19 Mar How To Always Have Healthy Drinking Water Wherever You Go
When you start improving your water quality, you will probably focus on your home first. However, you are not always at home, and you can’t always trust the water in other places. For this reason, it’s always good to understand some improvised (and not-so improvised) ways to have healthy drinking water on the go.
Method #1: Charcoal Filtration
Charcoal is one of the most effective natural means for purifying water. Some people think it turns water black, but those are just the fine, granular filter particles that accidentally left the filter cartridge. This is nothing to worry about. What you should pay attention to, however, is to NOT use charcoal briquettes! You need pure charcoal. Even the half-burnt wood from a campfire can be used (provided it was washed first).
You have surely heard of activated carbon filters. Activated carbon is even more effective than regular carbon, or charcoal, at removing impurities from water. The only difference between activated carbon and regular carbon is that the former has a larger surface area and surface pores. This helps to absorb more contaminants. Activated carbon is also great for removing foreign tastes and smells from water.
Method #2: Natural Materials
Charcoal is a natural material, but it has to be processed from wood. That may not always be possible depending on where you are. Fortunately, you can use other natural materials. Sand is an ideal filter medium, as is fine gravel. Shredded plant material can also be good, but make sure you know the species of plant to avoid poisoning yourself. Leaves from common species of trees like oak and maple are good choices: Safe, large, and easy to identify.
It is normally easiest to find proper filtering materials next to a water source. That’s good because you will also need water to wash them: Any sand, gravel, or plant material you use will need to be cleaned of dirt and debris. You can do this by repeatedly running water through your filter.
It is best to create a multi-stage filter if possible – a “teepee” of sticks will work well for this. You can make the teepee and then use several scraps of cloth to create “hammocks” in which your filtering material is placed. 3-5 layers of hammocks are ideal for a DIY multi-stage water filter. When the water coming out of the bottom hammock is clean, your tool is ready for use and the filtered water should be safe to drink.
Method #3: Boiling
This section is extremely important. Filtration is meant to remove solid particles but it doesn’t do anything to remove microbes. Most microbes pass straight through the filter material remaining completely unaffected. Good for us that we can burn them to death!
In order to kill microbes in drinking water you simply need to boil it for at least 60 seconds. This, by the way, is why you always want a metal canteen to be part of your arsenal.
You should wait until the water cools down to room temperature before filtering, mainly because there are some contaminants that dissolve better in hot water. Besides, boiling water will break down your filter materials more quickly. Incidentally, the need for heat can be helpful. As long as you are outdoors, you can use your heat source to go ahead and make some charcoal at the same time.
Method #4: Carry A Filtration Device
If you are planning to be in the outdoors for a while, you should learn the primitive methods to filter water as described above. However, that isn’t practical for all situations. For instance, let’s say you are in an urban area where the water quality leaves a lot to be desired. But the locals don’t want you building campfires, cutting wood for charcoal, etc.
In situations like this, it is better to have a pre-made water filtration device like a filtration pitcher or filter bottle. Portable water filters come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding one that you like. What’s important is that you verify the filter’s filtration effectiveness. You need to know what you are drinking.
Almost every water filtration device is plastered with claims about all the contaminants it can remove, but the proof is in the testing. Purchase some inexpensive water quality test kits and see if those claims are indeed true! If you think about it: When you use a water filter to produce drinking you are putting your health in the hands of the makers of the filtration device. It would be kind of stupid to forget the old axiom: Trust but verify.
Method #5: Portable Reverse Osmosis Water Filters And Distillation Units
When it comes to treating contaminated water, reverse osmosis is generally considered to be the most heavy-duty option. It can even turn seawater into freshwater, which that’s pretty impressive.
Distillation-based water purifiers are another sound option. They can remove any contaminant from water, as long as that contaminant doesn’t have a low boiling point. As long as there are at least 25 degrees difference between the boiling point of water and the boiling point of the contaminant, it will get removed.
The downside of water distillers is that they are large units and just not very practical to carry around, meaning they are not a viable option for your next hiking trip. However, you might be using a vehicle on your journey. Cars, trucks, and boats can most certainly be outfitted with a water distiller. They might be too big for a backpack, but well within the ability of most vehicles to accommodate.
What’s Your Favorite?
What’s your favorite method for always having healthy drinking water wherever you go? Do you prefer charcoal and other natural materials? Do you think boiling is the way to go? Or do you like the idea of carrying a filtration device like a water pitcher or a portable reverse osmosis system? Let me know in the comments!