When disaster strikes, one of the first lines of relief offered is drinkable water, even before food. But what do you do in the worst situations where you're in pure survival mode? Let's say you've secured a source of water but don't know if it is safe to drink? There are several water-purifying methods useful in survival situations like this. Securing drinkable water should be the number one priority for your survival. Knowing how to do so is an essential skill to have and absolutely vital to any survival situation.

Whether you're new to survival techniques, or an old hand looking to freshen up your strategies, let's go over some water purifying methods you're bound to find useful.


To kill parasites, bacteria, and other pathogens in water, the most traditional method is to boil it before drinking. You can boil over a campfire or portable stove in a metal, ceramic, or glass container. If no fireproof container is at hand, heating rocks for roughly 30 minutes in the fire and placing them into the water container is also an option. The container can be a depression in a nearby rock, a bowl burned from a large piece of wood, a folded bark container, a hide, or an animal stomach. Make sure you don't use quartz or river rocks. They can explode when heated.


If used carefully, small amounts of either bleach or iodine can be used to disinfect water with good results. Roughly 16 drops per gallon of water, or 4 drops ber liter can be added to water, mixed or shaken thoroughly, and let stand for 30 minutes before making sure the water has a faint chlorine scent—then you can drink. Add 5 to 10 drops per liter of water for iodine, let stand roughly 20 minutes, and drink. It may not taste pleasant, but having clean water to drink is much better than the alternative when it comes to surviving.

Purification Tablets, Survival Straws

This option takes a bit of forethought before any survival situation exists. These options require a purchase, and remember to either pack them in an emergency bugout bag or carry them with you at all times. For one of the smallest, easy to carry, and most lightweight options, a survival straw is a fantastic choice. Some models can be used exactly as you would a normal drinking straw, and some can even connect to a drain valve on a water heater. In many disaster situations, dormant hot water heaters can be an excellent source of water. However, this water must still be treated first, just as you would any found water source. Last but never least, the most common and popular means to purify your water are disinfection tablets. In addition to being portable and easy to store, they work very effectively. The only downside to these tablets is that you need to keep an eye on the product's expiration date. These tablets do not have an indefinite shelf life, and you should regularly review your supply, especially if you are stocking a cabin, cave, or BOB.

No matter what happens, the key to any survival plan is a reliable, safe water source. Make sure you've got at least a couple water purification methods prepared to see you through even the toughest survival situation.

TD Blog Contributor