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Water Storage Step 2: Water Purifying Methods:
If you’re just starting out in emergency preparedness, avoid overwhelm & follow these three steps first:
- Start with your Portable Emergency Water Storage (or minimum two week supply) first.
- Come back to this article for water purification methods for when you must get out of dodge and need to purify water yourself.
- Finish with your long term emergency water storage.
Water: The Thing We Cannot Live Long Without
Have you ever experienced the humbling feeling of being severely dehydrated? Not fun, and certainly dangerous to your health. Our recommendation when starting out with emergency preparedness is to simply START WITH WATER- without it, you and your family will not survive long. Humans can survive without water for only 3-4 days. Proper water preparedness and knowledge is essential to life and a staple to a thriving homestead.
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Purifying Water When Clean Water is Not Available
It is not difficult to imagine a variety of situations you may encounter where there’s no access to clean water yet you obviously are thirsty and need it to drink, for hygiene or cooking. These water purifying methods are some of the most commonly used.
Please consider the life saving aspect of these basic skills. Teach the rest of your family so that you can all be ready for a variety of situations that you may encounter. In addition, all of these would make great science projects to do with the kids at home or when camping.
Don’t Forget to Clean Your Water Containers
It’s important to know how to properly prepare water storage containers before you add water. In emergencies that may not be possible, but when the situation allows and calls for it, this is important to include in the process. For more information about this, see this article: How To Clean Your Water Container For Safer Water Storage.
5 Practical Water Purifying Methods You Should Know
Simple, we all do this on a regular basis. Unless you have a high quality water filter, boiling is the number one recommended method for purifying water because when done properly you will kill any disease causing microorganisms present. Generally when boiling is not possible then chemical filtration is recommended next.
How to boil water for drinking?
Water generally starts to boil at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 degrees Celsius), however, that depends on where you are located. Liquid at a higher elevation will require a higher temperature to boil.
The most important thing when boiling water for drinking is to keep at a rolling boil for at least 1 whole minute, preferably longer. If you’re at an elevation over 6,500 feet then make sure you keep a rolling boil for at least 3 minutes. Then allow the water to cool and store in clean containers with lids that have a proper seal.
*If the water is cloudy: let all of the sediment settle and then pour it from one container to the other while using a clean cloth over the mouth of the new container. This should filter out larger excess particles.
Taste: Some complain that boiling water makes it taste very flat. The best way to offset that is to add a pinch of salt to every quart, letting it sit in a closed container for a few hours, or a process called aeration- which is simply pouring the water back and forth from one container to another.
What items or products do I need?
- Pot for boiling
- Heat source (fire, wood burning stove, propane stove etc.)
2. Physical & Chemical Filtration
Physical: this process is done through straining water through a physical filter, usually through a gauze like membrane to remove particles.
Chemical: water passes through an active material that removes all impurities chemically.
Most water filters combine both methods to make a filter that is extremely useful to have for emergencies and self reliance. Common filters utilize things like activated carbon, reverse osmosis, and ion exchange. There are a variety of filters you can purchase today, each with their own instructions for use.
What Products or Items Do I Need?
This will be up to personal preference. Determine what your needs are, look up the different filters on the market, read reviews and make the decision on products that will work best for you.
3. Chlorination or Iodine
Chlorine and Iodine use as water purifying methods is usually recommended as a last resort as the levels of these chemicals could be toxic if not used properly or cause problems over long term use. This is true particularly to children or pregnant women. However in an emergency and when done properly these methods are considered safe.
Chlorination of water for drinking can be done by using chlorine pills or by using common (think Clorox) household bleach.
“There’s no harm in hoping for the best as long as you’re prepared for the worst.”-Stephen King
Chlorine Pills: When instructions are not available, use one chlorine tablet per quart of generally clear water in sanitized container. Wait 30 minutes before use.
Household Bleach: The general rule is 8 drops of regular bleach per gallon of generally clear water in a sanitized container. Add drops, mix the water well and allow to sit covered for at least 30 minutes. The water should have a slight chlorine odor. If the chlorine odor is too strong, you can let it sit for longer, or again, use the aeration technique where you pour the water back and forth between two clean containers. If water is cloudy to begin with, then double the amount of drops added.
Iodine: Iodine pills work very similarly to chlorine tablets. You can also use crystals or tinctures of iodine for water purification. For tablets and crystals, closely follow the instructions on the label. With the iodine tincture, use 2 drops per quart of clear water and 10 for cloudy water. Keep in mind that iodine will change the color of your water
*When using bleach or tablets, always make sure they are not expired before use.
What Products or Items do I Need?
- Chlorine tablets of your choice (check out reviews before purchasing)
- Unscented, liquid Clorox bleach
- Iodine materials
- Plastic or glass dropper used for liquid bleach or Iodine tincture
4. Solar Purification
This method is perhaps the coolest and most exciting to learn about, but it has actually been around for thousands of years. There are a few different methods relating to solar water purification. It’s possible to create your own solar still that through distillation will purify water for you. The sun can purify water that’s sat in the sun in a bottle (SODIS, see video below) and scientists have been combining solar energy and technology to come up with more innovative water purifying methods as the years go on.
Learn more about solar purification here:
(From 2020) New Solar Material Could Clean Drinking Water
What Product or Items Do I Need?
That depends on what you’d like to pursue. Could be anything from just a clear PET water bottle for purifying in the sun to the supplies needed to build your own solar still. Determine your goals and go from there.
Moving right along to distillation since we’ve learned about it already with the solar purification. Distillation is a process that relies on evaporation to purify water. First the contaminated water is turned into steam. The steam then collects and cools to make purified water, leaving any contaminants behind. Distilled water actually has a variety of uses and health benefits. This is something that can easily be done at home.
This article gives a variety of environments and options for distilling your own water. Check it out here: How to Make Distilled Water at Home or While Camping.
That’s All the Water Purifying Methods in This Article
Hopefully at least a couple of these practical purifying methods stick out to you. Look back and think about what would work best for you. Give them all a try and see what you actually prefer in a real life scenario. Don’t forget to consider any dependents or animals that you may be responsible for.
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Water Storage Step 2, Taking Action: What Methods Will You Plan On Using in an Emergency?
Now is the time to decide. From this post I hope you can determine which water purifying methods and products you will count on using and preparing to use in the future. Take the time to look for the right products and supplies for you and your family. Before moving on to step 3 (your long term water storage), complete this step. Soon enough you’ll be feeling more and more confident that in an emergency you’ll be able to provide the necessities of life for yourself and family.
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Wishing you and your family all the best,
Herbs, Birds & the Bees
Less Dependence, More Abundance