How to Filter Water While Camping

How to Filter Water While Camping
Giardia, Cryptosporidia, Entamoeba, viruses and pollution are just a few hazards found in the untreated waters of lakes, rivers and streams. If you are camping and find yourself without potable water or a water purification device, you can make a filter with supplies you have with you.

Although filtering water will not remove viruses, filtering will remove dirt, debris and some pathogens. You can also use this method to pre-filter water before using your water filtering device and help prevent your filtering device from clogging.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

How to:

Things You’ll Need:
  • Water bowl
  • Plastic bottle
  • Knife
  • String or rope
  • Gravel
  • Sand
  • Cup or canteen
  • Chemical purification tablets
Step 1
Collect water into a bowl, pot, canteen or bottle. Use water from a clear and moving source if at all possible as this water will be cleaner. It takes longer to filter dirty water.
Step 2
Use an empty container such as a plastic water bottle without a lid as the filter. Cut the bottom off the plastic bottle with a knife. Use the knife to poke holes in the side of the cut off bottom and thread rope or string through to make a handle.
Step 3
Turn the bottle upside down and fill it with two to three inches of large gravel. On top of the gravel add one to two inches of sand. This is now the water filter.
Step 4
Hang the filter in any location low to the ground. Place a water container under the filter. Use any container you want to drink from or store the filtered water in a cup or canteen. The filter should be about an inch or two above the water container.
Step 5
Fill the upside down bottle with water. The water will filter through the sand and gravel into the water container below. If the filtered water is not clear, run it through the filter again.
Step 6
Use a chemical purification tablet per the product's instructions to purify the water after filtering. Filtering alone will not remove all harmful bacteria from the water.

Tips & Warnings

If you do not have a water bottle, a T-shirt will work. Using a T-shirt, place the gravel and sand in the middle of the shirt. Gather the ends of the shirt together and fill the inside with water. Hold the water filled T-shirt over your water container.

Article Written By Lynn Anders

Lynn Anders has more than 15 years of professional experience working as a zookeeper, wildlife/environmental/conservation educator and in nonprofit pet rescue. Writing since 2007, her work has appeared on various websites, covering pet-related, environmental, financial and parenting topics. Anders has a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies and biology from California State University, Sacramento.

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