How to Purify River Water For Drinking (5 Methods)

If you decide to go on camping and find yourself in a situation where you have no fresh water, you will be in big trouble. But don’t panic! There is something you can do, and that is to use river water and purify it. When water is purified, it is safe for drinking.

In this article, we’ll talk about the ways to safely purify the river water. Therefore, here are the five methods, from free ones to some expensive and time-consuming ones. So, let’s start!

How to Purify River Water For Drinking?

So How to Purify River Water For Drinking? The best way to purify river water is by boiling the water. Boiling kills disease-causing organisms, bacteria, potential viruses, and parasites. The boiling process takes around 6 to 8 minutes to make the water safe for drinking. High temperatures will also clear cloudy or murky water.

Below we will go through this process in more detail and describe other additional methods that you can use when you are camping.

Knowledge and Preparation

Purify Water in Nature – Methods

Good preparation is an important part of every trip, whether it is only for a few days or for an entire week. Therefore, make sure to do research and gather all the necessary equipment you need to have a safe and enjoyable camping experience.

Note! Before you start hiking, be sure to check if there is any river in the area where you are going.

Keep in mind that sometimes it is not safe to drink water straight from a river. However, if you find yourself in the wilderness, and you don’t have any water with you, you may be able to drink the water without too much harm.

This will depend on the location where you’re hiking, so be sure to check your destination in advance. For example, if you are hiking glacial mountains, in most cases water is good to drink. When you are hiking in a humid jungle, the case is different and the water is not the healthiest to drink.

However, if you think that the river water is relatively safe to drink, you should definitely be careful when using the same water. In the section below, we’ll see some examples. Always try to educate yourself before you go on a trip.

Lastly, when using any of the methods that we’ll describe below, always make sure to filter the water before you use it. You can do this by using a t-shirt or similar material. River water tends to have too much crap floating in it, and you need to remove them.

How to Purify River Water for Drinking

Now we’ll explain how you can purify river water for drinking. We will go through the 5 most common examples you can use. Let’s start!

1. Boiling to Purify Water

Boiling to Purify Water

This method is recommended by many hikers and you can use to kill all bacteria in the water by boiling it. Be sure to boil your water for 1 minute (this usually depends on elevation), let the water cool, and that’s it.

  • The Pros: It does not require any additional equipment. All you need is a classic camp stove and a container to boil the water in.
  • The Cons: It can take time to build a fire, which prolongs this process. It also takes time to put out the fire.

2. Survival Straws

Survival Straws to Purify River Water

Survival straws are another option that you can use to purify your river water. This filtration tool is just 9” long while its weight is only 2 oz. (55 grams). Be sure to use a carbon filter to improve the taste.

  • The Pros: It has a flow rate of 1.7 liters/minutes and it’s lightweight. It can filter up to 1000/L per straw. It has the ability to remove 99.9% of water bacteria and waterborne parasites. The price of this is between $ 15 and $ 20.
  • The Cons: There is no possibility of filtering chemicals or toxins. You can’t also bulk filter water for cooking.

3. Water Filtration

Using Hiking Filtration system to Purify Water

To filter the river water, you’ll need a hiking filtration system that uses a manual pump/gravity feed. This method is best to use when you are going on extended trips. Use classic water bottles and tea kettles with filtered water.

  • The Pros: Completely removes bacteria, cysts, chemicals, and algae. It’s also lightweight and it improves taste.
  • The Cons: The price of the water filtration method can be between $60 up to $180, which is pretty expensive.

4. Water Sterilization

Using UV Light to Sterilize Water

The water sterilization method is another way that you can use to purify river water. The main difference between them and purifiers is that they destroy contaminants. By using UV light, it disrupts the DNA of bacteria in the water, which disables them to replicate and cause infection.

  • The Pros: This method destroys 99.9% of microorganisms, like giardia, bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. Its very small and effective.
  • The Cons: Their price can be high, and they need electricity to work. The best use is on clean water.

5. Disinfecting Tablets

Disinfecting Tablets For Purifying Water

Disinfecting tablets are tiny tables that are effective against viruses, giardia, viruses, and cryptosporidium. You need to dissolve it in the water, mix it and let it sit for 30 minutes.

  • The Pros: Each disinfecting table can only purify 5 gallons of water and the price for each one is $1. They are lightweight and easy to carry.
  • The Cons: Some people don’t like combining chemicals with water.

Many hikers choose UV sterilization or water filtration method to purify their water. If you have to choose, river water is a much better option compared to sitting water (for example, lake water). However, it’s always good to know what is upriver from which you are collecting your water. By using methods from this list, you will remove all bacteria and toxins from the water. Also, be sure to get some water filters when you go hiking. They are also a great option.

What If You Have No Equipment With You To Purify The Water?

You may have lost your bag while camping or hiking, or you simply did not bring the accessories you need to purify the water. If so, you’re probably wondering if there’s a way you can use river water without harming yourself?

Well, the first thing you should do is to look for a fast-flowing part of a river in your location. The safest way is to drink the water that is in that part of the river. However, be sure to avoid stagnant pools and lakes. Dead animals can be found in the water, which is quite dangerous.

For those who want to learn more, be sure to read 20 Amazing Camping Storage Ideas.

Final Thoughts

Now that we have covered all the ways you can purify the river water while you are camping or hiking, you can choose the one that suits you best. In each of these methods, you will get water that is safe to drink. The most important part is good preparation. I hope you enjoy your trip and if you have any additional questions feel free to contact us.

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