A little Cholera, Hepatitis A, or Giardiasis can ruin your day pretty quickly. Is there any algae in the water? None can be a bad sign but so can too much. What about chemical pollutants?
Water is essential to survival, and you will naturally make it one of your priorities to store and locate water as quickly as possible. Before the grid goes down water is taken for granted. It comes out of the tap mostly clean. You can buy pallets at the grocery store and water fountains abound in public places.
In a disaster can you trust your water source as clean? Water can grow bacteria if there was any present when it went into that storage container. There wont be any left in stores anymore to buy. What if the ground sources have become contaminated by biological, chemical, or nuclear materials then things are far worse than just a shortage at the store.
How do we clean our water and make it potable for drinking? There are many ways that are effective at cleaning water of its contaminants, particulate and chemical.
Well you just filter it. Not quite that simple. Water filtration is good for removing particulates up to most particles visible to the naked eye. You can strain water through a sock or through a hollow log stuffed with grass to remove the larger particles.
Boiling water is pretty simple and will kill all the bacteria and possibly boil off some chemicals. 15-20 minutes can sound like a long time but can you take that risk when you are already in a disaster scenario?
Purifying agents such as Bleach and Iodine even water tablets are useful and easy. 10 drops of household bleach to a gallon of water usually will do the trick. Stir it well and let it stand for 30 minutes. You want a slight smell or taste of chlorine in the water to consider it safe. Iodine is used in much the same way, and follow the instructions on your water tablets. If your bugging in consider getting a container of pool shock for chlorination of large containers.
There are other simpler methods such as filter straws. They can be packed in a go bag and used in the field. I have seen people carry them hiking just in case their main filtration failed. Just put something like a cloth or a coffee filter over your straws intake to prevent the filter inside from getting clogged by larger particulates.
There are also water filters on pumps and even in hanging bags. These are good for your Go Bag as well. The White Wolf used a filter bag for a week with 12 guys. Just be sure you strain that water first. On that first day someone put creek water right into it and we had some cleaning to do before it would flow at a half way decent rate again.
Sun light can also be used to clean water though it is not as reliable. The idea is to use UV rays from the sun to kill bacteria. A sealed clear glass or plastic bottle sitting for an hour or more in direct sunlight can eliminate some contaminants if the water is already clear. This however would be one of the last methods I would depend upon since you cant monitor the UV exposure of the water.
Finally you have water purification. Water purification is very hard to come by. Very few products out there are allowed to be classified as a water purifier. Purifiers often have to be bulky or have such a slow flow rate that they need to be powered or pressurized. This again makes them expensive and even larger.
Purification reduces suspended particles, parasites, bacteria, algae, viruses, fungi, as well as dissolved gasses. A quality purification system will remove objects greater than .2 microns, including giardia and cryptosporidium.
The only gravity fed counter top water purification system out there that the FDA allows to be called a purification system is the Berkey system. They make enough sizes to choose from. Some small enough for back packing and others big enough for a couple households. Some contain a single filter and others have room for 8 filters. The more filters the faster the flow rate as well as the time before you need to wipe off the outside of the filter. Berkeys are the Cadillac of water filtration and can be considered pricey. But clean water is priceless.
Do you currently have a water filtration system? Please share with us the system that you use.