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How to Filter and Disinfect Water

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In a survival situation, you will need to make due with whatever water is available, whether it is a rushing muddy river, a stagnant pond, or dirty puddle of rain.

Coffee Filters

Using a coffee filter and a container, such as a mason jar, is the simplest way of removing large contaminants from water, such as dirt clumps, leaves, and sticks. Place the filter on top of the jar, letting it hang into the container slightly. Secure the filter before pouring the water slowly, allowing it to drain through the coffee filter before adding more. Filters made especially for espresso makers are typically more fine, and therefore, capable of removing even more debris. If you have a water filtration system, you can now pour the water into the system, allowing this pre-filtering to expand the life of your purification system.


Household liquid bleach can purify water for cooking and drinking, but you have to be very careful about how you use it. Be sure that you select bleach with a chlorine content of 5.35% to 6%. Add eight drops per gallon of water, mix well, and then let rest for at least half an hour. Before using, smell the water. It should have a faint bleach scent. If not, repeat the process. Typically, only one treatment is necessary. Sixteen drops of chlorine are usually required for muddy water after it is filtered.

Boiling Water

EPA guidelines suggest that questionable water is boiled for one minute to destroy impurities, and if in the mountains, water should be boiled for a full three minutes. The Wilderness Medical Society, however, suggests that after a few minutes, water above 185° F (or 85° C) is hot enough to destroy all pathogens. The time it takes for water to boil, even at high altitudes, is enough to kill bacteria, yet allowing the water to reach a rolling boil is still recommended – just in case. Be sure to filter water prior to boiling it.


Over 1500 plastic water bottles are used every second in the United States. But if you find yourself in a survival situation, you may only have a few of these precious bottles, which are ideal for storing, carrying, and drinking water. Do not contaminate your bottles by collecting water in them. Use a bowl or bucket to collect the water, remove debris using the coffee filters, then purify it before putting it in the clean water bottles. You’ll be sure to have access to the benefits of a plastic bottle for a much longer time if you follow these rules.

For sound financial advice, visit Jason Hartman’s website, where you can learn how to make debt work in your favor. (Top image: Flickr | G & A Sattler)

The Holistic Survival Team


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