Best Ways to Purify Water in the Wild

Getting stranded in the wild is quite common among hunters. With all other survival tips, keeping your body hydrated is very important. All through my hunting life, I never forgot portable water, when packing my hunting backpack. And same is the case with all the hunting community.

What if you run out of water? The first thing that any hunter would do, is to look around to find water. You would be really lucky, if you find pure water in the wild. What if you don’t? Then you must purify it before using or face the consequences like bacteria, parasites or contamination. So, all the novice hunters must learn various ways to purify water.


Things to Remember!

Before proceeding for various water purification methods, here are a few points that you must keep in mind before filling water for purification.

  • Water that must be Avoided! It’s not that whatever body of water you find is drinkable. There are certain cases, you are most likely to face in the wild, that must be avoided. It may include water from the marshes and swamps. Any body of water that has algae, must never be used. It can’t be purified. Lastly, discolored water is not for drinking.
  • The Best Water source in the Wild! Your first option should be the flowing water. Flowing water is quite purified and you don’t have to worry too much for its purification. Be it a stream or a spring, they all are the best sources of water in the wild.
  • Say NO to Stagnant Water! Lakes and ponds that we find in the wild are mostly stagnant. Though there are large rivers with water running inside them. But human involvement in the atmosphere and many other serious reasons has not left if capable of drinking.

Ways to Purify Water


Boiling water is the most recommended and handy way to purify water. For it you must never forget a pan or metallic cup, to be packed in your hunting gear. Boiling water for about 5 to 20 minutes would clear it from all the impurities like bacteria and microbes. And don’t forget to cool it down before drinking.

Boiling water

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2. Water Purifying Tablets or Drops

Water purifying drops and tablets are easily available in the drugstores. Though this is one of the easiest ways of purifying water in the wild but it affects the taste. The taste changing factor comes with the ingredients like potassium permanganate, iodine or chlorine. Once you have put the tablets or drops (a couple of drops) in it, shake it well. Leave for about 20 minutes before use.

3. Filtration

Opting for filtration is another recommended method. Filtration process would smoothly strainout all the microorganisms. It can be done in two ways either by filtration pumps or by a handmade sand filtering tool (using plastic bottles). Commercial filters are easily available these days. It’s the easiest way to backpack them before setting out.

4. Purifying Water using UV Lights

It’s a great method to kill all the small water organisms. Highly effective, battery powered devices (steripen) are easily available that disinfect the water within seconds. For getting the best outcomes, you better filter the water first by using some strainer. The method is quite simple. Get the UV bulb inserted in the bottle and turn on the light. As the light turns off, the water is purified.

Purifying Water using UV Lights

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5. Survival Straws/ Life Straws

If you want things to be simple, opting for life straws is a handy option. These are available in the shops selling hiking supplies. These are quite easy to use. Put your life straw into the body of water and hold it for about a minute so that the water accesses the filter membrane of the life straw. Now simply suck the water to drink.

Survival Straws

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6. Solar Power Method

This is one of the easiest and oldest ways to purify water. People have been using this method since ages. Killing impurities through solar rays is quite cost effective. All you require is a clean plastic water bottle (small to 2 liter). I said plastic, because plastic material can easily absorb the UV rays inside.

The second thing you need is a nice sunny day. Fill the bottle with the dirty water. Find a corner where sunlight hits directly to the bottle. Keep it there for one day minimum. In an overcast sky, leave the water for about two days.

This method leaves the water in comparatively drinkable form but does not kill all the bacterial spores. But it’s a safe method as it does not involve any types of chemicals in water purification.

ways to purify water

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7. Odorless Bleach

Though bleach is considered a harmful chemical for human body but a careful amount of it can really help disinfecting the water. The very first thing is to ensure that bleach is free from any type of cleaners and scents. About 1/8 teaspoon of bleach is good enough for a gallon of water. Pour it and shake it well for about a minute. Leave the water for 30 minutes before use.

Note: Bleach is harmful for your body so don’t exceed the amount advised here.

8. Get Clean and Safe Water from Plants

Extracting water from plants is another reliable method of getting water in the wild. It’s a simple way and you require a string, a plastic bag and a non-toxic plant. Make sure the plant is not toxic. Berry bushes are considered the best for this purpose.

Otherwise you may face many health risks. Choose the plant that is directly in the sunlight and that is filled with healthy leaves. Now wrap the branch with a plastic bag and tie the bag’s end with the string. So, that the water in the plants does not evaporate. Leave the bag for a few days and you will get it filled with purified water.

Note: Don’t forget to shake the branch well before covering it with a plastic bag. It would clear it of any possible debris or insects.


Finding ways to purify water is very important for all who are planning a trip to the wild. The water bodies here are contaminated with microorganisms and pathogens. And you must not endanger your life by drinking it. Reading these purification techniques, you must have a better understanding of how things go in the wild. So, you better fill your backpack with all the necessary items beforehand.Share these tips with others if you have found them useful.

Joseph Gleason

With a dedicated respect to the environment, I understand the importance of being an informed hunter who learns as he goes. I truly recognize the value in how things were done before and how things are done today. Born and raised in upstate New York, I grew up exposed to skilled hunters who taught me the importance of what responsible hunting can provide both to myself, my family, and to the environment. I continue today to work towards refining my craft and finding new ways to practice the time honored traditions that were passed down to me from those who came before.

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