Boiling is the best way to treat non-potable water.
If you’re at an elevation below 6,500 feet, put the water in a container over a heat source, such as a campfire or propane stove, and bring to a rolling boil for 1 minute.
If you’re at an elevation over 6,500 feet, bring the water to a rolling boil for 3 minutes.
Most water filters are made of a screen with many tiny holes in it. These filters can remove protozoa and some bacteria, but viruses cannot be filtered out because they’re even smaller than protozoa and bacteria.
Filters also remove bigger contaminants like leaves, silt, dirt, and sand. If the water is cloudy or has floating material in it, you should filter it even if you plan to boil or disinfect it.
Filtration systems with absolute pore size less than or equal to 1 micron filter (NSF Standards 53 or 58 rated “cyst reduction / removal) have a high effectiveness in removing cryptosporidium and giardia.
Be sure to use and care for your filter according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Filters don’t work as well if they aren’t taken care of over time.
Filtration must be followed by disinfection to purify water for drinking.
Disinfection happens when a chemical kills bacteria, viruses, and other potentially harmful organisms in your water.
Chemical tablets or liquid drops are the most common ways to disinfect non-potable water. National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) approved products are recommended. - Iodine or chlorine dioxide are the most frequently used disinfection agents.
Follow the manufacturer’s instruction for disinfecting the water. Treatment time to disinfect the water for drinking varies by product. If the water is cloudy or has floating debris, it will be more effective to pre-filter the water before disinfecting.
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