Potable water is always going to be at the top of your priority list in a survival situation. After air and shelter from the elements, nothing is more important to life than clean, potable water.
Drinking straight from a stream, river or lake can spell disaster. Dysentery and other GI tract ailments can leave you dehydrated – and possibly dead.
You need to keep your hydration levels up in order to keep functioning properly. Dehydration has massive negative effects on the human body and these will start to show very quickly. The survival rule of threes says that you can survive three days without water; however by the time day three arrives you will be in no condition to even stand any chance of survival.
After the SHTF, we will all need ways to filter and purify our water so it is safe for us to drink. Here are some options to consider for making your “suspect” water into potable water.
Potable Water Solutions For On-The-Move
- Lifestraw Personal Water Filter – This is a fantastic and one of the most popular portable water filters. As the name suggests, it is used as a straw to drink from any river or water source which may not be naturally safe to drink. Each straw can filter up to 1000 liters (264 gallons) of water. In my opinion one of the best features of the Lifestraw is the way it does not allow you to suck up any water once it has filtered 1000 liters. This means there is very little chance of you drinking contaminated water. The more water it filters the harder it is to draw water in to – this will give you a very clear indication of how much life is left in the straw. This filter has an indefinite shelf life providing it is kept at room temperature. The main downside to the Lifestraw is that there are no replacement filters – once it has filtered 1000 liters of water you will need to replace it with a new Lifestraw.
- Water purification drops – drops such as Aquamira Water Treatment Drops are very effective at removing harmful elements from water. The best feature of Aquamira Drops is that they actually remove viruses from water as well as other bacteria. The drops consist of Chlorine dioxide (this is not chlorine – it is similar to bleach but not harmful). The main downside is that you have to add the drops to your water and leave for one hour to ensure it is effective against all bacteria, pathogens and viruses. This means that this purification method is very time consuming. Another downside is you are actually adding a small amount of chemical to your drinking water. Although this won’t necessarily be harmful to you, it could cause adverse reactions to some sensitive individuals.
- Water purification tablets – Tablets are a very easy method to purify water. Simply drop the required amount into your water – leave for between 30 – 60 mins (depending on brand) and you have safe drinking water. The tablets usually contain chlorine or iodine. Both of these tend to leave a funny taste in your water but they are very effective at making the water drinkable. They come in small packets which are easy to carry and store, which is another positive aspect of this method.
- Katadyn Hiker – This is a quick filtering method. It tends to take around one minute to filter and purify one liter of water. This filter gets rid of bacteria but does not remove any virus that may be present in the water. One thing that I have found which is a slight worry is the pore size (small holes where water and bacteria pass through). Usually, a pore size of 0.2 microns or under is the ideal size for capturing the smallest bacteria, i.e., the smaller the pore size the more harmful organisms are captured and removed from the water. This filter has a pore size of 0.3 microns, and it is still certified to remove all bacteria, but it is certainly a consideration to think about.
Semi-Permanent Potable Water Solutions
- Black Berkey filters – these are such powerful and effective water filters that they can actually remove food coloring from water without removing any of the nutrients (according to Berkey themselves). Each individual filter cartridge has a life span of 3000 gallons of water! One great thing about these filters cartridges is that they will fit most other gravity water filters whether they have been made by Berkey or not. Although they are fairly expensive – these would be a great filter to have at a survival group’s base camp.
- Katadyn Water Filters – these come in three different types and each type will be suited to different people’s needs.
- Katadyn Ceramic – These filters have a porous structure with silver in which delays the growth of bacteria. They have a pore size of 0.2 microns so eliminate most bacteria and pathogens.
- Activated Carbon – has a powerful ability to reduce harmful organic and inorganic substances in the water. It removes unpleasant tastes, odors, chlorine and other contaminants. This happens as the particles stick to the activated carbon in the filter.
- Glassfibre – placed between two supporting layers, this creates a deep filter. With a pore size of 0.3 microns all bacteria is removed. As glassfibre is flexible – the filter is pleated giving an extremely large surface area and a very high capacity to absorb dirt.