Water is the essence of life on Earth and nothing can take its place in the natural system. It is the fundamental element that allowed us, life on Earth, to emerge from the primordial soup. If there is no water, there is no life and there is no type of organism that can resist without water. This is very good when you think about it, because there are organisms capable of surviving radioactive events but they can not live without water.
Even the human body has 60 percent water, which explains why what we drink has a great influence on our health and our general mood. We are sure that you already know that water can be both a friend and an enemy to the human organism, so you must learn to purify the water (if you still do not know).
Generally, in the case of natural disasters (global or local), water sources are contaminated with all kinds of harmful bacteria or with industrial spills from factories and sewer pipes that break. This is the main reason why the authorities recommend that the population avoid drinking from water sources that were considered safe before the disaster. They need to test the water first to make sure it remains safe to drink. Try just to imagine how much damage the contaminated water can produce in our bodies.
All our tissues have water in their composition and need to stay hydrated to live. Bad water would bring harmful bacteria into every part of our body, spreading them faster than the immune system could react.
Having fresh water to drink during a difficult time means having the necessary supplies to fight for your life. Our body can resist only 5 to 10 days without water, but this period of time varies according to the environmental conditions. It is from 5 to 10 days in ideal conditions: without stress, without food, without movement; And these days would be a real torture because you can actually feel that the body gets dehydrated. There can also be permanent damage since some tissues die faster without water.
In stressful conditions, when you need to move and think fast by carrying a large backpack on your back, your resistance is greater than 2 and a half days. If you did not pack enough water or it just happened that you do not have fresh water to drink, the best thing you can do is purify water.
Why should you know?
If you are not yet convinced of how bad the contaminated water can be for your body, we have a perfect example. Imagine that you are walking and your water supply is very low. You find a small pond with clear, cold water that looks incredibly tempting in the harsh summer sun. You take it (the water looked clean enough) and even renews its supply in case you need something else until you get home.
Well, from here it’s just downhill (literally and figuratively). He begins to feel weak, his stomach begins to indicate that something is wrong and, after a while, begins to experience intense diarrhea and vomiting. This really accelerates dehydration and you will feel more and more weak. In the end, he will not be able to move forward and will be forced to ask for help. This little adventure will probably lead him to be treated for severe dehydration and who knows what kind of bacteria and parasites.
Now, make the calculations: if you drink water, without purifying it, during a good summer day, you can put it in the hospital, what would happen to you during a disaster? The help may not be able to reach you in time due to obstacles and other difficulties. As you can see, drinking water from a contaminated source can accelerate the process of dehydration. Remember: bacteria and parasites can live in water that also looks clear. They are too small to be seen with the naked eye.
To recognize if you are dehydrated, you need to know the three stages of dehydration:
- Mild dehydration – The main symptoms you will experience are: less saliva and urination and a darker color in the urine;
- Moderate dehydration – dry mouth, your heart will begin to pump faster while trying to keep the body cool, dry eyes, extreme decrease in urination;
- Severe dehydration – at this stage your skin begins to turn gray, you will feel lethargic and suffer from vomiting and diarrhea (ironic, right?), there will be no urine and your skin will be cold to the touch.
You can recover from any of these stages if you get help and water on time. If not, the final event is death. Hopefully now, after reading all this, you can appreciate the value of water in our lives and how important it is to be able to purify your own water.
The best methods to purify water.
Our ancestors were extremely inventive and, after realizing the importance of water for their bodies, sought methods to purify it and drink it safely. That is why today, there are several safe methods to purify the water when you are in the desert or when you are at home. Each of the methods we are going to discuss is safe and each one has been tested more than several times, so you can trust them completely.
First method: boiling water.
We all know that water boils when it reaches 100 degrees centigrade (212 Fahrenheit). We also know that there are very few bacteria that resist such high temperatures for a long time. By drawing the final conclusions, the water can be purified by boiling, if the correct method is applied.
- The first step is to light a fire (if you are in the desert) or simply light the stove. Place the pot with water over the fire (if you do not have a pot, use a fireproof container around it) and wait until the water starts to boil (when it starts to bubble).
- Continue heating the pot until the water begins to boil vigorously and then start timing. Let it boil for about 5 to 10 minutes according to the altitude you are at.
- When the time runs out, take the pot of fire and let it cool. The cooling period is also very good to allow the solid elements to settle to the bottom of the pot. After this, your water is safe to drink.
Things to remember: Generally, boiling a pot with water for about 3 minutes kills most bacteria and makes the water safe to drink. You still have to keep in mind some things:
- the boiling does not clean the water of the heavy metal impurities;
- It is better to boil the water for more than 5 minutes. Some chemicals are removed through vaporization;
- The boiling temperature decreases with altitude, which means that after 5500 m, the boiling becomes inefficient. You should also add an extra minute of boiling for every 300 meters above sea level.
Second method: pills or purification drops.
This is not the tastiest method to purify water but, in times of need, it really does not matter. The tablets or drops leave a bitter taste in the water, after purification. There are some types of drops and tablets, but the most common are iodine and chlorine tablets.
You can find them in any adventure store, since they are used mainly by outdoor adventurers.
Here are some tips on how to use them to be the most efficient:
- Try to filter the water first if there are large particles floating around (you can use a clean cloth for this). This will be a first step to filter and purify the water.
- The optimum water temperature should be about 21 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit). At this point the tablets will be the most efficient.
- Do not use expired or expired tablets in a few days. These are not going to be as effective as the new ones.
- The optimal amount is a table for a quarter of the amount of water.
- Allow the tablets to dissolve completely in water by shaking the bottle. When the tablets are completely dissolved, wait 30 minutes before drinking.
- You should know that if the water is cold, you should wait about an hour before drinking. Coldness makes tablets less efficient.
Useful advice: If it tastes like mixtures of powdered forest fruits, it can diminish the bitter taste and make the water easier to drink.
Third method: use your skills in nature to purify water.
This method will be useful in case you are in the desert and do not have the possibility to implement any other method to purify the water. The method may seem a bit complicated and wild, but it is good to know how to purify the water when there is not a pot, fire of tablets to use.
The process requires some elements that you can find in nature such as: birch bark (or any type of bark that is flexible enough to form a cone), a piece of string (or some other flexible and strong material you can use to tie) the cone), coal, sand, gravel and grass. Lots of strange items, right? Here is how to use everything:
- After finding the right type of bark, cut a piece large enough to make a cone with it. Use the rope or a piece of strong grass to tie the cone to help it maintain its shape.
- Add some layers in the cone that will filter and purify the water. Place the layers in this order: sand, charcoal, grass and gravel. Coal is especially effective in purifying water.
- Pour water through the cone into a container. Repeat the operation at least three or four times to make sure that most of the bacteria have disappeared.
Remember: This method is not 100% efficient, but it will eliminate most of the bacteria in your water. If you have a good immune system, you will fight the rest without any problem. However, you should not use this method unless there is an emergency and you absolutely need water.
Fourth method: use the sun to obtain pure water.
This is not a method we recommend using when in danger. Getting pure water using the sun can be slow and the resulting amount is not satisfactory, so do not count on it when you are facing a disaster. It’s more like a method to try when you’re out, in a new adventure, trying new things.
You will need a large bowl or a container with a large opening and high walls, a heavy cup that goes into the bowl without being taller than the bowl, a transparent envelope and a large rock (and the sun, of course).
- Put the purified water you want in the container and add the cup inside. The cup should be heavy enough so that it does not float. Make sure there is no water in the cup.
- Place the transparent envelope over the container and seal the water and cup completely.
- Add the large rock on top of the transparent envelope, over the cup.
- Put all this arrangement to the sun.
The principle is simple: the heat of the sun will vaporize the water in the container.
Still, due to the transparent envelope, the water can not go anywhere and drops of clean water will form inside the envelope, sliding to the lowest point (this is where the rock shows its usefulness) that drips into Cup. It may take a few days to get a cup of clear water, so the method is not recommended when facing difficult times.
Fifth method: use a water purifier
Of all the methods, this could be the fastest and the most efficient. There are all kinds of water purifiers on the market, but the most used is the bottle with a built-in water purifier. It is easy to carry one with you and do not add any extra weight to your backpack. The principle behind this bottle is quite simple: before you let the water in the bottle, they pass it through the purifier to stop any bacteria or parasite that it may contain.
There are several types of water bottles with a built-in filter in the market so you can choose according to your preferences and budget.
If you do not have this type of water bottle (which we think you should have), you can use other types of water purifiers like:
- The ultraviolet pen – It is lightweight and easy to use. Simply put it in the water and wait for the light to turn green. When the light is green, begin to stir the water with the pen until the light goes out. Only then is it safe to drink since ultraviolet light killed all living beings in the water.
- The purifier fed by gravity. – This guy is quite big and it’s quite difficult to carry him in a backpack. It is best to use it at home or when camping to have space to carry it.
After describing the most used methods of how to purify water, we can definitely say that the most used and the fastest method is filtration and boiling. It is best to filter the water through a dense and clean cloth to remove sand, dirt or any other large particle. This way, you will not have to let the water settle after boiling. Of course, it is more advisable to use a water filter that is already incorporated in your bottle, but if you do not have that luxury in the desert, a good cooking will be enough.
Water is very important in our daily sedentary life and we could not continue our activities without being hydrated. When you are in the desert, making a physical effort or when you try to escape a disaster, your body eliminates more water through sweat. This is our natural cooling system that tries to keep our body at an optimal temperature, allowing it to function as it should.
If you are not hydrated, your heart will have to work harder and the tissues will lose their strength and flexibility, which will make you feel sick and without energy. Water is not an element that should be ignored when assembling your emergency package!
Now that you know how to purify water, with or without other elements, you can consider yourself prepared to survive a massive disaster. We do not appreciate it, but the fact that we have pure water at the tap is quite surprising. However, it is also a disadvantage because we are not prepared to find and obtain pure water when things get worse. Many people do not like to go crazy and adventurous, preferring the comfort of a hotel when they go on vacation.
This is actually a big drawback with respect to preparation for survival, as it makes you think that everything is simple and easy to obtain. Going on an outdoor adventure with your friends can teach you many things about preparing for survival and how to live in nature. Maybe it’s time to reconsider your vacation style, do not you think?