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How to Filter Water for Drinking in The Wild (6 Simple Ways)

Published by: Paulo Baker

How to filter water for drinking in the wild

If you are fortunate enough, you may be able to locate a good water source when you are out there in the wild. However, what you don’t know is that the water from that water source will barely be safe to drink. 

Wilderness is home to a wide variety of microorganisms that make their way to these water sources and if you don’t filter your water before drinking, you can catch some severe diseases. 

Si in this article, we will share some easy methods with you on how you can filter water for drinking in the wild.

Methods to Filter Water for Drinking in the Wild 

1. Water Filtration System

For learning how to make a water filter outdoors, you need to start practicing indoors first. Get a few essential tools such as rocks or sand and you will have your water filter ready in a quick while! 

Remember that filtering your water using charcoal or sand isn’t going to make it entirely clean, however, it will eliminate any physical risks. Nonetheless, you will require the next method to filter your water properly so that it is fit for drinking. 

2. Boiling

Boiling is among the most preferred and effective methods of purifying water in the wild. The majority of the microorganisms or bacteria most likely get killed when you boil your water. You can boil and filter water from any stream or lake. 

It is worth noting that you must only boil water that is already clear. If you try boiling contaminated liquid that is filled with leaves or sediment, they may still be left inside the water after you’re done boiling. 

3. Tablets or Drops

Make sure that you have water purification drops or tablets with you when you leave your house. If you are not interested in putting in any time and effort in purifying your water using other methods, this one can work just as well. 

These tablets are mainly made from potassium, iodine, permanganate, and chlorine. These components are not bad when used in the correct amount. They are highly effective in discarding toxic impurities from your water making it safe to drink. 

However, a major disadvantage of using these tablets is that you’ll be required to find a way for estimating the quantity of your water that you wish to filter so that you don’t end up over-using or under-using them. The majority of the tablets need almost 20l of water. 

4. Distillation

Distillation is an effective method to filter your water primarily when you are in tropical locations or Pacific areas.

Usually, the freshwater that you will find in tropical regions will include high mineral and sodium content. If you drink this water, you are likely to end up more dehydrated than before. 

Distillation is the process that is used to segregate water from both minerals as well as salts.

5. Plants

It may come as a shock to some people that you will find certain plants and flowers in the wilderness that help in purifying water.

However, it is worth mentioning that one needs to be fully aware of these plants before utilizing them and have a deep understanding of them. One little mistake may result in some serious outcomes when purifying your water using plants in the wilderness. 

When you seal and soak these plants in a pouch with your water, you will easily be able to generate pure water which will be safe to drink. 

Oregon Grape’s internal skin includes an alkaloid called berberine that has antimicrobial properties. 

However, you will most probably be unable to see this plant if you are in the desert or tropical environments. Fruits with citric acid along with the seeds make an amazing alternative. Moreover, if you can find coconuts, you can also use them for purifying your water. 

6. Sedimentation

Sedimentation is one method that is often overseen, however, it is another great way of getting rid of toxic contaminants from your water when in the wild. 

You can just leave your water in one place for a significant amount of time and all the impurities will be forced to slip underneath, leaving you with only pure water. You can use a different jar for separating the pure water from the top. Try not to cause any disturbance while doing so as both the portions may mix up again. 


When you are ready for your adventure in the wild, remember to keep in mind at least a couple of methods of water purification so that even if one fails, you have an alternative method with you. It is highly important to be aware of these methods of purifying water as you would not want to compromise on the quality of water that you drink and specifically, catch any harmful diseases. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the possible risks of drinking polluted water?

You can take in several parasites, bacteria, and viruses if you drink contaminated water which can further affect your health and cause various diseases. In the United States, a major waterborne disease that spreads in the wild is giardiasis. This disease can result in severe cramps and extreme diarrhea which is no less than a nightmare in outdoor settings.

Some other major diseases that spread outdoors involve cholera, dysentery, along with many other worms, bacterial, and viral infections. Their symptoms are nearly the same as giardiasis.

Does all water in the wild need to be filtered?

The melted snow as well as the rainwater that you collect in fresh jars are both usually clean and safe. Water obtained from transpiration is also generally safe to drink. However, water collected from other water sources such as lakes, streams, dew, or others needs to be purified properly before drinking. Various impurities can make their way to these water sources every day.

What are some examples of plants or flowers for removing harmful impurities from my water?

One of the most effective ways that you can use to get rid of toxic water contaminants is Oregon grape and fruit peels. Some other plants that work just as well are coconuts, reeds, cilantro, seeds of jackfruit, moringa oleifera, plant xylem, brushes, and rice.

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Article by:

Paulo Baker

Paulo is a senior writer at Dash Appliances, where he research, writes, and reviews home and commercial water filters. Paulo is covering home-related things like water filters, vacuum cleaners, and more since 2019. When he's not researching and testing, he's traveling and playing golf.

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