Water Purification: Survival Filtration

Some day, you may find yourself out camping or in the wilderness without any modern forms of water filtration and treatment. This does not mean you have to remain dehydrated. A survivalist water filter will clean the water sufficiently for short-term consumption. However, it is still possible that a few pathogens or bacteria will remain in the water after using these survivalist techniques, which is why you should only attempt them in a true  emergency.

In general, you have two options for purifying water in survivalist situations- boiling and making your own water filter. A combination of the two methods will produce the cleanest water.

Look for pure water sources

Before you filter or boil water, look for a pure source. Look for water features, such as:

  • Running water from a river or stream
  • Clear water
  • Sources away from roads, farms, cities, and other man-made locations
  • Water free of animal waste, dead plant debris, and dead animals

Building your own survivalist filter

Since it is nearly impossible to find fresh drinkable water in the United States, you will probably have to build a filter to strain out mud, tree branches, and other particles from the water. The easiest way to do this is with a sand filter.

If you have a plastic bottle or metal can handy, you can use that as the container for the filter. Otherwise, you will have to fashion a cone shape from bark or large leaves. Birch bark is ideal. Punch holes in the bottom of the plastic or metal container.

Fill the very bottom of the container with a 1-2 inch layer of small pebbles. You can also use non-poisonous grass or moss. Place a 3-5 inch layer of gravel over the pebbles. Fill the rest of the container with sand. If you have any charcoal leftover from a fire, place a 1-inch layer between the gravel and sand. Another filter recipe alternates layers of grass, sand, and charcoal. Use what you have on hand.

Pour water through the container and allow it to drip into another container. Keep filtering the water until it comes out completely clear on the other side. After filtering the water, boil it for safety. Boil the water for at least 10 minutes to remove as many pathogens, bacteria, and viruses from the water as possible.

Filtering water survivalist-style is not ideal. It is still possible to develop health issues from impure water using this filtering and purification method. However, a survivalist filter will produce cleaner water than simply drinking from a natural source, and you will have a much lower chance of injuring your body from impure water or dehydration.

What kinds of survivalist filters have you tried?