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Purifying Your Drinking Water

Table of Contents


Topic Overview

Few things are more important to your health and survival during a long emergency than having water that is safe to drink. Knowing how to purify water can help you if your regular water supply becomes contaminated or if you are in a place where clean water is not available. Even if you have stored clean water to use in an emergency, you may run out before the emergency situation has ended.

Water purification can greatly reduce your chance of getting sick from bacteria, viruses, and other living organisms in the water. You can disinfect water using one of the following methods:

None of the purification methods described above eliminates heavy metals, salts, chemicals, or radioactive dust or dirt (fallout) from water. Many of these substances can be removed by distilling water, a more complicated method of purifying water.

Radioactive fallout can also be minimized using a homemade filter:

  1. Punch holes in the bottom of a bucket, and cover the bottom with 1.5 in. (3.8 cm) of gravel. Cover the gravel with a towel.
  2. Place the bucket over a larger container, and pour the water into the bucket so that it filters through the towel and gravel and drains into the container below.
  3. Disinfect the water by boiling, adding chlorine bleach, or using purification tablets as described above.
  4. Replace the gravel after every 50 qt (47 L) of water.

Credits for Purifying Your Drinking Water

Current as of: February 18, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
R. Steven Tharratt MD, MPVM, FACP, FCCP - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Medical Toxicology


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