If you ever wanted to be like Bear Grylls for the weekend, then you should know how to ingest stuff you usually aren’t used to eating. While biting off a fish head may be quite acceptable, drinking contaminated water is not.
In the wild, you need all the help you can get to survive. Whether you’ve been stranded in a remote area or you’re trying to ‘rough it out’, knowing how to drink water in the wild may not only save you from a bad stomach ache; it can also save your life.
5 DIY Emergency Ways to Filter Water in the Wild
Note that on the average, humans should consume six to eight glasses of water in a day. We should drink more when suffering in humid climate or when doing strenuous activity
Here are a few nifty tips to keep you hydrated all throughout your journey into the wilderness, or even during disasters and other situations when water is in short supply:
1. Don't Forget to Bring a Water Filter Straw
Of course, we are not talking about any ordinary bendy straw that you can use to sip murky water which is just wrong. Among the many survival water filtration systems built for backpacking dudes and dudettes these days, the lightest and most portable among them is the survival straw.
These products may be small but they pack a wallop in terms of purifying water you find in the wilderness. One brand even claims to filter “over 264 gallons (1,000 liters) to 0.2 microns, which removes dangerous bacteria and protozoa.”
All you have to do is to dip this straw in your collected water. Find out which end goes to your mouth and which end you dip into the water first. Then, sip all you want! Blow on the straw when you’re done to clear out the dirt from the filter, and go on your merry way. Not useful on salt water though.
2. Create your very own emergency water filter
Have you ever wondered how to build a water filter but don’t know exactly what is needed to make it? Stress not, because we have just the project for you.
All it needs are the following items:
- An empty water bottle
- Coarse and fine stone
- Coarse and fine sand
- Charcoal (ground into fine bits)
- Rubber bands or thin wire
- A knife
- Containers for catching water
This process utilizes natural water filtration. Here are the steps:
1. Just cut the bottom portion of the bottle with a knife.
2. Start placing the filter items one by one, beginning with the cloth.
3. Then add the ground charcoal bits.
4. After which, place the rest of the filter items in the order shown here:
- Fine sand
- Coarse sand
- Fine stone
- Coarse stone
5. Make sure that after adding in all of the filter items into the bottle, there will still be enough space toward the top for the dirty water to be poured into.
6. You may or may not use a rag set into place by rubber bands or thin wire to cover the top.
7. Now, you have in your hands a natural water filter!
The first drippings you collect from this makeshift water purifier may still be cloudy, and this is due to the dustiness coming from the filter items. Discard this water then start collecting anew using another water container.
If you want your water to be less cloudy, you can let your collected water pass through your purifying system several more times until you are happy with the result. You may still need to boil this collected water or place in some purification tablets to ensure that your collected water is 99.99 percent contaminant-free.
3. Boil your water
Pretty straightforward and quite easy if you brought the right tools. Make sure you ration your matches and clean your pot before you start boiling your water.
You ideally want to get that sweet spot between the amount of water you can carry easily and the amount of matches you can sacrifice for water boiling.
- Place an adequate amount of drinking water in a pot or fireproof container.
- Light a fire under your container.
- Bottle the excess water for you to use for the rest of the day.
4. Create an evaporation trap
Water collection using this particular procedure may take a while, but if you need to harvest a steady supply of potable drinking water for the long stretch, the ground and your skills in creating this may be your lifesaver.
1. Pick an area of ground that constantly (but not always) gets struck by sunlight.
2. Dig a relatively shallow hole into that patch of ground. The said hole shouldhave enough space around an average-sized water container. See to it that no dirt gets into the container when it is placed inside the hole.
3. Cover the hole with plastic wrap to trap moisture coming from the ground.
4. Place a small rock in the middle of the plastic wrap just above the water container to form a dip.
5. Observe how the sunlight will let water evaporate from the soil. As the vapors rise, they hit the plastic wrap, condense, and drip back to the container – this time – in purified water form.
5. Create your very own solar still
For more info you can also check out our ultimate guide on solar distillation right here.
Just like the evaporation trap, water collection here is not as fast but is just as effective. It also basically uses the same technique in collecting and filtering water.
You will need the following items for this project:
- Bowl or basin
- Heavy mug or can
- Plastic wrap
- Small rock
Here are the steps on how to make a solar still:
1. Set up the bowl/basin and the mug by placing the mug in the middle of the bowl/basin. The mug must not peek past the outer rim of your bowl/basin.
2. Slowly pour the dirty water in the bowl/basin, taking care not to splash any of it inside the mug.
3. Cover the rim of the bowl/basin with plastic wrap.
4. Place this entire setup under the sun then place the small rock in the middle of the wrap just above the mug to create a dip in the wrap.
5. Let Mother Nature do its work with the evaporation and condensation of the water, and soon enough, you will have a mug with clean water inside.
Threes of Everything May Just Save You
Many survivalists follow the Wilderness “Rule of Threes.” This rule enumerates the tolerance levels of the average human, and anything that goes beyond this rule becomes deadly. According to the Rule of Threes, the average human can:
- Live up to three minutes without air.
- Live up to three hours without shelter.
- Live up to three days without water.
- Live up to three weeks without food.
There are those who have been known to survive at lengths longer than what were stated in the Rule of Threes. We cannot recommend these, though, unless you want to return to civilization in a stretcher.
Three Days Without Water
Among the necessities in the Rule of Threes is water, and the resourceful trekker will find this almost everywhere in nature. The need for an emergency drink may come, but then the emergency drinking water you may find may not be as drinkable as you think.
Before taking in any water you may come across in your nature tripping, first consider if it is potable. It may look sparkling but it could be contaminated with E. coli, streptococci, cyanobacteria, and all those other icky microbes that could cause anything from diarrhea to death.
The thirsty nature trekker may want to consider creating an emergency water purification system so that he can have a stash of emergency water supplies on hand.
Now with these handy tips to guide you on how to filter water from almost any kind of water source you will encounter, you can be assured of a safe and problem-free trip as you venture into the countryside for some serious communing with nature. Grab your backpack and get going!
5 Essential Tips for Making a DIY Emergency Water Filter
- Gather the necessary materials, such as activated charcoal, sand, and gravel.
- Create a filter by layering the materials in a container. Start with the coarsest material at the bottom and end with the finest material at the top.
- Slowly pour water through the filter to ensure that it is properly filtered.
- Be sure to clean and replace your filter regularly to maintain its effectiveness.
- If possible, boil or chemically treat your filtered water before drinking it.
ALSO: Consider investing in an emergency water filter kit for added convenience!
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About The Author
Sharyn Baker is the resident editorial assistant for AllAboutWaterFilters and regularly provides articles specializing in off-grid water filtration, outdoor survival, and water treatment in the wild. She has previously worked as an editing assistant and a product review content creation assistant, primarily focusing on outdoor survival preparedness. She enjoys producing her own off-grid water filtration safety guides for her other blogs in addition to her work on the AllAboutWaterFilters editorial team.