While lake and river water is fine for enjoying a refreshing swim or washing up in the morning, the water is not often suitable for drinking. Unless you plan on taking along an ample supply of bottled water, this means you will need to learn how to purify your drinking water. Fortunately, there are three simple methods that will allow you to convert water sources in the woods into water that is perfectly safe for use.
The single most time honored method of purifying water is to boil it. Boiling helps to kill a great deal of the bacteria that is found in lakes and rivers. It is important to keep the water at a rolling boil for at least fifteen minutes. Some experts recommend as much as thirty minutes of boiling time if the water is muddy or cloudy. Residue will tend to settle into the bottom of the pot, making it easier to strain the clear boiled water into another container for cooling. Allow the water to cool back to air temperature before drinking.
You can even take along a common household cleaning substance to help purify your drinking water. Common bleach can also kill much of the bacteria that is found in unfiltered water. One or two teaspoons in a gallon of river water will quickly begin to do the job. Make sure to stir the water so the bleach can work all the way through the container. If it is possible to seal the container and turn it upside down for a few moments, that is all the better.
Keep in mind that the use of bleach is only recommended if you have no known allergies to bleach products, and if you don’t mind the water having a slightly chlorinated taste. In addition, do not assume that using more bleach will make the water safer to drink. All you will accomplish by exceeding the two teaspoon per gallon limit is to increase the taste of the chlorination.
A third option is to pick up water purification tablets at a local sporting goods store. The tablets work very well, and most do not leave any kind of aftertaste. Some brands require that the water be allowed to set for at least 30 minutes after the tablet is dropped into the container. Others are formulated to work more quickly. Price-wise, purification tablets range from relatively inexpensive to outrageous. Often, the purification tablets carried locally will be formulated to address water issues in the immediate vicinity, but always check the recommendations for use found on the label before making a purchase.
The advantages of drinking purified water are fairly obvious. Taking the time to purify water before you drink it means that you minimize the chances of picking up bacteria that could create uncomfortable issues in your digestive tract, or possibly pave the way for something more lingering and dangerous. Since all three of these methods can be conducted in 30 minutes or less, there is really no reason to put your health at risk.
Purifying water on a camping trip is not a hard task. All you really need is at least one container for the water, some type of treatment process, and a little time. By using one of these methods, you help to ensure that all you take away from the camping trip are happy memories that are free of remembrances of stomach cramps or various other gastronomical upsets.