Emergency Services

Purifying Water on the Go: Best Technologies

Water purification is an essential consideration when you are on the go in the wilderness or traveling to a location where water supplies may not be potable. There are a range of water purification technologies to clean water and remove debris, and each have their advantages and drawbacks. In general, when considering that water is essential for survival and that contaminated water can cause serious illness, you should consider investing in a high quality water purification device. Waterborne pathogens are present in even the purest looking water, so water should always be filtered or otherwise decontaminated before being ingested. From traditional hand pump filters to UV light purifiers or chemical tablets, there are a diversity of water purification methods when you need clean water fast. Here is a look at some of the best methods for purifying water.


Filter & Purifier



These are some of the most common methods of filtering water in the backcountry or while camping near a water source. These devices typically come in the form of a pump where unclean water is pushed through a filter to trap protozoa and bacteria before being pumped out as potable water. Often in purifiers there is a chemical element involved as well. These devices can be time consuming when filtering a large quantity of water, but are easy to carry and highly reliable for purifying water. There are a lot of different models of filters and the higher end ones can generate a faster output of clean water than some other models. Be sure to invest in a quality filter and clean the device after sustained use to increase speed of output.


Purification Straws & Gravity Filters



These are also common filtration methods. Purification bottles come with straws that filter the water as your drink. These filter systems allow you to fill up the bottle and begin drinking, but they offer a thin stream of water due to the time it takes to filter the incoming water directly through the purification straw. The small quantity of water with each sip can make these filter systems less efficient than hand pump filters. Gravity filters, like the name suggests, utilize gravity to purify contaminated water through a filter. These can be effective but the rate of filtration depends on the filtering medium being used.


UV Filters & Iodine Tablets



An alternative to filtering water involves using items like iodine tablets or UV light to purify contaminated water. Iodine tablets are dissolved into the unclean water and typically require a wait time of 15-20 minutes before water is safe to consume. These can be effective purification methods but can mean a longer wait time before drinking when compared to hand filters. If you are in a hurry to drink the water, you may want to consider a more direct approach to purification. UV light, similarly, takes time to take effect. The UV light kills harmful protozoa and bacteria from the water, making it safe to drink, though leaving whatever sediment is in the water. Both of these purification methods destroy harmful contaminants but leave the sand, leaves, or whatever else is in your bottle when you filled it. Ordinarily, UV light can purify around 32 fl oz every 90 seconds. Overall, water purification on the go comes down to preference and estimated water quality, but it is always a good idea to have a couple purification options available.


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