How To Purify Water In The Wild?

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 carry water from home. However, you would have to carry a lot of it to make sure you have enough. In most cases, this is not a good option when you will go backpacking or go minimalist camping.

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

How do you purify water in the wilderness and what is the best way to purify water? How to purify dirty lake water? Purifying it is a must and this water purification survival guide will teach you how to purify water in the wild and what do you need to purify water to make it drinkable without a hassle.

What are the safest ways to purify water?

How to get drinking water in the wild? 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 the ways to clean water, dirty water to clean water tricks, and how to purify water in the woods.

purifying water

#1 Boiling

This is the simplest way to purify water when you are outdoors. 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 survival water purification techniques as all you have to do is 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. Which are the other ways to purify water?

#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 liquid 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. How to purify water by filtration?

filtering water outdoors

A chemical component

How to clean water in the wild and what is the best way to filter water for survival? The best way to filter water in the wild is using a filter with a chemical component. A chemical component kills the germs that are not visible to the human eye. These invisible germs are the most dangerous.

Other than killing invisible germs, such filters allow you to drink/use the water immediately after 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 them 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.

It is a good item to use if you want to know how to purify lake water for drinking. Such a filter is the right answer on how to filter water in a survival situation that will help you clean it and guarantee your safety and well-being.

The next video will show you how to make a water filter in the wild.

#3 Chemical treatment

How to make water drinkable for survival? You can 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 an unfiltered liquid.

Quick and easy to use

This method of water treatment is the quick and easiest way to purify water for drinking. 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

Some 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. How to distill water in the wild?

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 a primitive water purification that won’t 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 liquid. When the liquid 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. This is one of the ideas on how to filter water without a filter.

#6 Sedimentation

How do you filter water without a water filter? If you see water murky you can use the sedimentation method to get drinking one without particles. Using sedimentation is one of the ways on how to purify dirty water naturally. 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 liquid 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 in the wild

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. How to clean water naturally?

plant water purification

The procedure is an easy way to purify water as you will soak plants in the stagnant water. This is one of the ways on how to filter water without boiling. Plants that will help you are:

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

These are ways in which water can be purified simply and effectively.

Can you boil stagnant water and drink it?

This is the most common question that I get regarding water purification outdoors. Boiling stagnant water is a good way on how to clean water without a filter. Even more, this is one of the best ways to sterilize water.

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 liquid 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?

How do you purify water with boiling? 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. This is the best way to purify water fast.

How to find clean water in the wild ?

Do you want to know which outdoor water is the cleanest of all? How to find and purify water? The best water to use is running water that cleans through the soil and rocks. When you find it (a creak or a river) make sure that you head upstream as much as possible and check if there isn’t any dead animal lying in the water. This way you will avoid contamination.

Fill up the bottle with the running water and use one of my survival water filtering techniques to get uncontaminated drinking water. This is the best way on how to find and purify water in the wilderness.

Make homemade water purification tablets

Are you interested in making DIY water purification tablets? You can make them at home using bleach. You can make them with these items:

  • 4 drops of bleach on a gallon of water
  • Pliers
  • Drinking straw
  • Lighter or a jet torch lighter
  • Drop applicator

The procedure

Grab pliers and hold the top of the straw with them, leaving 8-16 of an inch of plastic out so it will melt together to seal the straw. Put the top of the straw closer to the lighter so the plastic melts and seals the straw. Wait for a few seconds so the straw will be sealed properly.

Take your drop applicator and fill the straw with bleach. Seal the other top of the straw and you have your bleach kit ready to use while you are outdoors. You can write how many drops of bleach are in the straw so you will know how to dose them in the water content.

Make sure you buy odorless and clean bleach.


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. How to make clean water?

With my water survival guide and seven easy purifying methods, you will know how to filter water in the wild and be able to have clean drinkable water without a hassle. Use these methods when you don’t have bottled water with you or you drank all of it and need to have more.

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