There are several approaches to making sure the water you have available to you is safe to drink. Each of these methods will work in most cases, but it’s important to be familiar with each method, and to be able to recognize which method best fits the circumstances you’re facing. You may have a 3 day water supply, but what happens when your power and water are out for 10 days or more? What’s your plan for having water to consume and and to cook with?
Clean Water Step One: Filtering Out Debris
Before you begin to process your own water for human consumption purposes, let’s talk a second about filtering. If there are debris in the water source you’re using, you need to filter it before you start purifying it. There are filters out there but in an emergency, you may not have access to them – in a pinch, you can run the water through a few layers of fabric to filter out the larger bits.
Boiling Water for Human Consumption
If you have a camp stove, fire, grill, or even a rocket stove, you can safely boil water for human consumption. Boiling is your safest bet when it comes to water purification, as it kills majority of the known disease causing organisms. Choose the largest container (pot, stainless bottle, etc) that you have, and clean it thoroughly before filling with water.
Bring the water to a rolling boil and let it go from 1-3 minutes (most experts say 1 minute but up to 3 won’t hurt your water, and will give you some added security). Allow the water to cool, and then pour it into clean containers. (Make sure that you do not use milk or juice containers to hold your water, as the enzymes tend to linger in the containers. Soda bottles or empty water bottles are best).
Because boiled water can taste kind of blah…flat, dull, tasteless…you may consider pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers to get some oxygen back into the water. I’ve also seen recommendations of adding a bit of salt to the water. Or, you can just keep some of those flavor packets around to help disguise flavors.