In a survival situation, knowing how to purify water is essential for your health and well-being. Whether you find yourself in the wild, stranded on a deserted island, or facing a natural disaster, having access to clean drinking water can mean the difference between life and death. In this article, we will explore various methods and techniques that you can use to purify water in a survival situation, ensuring that you stay hydrated and safe. So, let’s dive in and discover the crucial skills you need to know when it comes to water purification in the wilderness.

Methods of Water Purification

In a survival situation, one of the most critical tasks is ensuring a clean and safe water supply. Without access to clean water, dehydration and waterborne diseases become serious threats to your health and survival. Fortunately, there are several methods of water purification that can help you obtain potable water even in the most challenging circumstances. This article will explore some of the most effective methods of water purification, including boiling, chemical disinfection, filtration, solar water disinfection, and distillation. By understanding and implementing these methods, you can ensure a reliable source of clean water in any survival situation.

Using Boiling Method

Boiling water is one of the oldest and simplest methods of water purification. With the ability to kill most types of pathogens, boiling is highly effective in eliminating harmful bacteria, viruses, and parasites. To use this method, you will need a heat source, a container, and access to water.

Boiling Process

To purify water through boiling, you must bring the water to a rolling boil. This means that the water should be bubbling vigorously for at least one minute. At higher altitudes, it is advisable to extend the boiling time to ensure the complete elimination of any potentially harmful microorganisms.

Duration and Temperature

A common misconception is that water needs to boil for a long time to be safe to drink. In reality, boiling water for at least one minute is sufficient to kill most pathogens. The temperature at which water boils (100 degrees Celsius, or 212 degrees Fahrenheit) ensures the destruction of harmful bacteria and viruses.

Removing Sediments

Before boiling, it is advisable to remove any sediments or debris from the water by using a cloth, coffee filter, or a piece of cloth. This step helps ensure that the final product is not only free from microorganisms but also visually clear and palatable.

Chemical Disinfection

Chemical disinfection is another effective method of water purification in a survival situation. It involves the use of specific chemicals that can kill or neutralize harmful pathogens in water.

Using Chlorine

Chlorine is a common chemical used for water disinfection. It can be found in liquid or tablet form and is readily available in camping supply stores. To use chlorine for water purification, follow the instructions on the packaging carefully. Typically, you would need to add a specific amount of chlorine to the water, mix it well, and then let it sit for the recommended contact time before consumption.

Using Iodine

Iodine is another chemical option for water purification. Like chlorine, iodine can be found in liquid or tablet form. To use iodine, simply add the recommended amount to the water and wait for the required contact time before drinking. It is worth noting that iodine may not be suitable for pregnant women or individuals with thyroid conditions, so it is essential to consider any pre-existing medical conditions before using this method.

Using Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide can also be used in emergency situations for water purification. However, its effectiveness depends on the concentration used. It is crucial to use food-grade hydrogen peroxide that is specifically labeled for water disinfection. Follow the instructions carefully, as higher concentrations may not be safe for consumption.

Filtration Techniques

Filtration is an effective method of water purification that can remove impurities and contaminants from water, including sediment, debris, bacteria, and protozoa.

Improvised Filtration Methods

In a survival situation, you may need to rely on improvised filtration methods. These can include using layers of cloth, coffee filters, or even sand and gravel to strain water and remove larger particles. While these methods may not eliminate all microorganisms, they can significantly improve water quality.

Water Filter Systems

Water filter systems, especially those designed specifically for survival situations, are highly effective in removing a wide range of contaminants from water. These systems typically use a combination of physical and chemical filtration methods to ensure the water is safe to drink. Portable water filter straws, pump filters, and gravity filters are all excellent options to consider for long-term survival scenarios.

Solar Water Disinfection

Solar water disinfection, also known as SODIS, is an environmentally-friendly and cost-effective method of water purification. It harnesses the power of sunlight to kill harmful microorganisms present in the water.

Process of Solar Disinfection

To use SODIS, fill transparent plastic bottles with water and leave them exposed to direct sunlight for at least six hours. Sunlight contains ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which has germicidal properties and can deactivate pathogens found in the water. The combination of heat and UV radiation ensures the elimination of harmful microorganisms.

Time and Weather Factors

The effectiveness of SODIS depends on various factors such as the intensity of sunlight, water clarity, and ambient temperature. Cloudy or heavily overcast days may require longer exposure times to achieve the desired disinfection. It is essential to be aware of these factors and adjust accordingly.

Using Transparent Plastic Bottles

Transparent plastic bottles are the most practical containers for SODIS. It is crucial to use clear bottles to allow maximum sunlight penetration. Avoid using colored or opaque bottles, as they may block the UV radiation needed for effective disinfection.

Distillation Process

Distillation is a more complex method of water purification that involves the evaporation and condensation of water to separate it from contaminants.

Setting up a Distillation Apparatus

To distill water, you will need a heat source, a container with the contaminated water, tubes or pipes, and a collection container. The heat source boils the water, creating steam that rises and leaves behind contaminants. The steam then condenses on a cool surface, usually a pipe or tube, and is collected as distilled water.

Collecting and Condensing Distilled Water

The collected distilled water is free from contaminants and safe to drink. However, it is essential to ensure that the collection container used for the distilled water is clean and sterile to maintain the water’s purity.

Using Natural Methods

In a survival situation, it is crucial to be aware of natural sources of clean water. These can include freshwater springs, rivers, and rainwater.

Finding Natural Sources of Clean Water

Freshwater springs can be a reliable source of clean and potable water. Look for places where water naturally seeps out of the ground or areas where vegetation is vibrant and lush. Rivers and streams are often sources of water, but they should be treated with caution, as they may contain contaminants from upstream.

Precautions and Considerations

When purifying water in a survival situation, several precautions and considerations are essential to ensure your safety and the effectiveness of the chosen method.

Choosing Water Sources

When selecting water sources, prioritize those that appear clear and free from visible contamination. Avoid stagnant water, as it may harbor bacteria and parasites. Whenever possible, use flowing water sources such as rivers and streams, but still, treat them before consumption.

Storage and Container Selection

After purifying the water, it is crucial to store it properly. Choose clean and sterile containers that are resistant to bacterial growth, such as food-grade plastic bottles or stainless steel containers. Avoid using containers that may leach harmful chemicals into the water, such as certain plastics or aluminum cans.

Emergency Water Purification Kits

In addition to the methods mentioned, it is advisable to have emergency water purification kits as part of your survival gear. These kits usually contain a combination of water filters, chemical disinfectants, and other equipment designed specifically for emergency situations. Familiarize yourself with the contents of the kit and how to use them before an emergency arises.

Skills and Training

While having the necessary tools and equipment is essential, acquiring the skills and knowledge to purify water in a survival situation is equally crucial.

Learning Survival Water Purification Techniques

Consider attending survival training courses or workshops that specifically cover water purification techniques. These courses can teach you how to assess water sources, choose the right purification method, and effectively use the available tools and equipment.


Having access to clean and safe drinking water is essential for your survival in any situation, especially during emergencies or survival scenarios. By familiarizing yourself with various methods of water purification, including boiling, chemical disinfection, filtration, solar water disinfection, and distillation, you are better equipped to ensure a reliable source of potable water. Additionally, understanding the precautions and considerations involved in water purification, as well as acquiring the necessary skills, will further enhance your chances of survival. Remember, in a survival situation, water is life, so prioritize your water needs and take the necessary steps to secure a clean and safe water supply.

By avysurvival

Hi! I'm Avy, the author behind Survival Active. As someone deeply passionate about survival and preparedness, I'm here to provide you with the best tips, tricks, and gear recommendations to help you face any challenge that comes your way. My goal is to equip you with the knowledge and resources needed to protect yourself, your loved ones, your health, and all that you hold dear. With my thorough product reviews and expert advice, you'll feel confident and prepared in any situation. Join me on this journey to mastery and discover the secrets of survival at Survival Active.