Making Water Safe to Drink when you�re Camping

If you�re camping or backpacking, one of the biggest concerns is having water that is safe to drink. Each gallon weighs over eight pounds, and it can be impractical to haul it around with you. And while nearby lakes and streams have water that is crystal clear and looks safe to drink, drinking this water without treating it first can make a camping trip memorable for the wrong reasons.

Water everywhere has organic contaminants such as bacteria, protozoa, and viruses as well as all sorts of other impurities. It is essential to treat any water properly before drinking to make sure that it doesn�t make you ill and ruin your time in the wilderness. Camping supply stores sell lots of different types of portable camping water filters and other methods for purifying water, and the costs run from just a few dollars to well over $200. This article will focus on several simple, inexpensive, and practical ways to make water safe to drink when you�re camping and the pros and cons of each method.


Boiling water is probably the easiest way to ensure that microorganisms are eliminated. You�ll want to bring water to a rolling boil for at least five minutes to ensure that any critters are killed.

Chemical Tablets

Chemical tablets, usually iodine, are cheap, lightweight, and very easy to carry with you. If you use these, you�ll want to make sure that the water is stirred and allowed to stand for at least 30 minutes.

Portable Water Filters

These devices can be easily found in stores, and advances in design and technology make them an essential component of any well-prepared camper.

Chlorine Bleach

Unscented chlorine bleach can be used to eliminate some water impurities when you�re camping. You can take an eye-dropper and add eight drops of bleach per gallon or 16 drops if the water is cloudy, but you�ll want to stir the water well and allow it to stand for at least 30 minutes before drinking.


If you are camping or find yourself stranded in the wilderness for any time, you must make sure that drinking water is your first priority. You can survive for around three weeks without food, but only about three days without water. All of the methods mentioned above will be effective under most situations and eliminate almost all water contaminants.

Make sure to double-check all of your camping supplies, especially water purification gear, before heading out, and you�ll be able to enjoy the great outdoors without having to worry about waterborne illnesses that could be a big problem if you�re unprepared.