Here’s Your Complete Guide on How to Purify Water in the Wild

You don’t need to be stranded or stuck in the wilderness before learning how to purify water in the wild.  Remember, you can survive weeks without food, but only up to five days or even less without water. And in an extreme hot temperature, you might only be able to live for a few hours due to dehydration.

Why Learn Purifying Water in the Wild

If you’re looking to learn how to survive in the wilderness, you must also discover simple ways on how to clean and sanitize water before drinking it.

As you may know, carrying water is not always the solution or an option when in the woods requiring you to walk long distances, for one. However, water in the wild can be filled with parasites and microorganisms that might harm your health. For this reason, you should discover how to purify water before consuming it for your safety and prevention of waterborne diseases.

Survival Skills:  Simple Ways to Purify Water

You might not always have the option of carrying potable water with you. And in some cases when you were able to bring some, you might also run out of supply. But with some knowledge on how to purify water sources you will find, you won’t have to worry about risk of bacteria, contamination and parasites. Check out the following for easy and simple methods of purifying water.


This method is the simplest way of purifying water in the wild, but it requires equipment to do so. For example, you need a camp stove or campfire to boil water, which must be boiling in high heat until you achieve those rolling bubbles. Let it boil for five minutes or more, and then cool it before drinking.

Pro Tips

If you don’t have much time to spare, boiling water is the best way to purify it. For this water purification method, you need a pot and a fire (Learn how to build a fire with sticks). Ensure you have much heat supply until the water bubbles.

This method best applies to clear but unclean water. It works by killing the microbes, but not in getting rid of dirt. It is why you must use boiling with other water purification methods.

A simple trick to clear up the water is passing it through a filter, like a sand filter. It will get rid of the impurities and debris not removed by the boiling process, ensuring water will be safer to drink.


Sand filtration is another method to survival purify water when in the woods or wilderness. This applies when water is very dirty or muddy. For this reason, it requires filtration that can make it safe for drinking. The simplest way to filter is using sand filtration method.

  1. Get a bottle and cut its base to make a cone shape.
  2. Look for and use a filter material for the bottle’s bottom or neck. A few options include cotton or pebbles. And for this, about three inches of the filter material can be sufficient.
  3. Add in gravel to the material to keep the sand from reaching the water you’re filtering out.
  4. Use sand to fill the bottle.
  5. Pour water through the filter. Next thing, clear water must be coming out the bottom.
  6. Pass it through the filtering material again if it is not very clear yet.

Why sand filtration

It is an easy method of filtering water for dirt, mud and other elements. Sand filtration is also cost-effective because you only have to use readily available materials. The natural water filter also works effectively in getting rid of contaminants and debris. Finally, it can clean water effectively.

Video Tutorial: How To Make a Water Filter In The Wild

Water purification drops/tablets

This method is perhaps not the most suitable to come up with a good tasting water, but it is inexpensive and simple.  All you need to do is to add a few purification drops – such as iodine or potassium permanganate.

Any of them can be used to purify water, but it must be left for at least 20 minutes before drinking the water. To mask any bad taste, you can try mixing it with powdered juice if you have it.

Pro Advice

These tablets or drops are in drug stores. The purification tablets or drops are meant to use for 20 liters of water.

Get a 20-liter can to start with the task, but it depends on the label instructions. Thus, you must check the recommended number of liters before adding the purification tablet/drop. Shake the water bottle or can for up to 10 seconds, allowing the tablets or drops to combine well with the water. When done, do not drink yet for 20 minutes.

Video Tutorial: 5 Ways To Purify Water In The Wilderness

Evaporation Traps

Making an evaporation trap in the wild is another way to purify water when a potable one isn’t available. In some cases when you don’t have any water source near the survivalist camp, you might want to use the method that only requires you to pull moisture out the earth.

The method is done by digging a hole in the ground before inserting a container on its bottom. You can then cover the hole with the container with a plastic to prevent moisture from escaping.

Next, you can put a small rock in the cover’s center to have a dip there. When the water starts evaporating, it will start condensing and dripping down from the plastic cover to the water container. For the best results,

  1. You should survey the location or land and find spots, ideally riverbeds, where you are more likely to get water.
  2. When you found the spot where to dig and set up the evaporation trap, you can start digging up to 19 inches deep hole or holes. It might be better to dig more of these holes because more of them mean more water, too.
  3. If you’re in a dry land, you may want to dig deeper onto the ground to find the moist land.
  4. Look for, find non-poisonous plants, and then throw them into the holes.
  5. Place an empty cup at the holes’ center.
  6. Cover each of the holes with a plastic bag, which you have to seal through pouring sand around it.
  7. Put a rock at the plastic wrap’s center to prevent it from contacting with the cup.
  8. Wait for the evaporation to take place and collect your water later.

Survival Straws

Life straws are a trend among outdoor fans and enthusiasts as well as survivalists. These inventions are becoming more and more common now that technology is always being introduced to help survival easier and more convenient for hikers and campers as well.

When spending time in the wilderness, many survivalists, campers, hikers, anglers and other outdoor adventurers make use of these life straws that help them purify water fast.  To use it,

  1. Hold the life straw and then place it into the body of water, such as a stream.
  2. For about one minute, hold it, enabling the water to move into the membrane of the filter.
  3. Start sucking on the life straw so that you can draw water from the body of water, which is now clean and safe from contaminants and microbes.

These survival straws make water purification easier and safer than what other methods can offer.

How many times can you use a survival straw?

While hiking and consuming up to four liters of water daily, you can use the life straw for up to 330 days. You don’t need to stop and filter water by the lake if in a hurry because you can just scoop the water and pour it into your water bottle so that you can sip it while walking.


When stuck in the wilderness, you might also encounter salty water, but don’t drink it yet. Or else, you might suffer from dehydration due to its high salt content. This type of water also contains loads of impurities. Thus, it must be purified before drinking. To prevent dehydration because of salty water, learn how to distil water in the following steps.

  1. Get your materials. What you need for this purification method are a clear glass cup and a clean pan.
  2. Put the cup at the center of the pan.
  3. Get the salty water and pour it slowly to avoid any of it from getting into the cup. Put the pan’s cover upside down, but its handle must be facing the glass.
  4. Start boiling the water. ​As it is boiling, notice that the water is turning into a steam form before collecting on the cover. This steam will condense into your glass.
  5. Cool down the water in the glass before drinking it.

Video Tutorial: How to Filter and Purify Water in the Wild

Final Thoughts

As water in the wild is contaminated with pathogens, microbes and/or harmful chemicals, it can cause serious health problems, including diarrhea.   You can also be uncertain on the kind of water bodies to find in the wild and if they’re clean or unclean.

Discovering survival water filter DIY techniques, you’ll be able to purify water and make it safe for consumption.  So if you want to keep yourself safe and disease-free when in the wild looking for drinking water, you should also keep in mind the basic methods on how to purify water in the wild that we’ve shared above to get started purifying water.

Did you like this guide on wild water purification? Tell us in the comment.  Finally, spread the word and share it on social media today!

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