Summary: When you are out on a hike or camping and you are running low on water, there are methods to make stream, river or lake water safe for consumption. This blog tells you how.

While camping or hiking out in the wilderness, you aren’t going to find any clean taps of water conveniently next to a pile of rocks or nestled away in the trees. That means you must carry the water you are going to use with you if you want safe, fresh water, or learn how to make water in the wilderness safer for your consumption.

The Best Sources for Fresh Water

If you are taking a trip that will be longer than the supply of water you can carry, then you must know where to look for the best source of water. On average you will need 1 gallon of water per day to keep hydrated properly while hiking. The first place you can find information for where you are hiking or camping is the local forestry agency. They will know which rivers or streams are going to be your best place to gather water, so you can adjust your hiking route accordingly.

In general, you should not drink directly from a river or outdoor surface water source. If your water situation is desperate, inspect the area first. If there are dead animals in the water, or if you know that human settlements are upriver, there are good chances that the water is unsafe to consume directly. If you are hiking in remote glacial mountains, the rivers have a much better chance of being safe.

Lakes or any stagnant pools of water are not good options for water consumption without purification. Fresh rainfall and small fast flowing streams are going to be your safest sources of water if you have no purification methods on hand.

There are many ways to make water from the wilderness safer, and the first step is to filter the water with a cloth of some sort, like a t-shirt. This will remove any large particles for when you start treating the water.

Treatment Methods

  1. Boiling

Boiling is the most widely known and best method of purifying the water you have gathered. You will need to boil the water for at least one minute to kill most pathogens and bacteria. This requires you to bring along a small stove or at least a flint and fire starter pack, and a pot to boil the water in.

  1. Iodine or Water Purification Tablets

The easiest and most efficient way to purify water is using iodine. Tincture of Iodine 2% or water purification tablets with iodine as the main active purification ingredient are your best options. Either pop one tablet into the water or use a few drops of tincture according to the instructions on the container, and it will take care of most of the pathogens.

  1. Filtration

You can bring along on your trip a filtration system for purifying water. This method takes up space and the devices can be expensive, but also takes out all the small particles you can’t see. There are two main types: carbon or ceramic filters, and chemical filters using iodine.

  1. UV Lights

More expensive than other options, but just as effective, UV lights rely on battery power, so this method is susceptible to failure at inconvenient times.

Combination Purification

If you cannot boil the water, then the CDC says the best option is a combination of filtration and disinfection to ensure the water is as safe as possible under the circumstances.

Ensuring Safe Water Everywhere

Safe water is not just important when you are exploring the great outdoors. It’s important in your home or business too. To ensure that safe water is available for your daily needs, visit AquaKnow for industry-leading water test kits. It’s an easy, fast, and affordable way to have your water tested by a certified and professional lab for peace of mind that your water is safe.