how to purify water

How To Purify Water For Emergencies (3 DIY Methods)

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If you’re looking for how to purify water in a survival situation,

And you’re stuck without a water filter,

Then this natural water filtration system can be a lifesaver.

If you combine boiling water with either homemade sand filter, that’s enough to give you high quality purified drinking water.

This alone lets you purify any water, from rainwater out the drainpipe, to stored water that got contaminated.

We have another post about on how to store water for emergencies. This post is about purifying contaminated water and some of the main chemicals found in public waters.


How To Purify Water: 3 Methods

Sand Filters are natural purifiers. In ancient days long before the invention of the Roman aqueducts, water came from deep in the earth. People drank water from springs that were purified by sand and soil on the way up from underground, or from groundwater, rivers and streams.

natural spring water

The following filtration methods are natural, easy and cheap or free depending on if you have the essential items needed laying around the house or not. The 100% natural way to do this is combining method #1 and method #2. But if you prefer, you can clear out a lot of contaminates using the third method, bleach, which dissipates in time to leave you purified water. The article ends off mentioning reverse osmosis, the best way to filter water, and a good countertop RO water filter recommendation.


#1. Sand Filter – The Original Water Filter

how to purify water with sand filter

This is the original water filtration method from ancient days. It’s a natural way to purify contaminated water still in use today. The compact nature of sand makes it a good water purifier.

Sand filters can, apart from being used in water treatment plants, be used for water purification in singular households as they use materials which are available for most people. – Wikipedia

Water treatment plants worldwide still use sand filters today. They’re packaged off and used as one of these three types most often:

  1. rapid (gravity) sand filters
  2. upward flow sand filters
  3. slow sand filters

Sand filters have the ability to produce clean water without needing any chemicals.

Materials needed for DIY Sand Filter: Sand, Container, Grass

The ideal way to do this would be with charcoal, but sand alone works.

How To Make It

First you’ll need a large tub with a water spout at the bottom of it:

  1. Put at least 5 feet of sand in it.
  2. Then place a layer of grass or shrubs at the top.
  3. The top layer needs to be replaced repeatedly.
  4. Once the water is collected out the spout after it has travelled through all the sand, it will be purified water. Last step is to boil it to have the purified water.

#2. Boiling Water Destroys Pathogens

how to purify water boiling

After the boiling, you will have kill all the pathogens and it will then be 100% drinkable, purified water.

You need to boil for 5 minutes straight to kill the pathogens. That’s not the official time, but I think it’s somewhere around 3 or 4 that officially kills X number of pathogens in water. Will have to add that in here when I find it.

Boiling is the go-to water filtration method for killing pathogens in contaminated water. Boiling water destroys many potential pathogens in drinking water, but it doesn’t purify water completely. It doesn’t remove heavy metals. For heavy metals contaminated water, you will need the charcoal & sand filter or proper reverse osmosis filtration system at home. But what those can’t get, boiling can.


#3. How To Purify Water With Bleach

how to purify water with bleach

Bleach disintegrates over time. For this reason it is a great when storing water for a long period of time. It can also disinfect your water in real-time.

Using bleach:

  • Place 2 drops for every 2 liters of water
  • Leave the water for 30 minutes minimum before checking it for drinking.

If you still smell the chlorine in it then give it more time. The chlorine smell should be gone before drinking. If you used this 2 drops per 2 liters ratio it shouldn’t be longer than an hour.

NOTE: The bleach used must be non-additive, unscented, normal bleach. Pool chlorine is too strong as well.

Materials needed: Regular Clorox bleach


What’s In The Water

distilled water #waterstorage

Bleach in filtered water is better than pre-treated tap water: 

Because of all the additives found in waters that come from public waterways, it’s probably best to get purified water and treat it with chlorine yourself versus using the chlorine in tap water that comes with far more than just chlorine.

The water that gets treated in water plants isn’t always safe. The journey from the plant to your home has it’s own set of infrastructure conditions that lead to lead and more contaminates leeching into the water after it leaves the plant. If the filtration is good at the plant, danger comes after the filtration plant.

Contaminates that are checked for:

  • Lead
  • Chromium-6
  • Arsenic
  • Perchlorate
  • Herbicides
  • Pesticides

Contaminates not checked for: “Emerging contaminants”

These are types of chemicals not yet regulated for often found in tap water:

  • Disinfection byproducts (trihalomethane) – from cleaning solutions and far more toxic than chlorine. This report from the EPA.gov website reveals their real health risks.
  • Prescription drug residue are one class of emerging contaminants: Pain killers, birth control, antidepressants, antibiotics, etc.
  • PFAs and PFOAs (emerging contaminants) come from non stick pans and waterproof fabrics. Here’s a report that might scare you from ever willingly ingesting these
  • Chlorine
  • Fluoride

Many of these contaminates are invisible, tasteless, and have zero smell.

Every one of the contaminates above can be at toxic levels in your water and you wouldn’t even know it.

If you cook with public tap water, consider that toxins leech into whatever you’re cooking.

If you think boiling is how to purify water, it’s not. Boiling doesn’t help clean up tap water. It makes it worse by increasing the concentration of contaminates.


Water Storage Material

When you store water away for emergencies, it’s important to always choose the right type of plastic, since that is the popular storage material now. Food grade glass or steel work good too, but HDPE #2 Plastic is easiest to handle and most common now for storing water away. It is the safe plastic type to use for water storage. To sanitize a used HDPE #2 plastic container, use a bleach plus water solution after cleaning it out with water and dish soap.


Reverse Osmosis Filters

The gold standard top choice for water filtration at home is reverse osmosis. The systems aren’t cheap, but if you keep them maintained each year, they remove the most.

One great solution if you are not ready or don’t want a full home RO system install is AquaTru Countertop Water Filter, a countertop reverse osmosis system.

Aqua Tru is the only counter top water purifier I trust so far from ones I’ve seen. It’s a simple, effective and affordable RO Water System. It works out the box with zero plumbing or installation or servicing needed.

  • Designed to remove all the chemicals mentioned above
  • Designed to set up quickly – great tasting, pure water in minutes
  • All filters certified to NSF standards to remove organic (prescription drug residue, disinfection byproducts, herbicides, pesticides) and inorganic chemicals (lead, chromium, others)
  • Has a built in computer to measure water usage so you know exactly when to switch out the filter.
  • It can save you like $6k in 5 years if you normally stock up with bottles each month

DIY Saltwater Survival Bottle

This post on Urban Survival Site I just found shares a really cool way to make a DIY SALT water survival bottle. Sometimes, all you have is saltwater. And if this is your situation, then you’ll be more than grateful to have this nifty DIY saltwater bottle.

How To Purify Water for emergencies

Summary: How To Purify Water

Natural does not mean ineffective. These natural filtration concepts are what today’s most expensive filtration is based from.

How To Purify Water Naturally: If you combine the natural sand filter filtration method with boiling to kill the pathogens, then you will have a highly purified water as the result using only things from around the house.

Boiling alone doesn’t get rid of a lot and bleach or water filters don’t get all the pathogens. That’s why this is a good combination if you’re looking for how to purify water naturally.

If you have any questions, comments, corrections or personal insights on how to purify water, please leave a comment below!


UP NEXT: How to store water for emergencies

This post here was all about making the water drinkable. The up-next post is about how to store it before or after you purify the water and make it drinkable again.

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