Whether you are enjoying a casual camp trip with your family or you are participating in a serious hike through the wildness, having safe drinking water is a must. While you need to drink plenty of water in order to stay hydrated, it is equally as important to ensure the water is safe for you to drink. Failure to do so can lead to serious illness by drinking contaminated water. If you run out of water that you have brought with you, it is possible to obtain drinking water from streams, lakes and springs. Before drinking it, however, it is important to purify the water to ensure it is safe to drink.
No matter how clean the water may look, the only way to be sure it does not contain a harmful pathogen is to purify it. There are two primary ways to purify water: using water purification tablets along with a water purifier or boiling the water.
Water Purification Tablets and a Water Purifier
Water purification tablets are special tablets containing chlorine, halazone and iodine. These chemicals are able to kill most waterborne bacteria and viruses as well as some parasites. Unfortunately, some parasites and some of the larger bacteria are not killed by water purification tablets. These include Cryptosporidium paryum and Giardia duodenalis. Therefore, you must also run the water through a water filter after treating it with water purification tablets. To properly purify the water, the water purifier must be 1 micron absolute or smaller.
It is important to note that water purification tablets lose their potency over time. Therefore, you need to keep your supply fresh. In addition, water sanitizing tablets for washing dishes are also available and should not be confused with the type of water purification tablets that are meant to use with drinking water.
Boiling Water for Purification
Boiling water for purification is the surest way to be sure it is safe to drink, as boiling the water will kill any microorganisms contained in the water. To boil water for purification, you first need to bring the water to a rolling boil. You should then boil the water for an additional minute. At higher elevations where the boiling point is lower, you will need to boil for several minutes to ensure the water is properly purified.
If the water contained mud or other visible impurities, you should first allow the water to stand until the silt and other impurities settle to the bottom. You can then dip the clear water out from the top in order to boil it. If you use the heat from a charcoal grill to boil your water, you will need to properly dispose of the coals by placing them in a hot coal container. If you are away from a commercial campsite or otherwise use a campfire to boil the water, be sure to properly douse the fire with water or dirt and stir the embers to ensure the fire is completely out.