Safe drinking water is critical to survival. Water sources that can be used to collect water for purification include rivers, creeks, ponds, lakes and natural springs. You may think that water sources that are found far from civilization are not contaminated and safe to drink. Water found naturally in nature will contain bacterium and microbes. Wells that are dug and properly capped will contain safe drinking water because; the soil filters and purifies water. Standing water is heavily contaminated and cannot be consumed without filtering and purifying. Fast moving streams contain less bacterium but the water can be contaminated by runoff, dead animal carcasses upstream and by naturally occurring bacteria.
Underground springs that find their way to the surface for the most part are safe. You must be confident that the spring originates from underground where the soil has filtered and scrubbed the water clean. However, drink from the opening only. Do not consume water collected in depressions near the spring because animals and debris will have contaminated the water.
If you simply have, no other means of purifying water you can dig a hole near a steam bed and allow the depression to fill with water. Do not dig a trench from the stream to the depression however. You want the water to percolate or bubble up from the ground. You are tapping into the water table and the water is being filtered by the soil as it finds its way to the depression from the bottom of the hole. It is important that the water bubbles from the bottom of the hole up and has not run into the hole from the top, for example, by trenching from the water source. Filter sediments from the water by holding a piece of cloth around your canteen or water bottle as you dip into the depression.
Boiling Water is the Preferred Method of Purification
Filter the water before boiling by using coffee filters, cloth or charcoal. To make a charcoal filter you can burn hardwoods, not pine or treated lumber, until the wood begins to look like charcoal. Remove the wood and smother with ash, sand or soil to prevent it from burning into ash. Let cool, rinse and then crush into fine pieces. Place the charcoal into any can that was used for food such as a vegetable can. Bore a hole in the bottom for the filtered water to flow through. Filter the water into a vessel for boiling. The water must rapid boil for at least one minute to kill the bacteria. Let cool before drinking.
Purifying Water using 2% Liquid Iodine
Two percent liquid iodine will kill bacteria and make water safe to drink. The iodine can be purchased in any drugstore and many camping sections of retail stores. Filter the water using the described methods. The ratio is based on quarts and the amount required is as follows. Five drops of 2 % liquid iodine per one quart of water. Shake the container well after adding the drops and allow the water to set for 30 minutes or longer before drinking. If the water appears cloudy after filtering, you can two additional drops making the total seven per quart.
Purifying Water using Common Household Unscented 5% Chlorine Bleach
Filter the water once again using the prescribed methods. The ratio is two drops of bleach per quart of water. You can add one additional drop per quart if the water appears cloudy after filtering. Shake well and allow 30 minutes or longer before drinking. Never exceed four drops of bleach per quart of water.
Do not use the eyedropper that is in the iodine vial to add bleach to water. You must use a separate dropper. You can enhance the flavor of boiled or treated water by adding crushed vitamin C tablets or sugar free drink mixes to the water after it has cooled or 30 minutes after treatment. You must have two containers when treating water with bleach or iodine. One container is used to dip and filter into a clean container for treatment. The bottle or canteen used to dip contaminated water will have contaminates around the drink line. Therefore, always filter from the contaminated bottle of water into a clean bottle for treatment.