Learn How To Filter Water For Survival
Here’s the truth— you won’t last more than a few days if you’re stuck in a survival situation without fresh water. Whether you’re experiencing a crisis in the wild after becoming lost or in your own home after a natural disaster, the body can’t go more than three days without H2O.
And seeing as our bodies are made of mostly water — up to 60%, to be exact — it makes sense that the wet stuff is critical for survival.
With that being said, while there are many survival skills that one should have under their belt, understanding how to filter water is arguably the most important. After all, a human can go for more than three weeks without food, but only three days without water.
Interested in learning more? We can help! Read on to learn everything you need to know about filtering water for survival.
But First, What’s So Bad About Drinking Contaminated Water Anyway?
Water is water, right?
Wrong! When you’re desperate for a little H2O, taking a quick sip from the pond may seem harmless, but there are actually a number of bacteria and icky parasites that can be ingested. Consuming them could lead to a serious infection or illness. Wondering what some of those itty-bitty organisms are and how dangerous they can be?
Here are just a few of them that are commonly lurking in unfiltered water:
- Giardia: Many people tend to become infected with this microscopic parasite via drinking from streams, lakes, or water that hasn’t been properly treated. The symptoms are not pleasant by any means and include nausea, stomach cramps and pains, diarrhea, gas, and dehydration.
Thankfully, this creepy-crawly can easily be filtered out of the water with something as simple as our Personal Water Filter.
- E. coli: This common kind of bacteria can also be easily extracted from water by using a top-notch water filter. If you’ve ever had — or heard — of traveler’s diarrhea, you can thank E. coli for that. Another E.coli strain can cause extremely severe diarrhea and, in some cases, can even be fatal.
- Campylobacter: The lesser evil of the three, this bacteria can cause stomach cramps, fever, and diarrhea. In most cases, accidentally consuming campylobacter can be handled at home, but you may need medical intervention if the pain becomes unbearable.
Hold Up – Does ALL Water Need To Be Treated?
Ah, good question!
In the wild, if you collect rainwater in a clean container, it’s generally regarded as safe. The same goes for snow that you’ve melted. H2O in the wilderness is also almost always safe if you’ve collected it via transpiration — as long as the plant itself isn’t poisonous, of course!
If you collect the water by any other means, though, whether that be from a stream, lake, pond, river, etc., it should most definitely be filtered and/or purified. You never know what might be lurking in the ground or upstream from your collection spot.
What’s the Difference Between Purification and Filtration?
Although many individuals tend to use these two terms interchangeably, believe it or not, they are not the same when it comes to decontaminating H2O. While both, of course, are better than doing nothing at all, water purifiers provide the most protection.
You see, a filter relies on a physical barrier, such as charcoal, to remove the undesirables out of the water. With the right filter, you can remove life-threatening bacteria and parasites.
What you won’t be able to take out of your water with a filter, however, is viruses.
When you purify your water, you are also working to remove all the bad stuff, but you’re doing so by using safe chemical methods, such as adding a little iodine or chlorine. When you do this method, you can remove not only bacteria and parasites but also viruses that are too tiny to be removed by your handy-dandy filter.
As a general rule of thumb, purifying your H2O is the way to go! But if you don’t have the necessary chemicals and you become dehydrated, it’s much better to use a good quality filter than nothing at all.
OK — How Do You Know If You’re Dehydrated?
Dehydration is a very serious concern, especially for outdoor adventurers! And despite what some people may think, it can occur in both the summer and the winter seasons, on a simple day hike or on a backcountry expedition.
Thirst isn’t always a reliable early indicator that your body is in dire need of water. In fact, many people don’t necessarily feel thirsty until they are already dehydrated. That’s why it’s of the utmost importance to drink plenty of water daily and increase your intake on especially hot days or when you’re exercising.
Dehydration tends to look different from person to person, but if you notice any of the following signs, stop what you’re doing and get your hands on potable drinking water as soon as possible.
- Extreme thirst
- Less frequent urination
- Seeing “stars”
Once you’re dehydrated, it can lead to many serious complications, including:
- Severe cramps
- Kidney problems (urinary tract infections, kidney stones, kidney failure, etc.)
- Blow blood volume shock
- Trouble breathing
- Fever or chills
And after roughly three days, it’s lights out. Needless to say, dehydration is an extremely serious thing, and everyone would benefit from knowing how to filter water in the event of a survival situation. You may never know when a disaster may strike, but you can be prepared.
How To Filter Water For Survival
So, without further ado, here are some of the top ways to filter water for survival:
The oldest method in the book, boiling water, is completely effective at killing all living contaminants in just a few minutes. Now, boiling your water won’t remove certain non-living contaminants such as heavy metals, but it can remove many chemicals through vaporization.
All you have to do is bring water in a pot over high heat until you have rolling bubbles. Allow them to roll for at least five minutes before allowing the water to cool down for drinking.
For easily boiling, we recommend our Stainless Steel Round Wood Burning Stove. Not only is it extremely lightweight and compact, but there are no chemical emissions and no carbon footprint — what’s not to love?
One of the most effective ways to filter water is to make use of a high-quality water filter. While there are many different water filters on the market, we love our Personal Water Filter. Why? Because it begins with a layer of thick cotton and medical-grade, hollow fiber UF membrane, which eliminates 99.9999% of bacteria all on its own. After that, water will quickly pass through activated carbon and antibacterial beads for an even more thorough cleanse.
Plus, our personal water filter connects to standard-size plastic bottles for clean water storage and comes with a sanitary cap and machined metal carabiner. Lightweight and compact, our water filter is unmatched when it comes to filtering H2O and is a perfect addition to any backpack or survival set.
Solar Water Disinfection
Lastly, if you’re stranded and in need of potable drinking water, solar water disinfection might be your only option. This method uses ultraviolet rays over time to kill bacteria. You just need to be in a sunny environment and have a clear plastic bottle for this to work.
Take your clear plastic bottle and fill it up with water. Then, position the bottle directly under the sunlight so that the UV rays can work their magic. Make sure there is no shade anywhere near the bottle.
Leave your bottle of water in the sunlight for about six hours or two days if it’s cloudy.
The best way to beat the heat and avoid dehydration is to be completely prepared. If you go camping or hiking, always bring plenty of water as well as a filter. Nothing is worse than being stranded without potable drinking water. If you go too long without rehydrating yourself, it can lead to serious health complications and even death.
When searching for survival supplies, be sure to purchase from an honest and reputable company, such as Stealth Angel Survival. As the leader in emergency preparedness kits, supplies, and survival products, you can count on us to have everything you need to keep you and your loved ones protected.
The Water in You: Water and the Human Body | USGS
How long can you live without water? Facts and effects | Medical News Today
Kidneys: Facts, Function & Diseases | Live Science
Dehydration: Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic