6 Ways to Purify Water in a Survival Situation

 6 Ways to Purify Water in a Survival Situation

Having water is a top priority in survival situations but it is also one of the things that can make you very sick if you don’t purify it first. For this reason we think it is very important that you fully understand how you can do this in the wilderness and we are going to be sharing 6 ways to purify water in a survival situation here today.


Boiling your water is one of the easiest methods of purifying your water in the wilderness and doesn’t take long either. You will need some way of starting a fire in order to do this along with some form of pot that you can boil the water in. Once the water comes to a boil, let the bubbles roll for around 5 minutes before removing from the fire and then let it cool for a further 5 minutes before drinking it.

Another method of boiling your water is by using rocks. The use of hot rocks has been around for thousands of years for such things as cooking and boiling and is a simple skill that should not be forgotten. We have written about this method previously which you can see here and check out a video below.


When it comes to purifying the water that you find in the wilderness, filtration is an important step especially if the water that you have is dirty. Probably the simplest method in the wild is sand filtration which you can do with the following steps:

  1. Get a plastic bottle and cut the base evenly so that you are left with the cone shape of the bottle
  2. Gather some pebbles and create a 3-inch layer at the bottom of your cone (the neck of the bottle)
  3. Add gravel to the pebbles which will help to prevent the sand from getting into your water that you filter out
  4. Fill the cone shaped bottle with sand
  5. Get some of your water and pour it through. You should start to see your clear water coming out of the bottom. You can pass it through again if it doesn’t quite come out clear

If you are looking for a filtration system to add to your survival kits then we highly recommend the Sawyer Water Filtration Device.

Water Purification Tablets/Drops

You can purchase both water purification tablets and water purification drops in many drug stores or online. Chlorine is the most commonly used ingredient for purification drops and tablets. You should follow the instructions for your specific tablets or drops although the general rules are as follows:

  • Grab yourself a 20-liter container than you can purify your water in. Change the size according to your own instructions
  • Fill the can up with water and add the tablets or drops as instructed on your instructions
  • Shake the container for around 10 seconds to allow the water and tablets/drops to mix completely and let it sit for around 20 minutes before drinking

Solar Water Disinfection

Solar water disinfection is an easy method to purify your water in the wild if you find yourself in a sunny environment. You need the sun so that you can use the UV rays to disinfect your water. For this method you will need a clear plastic bottle for it to work properly.

  1. Fill your bottle right up with your unclean water and then place the bottle in direct sunlight
  2. You will need to leave the bottle to sit in the sun for a few days so choose a spot where it will get plenty of sun throughout the day
  3. After a couple of days you can drink the water

You can see this in action in the following video:

Using Plants

Like us, all plants need water to survive and we can actually use this to our advantage and get clean water from them. You will need a little knowledge of the local plants so that you don’t end up using toxic plants. Start off by getting together some string and a plastic bag.

  • Try to use a plant that is constantly exposed to the sun for best results and choose a branch that has plenty of large healthy leaves
  • Push plenty of the large leaves into the plastic bag and use your string to tie it to the branch
  • Wait for the water to build up and drink

You can check out the following video to see it in action:

T-Shirt Filtration

If you have very limited materials you can actually use your t-shirt to make your water safe to drink. All you need is a couple of t-shirts and three sticks.

  1. Secure the sticks by inserting a couple of inches of the sticks into the ground. Arrange them in such a way that they create a triangle shape
  2. Take the t-shirts and tie them on the sticks one on top of the other. The importance of doing this is that it enables you to have several layers of filtering material
  3. Place a container below the t-shirts in which you will collect the clean water
  4. ​Pass the water through the filtrate and watch as clean water collects into your container.


You must understand how important it is to purify any water that you find in the wilderness and by learning multiple methods of doing so, you should always be able to do it no matter what situation you find yourself in. This is because water found in the wild is contaminated with microorganisms, pathogens and sometimes even harmful chemicals. These microorganisms can cause diseases such as dysentery and other serious health problems.

Related: How to Use Banana Peels to Filter Water

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