5 Ways to Purify Water in the Case of a Water Shortage
When disaster strikes, you’ll need to be prepared to purify water that may be unsafe, and to conserve the water you’ve stored.
Boiling kills parasites, bacteria and other pathogens in water. It does not, however, eliminate all forms of chemical pollution. Also, you’ll still need to filter out any solids. A camp stove ($10 to $150) is a good item to have on hand for boiling because your power might be out as well. Any camp stove will do, but a portable stove that burns wood is nice in case there’s a shortage of other fuel to purchase. Don’t use camp stoves indoors—they generate carbon monoxide.
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Water Purification Device
Water Purification Devices ($15 to $450) are available at camping supply stores. They come in sizes suitable for one person or large groups. Some of these devices are capable of purification as well as filtration.
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Purify Water with Tablets
Water purification tablets are available at camping supply stores. They fit neatly in an emergency kit, are easy to use and usually have a shelf life of up to five years.
Be Careful With Bleach
Bleach is a readily available household item that can be used to purify water. Use only regular, unscented chlorine bleach with either 6 or 8.25 percent sodium hypochlorite as the active ingredient. Using a clean eyedropper and 6 percent hypochlorite bleach, add eight drops per gallon. For 8.25 percent, use six drops per gallon. Stir the water and let it stand for half an hour. If the water doesn’t have a slight chlorine odor, repeat the dosage and let it stand for 15 more minutes. In general, you’ll need more bleach if the water is cold or murky. Bleach has only a six-month shelf life, so be sure to keep a fresh supply.
Iodine is another household chemical that can disinfect water. It is, however, a harsher chemical than bleach. On the upside, you can also use it to treat wounds. Using 10 percent povidone-iodine, add 8 to 16 drops per quart of water, depending on the water’s cloudiness.
* If there’s a flood, don’t assume your well water is safe. Test it.
No Water, Now What? Check out these 27 Tips to Prepare for a Water Outage.