How to Purify Water in the Wild?

how to get pure water in the wild

Water, food, shelter, and fire are the essentials that you need for going on camping in the wilderness. You can still enjoy your time in the wild if you do not have shelter, fire, or even food but without water, it is not going to be a great time.

You probably can survive without food for weeks but surviving without water over three days is impossible and if the weather is hot, the time cuts shorter. Knowing how to purify water in the wild is extremely important for surviving in the wilderness as it can become the matter of life and death.

This article will help you learn about purifying water in the wild through different techniques and methods.

how to get pure water in the wild


Why You Cannot Drink Water Directly in the Wild?

You have fresh and clean air, away from the city hustle and just chilling under the naked blue sky while birds are chirping, and leaves are whistling. Everything is amazing on the trip till the point where you get thirsty. If you are carrying your water, then there is no worry, you can drink from the water bottle.

But camping for multiple days, you cannot carry water as you already have lots of other gear. In that case, you need to find a source for potable water up there in the wild.

Considering the fact that most resources of water are not necessarily safe to drink, it does not matter how clear and clean ponds, creeks, streams, lakes, and rivers may appear, the question remains the same: Is this water drinkable?

Because there will be thousands of harmful microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites in the water coming from different sources such as, animal carcasses as the dead animals rot, they leak bacteria in the water.

Since you cannot see those deadly pathogens without a microscope, you cannot be sure about water’s purity. And if you end up drinking that water without treating it before, the contaminants can cause a variety of illnesses including dysentery, gut ache, and giardia. Water-borne illness includes common symptoms such as cramping, nausea, and diarrhea.

As water-borne illnesses seem very potent, it is best to avoid drinking water from any source without filtering or treating it.

why can't drink water directly in the wild


How to Make a Water Filter in the Wild?

Drinking straight from the stream is not a good decision to make when you are in the wild. Just because the water looks fresh doesn’t mean it is. So to purify it, you need a water filter to remove all the sediments and contaminants. Otherwise, you are risking your health.

To learn making a water filter is a valuable survival skill. You just need a few things to make a water filter in the wild and all are easy to get.

Cone-shaped container: The first step of making a water filter is to find a container that can shape into a cone. You need it to hold filter material together. If you have a water bottle, cut its bottom, and after turning it upside down, it will work great.

If you don’t have a plastic bottle, it’s fine. You can use the bark of pine, or birch and then tie with the help of strips or rootlets for a similar purpose: to have a cone-shaped container.

Fresh sprigs of grass: Next, you need to put fresh, thick sprigs of grass at the base of the cone. The grass will help in holding all the above stuff.

Charcoal: Then fill the middle part of the cone with charcoal. You can easily make charcoal by making a fire and letting the woods burn, as the woods are burning and turning into coals, you need to cover them with a layer of dirt to get them cool.

The lack of oxygen will stop the burning woods turn into ashes and this is how you produce charcoal.  The charcoal will act to purify the water by removing the odor and other toxins and sediments from it and eventually making the water taste better.

The top layer of sand: having the middle part stuffed with charcoal, top it off with the layer of sand. The sand will work to strain the dirty particles before they reach the charcoal.

This is a successful primitive method of making the simplest water filter which removes all the harmful sediments and odor from water. But this is not enough, it is equally important to boil the water after filtering it to kill the pathogens as well.

guides to make a water filter in the wild


How to Boil Water in the Wild?

Boiling water is the most effective method of purifying water in the wild by killing all the germs and pathogens within five to ten minutes.

But it is not as easy as it sounds unless you have fine utensils such as a pot, a canteen, or a metal bottle to put on fire. But in the case of not having anything to boil water in, nature still got your back with the ancient hot-rock boiling water technique.

Dig a hole: start by digging a 6 to 8 inches deep hole in the ground and then line it with something that will hold water like canvas or plastic, or at least anything which will not leak for a few minutes. A paper can also work in that case. Fill the hole with water and build a campfire alongside.

Small rocks: next you have to find small rocks, rinse them, and simply heat them over the campfire. As the rocks get heated for 15 minutes, dip them in the water. Be very careful while grasping the hot rocks, use tongs for this purpose.

The heat of the rocks will heat the water quickly and ultimately bring it to a boil. We know that most microorganisms and bacteria cannot survive in boiling water and they die off during the process of boiling. You need to be very careful about not putting the rocks back on fire after dipping them in water. They may explore or crack.

Let the water boil for at least ten minutes and after cooling it down, you can have it without being skeptical about its portability.

guides to boil water in the wild


Methods to Purify Water in the Wild

There are multiple methods that people use to purify water in the wild. Some people use chemicals, drops, and tablets to purify the water and they work great. But some other methods also work great and come to the rescue when we get short of drops and tablets.

guides to purify water in the wild

The wood and tubing purification

The wood and tubing method is the most effective method of filtering the bacteria out of the water. It is quite an easy method that removes almost 99% of bacteria from the water.

Camping for days can lead to the lack of clean water and you need to try all the methods you know to purify water to quench the thirst and sometimes few drops are enough for that.

To start, you will cut a piece of sapwood two inches in length and almost one inch in width.

After that, you need to put plastic tubing over the piece of wood tightly. And if it is not fitted tightly, you can put a band around the area where tubing and the wood piece are joined.

Pour the water from the top of the tube and put the bottom of the tube in a container.

The water will purify through the piece of the wood and this is the reason you need to tightly fit the tube over the wood to stop the untreated water slip through the wood along with filtered water.

The process is extremely slow. You hardly get four liters of purified water after all day and you also need to refill the top of the tube with time as it gets low.


You shouldn’t overlook any method of purifying water, you never know when you get a need to use it. This method, sedimentation is great to deal with the excess of unwanted larger particles in the water.

What you have to do is to take water from that murky source and simply leave the water stagnant in a container for a longer period to get settled.

What will happen: all the sediments are likely to sink to the bottom and leave the water clean at the top. You need to carefully remove the top layer of clean water into another bottle or container.

While removing the clean water, try not to move the water or you can end up mixing the sediments again in the water.

The method, no doubt, is effective to separate the debris and cloudiness from the drinkable water but one thing also needs to be heard: the top layer appears as clean water but it doesn’t mean it is also potable.

You need to use another method such as boiling, or sand filtration to kill the potent microorganisms in the water.


Distilling is a method used for collecting water by evaporating the present water present in the hole.

For this purpose, you need to dig an almost three feet deep hole in the ground and place a clean collecting container in the center of the hole. You need to cover the hole with a layered sheet of plastic. The plastic needs to weigh in the center.

The weight can be of a rock or heavy object so that the weighted area can point down in the container and make a 45-degree cone over the container.

distill the water in the wild

Now tightly secure all the sides of the plastic around the hole by covering them with dirt. Now, under sunlight, the plastic will work like a greenhouse.

What will happen basically: the water in the hole will evaporate as it will heat up and when it will hit the plastic it runs down and drips off in the container again. The water at the plastic will be cleaner than the water present in the container.

So to collect the cleaner water you can place a smaller-sized container in the middle of the hole. In this manner, you gather water for survival but this process doesn’t fully purify the water. It distills it.

You need to use a conjunction method to purify it.  Distillation doesn’t remove all the contaminants and most probably heavy particles will stay behind.

Whatever method of purification you opt for, filter the water from one container to the other back and forth. Keep doing this. It does not improve the quality of the water, but it adds oxygen to the water and improves its taste.


Final Thoughts

For surviving in the wild, you need to drink potable water. Otherwise, drinking untreated water or not drinking water at all can lead to the fatal end of your life. By knowing the value of water in your life, make use of this article to the fullest to learn different methods of purifying water in the wild. So, if ever things go unplanned, you can survive under any circumstance.