5 Ways To Turn Unsafe Drinking Water Into Clean Filtered And Purified Water

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We All Know That Water is Vital To Life – Period!

Besides food, every living creature on Earth depended on drinkable water to survive. People working in hot climates need to be drinking at least 16 liters of water a day to keep their temperature at normal levels and ensure that they remain hydrated. Our bodies are made up of approximately 60% water, so it’s not surprising that we can last or survive just 3 days without drinking water.

The sad truth is that a whopping 95% of Americans turn to drink only 1 liter of water a day, even though they should be drinking no less than 2 or 3 liters daily.

Now, what’s even more concerning is the quality of our public “clean” water. We always hope that our tap drinking water is clean and without the risk of contaminated substances.

What are water purification station treatment systems?

Before we get into your home water treatment options, it’s important to first look at the larger-scale picture and that is the public water purification station treatment systems –  these are the new technologies that have been put in place to improve our whole system water quality in large scale. They are put in place to remove or at least reduce the level of dangerous impurities found in tap water from the actual source.

Your city or town public water supply goes through a purification station treatment system within your local municipality before entering your home, which means your running water is clean, right? Wrong.

Well, it is not exactly wrong. Tap water is usually filtered into what’s known as water purification facilities and only then it reaches the end-user – that’s us – but this does not mean that it is very clean or actually safe to drink, especially when used on a regular base.

It is not uncommon to have miles of old pipe from decades ago, and utilizing this line to pass the water through them for a very long time. This so-called filtered water can be full of rust, dust, and debris. These old pipes are also a good way to spread microbes, bacteria, and viruses to us and they do.

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Public water treatment stations are usually located near the city water edge or around reservoirs, and water has to travel long routes through municipal pipelines before reaching the final consumer. This is a fact.

When the authorities test the quality of water, after water filtration and before entering the municipal supply line, they often get satisfactory results, well above the required standards, however, it is the age of the feed line and its length that has concerning arguments on the end quality that we get when we pour the water from our faucets and into our mouths.

There is an important note to remember: water is never completely pure. Therefore, water, even if it is marked as “100% pure”, can still contain minerals and various other compounds, which do not always harm your health.

What are the various contaminants transported by water?

Even if the water appears clear, it can still be filled with harmful microorganisms that can cause various unpleasant side effects turning to unwanted diseases.

These impurities may include arsenic, pesticides, lead, and other harmful substances. These dangerous substances can be a leading cause of disease and even cancer, especially when you factor years of ingesting such stuff.

You Need To Take Matters Into Your Own Hands by Purifying The Water Yourself.

Never just count on your municipality or local town water treatment reports or process. As we outlined, they are merely a starting point.

We must be realistic and practical when it comes to what we put into our bodies and water is a large factor in our overall state of health.

To clean the water as much as humanly possible, you cant count on your government and public sources – most are good at removing specific disinfect, but not very good and sometimes inefficient at removing other important contaminated water.

It is also important to mention that one of the oldest but most common ways of treating drinking water is through chlorinating the water supply.

While this process kills some of the microorganisms, a side effect is it also changes the taste of the water. But that’s not all; more recent studies have shown that chlorine can sometimes interact with some organic substances in the water to form dangerous carcinogenic compounds.

By taking the extra step of cleaning and purifying the water yourself is absolutely essential to keep harmful bacteria and other microorganisms from you and your families’ drinking water.

When it comes to polluted or unsafe water, one of the worst parasites you can get is Cryptosporidium. If this parasite enters your drinking water and will access your body. It will convert to severe diarrhea, dehydration, and weight loss. Infected people can develop symptoms of the disease for up to six weeks.

Last but not least, your water source may also be contaminated by pesticides, chemicals, and heavy metals. Pesticides used before the 40s and 50s usually contain heavy metals, which have a long lifeline in the water which means that they can still exist in the soil around the water pipe, allowing them to leak into the water.

Lead was also used for pipes, so old pipes or plumbing welds used to connect them may still contain it.

So what else can we do to clean our water and help you and your family stay safe and healthy from contaminants that end up bypassing the main systems?

The good news is there are several high-quality home-based or DIY systems that modern technology and testing have advanced for us to use. We will cover the top in this article so you can not only be educated in each but also make a smart purchasing decision.

First, Consider Testing Your Water Quality

Before you start shopping for whole house water purifiers or filters, it is best if you can first determine what your water quality actually is. Below are a few of the most common water testing options:

A. Use A High-Quality Water Tester Kit – 

This is preferably the best option because it relies on more scientific methods with clear results.

There are many test kits on the market, and you can find some of them at a local retailer or online. These test kits contain test strips that will change their color according to the polluted content of the water. You should only purchase test kits containing separate chlorine bars, hardness, bacteria, pesticides, nitrites, heavy metals (or lead), as well as pH.

Avoid using test kits that only determines the pH level of the water.

What you need to look for is the number of concentrated contaminants in your water. The contaminants to test for are chlorine, hardness, bacteria, viruses, pesticides, nitrates/nitrites, heavy metals and there will be others as well that will come up during the testing.

Once you are familiar with the instructions, continue to test the water. Place each test strip in water and immerse it for an appropriate time by following the instructions. Remove the strip from the water and shake any excess drip.

Once you have determined the water quality, you will be in a much better position to make a buying decision.

b. Use Your Sense Of Smell –

This methide is not the most accurate because ff the water source is exposed to air, the smell can dissipate. Regardless, what you need to know is if the water smells like bleach. This can help determine if bacteria have grown somewhere in your water system closest to your water fountain.

If your water smells like rotten eggs, it means that pollution could have occurred somewhere in the municipal pipeline. You will need to fill a glass of water and put it in another room to make sure that the smell does not come from the drain.

C. Do A Taste Test –

Also, not the most accurate test, but you can see if the water has a metallic taste. If so, it can mean excessive mineral content or a low pH. If the water has a strong taste of bleach, it means treatment with hydrochloric acid. The salty taste may indicate the presence of sulfate or chloride ions. These compounds may indicate industrial drainage or irrigation issues.

D. Visually Inspect It –

Again, I want to stress that you can have contaminated water that looks visually clean. That said, look for any floating particles that are red, brown or orange –  these particles can be caused by rusty pipes or material.

Also, look for cloudiness – generally cloudy or tanned particles indicate high levels of hardness. Hardness is usually caused by an excess of magnesium carbonate or calcium carbonate in the water. Let the water run for a few minutes then fill a glass of water. If the water is brown or dark, or if it fades, this is a sign of contamination.

This contamination can be caused by rusty pipes, upstream pollution or something else. If you can see any of the pipes and there is a large amount of mineral accumulation or corrosion, it can get into your water source.

E. Get A Water Quality Report Or Hire A Professional – 

Lastly, there is another way to check the quality of the water. You can contact your local municipality and ask them to provide you with a copy of your water quality report. However, the one flaw we found with this and why we do not recommend this method as a sole option is because it does not take into account the passage of water through the same exact pipes in your home. This option is good to know what the water quality may be before it gets to your home or even the exact neighborhood, etc.

You can also get a professional water engineer to check the water quality, however, this option can be costly and not popular unless there is some kind of environmental or professional requirement in your area based on typical warnings or advice from local municipalities.

Read our post on the 7 different types and best do-it-yourself home water test kits here.

How Do You Filter And Purify Water?

There are several types of water treatment systems used to improve our water-  the following are the 5 most used methods of water purification:

    1. Boiling the water
    2. Use a water Filter
    3. Chemical treatment (Iodine solution & Chlorine) tablets or crystals
    4. UV light water treatment system
    5. Water distillation

1- Boiling –

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Boiling is among the oldest and most convenient way to cleanse and purify water. It is also very reliable and the most economical. Boiling kills bacteria, parasites and many other harmful things in the water.

The EPA says that in order to kill harmful contaminants, it is important that you bring the water to a boil and keep boiling for a minimum of one minute to actually purify it. Longer boiling times are better.

2- Water Filter-

Why do we need a water filter And What Are The Benefits of Using Them?

Filters work by physically straining out floaties, bacteria and some parasites from water. The one drawback is its limitation when it comes to eliminating any viruses plus they can be somewhat bulky. The upside nowadays is that they are fairly quick to use and provide water that you can drink immediately.

Many people already use filters for their families, but are you sure you’re using the right ones? Read our complete shopping guide to learn about the different technologies used to filter water and how to choose the best water filter for your home.

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The 4 Most Commonly Used High-Quality Types of Filters

There are essentially 4 types commonly used. Each filter works differently, so the actual filter mechanisms within each unit are also composed of different materials to fight the contaminants.

Activated Carbon Filter —

These work by adsorption and use carbon-based activated particles to block contaminants. Since coal (used in this type of filter) is not a very dense substance, there are actually ridges filled with porous structures that attract and capture chemicals through adsorption. This adsorption is the process by which gases and liquids get trapped by other liquids or solids.

This is a process in which gases and liquids are attracted to other liquids or solids. As the water passes through the carbon portion, the most common impurities will be drawn to the surface of the carbon sponge, filling its surface deep ridges.

  • This type is ideal for removing most contaminants, but one of its drawbacks is that it does not block the scale.
    Coal also does not attract other contaminants, so nitrates, fluoride, sodium, and microorganisms will continue to flow into the water.
    Another drawback is that the ridge on the coal will be clogged, so the filter will not be able to catch more contaminants.

Distillation Filter—

Ever since we were kids, we’ve been taught that boiling water makes it cleaner. Distillation is a more advanced way of boiling water.

This process works through boiling water and capturing the resulting steam. The released steam condenses it into a separate container. When the steam cools down, it condenses again to the water which is collected in the container.

Unfortunately, water boils at a temperature lower than the most common contaminants can be eradicated and will ultimately still exist or live – so the condensate vapor will also carry them in the second container still leaving you with contaminants.

Ion Exchange —

Ion Exchange is when hard water passes through the ion beads, these ions are attracted by the components of magnesium and calcium into the water, thus releasing sodium in return.

Magnesium and calcium are the main components, so without them, the water will be softer and taste better. The only thing is that the sodium released will be present in the water and will taste salty. Some may not like the salty taste, while others cannot drink it because they may be on a strict sodium diet.

Reverse Osmosis Filter—

Most Reverse Osmosis systems have 3 pre-membrane sections, semi-permeable, and post-membrane. Some of them will also have additional filters, depending on the model.

Each of the water filters works in specific ways. Below is a list of how this popular filtering system works.

The Reverse Osmosis filtration system uses at least 5 filters, and sometimes even more:

  1. The first filter blocks rust, dust, debris and other contaminants that can damage the Reverse Osmosis membrane.
  2. The second filter is usually a carbon filter that blocks harmful chemicals such as chlorine, fluoride and other chemicals.
  3. The third filter is also a carbon filter, but its density is higher, so it captures smaller particles, ensuring that water reaches the membrane with little contamination.
  4. The fourth filter is the reverse membrane, which blocks contaminants according to their size, molecular weight, and ion charge. 95 -99% of contaminants in the water will be blocked.
  5. The fifth filter ensures the removal of bacteria, viruses, remaining chlorine, and any bad taste or smell. Some models will also have a UV light and a special filter, which will increase the pH of the water.

As you can see, when it comes to water filters, there are several options.

3- Chemical Treatment-

Iodine Tablets

Iodine tablets work. You typically need to use 1 or 2 tablets for every quart of water.

Iodine also has great decontaminating properties: Iodine can be used in emergency situations to also dress minor injuries besides purifying your water. Iodine is available in tablet and tincture type.

The drawback of utilizing iodine is that you need to wait for at least 30 minutes before it does its job. But the worst part is the taste.

Chlorine Tablets.

Iodine treated water has a very nasty aftertaste. It is also recommended that pregnant women and people who are averse to shellfish should also avoid Iodine.

An alternative to iodine (if you’ve got constraints to it)  is the use of chlorine tablets instead. They actually work almost the same way as iodine tablets. You usually need just one or two tablets to clean the water.

The drawbacks – as with iodine, it also required 30 minutes before it does the job. The one advantage over iodine is that chlorine tablets have a longer shelf life. There is also a bad aftertaste and smell with chlorine tablets, but at least here you can get rid of some of the smell by waiting several minutes with no cover or lid on the treated water so that the actual chlorine can start to evaporate.

4- UV light Water Treatment-

UV Water Purification systems use special lamps that emit UV light of a particular wavelength that has the ability, based on their length, to disrupt the DNA of micro-organisms. These UV light waves are also referred to as the Germicidal Spectrum or Frequency.UV systems expose water to the light from a special lamp.

How does a UV light kill bacteria in the water?

The bacteria is eliminated via the light using a specific wavelength, capable of killing most common bacteria. The quantity of organisms killed has a direct bearing on the intensity of the UV light, the length of time the light is used on the water and the total number of suspended solid particles within the water itself.

Is UV treated water safe to drink?
While UV purified water is not harmful to us, it does have some limitations. The UV purification is very effective in killing microbes if you use a powerful high-quality UV light and when used
  • PRO: UV purification systems can take water purification to another level and are a safe solution to remove the threats of microorganisms from your water It has an effective rate of destroying 99.99% of microorganisms
  • CON: UV systems need electricity to run. If electricity is not readily available, this means that it may not be suitable for some applications like emergency situation requirements or survival needs.
  • PRO & CON: UV light is also only effective in the water being dealt with is clear. If you have dirty water or “floaties” it should be pre-filtered first before UV light treatment. It will not be effective if the UV light can not reach the bacteria because it is obstructed by particles.

In general, UV water treatment is a good method for your household’s needs for water filtration. It has been proven to be among the most trusted, methods for disinfecting water and is appropriate in both whole-house and point-of-use water treatment applications.

When used in combination with either post-filtration or pre-filtration, UV light is an outstanding approach to ensure years of healthy clean drinking water for you and your household.

In Summary: while UV light has a lot of advantages, there are a couple of obstacles to using this form of treatment. The UV light is only able to eliminate microbes and does not get rid of any other contaminants like heavy metals, salts, chlorine or manufactured pollutants.

The UV light can be used in tandem with filtration to additional remove pollutants if you have problems with other contaminants.

5- Water Distillation-

What is the distillation process of water?

Distilled water is created through the process of distillation. Basically, pure H2O is boiled so many of the contaminants found in water are inorganic minerals, metals, etc.

The basic steps to distillation are:
  • Add heat to a liquid mixture with two or more main substances; for example, a water and ethanol mixture.
  • As the liquid heats, components with the lower boiling points will begin to vaporize and rise through the column.
Is it OK to drink distilled water? Yes, you can drink distilled water because it is purified through the distillation process and the water ends up much cleaner and pure. The big disadvantage to drinking distilled water is because due to the process, most of the natural minerals are no longer present. You may not like the taste because it’s flatter and less delicious than tap and bottled waters.

What Is The Best Water Purification System? One of the main reasons you should use a water purification system is because of the method your municipality handles water – as I’ve outlined at the beginning of this article – don’t assume your water is clean or safe to drink just because it goes through an industrial-based process.

If you have taken the step of actually testing your water as outlined above, you will have a better understanding of what types of options are right for you. This is not a mandatory step as any extra water cleaning is always a good thing.

How Do You Purify Water In Survival?

Finding water is one of the greatest survival skills you can discover, but what if the water is not suitable for use?

If you are lost or stranded in the woods, or basically anywhere away from civilization, knowing basic water survival is extremely important. Knowing how to find water is one of the best survival skills you can have, but it is equally important to be able to clean and purify the water.

When the water around you is suspect of contaminants, you will definitely want to filter and clean the water before ingesting it.

It’s important to understand that just because the water is clear, it does not make the water completely risk-free of any contamination or serious and harmful parasites, etc.

Filter Water to Boost Outside Survival

Note that the filtration system you may use in an outdoor survival situation differs from the home water filtering system. In emergency situations, having the ability to purify and clean your water source may be the difference between life and death.

When your water option is dirty or contaminated, you will certainly need a filter to purify the water. You need a way to remove all visible pieces of dirt or particles and anything that will keep the water difficult or very unsafe to drink.

An outdoor survival filter may not remove all the microbes and bacteria from but it can generally make the water not only drinkable and save your life, but it will also make it taste much better.

The first, basic thing to do is to boil the water. The benefits of boiling water are that it is a fairly quick and easy process that does the job.

The negatives are that you need to have some basic materials around and/or know-how to be resourceful enough to compromise with what is around you. You do need to have a way to light the fire, a container to hold the water and material to set on fire.

Another way to purify your water that still involves a boiling process, it to purifying water from the creek.

This Purified Water involves a tiny bit of charcoal from the fire to remove impurities. It is achieved from boiling the water using just small hot rocks in a clay bowl.

  1. Put the rocks in the fire for about 10 minutes
  2. Put the rocks into a clay bowl
  3. Let it cool down before drinking

Emergency Survival Portable Water Filter

If you want to be better prepared and avoid having to start a fire to boil the water, you should always carry a portable water filter when you head outdoors are road trips. What is the best portable water filter?