Because I’ve always been a city girl, the concept of drinking directly from a stream has never held any appeal. In fact, I’ve always been a bit amazed at those scenes in old westerns where the grizzly men dunk their faces in the stream and take deep, refreshing swallows of crisp, clean water. I’m from a generation and lifestyle that I can’t imagine the water being crisp and clean enough for me to want to drink it. That’s probably a good thing because there are few (if any) places where that’s a safe practice these days.
I’ve always had the luxury of getting clean water from a faucet. Should the world change suddenly, that may no longer be the case. That makes it important to store water for that time, and to know how to collect water and then how to purify it. How to purify water is where this blog comes in.
There are basically two methods for purifying water: boiling and adding bleach. (Yes, I had to get over the idea of drinking bleach.) If the water is cloudy, it should be filtered before using either method.
Always filter water that is cloudy before you purify it either by boiling or by adding bleach. Filter water by pouring it through coffee filters, paper towels, cheese cloth or some similar item. Prepper Tip: Coffee filters are great for lots of things and should definitely be on your prepper supplies lists.
Purifying Water by Boiling
Boiling is the safest way to purify water. If you have the ability to use this method, use it. However, don’t assume that you will be able to boil water. Be prepared for boiling or using bleach (as described below).
- Bring the water to a rolling boil and maintain it for one minute.
- Let the water cool before drinking.
Purifying Water by Adding Liquid Chlorine Bleach
- Use liquid household bleach that has no perfumes, dyes or other additives. It should be between 5% and 6% chlorine.
- Place the water in a clean container.
- If the water is clear, add 3 drops of liquid chlorine bleach for one quart of water or 8 drops (1/8 teaspoon) for a gallon of water. (There are likely to be instructions on the chlorine bleach bottle that you can follow.
- If the water is cloudy (even after filtering), use 5 drops for one quart or 16 drops (1/4 teaspoon) for a gallon of water.
- Mix thoroughly.
- Let the water stand for at least 30 minutes before drinking. If the water is cloudy or very cold, let it stand for 60 minutes.
- If the water doesn’t have a slight chlorine smell, repeat the process. If the water doesn’t have a slight chlorine smell after repeating the process you should probably find a new source of water. The water you’re using may not be safe enough to drink even after purifying it.
Prepper Tip: To make the water taste better, you can pour it back and forth between two containers a couple of times. Or you might want to add a little flavor to it. Tang is a good prepper supply, but you can experiment with adding some of your dried fruits.
There are other methods for filtering and purifying water, but these are the easiest. We’ll write about other methods in future blogs. In the meantime, if you’re into more intense survival water purification, check out this blog.