A Simple Guide to Filtering and Purifying Water
Clean water is one of the most important issues mankind is facing for the future. Some people on this planet deal with contaminated water on a daily basis. Most of us are
lucky enough to only have to deal with it on a limited basis.
Whatever our lot in life, clean water is important for our health and welfare. Without it we are more susceptible to disease, making us unable to provide for ourselves or our families.
In an emergency situation such as a disaster, it is especially important to maintain a supply of clean, potable water.
There are several products listed that will improve the quality of your water supply. Not every product is right for everyone, but hopefully there is something on the list that will be right for you.
When looking at the items, keep in mind your current lifestyle and what you might need in case of emergency. Then choose accordingly.
It will be a good idea to stock up on a few options so you aren’t locked into one way of treating your water in a situation where another might work better.
A note about purification.
On a basic level, purification can be accomplished simply by boiling your water. However, as there are any number of reasons why this may not be possible, we have listed several products available that will accomplish almost the same thing.
Purification kills the harmful microorganisms living in your water. They will still be there, just dead. The purification process does nothing for chemical or heavy metal contamination. Only a few filters will remove these.
Ozone for purification.
Roving Blue products create ozone from water instead of air. This means the ozone is truly infused in the water being purified instead of just bubbling through it. While ozone does not make the water pure, it certainly kills many of the pathogens, making it far safer to drink. Ozone is approved for bottled water and organic food uses.
Roving Blue O-Pen
The O-Pen represents how fast we are advancing in personal water treatment systems. It uses ozone to treat the water and kill microorganisms, making it safer to drink. It will treat 16 oz. of water in just under a minute while the ozone reverts to harmless oxygen.
The O-Pen is designed to kill most bacteria, viruses and cysts, and uses the same technology used in making bottled water safe. It runs on a rechargeable battery that will purify about 50L per charge. It comes with a USB cable for simple recharging.
The O-Pen is legal on all airlines so you can take it with you wherever you want to go and rest assured that your water will be safer to drink.
The SteriPEN uses UV light to kill microorganisms, making your water safer to drink. It is made by the Swiss company Katadyn, and carries a three year warranty, so you know it is a quality product.
This is similar to the primitive treatment some third world people use when solarizing their water. They put untreated water in clear bottles and place it in the sun on their roofs for a couple days allowing the UV rays to kill off many of the bad microorganisms.
The STeriPEN Adventurer weighs in at 4 oz. and uses replaceable batteries (not included). The UV lamp lasts for about 8000 treatments and will even double as an LED flashlight.
Katadyn Micropur Water Purification Tablets
The Swiss company Katadyn also offers water purification tablets.
Each of these Chlorine Dioxide tablets will treat 1 liter of water without the nasty aftertaste of iodine based tablets. They are effective against bacteria, pathogens, viruses, dangerous cryptosporidium and Giardia.
These tablets are military grade, since the US military as well as many relief agencies, use them in all parts of the world to treat their drinking water.
A note about filtration.
It is usually best to pre-filter cloudy water to avoid unnecessary clogging in the filters. This can be done simply by pouring the water to be filtered through a cloth, or placing a piece of cloth over the intake of the filter. This will slow the filtering process a bit but it will save the frustration of not having to clean a clogged filter.
Another important note is that once you use your filter it will never again be totally dry inside. This means you cannot let it freeze or you will harm the filtering element.
LifeStraw is one of the most popular and affordable personal water filters on the market. It is suitable for hiking, backpacking, biking, survival, or anytime you want to be secure in your water supply.
The Lifestraw features the ability to filter 1000 gallons of water, and removes 99.9999% of bacteria and 99.9% of parasites, while filtering down to a particle size of .2 microns.
One of the reasons it is so popular is that it comes in just under 9 inches, only weighs 2oz. and carries a one year warranty. All of this makes it an easy decision to add one to your gear.
Platypus Meta Bottle
The Platypus Meta Bottle with microfilter is a great water bottle for an on the go person who wants to be safe from protozoa in their water. The Meta Battle is good for hiking, jogging, biking and other outdoor activities, city or country.
It will filter 2L per minute with the filter cartridge lasting about 2000L. It is collapsible so it won’t take much space. The filter is easy to clean in the field and is designed to filter protozoa.
Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System
Sawyer has taken the water filtration market by storm in the last few years with its affordable water filters. The MINI is great for hiking, camping, hunting, survival, or any general outdoor activity.
The MINI weighs in at 2oz. and fits in the palm of your hand. It filters down to 0.1 micron. This gets 99.99999% of bacteria, 99.9999% of protozoa, and 100% of micro plastics. The filter is rated to 100,000 gallons (yes you read that right).
Each MINI is individually tested by Sawyer three separate times before it is sold. Every unit comes with a filter, a 16oz. reusable squeeze bag, a drinking straw, and a cleaning plunger.
Katadyn Vario Dual Technology Microfilter
The Katadyn Vario is a lightweight filter to use for camping, backpacking, survival and prepping. It uses three separate filter technologies to filter your water. This includes a ceramic pre-filter to remove large particles that may clog other filters and require wasted time cleaning.
The Vario also takes advantage of a replaceable charcoal filter. This will absorb some chemicals, pesticides and remove most unwanted smells from the filtered water.
The Vario will filter down to 0.2 micron at a rate of 1L per minute with the pre-filter, and 2L per minute without. It is 6.5” and weighs in at 15 oz.
Survivor Filter Pro
The Survivor Filter Pro is a compact system designed to be used for camping, hiking or emergencies.
The Filter Pro filters down to 0.1 micron in a three stage filter that includes a carbon filter to reduce heavy metals, chemicals, and bad tastes. The filters are rated at 100,000 liters.
It will remove 99.5% of mercury and 93% of lead, along with 99.999% protozoa and 99.999% of viruses. The Filter Pro will filter about 17 oz. per minute and can be pumped into a container or hydration bladder of your choice.
The Survivor Pro also comes with a 100% customer satisfaction lifetime warranty.
For the Home or Base Camp
Katadyn Base Camp Pro 10L
The Base Camp Pro is a 10L filter that allows you to make a trip to your water supply and then have 10 liters available hanging in camp. It filters bacteria, cysts and sediment at 2L per minute.
It has the new Ultra Flow ™ filter that has a one year anti-clog guarantee, and will filter 1500L of water.
Larger than the other products on this list, the Berkey Travel comes in at 18” high by 7.5” diameter. It is designed as the name implies...travel. Berkey does have a larger home unit.
The Berkey Black filters are designed to filter 99.9999% of bacteria and protozoa and 99.999% of viruses while also dramatically reducing heavy metals and pharmaceutical drugs. A pair of these filters will filter 6000 gallons of water.
Berkey’s are made of stainless steel with two chambers. The untreated water is poured into the top chamber and gravity pushes it through the filters to the bottom chamber where it can be dispensed.
If you have room for it, a Berkey is a quality purchase.
Katadyn Gravity Camp filter
The Katadyn 6L camp filter is a gravity filter that protects you from protozoa in your base camp.
It filters 2L per minute and can filter 1500L. It allows you to make fewer trips to your water source, while maintaining filtered water in camp.
Platypus GravityWorks Filter
The Platypus GravityWorks is another hanging camp filter that works on gravity.
It filters 1.75L per minute with a filter size of 0.2 micron which is the best of our hanging camp filters. It has a 6L capacity of untreated water and a 6L compartment for treated water storage. Like the other hinging filters, it has a 1500L capacity on the filter before it needs replaced.
Sources of Water
When searching for water in the wild the best, cleanest water will usually come from closest to the source, for example where a spring emerges from the ground. The next will be fast moving water. Fast moving water is more oxygenated and usually cleaner. Lastly sluggish and still water will have the highest count of microorganisms to be worried about.
A way to get cleaner water (you can do this for a prefilter to any of the above equipment) is to dig an indian well.
First find your water source. Three or four feet away from the edge, on dry ground, dig a hole down until you hit water. Allow the water to fill the hole, and bail it out several times with your hands or a container. Then allow it to settle and clear. This water will have been filtered by the earth. Not exactly pure but cleaner. It can then be treated by the equipment above or in emergencies it can be consumed as is.
Emergency Water in Your Home
If you know an emergency is imminent such as an ice storm, hurricane or something like that, it is a good idea to fill your bathtub as soon as possible. If you take this step, you will have several gallons of water available to you.
If you are caught unawares you can go to the lowest point in the plumbing of your home and you should be able to drain a few gallons of water from the rest of the house. Don’t forget the tank of your toilets.
Most homes still have water heaters. Most hold a minimum of 40 gallons. They have a drain on the side of the bottom that will allow you to get the water from them for your use.
Buckets, pots, pans, dishes and any other container can be used to collect rainwater from your yard, or even windowsill if you live in an apartment.
Water can be found in just about every situation. However, the quality of the water is going to be questionable. A person can only last a couple days without proper hydration, and if your family is counting on you to provide for them you can’t afford to be sluggish because of dehydration.
Therefore, investing in equipment that will keep you with a supply of potable water should be a high priority on your list. As a high priority, the money spent should be looked at as an investment instead of just another prep for a rainy day.
Many of these items are top quality, and most will give you a lifetime of use if cared for properly. Some of these items are also essential to any Bug Out Bag.
Written by Randy Augsburger
Randy Augsburger lives on a small homestead in the Midwest. He grew up in the Rockies hunting, fishing and trapping. He has been sharing his knowledge of the outdoors by writing and making videos for the last 10 years. You can checkout his blog and youtube channel called The Prepared Christian.