SOS Blog

Friday, October 10, 2014

5 Ways to Purify Water in an Emergency Situation

Water is the single most essential element necessary for human survival. Whereas the human body can last multiple days without food, water must be consumed every day in order to sustain life. In an emergency situation where you find yourself facing a shortage of drinkable water, there are several water purification methods you can use to help you in this time of crisis:

1. Boiling

The easiest and most basic way to purify water and rid it of any harmful bacteria is to boil it. Boiling requires only a heat source and a pot and can take as little as 7 or 8 minutes depending on how much water you want to disinfect. The water needs to stay at a full, rolling boil for at least 3 minutes (unless you are in higher altitudes in which case 5-7 minutes should be long enough).

2. Purifiers

Iodine is the most common chemical purifier for water, and it is available in easy-to-use tablets. Some form of neutralizer or flavored drink powder should be paired with iodine to remove the color, odor and taste of the iodine. However, be sure to not add the neutralizer to the water until the iodine has had sufficient time to eliminate the pathogens. This water purification set from SOS Products includes water germicidal and taste neutralizing tablets.

3. Distilling

Distillation is particularly useful when dealing with salt water. This technique relies on a heat source to evaporate unpurified water into water vapor. Only clean drinkable water will evaporate, leaving harmful bacteria behind, which means the vapor that condenses will be purified. Solar distillation utilizes heat from the sun and can be done using a pre-manufactured solar water still. You can also distill water by warming it on the stove and using a cloth to collect the water vapor and ringing out the clean water into a separate container until you have the desired amount of purified water.

4. Filtration

Filtration is simply the process of filtering out undesirable sediment or bacteria from your water. Purifying filters and pumps come in many different shapes and sizes depending on your specific need. This mini water filtration system attaches directly to standard disposable water bottles and hydration packs for instant water purification—the flow rate of the filter is as fast as you can drink!

5. Ultraviolet Light

Ultraviolet rays from the sun can be used to purify un-potable water by deactivating pathogens in the water. To carry out this method, empty clear bottles should be cleaned and filled partially with water. Shake the bottles for about 15-20 seconds before filling it up all the way. Then, the bottles must be exposed to sunlight for at least 6 hours (or longer if it is cloudy). An important note about this technique is that it will only be effective when applied to clear water.

In an emergency situation, you may find yourself in need of potable water in order to maintain healthy bodily function until emergency responders arrive. Familiarize yourself with these methods before embarking on any adventure trips, or in preparation for an oncoming storm or emergency to provide you and your family with a drinkable water supply. Find more water purifying products at


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