Nature’s most precious commodity is potable water. Nothing is more critical to life as an individual can only go without water for a few days. Temperatures that are beyond the moderate range, a lack of shade, dry conditions, and other factors can reduce the amount of liquid reserves left in the body, reducing the time a person can survive without water. Even if there is a water source available, it may not be safe to consume.
“WATER IS LIFE’S MATTER AND MATRIX, MOTHER AND MEDIUM. THERE IS NO LIFE WITHOUT WATER.
There are many common bacteria and amoeba that can cause great discomfort and, potentially, death if ingested and these are found in many fresh water sources around the world. It is absolutely critical that water be treated prior to consumption, even if you are in dire need of it. Fortunately, there are solutions that can purify contaminated water in mere minutes, as long as certain procedures are followed.
PRODUCTS TO PURIFY WATER
There are a number of viable and cost effective solutions for water purification on the market today. They range from small hand-held units to larger solutions for greater numbers of individuals. Generally speaking, survivalists should not wait until they are thirsty to start the water purification process, as some methods can take some time to execute. If you intend to use a device that requires solar power to clean or desalinate the water, that adds time and complexity to the process. Since thirst can be very distracting, and life-threatening, try to plan ahead as much as possible. The problem with being near unsafe water is that, as thirst increases, it can become more and more tempting to drink it without processing it.
A lot of filtering products don’t include a vessel to contain the filtered water. The GSI DukJug holds one liter and is made of BPA-free Polypropylene. The silicone grip provides a slip-proof hold, and the bottle weighs 6.6 ounces empty
Probably the most common method of purification is also the simplest — treating water with small, portable tablets. These can be comprised of a number of different chemicals, some of which can be harmful to the human body if not used correctly, so be certain to read any warnings or disclosures included with the product. Some examples of these are iodine tablets or crystals, sodium chlorite, or potassium permanganate. Use of these options should be considered an emergency or short-term solution, as again these chemicals can be harmful with continued use, or to children or pregnant women. In addition, these chemicals may not kill all parasites.
Portable water filters are also a common solution for purification needs. When acquiring a device that filters water, an important characteristic to be aware of in these devices is the filter’s micron rating. The smaller the pores in the filter medium are, the better. Contaminants come in a range of sizes. For example, E. Coli is 0.2 to .5 microns in size, while viruses that are equally lethal can be 0.004 to 0.1 microns in size. Choose a micron rating that is appropriate for where you will be going and the likely water contaminants you will find there.
“NOTHING IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN A RELIABLE WATER SOURCE IN A SURVIVAL SITUATION. KNOWING TECHNIQUES TO PURIFY WATER IN ANY ENVIRONMENT CAN SAVE YOUR LIFE.”
There are commercial filtration and purification products that allow for nearly immediate detoxification of water sources. The LifeStraw is a popular item, which is a small cigar-shaped device that allows an individual to consume liquid without first purifying it. It can prevent the transmission of disease by bacteria, protozoa, viruses and does not require electricity or batteries to operate. A newly designed product known as the Life Sack is an interesting technology in that it can be used to transport food staples or grain and then used to purify water using a solar water disinfection process also known as SODIS. Of course, if you only have access to salt water a simple Solar Still will produce potable water.
METHODS TO PURIFY WATER
While it can be wishful thinking to believe that every eventuality can be accounted for, with some foreknowledge of purification techniques a survivalist doesn’t necessarily need to have a product on hand to detoxify water. There are several ways to clean the water you need without having to be prepared in advance. The first of these is the most simple and most obvious – just boil it. Heating the water above the boiling point – 100 degrees Celsius or 212 degree Fahrenheit – will kill most lethal organisms, but does nothing to reduce the levels of harmful chemicals that may be in the water. This, of course, requires you know how to create and maintain a heat source, or have the resources and environment to do so.
The Aqua Vessel filtration bottles provide 0.75 liters of filtered water at a time with a built-in filter attached to the straw.
Another method that is useful for purification when no specialized equipment is handy is an in-ground solar still. At a minimum, a clear plastic sheet or similar product will be needed. Digging a square or V-shaped pit is the first step. The object of this is to collect moisture from the soil or surrounding vegetation, so adding plant life to the pit is a way to generate additional liquid. At the center of the pit place a small bowl. Place a stone on the sheet over the bowl to aid in the collection of the condensate by focusing where it will drip off the plastic sheet. Placing other stones on the edges of the sheet can keep the center stone from falling into the bowl. Solar radiation will then cause the moisture in the soil and plants in the pit to collect on the plastic sheet and drip into the bowl. Adding unclean water, urine, or other liquid can also increase the amount of useful water produced by the process.
Lastly, atmospheric moisture, snow, or rain can be purified using clothing or similar material. Scholarly papers have determined that white cotton cloth (synthetic materials do not work as well) and filtered snow are the safest combination. However, if snow or rain is not available, potentially dirty water can still be made useful. Using a sock filled with sand as a filtering material will work successfully, but these are inferior filter options compared with those available commercially. It may take a few passes through the filter to eliminate the cloudiness of the water, but this can be a solution for an emergency need.
“WATER IS THE DRIVING FORCE OF ALL NATURE.”
Because of the increasing worldwide need for access to clean water, there is a growing focus on crowd sourcing the solution. For example, a number of contests are sponsored around the globe by a combination of private and public foundations and other financial sources. For example, in 2012, 14-year-old Deepika Kurup of Nashua, New Hampshire won $25,000 from an organization sponsored by The Discovery Channel and 3M (The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge). She created a device that uses photo-reactive chemicals to kill bacteria in water and can operate off the electrical grid. This overall movement has spawned other innovations, such as the Pure Water Bottle, a device invented by Timothy Whitehead. It cleans the contaminants from liquid in a matter of minutes using a combination of micro-filters and UV light, and is powered by a manual crank.