Simple ways to purify water

Human beings cannot survive without sterile drinking water. We can survive without food for about 3 weeks but we’d only last around 3 to 4 days without water. That’s why knowing how to purify water is an essential survival skill.

Knowing how to purify your own water at home will also lower your carbon footprint and save you money as you will be able to cut down on the amount of plastic water bottles you accumulate by buying bottled water. Having healthier water also means that your family, including pets, will be less exposed to pollutants and be less likely to get sick which will save you from frequent trips to the doctor and vet.

Here are 3 simple methods to purify water to eliminate any parasites, harmful chemicals and other contaminants:

Chlorine and iodine

Using chlorine or iodine as a method to purify water has been used for decades. They are both effective in killing any bacteria but should be used with extreme caution. As they are both chemicals, chlorine and iodine are only intended for short-term use.

It’s possible to use both chlorine tablets and liquid chlorine to purify water. The amount of chlorine needed to purify water depends on the amount of water, temperature and water quality. Typically 2 drops per litre will do the trick and you will need to wait 30 – 45 minutes before drinking so that the chlorine has time to work. A much more convenient option is to purchase pre-dosed chlorine water purification tablets.

You can also use both iodine solution or tablets to purify water. Similar to chlorine you will have to wait about 30 minutes to drink water that has been treated with iodine. It’s important to note that using iodine is not suitable for pregnant women.


Even though distillation is a slow process of water purification it is effective in removing all manner of contaminants including bacteria, germs and poisonous heavy metals.

The most rudimentary way to distill water is to build your own solar still. Solar stills work by using the energy from sunlight. The heat provided by the sunlight causes the water to evaporate and condense into vapour. All you will need is a square of relatively clear plastic and place it over a 1 metre deep hole in the ground. Place rocks on the corners of your plastic sheet to hold it down and a small rock in the centre of the sheet. Try to seal off the edges of your plastic sheet as much as possible to help prevent the escape of moisture. In order to capture the drinkable water you will also need to place a clean container in the bottom of the hole. Run a tube from the container to the outside of the pit so that you don’t have to take whole still apart to access the purified water. You can also add leaves inside the pit to provide more moisture. Make sure to build your solar still in a sunny location and in damp soil. The process will take between 24 to 48 hours.


The quickest, safest and most simple method to purify water is to boil it. For water to be adequately purified through boiling you should allow the water to be left to boil for 1 – 10 minutes depending on the quality of water you’re dealing with. The only drawback to using boiling as a method to purify water is that you may also need to use a filter to remove solid particles. You can do this by using a coffee filter or a piece of cotton cloth.

Boiling water may not destroy all contaminants but it does kill most pathogens, microorganisms and some toxins.


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Written by Taryn Hill

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