Safe Drinking Water In The Wilderness
Why Water Is So Important
Water is essential for life. There can be no denying that in the short term, water is the most important commodity for all your wilderness activities. Water in the short term is more important than food and almost as important as breathing oxygen.
The amount of water required by humans for good health varies with age, physical activity, health and environmental conditions. Studies have shown that 2-3 liters per day are sufficient for normal activity levels.
Intense physical activity such as sports and work will increase this volume. In addition to increased activity, increased Ambient Temperature also requires more water and can increase this volume to well above 10+ liters per day per individual.
The scientific community contends that in relatively healthy individuals, our bodies are composed of approximately 60% water.
This percentage varies with age, health, and level of obesity. From the low 40’s in the very obese to highs of 70% in the newborn, it is very evident that water constitutes a major part of our structure and well-being.
How To Deal With Water Issues In The Wilderness
In this blog, I will deal with 3 ways of making your water safe to drink, and these 3 ways are;
1) Boiling your water to disinfect it.
2) Solar Water Disinfection, which is essentially using the sun’s energy to make water safe to drink, and
3) Filtering your water to remove bacteria and protozoa.
Boiling Your Water
Boiling your water, by bringing it to its boiling point of 100 degrees C / 212 degrees F is the oldest and most effective way of disinfecting your drinking water.
It does not affect the taste of the water and this single and simple step eliminates most of the microbes that are responsible for causing intestine related diseases.
Boiling water at high temperatures takes less time to kill micro-organisms than boiling it at lower temperatures. Many intestinal-affecting micro-organisms such as Hepatitis A ( requires 1 minute of boiling ), E Coli ( less than 1 minute of boiling ) and Giardia ( requires at least 10 minutes of boiling to render the water safe ) require various boiling times.
Since many microbes get eliminated at temperatures above 60 degrees C / 140 degrees F, the popular advice of boiling your water for 10 minutes is very well known, popular and a very accurate means of disinfecting your water.
In addition to the above, boiling your water ensures that you are reaching a temperature of 212 degrees F, without the need of measuring this with a Thermometer. Water does not need to be sterilized for human health.
The boiling of water is an age-old method of disinfecting drinking water and the main reason why I recommend having a metal pot as part of your required equipment whenever you venture into the wilderness.
This metal pot can nestle in a military-style canteen or it can also be a Nalgene- type bottle nestled in a stainless steel or titanium pot such as the Snow Peak models.
I recommend a bottle and pot combination from experience and practicality. These items are very light in weight and their importance to your health, well-being, and survival cannot be argued against.
Solar Water Disinfection
Solar water disinfection is a method of water purification that uses the Sun’s energy to disinfect water that is contaminated with bacteria, protozoa, and viruses.
This is a method similar to boiling water. This method involves placing your bottled water in the sun. Exposing your bottled water to the sun’s rays will raise the temperature of the water and kill many of the microorganisms that are harmful to humans.
This method of water disinfection uses the sun’s heat to bring water temperatures to 70-100 degrees C for a short period of time. This is close to the boiling point but not quite there. This water is referred to as Pasteurized water and does not kill all the microbes that boiling your water does.
While not as good as boiling, this is an interesting and useful method of water purification when other more effective methods are not available.
Filtering Your Water
This is my favorite method of water purification and disinfection. Water filters remove impurities by means of fine physical barriers. They also use biological and chemical processes.
Filters cleanse water differently by using sieving, ion exchanges, adsorption and other means of removing unwanted substances from water samples. Good quality filters can remove particles much smaller than the holes through which this water passes.
There are many types of Water Filters but for the purpose of this discussion, we are mainly concerned with portable water filters. This is the type of water filters that are carried by backpackers, campers, hikers and the military.
These are small, portable and lightweight filters in the 1-2 pound range. They have a mechanical hand pump that forces water through various types of filters. These filters remove bacteria, protozoa, and other microorganisms.
The Water Filters That I Carry Into The Wilderness
For a more detailed description of my, MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter you can visit this link.https://outdoortech4u.com/msr-miniworks-ex-microfilter.
This unit comes with a replaceable, ceramic filter. I have been using this filter for many years and I am very pleased with its performance. This water filter also attaches directly to standard size bottles and water bags and can be seen or purchased here:
This water filter is not capable of disinfecting viruses such as Hepatitis A and Rotavirus.
In addition to this hand-pump style water filter, I always carry the LifeStraw available at the following link: http://www.amazon.com/LifeStraw-LSPHF017-Personal-Water-Filter/dp/B006QF3TW4/ref=sr_1_1?s=outdoor-recreation&ie=UTF8&qid=1458069097&sr=1-1&keywords=lifestraw
The LifeStraw is a very small and lightweight water filter that has won many International Awards and accolades. For a more detailed description of this excellent Water Filter you can visit this page :https://outdoortech4u.com/lifestraw-personal-water-filter
These 2 Water Filters provide excellent value for your money. I have been using them for years and they have worked well for me.
There are better hand-pump style water filters on the market, however, it has served me well and I stand by its effectiveness.
The LifeStraw is my hands down favorite. This is an Internationally recognized water filter of great repute. At less than 20 Canadian Dollars, there is absolutely NO REASON to not own one, or to ever wander into the wilderness without it!
Do yourself a favor and Get One Today!
If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, please do not hesitate to leave them below. I will reply to all of these in a timely manner.