types of microorganisms, parasites and dirt that can be extremely harmful to your health. Because of this, it’s crucial to understand the various methods that can be used to purify the water and make it safe to drink. Below, we outline a number of methods you can use to purify water.

1. Boiling

When you’re in the wilderness, one of the easiest ways to make water safe to drink is by boiling it. This process only takes around ten minutes, allowing you to access safe drinking water quickly. To do this, all you will need is a pot and the materials to make a fire. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Fill your pot with water from a source in your environment. The best type of water to use here is water that is clear as although the process is effective against parasites and microorganisms, it will not get rid of dirt.
  2. Start a fire and place your pot of water over it. It’s vital that the fire is hot enough to bubble the water. Let the water boil for around five minutes before taking it off the fire.
  3. Leave the water to cool until it is at a safe enough temperature to drink.

2. Filtration

Filtration is another common method of purifying water in the wilderness. This is an important method to learn as unlike boiling it can be used with dirty, muddy water. Considering that sometimes, this might be the only type of water that you will find, you should ensure you know how to filtrate water. Sand filtration is one of the easiest methods of making any kind of water safe to drink. To do this, you will need a bottle, some pebbles or cotton for filtering, gravel, and sand.

  1. Cut the base of the bottle evenly to create a cone shape.
  2. Use your chosen filter material (pebbles or cotton) for the neck of the bottle. Around three inches of your chosen material should be enough. Then, add some gravel to the filter material; this will help prevent any sand from getting into the filtered water.
  3. Fill your bottle with sand.
  4. Finally, pour the water through the filter. It should flow out of the bottom clear. If it’s not clear, pass it through the filter again.

3. Distillation

Salt water is commonly found in the wild, however, this type of water is usually undrinkable and can lead to further dehydration due to the high salt content. And, salt water can also be contaminated with dirt, parasites and microorganisms. Distillation is the best way to remove salt and other impurities from water to make it safe to drink. You will only need a pan and a glass. Then, follow these steps:

  1. Position your empty glass at the center of your pan.
  2. Pour the salt water into the pan slowly, taking care not to get any into the glass. Have the cover of the pan upside down, with the handle facing the glass.
  3. Boil the water.
  4. As the water boils, you will begin to notice it turning into steam, collecting on the cover of the pan. Then, the steam from the cover will condense into the glass.
  5. Once the water in the glass has cooled, it will be safe to drink.

4. Purification Tablets

If you’re worried that you won’t be able to source the materials necessary for boiling or filtering the water that you find in the wild, you might want to take a stock of water purification tablets or drops along with you. In fact, even if you have the items needed for boiling or filtering water, it’s a wise idea to have some purification tablets with you anyway for emergencies.

The main ingredient in purification tablets is usually chlorine, iodine or potassium permanganate. They are usually designed for purifying twenty liters of water, but this will depend on the instructions for your specific tablets, so always check first. You should take a can or bottle that carries this amount of water along with you or break your tablets up. To purify your water using tablets, you should:

  1. Fill the can with water to the brim and add your purification tablets or drops according to the given instructions.
  2. Shake the can for a few seconds, allowing the drops or tablets to mix well with the water.
  3. Let the water sit for a minimum of around twenty minutes.
  4. After this, your water should be safe to drink!

5. Survival Straws

Last but not least, it’s a wise idea to take some survival straws with you as these will make it easy for you to quickly access safe drinking water in an emergency. They are very easy to use and can be found at most stores that sell hiking equipment. To use these, you should:

  1. Hold the straw in the body of water for around one minute, which will enable the water to move into the filter membrane.
  2. Drink through the straw allowing water to pass through it and into your mouth. Along the way the water will be purified, meaning that your drink will be free from microorganisms and other contaminants.

How would you purify water in the wild? If you’d like to share another method with us, we’d love to hear from you in the comments!