Water Purification in the Great Outdoors

Water Purification in the Great OutdoorsA standing problem for cross-country trekkers and long-term, backcountry campers is water purification. A gallon of water weighs 8.3 pounds, and a person who just sits around and does nothing strenuous needs half a gallon of water per day. Carrying all the necessary gear for trekking and camping, plus an adequate water supply is simply impossible. That means drawing water from the field, and even clean-looking water can carry harmful pollutants and parasites. Thankfully, purifying water in the field is pretty easy.

Camping Water Filters

Camping water filters come in a variety of forms: bags that are hung from a tree, bottles, pumps and even straws. The bags and bottles range in price from $40 to $70. These work by using activated carbon, which is basically powdered charcoal. Carbon is great for water purification, because it bonds with all kinds of substances. Making a powder of it vastly increases its surface area, magnifying its ability to pull out unwanted substances. Carbon is great for getting pollutants out of water, but it will do nothing to remove microorganisms. Therefore, camp water filters can only be looked at as one half of a purification system.

Iodine, Chorline and Boiling

The time-tested ways of killing waterborne microorganisms are boiling, iodine and chlorine. Boiling is a good idea after camp has been set up, since a campfire is going to be built anyway. A minute or two of boiling water is all that is needed to guarantee killing every bug in it. However, building a fire to boil water on the trail is a time-consuming hassle. Iodine tablets are a popular, handy way to accomplish the same thing. However, iodined water tastes terrible, so bring flavored drink packets to use in combination. Another way to do this is to use household bleach. Eight drops of bleach per gallon of water will kill all the bugs. The same taste problems apply, though, so bring flavored drink packets.

Making a Carbon Filter in the Field

Campfires produce charcoal, so in a pinch, a trekker or camper can use this to make a carbon filter. All they need to do is take the charcoal, grind it up into small nuggets, and then make a filter. This can be done by poking holes into the bottom of a bucket or water-proof bag. A popular survival trick is to stuff a little charcoal into a natural reed and use it as a straw. These are all cheap, classic survival tricks.

Article Written By Edwin Thomas

Edwin Thomas has been writing since 1997. His work has appeared in various online publications, including The Black Table, Proboxing-Fans and others. A travel blogger, editor and writer, Thomas has traveled from Argentina to Vietnam in pursuit of stories. He holds a Master of Arts in international affairs from American University.

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