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Emergency Water Purification Methods

LifeStraw Water Filter
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A person can only live without water for 3 days, so knowing emergency water purification methods is extremely important in a crisis situation. When disaster strikes, no one truly knows just how long it will last. You need to know where to get water and how to make it drinkable to survive.

You might be wondering why you just can’t bring water with you. Water is definitely an item you want in a bug out bag, however, without knowing how long you will be away from a reputable source of drinking water, you simply can’t carry enough to be safe. Unfortunately, even your three day supply of water is most likely one of the heaviest items in your bag.

There are three basic methods to purify water: boiling it, filtering it, and treating it with chemicals. There are pros and cons to each methods. Because of the extreme importance water plays in any survival scenario, we highly recommend that you have the ability to use at least two of these methods.

Emergency Water Purification Method #1: Boil It

This is probably the best of the three options. This method works 100% to kill off bacteria, cysts, and viruses. It is also very, very easy. Simply put your water in a pot or can over a fire and bring it to a bubbling boil. No muss, no fuss, and your water is now safe to drink.

However, there are downsides to this method as well.

  • You will need to use resources to build and start a fire.
  • It takes far more time than the other two methods.
  • Building the fire may draw unwanted attention to yourself or your group.


That being said, if you are building a fire at the end of the day, and there is a water source nearby, you might want to take advantage of the situation and get your water stores built back up.

Emergency Water Purification Method #2: Filter It

Not so long ago, this method took up a lot of space in your BOB, as it required a somewhat bulky hand pump. That is not the case today. There are many great filters out there in the marketplace today. Our absolute favorite is the LifeStraw filters. They now come in an amazing assortment of products including personal filters, family purifiers, and even a new Lifestraw Go Bottle that is a water bottle and filter all in one.

This doesn’t take any skill to use, either, simply drink water through the straw. How simple is that?


  • Easy to use
  • Works well to filter out bacteria and cysts
  • Lightweight and small (doesn’t take much space in bag)



  • Doesn’t remove viruses. Before you freak out, though, know that this is only an issue depending on the area you are in. In the United States and Canada, there is an extremely low risk of water-borne viruses. However, this is probably not the right choice if you are traveling or live in a third world country.
  • Limited capacity. This type of filter will generally work for just under 1000 Liters,¬†which should be plenty to get you to a safe place. If you are worried about that, however, simply buy two.


Emergency Water Purification Method #3: Chemical Use

If you are in a third world country, or if you are worried about the possibility of a water borne disease, these are probably your best option. Look for tablets that use chlorine dioxide, such as the AquaMira Military Water Purifier Tablets. Pop one of these into a one liter bottle of water, give it 30 minutes to complete the process, and your water is safe to drink.


  • Kills viruses as well as bacteria
  • Can actually improve the taste of the water
  • Compact and lightweight



  • Half hour waiting period before drinking
  • Most of these tablets have an expiration date–you will need to make sure the ones in your pack are refreshed regularly.


With these three emergency water purification methods, your family should never have to do without safe water to drink. It is a good idea to make yourself aware of possible water sources in your area before disaster strikes. If you are on the go, and come across a water source, don’t waste the opportunity! Fill up those containers.



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