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Now that your water has been treated to remove the physical pollutants, the important task is to make the water safe to drink by eliminating or killing the microbiological pollutants.  There are five main methods of doing this:

1. Tablets:  Water purification tablets (Halazone tablets) are available in most drug stores and or sporting stores. These should be a part of your first aid kit.  4 tablets will purify 1 quart of water.  Water purification tablets have a shelf life of 2 years and lose their efficacy if allowed to get damp or wet.

2. Iodine:  A 2% solution of tincture of iodine, found in most first aid kits, can be added to polluted water.  Use 12 drops of tincture of iodine per gallon of water.

3. Chlorine: Liquid household chlorine bleach can be used to purify water provided the label says that it contains hypochlorite as its only active ingredient. Do not use granular or powdered forms of household bleach, THEY ARE POISONOUS. To treat water, add 8 drops of bleach per gallon of water. Liquid bleach loses strength over time, rotate bleach to keep fresh.  If bleach is over a year old, the amount used should be doubled.  DO NOT ADD BLEACH TO WATER THAT IS INTENDED FOR LONG TERM STORAGE.

4. Boiling: Water that is boiled vigorously for 5 min is usually safe from harmful bacterial contamination (adding one additional minute for each 1000 feet of altitude).  With this in mind SLC area should boil water for a minimum of 8 minutes. To improve the taste of boiled water add charcoal from the fire or first aid kit.  This will not only improve the taste but also remove objectionable odors.  Let the water stand for 45 minutes.  Then pour it back and forth to mix with air, giving the water a fresh not flat taste.

5. Solar still or distillation: A solar still is the only method of purifying water that eliminates both the physical and the microbiological pollutants at the same time.  To make a solar still, dig a hole in the ground about 2 feet in diameter and about 18 inches deep.  Place a cup or other clean container in the center of the hole.  Cover the hole with a piece of plastic and place rocks or soil around the edges to seal the hole from outside air circulation.  Place a small rock in the center of the plastic directly over the cup.  As the sun’s rays strike the plastic, it will warm the soil evaporating the water in it.  The water will then condense on the plastic and cause it to drip into the cup.  A still of this type could yield about 1 quart of water per day.  If necessary, contaminated water and even urine or other non-potable water could be added to the soil to speed the process. Two of these stills in operation in even the driest deserts will produce enough water for one person each day. Placing green plants, cactus or other moist objects in the pit will increase the amount of water produced.

Solar still


1. If no water is available DO NOT EAT since eating uses up the bodies water reserves in the digestion process

2. Store water in your stomach rather than the canteen. Drink at consistent intervals whether thirsty or not, when in extremely dry or desert surroundings.

3. Water polluted by animals or mud taste bad, but it is harmless when boiled 5 to 10 minutes or when purified by the aforementioned methods.

4. Drinking blood or urine increases dehydration of the body because of the high salt and mineral content.

5. Do not drink from swimming pools.  The high chlorine level is too high and will kill the bacteria you need in your digestive tract and thereby cause diarrhea. Use swimming pool water for washing and other non potable activities.

Here is a quick guide to water purification table.

Liquid Chlorine 4-6% 

Clean Water                                                      Cloudy Water

2 drops per quart                                                    4 drops per quart

8 drops per gallon                                                     16 drops per gallon

440 drops or 4 1/2 tsp. for 55 gallon drum           880 drops or 9 tsp. for 55 gallon drum


Tincture of Iodine 2%             

Clean Water                                                      Cloudy Water   

3 drops per quart                                             6 drops per quart

12 drops per gallon                                          24 drops per gallon


Halazone Tablets  

Clean Water                                                      Cloudy Water    

4 tablets per quart                                           16 tablets per gallon


Hope this helps with the water purification questions.

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