Having safe water is critical for survival. Finding water can be the difference between life and death, and so can identifying if it’s safe to drink and knowing how to purify it. This book is a complete guide to water safety.
How do you know if water is safe to drink? Simple. It’s only safe to drink if it’s from a tap, if it’s bottled, or you purified it. There are times when tap water isn’t potable either if the water treatment facility has been tainted, often by floodwater.
Along with having effective ways to filter water, it’s also important to know how to treat common water borne diseases without modern medicine and stock up on those supplies.
Filtering vs. purifying
It’s important to understand that filtering and purifying are different. Filtering removes bits of things, like sand or bugs. It removes big particles, not small ones like bacteria. Purifying removes or kills germs and bacteria, although some methods are more effective than others. Filtering first and then purifying is the best practice for drinking water, in part because it extends the life of your purifier and in part because some purification methods (such as boiling) do absolutely nothing to filter out debris.
There are many ways to purify water. Some are faster, some are cheaper, and some are easier. Your best bet is to know how to use more than one method in case you can’t use your favorite method for some reason. It’s also a good idea to keep in mind how many people you need water for. Some systems are designed for groups and others are clearly for individuals.
The LifeStraw Mission
For those curious about my personal preference: If I had to buy one, and only one, water purifier, it would be the new LifeStraw Mission. The Mission is designed for long-term use by a small group of 4-6 people. As a mom, I appreciate that this would be sufficient for the whole family, and that I wouldn’t need to worry about the kids losing their water purifier. It’s small enough to carry easily, and easy enough to use for even small kids to operate it.
I recently had the chance to use one on a Scout outing and it was extremely simple, light-weight, and easy to use. Even Cub Scouts carried and operated it. It’s gravity-fed so it isn’t fast, but it is designed so you can put a water bottle or pot under it to fill while you do other things. In addition, it has a carry case that makes it roughly the size (but nowhere near the weight!) of a rolled-up Sunday newspaper.
There are other excellent systems available at very reasonable prices today. Many cost less than $20, and even the largest are less than $300. The price of water bottles with integrated filters is $30-$40 for each brand mentioned below. Each of these brands simply requires the water to be poured in and the filter does all the work as the water passes through.
Berkey purifiers use a long-life filter to remove submicron viruses and heavy metals. They are available from the 1.5 gallon Travel Berkey (for 1 – 3 people) up to the 6 gallon Crown Berkey (for 6-12+ people). Berkeys are more expensive for the simple reason that they are generally larger capacity and very solid, which is the main reason they are selected primarily for “indoor” use. They aren’t light-weight.
The LifeStraw personal water filter is amazingly simple to use and a very affordable choice. It removes bacteria and pathogens, but not viruses, so water that may have viruses should also be treated with tablets if human or animal waste products are suspected in the water. There is a larger family version that filters out viruses, but the individual use version is far more common.
Per their website, Sawyer water filters and purifiers “are certified for ABSOLUTE microns making it impossible for harmful bacteria, protozoa, or cysts like E. coli, Giardia, Vibrio cholera and Salmonella typhi (which cause Cholera and Typhoid) to pass through.”
Sawyer has products for groups as well as micro filters for individuals. Their flagship filter is a simple, light-weight pouch designed to be rolled or squeezed to create a faster flow rate for drinking. Fill, squeeze, and drink.
CamelBak systems have become increasingly popular and the filtration / purification market has not neglected them. (Camelbaks have a bladder filled with water the user carries on their back; a straw attached to the bag allows the user to drink from it while they are walking.) Sawyer, in particular, has an option that works with Camelbaks. Simply fill it with unclean water and attach the filter. The water will be purified before it is drunk.
A Back-Up to your Back-Up
More than anything, you must have at least 3 different ways to purify water. If one of these recommended filters malfunctions or a filter is no longer functioning, you’ll need other ways to make sure the water you drink is safe. Boiling water is an excellent method but requires plenty of time and fuel. The use of calcium hypchlorite is popular in survival circles but may not be the safest method to use. There are always water purification tablets, but those can become expensive if you’re stocking up for the long haul.
Bottom line: Since water is absolutely vital for survival, don’t overlook adding multiple ways to filter and purify it.
Latest posts by Bethanne Kim (see all)
- Will Allergies Kill You in a Post-SHTF World? - March 5, 2023
- Outdoor Cooking in Winter Made Easy: A Beginner’s Guide to Campsite Meals - February 22, 2023
- 20+ Survival Movies with a Dash of Romance - December 25, 2022
- Understanding the Two is One, One is None Concept - December 11, 2022
- Don’t Panic! A Simple Guide to Preparing for and Treating Lice - September 21, 2022
14 thoughts on “A Round-Up of Water Purifiers”
I would like to add the Seychelle Filter to that list. With tabletop pitcher, the outdoor filter bottle and emergency straw. We have owned these for years and trust them implicitly. http://www.seychelle.com/products.html.
I’ve heard good things about the Seychelle filter but have never used it personally.
you mentioned the berkey water purifier…been using them for years now…wonderful…all stainless and with a tad of maintenance the filters last ten years. when i tested tap water here it was 450 on my meter…after filter it was 2….and no more stomach problems drinking tap. its the first thing to go into the bug out vehicle when needed. and its a purifier, not a filter. certainly worth a look at their site.
Much like the Berkey, we are very pleased with the Alexapure system.
Another filter that’s relatively new on the market, similar to the Lifestraw, is the Renovo Trio. After reading a couple write ups from other prepping sites, looking at the Renovo website and watching a few videos on Youtube, I purchased one from Amazon. It’s a 3-stage filtering system that filters debris, bacteria, protozoa, viruses, as well as chemicals down to 0.05 microns. Unlike the Lifestraw that only filters debris, protozoa and bacteria down to 0.2 microns. I have yet to try it, but after reading all the data on it, I think I’d trust the Renovo more than the Lifestraw when walking into an area that I wasn’t sure of the water conditions in.
Sheri,there are SO MANY different water purifiers out there. I get emails asking about advertising for new systems at least a couple times each month.
There is a caution to be noted when boiling water for purification. Many people boil water too long and therefore concentrate the things not killed by boiling, such as metals and other minerals that might be detrimental to our bodies. A better way is to distill the water – have a large pan such as a stock pot, place a quart jar in the bottom and add water. NOTE: the water will cause the jar to float if you put too much in at a time. Invert the lid so there is a way for the distilled water to drip into the jar. WATCH the water and continually add water to keep from boiling the pot dry. It is very time consuming but if the water source is very questionable, this is a better option.
Exactly,Lea! I work with a company, Survival Still, who sells distillation systems and has educational webinars that I host 2-3 times per year.
Pingback: SURVIVALISTS BLOG | A Round-Up of Water Purifiers – Survival Mom
Pingback: A Round-Up of Water Purifiers - Survival Mom
I have sed the first need filters since the ’80s. They were one of the first to meet WHO and EPA standards for microbes. And they have been tested by numerous independant labs.
We purchased an Alexapure and we really like it. Look at the stats of what it filters out is amazing. Each filter lasts 5,000 gals. we use 2 filters, and its suppose to last to 10,000 gals. You can purchase and install up to 4 filters @ about 5,000 gals each. The water filters faster the more filters . anyways it works for us..:)
Distillation is one of the best ways to purify water but requires significant amounts of energy. The best distiller on the market in my opinion is the Waterwise 1600. Check out Engineer 775 video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TQ_xhL4cUmA
Yes, distillation is effective but definitely has its drawbacks, as you point out.