How to Purify Water

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 18,071
    Camping expert Tim MacWelch of Earth Connection shows two ways to purify water when camping.

    Tim MacWelch: I am Tim MacWelch of Earth Connection School of Wilderness Survival and Ancient Skills in Fredericksburg, Virginia. This is our video series on how to go camping. In this clip, we are going to show you how to purify water with a filter and also with purification tablets.

    So we found a little stream in the forest. We always should assume that the water is contaminated with viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and other parasitic organisms. They would cause us bodily harm if we drank it as is. Now for our camping, we don't have a lot of equipment, we can boil the water. Boil it for ten minutes in a metal pot or some other fire proof vessel and that will kill all these different organisms and make the water safe to drink, however, a lot of outdoor enthusiasts used to two different methods besides boiling, to avoid the work of having to make a fire, and boil the water, and wait for it to cool down. So the first of these is a water filter. This actually screens out any harmful organisms through ceramic filters, which also has silver embedded in it. The small particles of these organisms are stuck in the filter and then killed by the silver. So all we have to do is put the intake hose which has a little screen in the front of it to keep soil and rocks from going up in there. Now I have touched the water. I should consider my hands contaminated by viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and other pathogens. So I am not going to touch any of the drinking water spots on my pump or my bottle. Now I place my little pocket filter on the ground, being careful not to get my wet fingers near this spigot or the mouth of the bottle. I start pumping the handle to prime the pump. Priming the pump involves getting some water in the hose and up to the filter. This water is safe and ready to drink right away. There is no waiting time. A filter like this is expensive, but it is quick, easily used and reliable. If you did not have a filter to purify the water, we can go with a more affordable purification system which involves either iodine tablets or chlorine dioxide tablets. Following the instructions on these products, we would place the tablets in our bottle of contaminated water, which we would simply scoop up out of the creek. We place the tablets in the water; let them dissolve for approximately five minutes. Different products may require different time length. Then we are going to allow that chemical filled water, either with iodine or chlorine, to cover the entire bottle from inside and outside. We are going to turn our bottle upside down and our chlorine filled water or iodine filled water will rinse the cap and our hand, and the outside of the bottle to sterilize all of the surfaces that have come in contact with our stream water, which we should assume is contaminated.

    Now different products require a different length of time to reach their full activation. The iodine tablets require about 45 minutes to completely kill and sterilize the water from all different types of pathogens. The chlorine dioxide tablets take four hours. So they are safer on a person's body, especially for long term use. Chlorine is not as toxic as iodine, but the iodine tablets give a faster result. So you can pick and choose, whether you want the one that works quicker or the one that's a little bit safer on a person's digestion.