Survival Water Purifier Systems

Investing in a proper survival water purifier system will keep you and your family safe from harmful illnesses and microorganisms, in case of an emergency situation.

Pure, clean water is one of the most important elements to staying alive. There are few things that could wipe you and your family out faster than drinking impure water, and once you're infected or sick, there may be little you can do to recover.

Click to order the Kelly Kettle personal camp stove from Amazon

Water Purification Methods

There are several methods you can employ for purifying water in a survival situation, and commercial products available to help with most of them.

Boiling Water

The classic solution to purifying water is through boiling. Of course, this requires either a working stove (assuming the power grid isn't shut down) or the ability to start a fire. If you've been prepping for survival, starting a fire should be on your abilities list.

Several ideas and recommendations exist for the length of time that is necessary to purify water through boiling.

While some literature recommends boiling for ten to 15 minutes, most research has found that a rolling boil (bubbling) for one minute is enough to kill all organisms in the water.

The Kelly Kettle is an amazingly portable and useful cook stove that can boil water using items conveniently found in nature, like sticks, pine cones, and dried grass.

Just fill the base with combustible material, fill the kettle with water, and light the material on fire. Water will boil within five minutes. The Kelly Kettle also has a pot support to cook food.


Keeping a few bottles of bleach on hand is great for times when you're in a pinch for quick water purification. Bleach (via chlorine) kills dozens of bacteria strains. One quarter of a teaspoon can purify a gallon of water, while a whole teaspoon will purify five gallons.

Mix the bleach into the water thoroughly and let stand for 45 to 60 minutes. Obviously, drinking water purified with bleach is not a recommended long-term solution, but it may keep you alive.


Like bleach, iodine is a potent short-term water purification method. Sold commercially in tablet form, iodine tablets have been used by the US Military since the 1940s to purify water.

To purify water, use two iodine tablets per quart of water (eight tablets for a gallon of water) and wait 30 minutes before drinking. Unopened, iodine tablets have a shelf life of four years and one year when opened.

Lifestraw personal water purifier. Click to order from Amazon

Water Purification Straw

This is a fairly new idea – a straw that purifies the water as you drink it.

The LifeStraw Personal Water Filter has a filter of 0.2 microns, and filters 99.9 percent of all bacteria, microbes, and parasites that could live in contaminated water.

The LifeStraw has been used in third world countries to improve quality of life there and has been field tested since 2005. One LifeStraw can filter 264 gallons of water and weighs only 0.2oz.

Carbon Filtration

Many home water filtration systems, like Pur and Brita, use a carbon filter to remove toxins, heavy metals, and some microbes and bacteria. Carbon has a high surface area, making it a great choice for filtration systems.

During a survival situation, you may not have access to a conventional carbon filter, but manual carbon filtration systems are available that do a great job at filtering out contaminants and pollution.

Katadyn Vario Multi Flow Water Microfilter system uses a manual pump to push the water through a three-part filtration system – a ceramic pre-filter, a pleated glassfiber filter, and a carbon filter core. The Katadyn Vario comes with two modes to increase filter life – a "fast" filtration which is for clear water and only pushes the water through the glassfiber and carbon filters, and a "slow" filter for cloudy water, which pushes the water through all three filters.

The Katadyn Vario can filter up to 500 gallons of water before the filter needs changed and filters out 99.9% of all bacteria and microbes.

Katadyn also makes a Pocket water filter that can filter 13,000 gallons of water.

Sand Filtration

Alright, so you know all about the survival water purifier systems that are commercially available, but if the SHTF (we'll let you figure that acronym out) before you have a water purifier, then you'll need to know how to make do with what you have.

Sand can be used to filter water.

Items needed:

  • Container (plastic is best)
  • Knife / Scissors
  • Sand
  • Gravel
  • Fabric (if available)
  • Charcoal from your fire (if available)


  1. Cut the container in half as evenly as possible. Poke several small holes in one of the halves, arranged in a circle.
  2. Layer a piece of fabric, or a few centimeters of gravel or charcoal (from burnt wood) over the holes to prevent sand from getting into your filtered water. These items will also act as another filter and you can combine them to make a better survival water purifier system. Pack these items in as tight as possible to create a better filter. If using charcoal, break and crush into very small pieces. If you don't have any of these items, you could also use grass.
  3. Add at least 6 inches of sand on top of whatever items you're using.
  4. Place the unused half of the container under the holes you made and then pour the water into the 'filter'. Let the water pass through the filtration system you made (the slower the better). You'll have to do this several times until the water is clear.

Note: This is a temporary solution, and will not effectively rid the water of all microorganisms. Use this survival water purifier method only as a last resort!

Share Your Reviews of Survival Water Purifier Systems

We'd love to hear your experience of using survival water purifiers, whether on a camping trip, or in a genuine emergency situation.

Please use the form below to share your story!

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