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Saturday, January 7, 2012

Updates on Water Purification Methods

Here is some info I wanted to pass along on water purification. I am rethinking my purification strategies after having a chemist in a class recently who has done extensive testing on all the filters and chemical methods out there for his county’s water treatment facility back East. Through exhaustive studies using E. Coli contaminated water, he and his staff have tested out most of the commercial water filters and chemical (bleach, iodine, etc...) methods on the market.
He basically said that the only truly reliable water treatment methods to kill viruses and bacteria are using  bleach and boiling. 6 drops of straight (unscented) bleach per quart of water which is what I’ve recommended in classes and this still holds true. Iodine and most mechanical filters aren’t very effective for removing protozoans from the water. The mechanical filters work well for removing any chemical contanimants (fuel, etc...) that may be present in an urban situation where infrastructure is damaged and should be considered for a bail-out kit or home emergency kit.
Backcountry hikers should always purify suspect water sources.
 So bleach and boiling for taking care of bacteria and viruses and the mechanical filters for chemical residue (or draining off the backyard pool in a long-term grid-down situation). Boil water for 1 minute.
He also said that two things tend to cause stomach ailments/GI issues in the household on a regular basis- 1) not cleaning out the ice/cold water lines in the fridge dispenser, allowing bacteria to build up there. He recommended blasting this system out with a bleach solution 1-2 times a year depending on usage. 2) Not cleaning/flushing the hot water tank annually. Draining this and flushing it will also extend the life of your tank by 2-3 years and provide you with 40 gallons of emergency water if the utilities are down.
I will be adjusting for these in our home systems and bail out kits for sure.

About Ancient Pathways

Tony Nester is the author of numerous books and DVDs on survival. His school Ancient Pathways is the primary provider of survival training for the Military Special Operations community and he has served as a consultant for the NTSB, Travel Channel, Backpacker Magazine, and the film Into the Wild. When not on the trail, he lives in a passive-solar, strawbale home in northern Arizona. For information on Tony’s books, gear, or bushcraft courses, visit

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