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How to Purify Water

Thoreau said, “Water is the only drink for a wise man.” Here’s how to purify yours when you’re out in the wild.


  • Step 1: Pick your water carefully Even if you’re intending to purify it, pick water carefully—ideally, from a running stream. Avoid standing water, and/or water that is dark, smelly, or filled with debris.
  • Step 2: Boil it Boil water for about five minutes on a camp stove or over a campfire, removing anything that floats to the top as it bubbles.
  • Step 3: Use a purifier If you do a lot of camping, invest in a water purifier that uses a chemical-free system. Look for one with an absolute pore size of 0.2 micron.
  • Step 4: Use chlorine dioxide tablets If you don’t want to lug a camp stove or invest in a pricey purifier, take chlorine dioxide tablets along on your camping trip. Just drop them into water, wait a few hours, and the water is safe to drink.
  • : Avoid iodine purification tablets, which while still sold, have lost favor with campers because of their danger to people with thyroid conditions.
  • Step 5: Collect condensation If you are lost & have no means of starting a fire to boil water, collect condensation. Dig a hole in the ground, put a container inside (fashion one from bark if you must), and cover it with plastic or cloth secured with rocks & with a stone in the center, so it hangs lower than the sides.
  • FACT: Seventy-nine percent of campers bring bottled water with them, according to a survey.

You Will Need

  • A camp stove or campfire
  • A water purifier
  • Water purification tablets
  • A container to collect water

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