How To Purify Water In The Outdoors?

Clean and fresh drinking water is basic for your successful outdoor experience. You will use it for drinking and cooking your meals.

purifying water outdoors

To meet your water requirements you can choose to carry water from home. However, you would have to carry a lot of it to make sure you have enough.

The other more practical option is to use the water from the sources around your campsite such as rivers and lakes. This water, however, is full of visible and invisible germs. When you consume it just as it is, you will definitely get sick.

Purifying it is a must in this case and this article will teach you how to purify water while being outdoors.

What is the safest way to purify water?

You should always consider drinking clean water so here you have 3 methods to purify it. These methods include boiling, filtering, and chemical treatment. Let’s take a look at each of them.

purifying water

#1 Boiling

This is the simplest method that you can use to purify it when you are in nature. It is also the cheapest as you won’t have to purchase anything else to make this process a success.

To boil it, all you need is a pan and the water to be purified. Heat it for about 10 minutes to bring it to a boil. Boiling will kill all the germs in the water and make it suitable for human consumption.

Boiling is also the least labor-intensive method of all the water purification techniques as all you have to do it to monitor it as it boils. Besides drinking it you can use it for cleaning, preparing meals and brewing coffee.

Allow it to cool down and then sieve it to remove any solid segments.

#2 Filtering

The other method that you can use to purify it is by filtering it. A filter is supposed to remove the solid particles present in water but the modern filters we have today do more than this. If you are interested to know more about them check these survival water filters.

filtering water outdoors

A chemical component

They have a chemical component that kills the germs that are not visible to the human eye. These invisible germs are the most dangerous. You should avoid the filters without a chemical component.

Other than killing invisible germs, such filters allow you to drink/use the water immediately the purification process is complete. You won’t have to wait for it to cool down since it is not heated in the first place.

Small and compact

There are people who worry that filters are heavy and bulky but that is not the case anymore. Nowadays filters are built to be small and compact to make it easy to transport and pack.

They are also not that expensive as they were when filters were heavy. As an avid camper, you should make sure that you have one of these in your arsenal.

Such a filter will help you clean it and this will guarantee your safety and well-being.

#3 Chemical treatment

You can also choose to treat it with chemicals. Chemical treatment involves the use of iodine tablets to purify it. They are quite effective in killing bacteria that are present in unfiltered water.

Quick and easy to use

This method of water treatment is quick and easy to use. All you have to do is to drop the tablet in your water, wait for some time and you are good to go.

Iodine tablets can also be accessed easily. As a camper, you should make sure that you have a few of these for your purification needs.

Use running water

Iodine leaves a taste in the water being purified but if you are not a fan of the iodine taste, you can get other tablets that function to remove it.

In as much as iodine will kill most of the germs, it is advisable to collect running water as it is deemed safer than a stationary one.

Moving water is free of the scum that is found on settled water and as such, it is much safer for human consumption. You can also get it from a spring head as it is usually less contaminated.

#4 Distillation

The water in tropical areas can have more salt and minerals that can make you even more dehydrated.

So, it is important to separate them from the liquid. With distillation, you will separate the water’s salts and minerals. What do you need to do it?

Water destilation process

The process

You need a container, a small container, and a cover. Place the smaller container into the larger one and fill the water in the large canister.

Cover it and leave so condensation will do its job. The cover must be indented towards the smaller vessel so the condensation can drip to it.

This is not a method that will purify it fully but it will distill it. If you want to make it more drinkable use an emergency water filter.

#5 Stone boiling

Many survivalists use this natural method of purification when they don’t have any tablets or other filtering systems with them. If you want to use this method, get some rocks and a solid container that will handle high temperatures.

Clean the rocks and put them into the hot campfire to heat them up. Prepare the container with water. Get some sticks that will help you to grab the stones.

Get them out, blow the dirt off, and place them into the water. When the water will start to boil you will know that the goal is accomplished. It is disinfected after you leave the stones in for about a few minutes.

#6 Sedimentation

If you see water murky you can use the sedimentation method to get drinking one without particles. How to use this method?

Get a container and pour the liquid into it. Leave it to stand for some period of time so the particles and dirt will gather at the bottom.

Use a bottle or other container to pour it in just be careful not to disturb the dirt at the bottom. This way you will have clean water for drinking and cooking.

It is always best to clean it additionally with other purifying methods that I showed you in the article.

#7 Plant water purification

Are you surprised to see plants on the list of water purification? Some plants can be helpful at this procedure but you must know them so you won’t face any issues.

plant water purification

The procedure is quite simple as you will soak plants in the liquid you need to purify. Plants that will help you here are:

  • Reeds and bulrushes
  • Plant Xylem
  • Cilantro
  • Moringa Oleifera
  • Oregon Grape (antimicrobial alkaloid)
  • Coconut
  • Rice
  • Fruit Peels
  • Jackfruit seeds
  • Java plum seed

Can you boil stagnant water and drink it?

This is the most common question that I get regarding water purification outdoors. Stagnant water is full of living organisms as bacteria, viruses, and parasites so it isn’t appropriate to drink as it is.

If you don’t have clean water with you then you can boil it to kill those germs as it is the safest purifying method to kill disease-killing organisms.

If the taste of the boiled water is strange leave it to stand for a few hours or add a little salt to each quarter of a liter of boiled liquid.

CDC published a pdf document where you can check which contaminant causes potential health effects and what are the methods to deal with them.

How long do you have to boil water to purify it?

I recommend boiling it for at least a minute to destroy human pathogens. According to WHO, 90% of them will be destroyed in one minute of a water temperature above 65 °C.

So, it is vital that you leave the liquid to boil for at least a minute to kill also that 10% of bacteria.


When you are out there camping or backpacking, it is vital to make sure that the water is clean and free of germs for consumption.

With my seven easy purifying methods, you are able to have clean drinkable water in the outdoors without a hassle.

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