How to Clean Water When Camping – A Practical Guide
As a father of three and an experienced camper, I know the importance of clean water when camping. Clean water is essential for health, hydration, hygiene and cooking purposes. But without the right knowledge, it can be difficult to maintain a steady source of clean drinking water during a camping trip. It’s essential to find a reliable way to purify water without making any mistakes, so I put together this practical guide for campers of all levels.
The Dos and Don’ts of Clean Water Camping
To camp safely and confidently, it’s important to know the dos and don’ts of clean water camping. Here’s a quick overview:
- Do: Carry a water filter or purification system that’s suitable for the terrain and climate.
- Do: Treat any untreated water source before consumption.
- Do: Test your water after it has been purified.
- Don’t: Attempt to purify stagnant water.
- Don’t: Consume untreated water, even if it looks clear.
Finding Clean Water
The first step in cleaning water for camping is finding a reliable source. Many people assume that all rivers and streams are safe to drink, but that’s not always the case. A more consistent and well-tested water source is preferred when selecting a source to filter and purify. Take a look at some of the below options for a reliable source of water on your next camping trip:
- Rainwater: Harvested rainwater that is stored correctly can be used as a fresh source of water for camping. Roofs that are painted with a wax or silver-infused paint are effective at deflecting and collecting rain as it falls. It’s important to store any collected rainwater in clean containers away from any contaminants or runoff.
- Spring water: Springs and wells are two of the safest options for finding reliable freshwater. Many public springs are available for free use and there is often a sturdy infrastructure in place for estimating the water’s safety.
- Water tanks: Water tanks and cisterns on private property provide access to filtered water and may contain safe drinking water. However, this option requires permission from the landowner or property owner.
Additionally, there are plenty of popular water sources like ponds, lakes and rivers. Most sources should be treated immediately, no matter how clear the water looks. Contaminants are most commonly found in stagnant water and can affect both the taste and smell. Once it’s been determined that a water source is suitable, it’s time to begin the optimization of resources for purification and sanitation.
Strategies for Purifying Water
Most camping trips result in limited options for purification, so it’s important to use available resources wisely to ensure a safe source of water is obtained. Here are some of the most commonly used methods for purifying water while camping:
- Boiling Water: Boiling water is an effective way of purifying water and has been used for hundreds of years. Boil water at a rolling boil for 1-3 minutes – any longer and additional chemical compounds may be created.
- Chemical Purification: Chlorine dioxide and iodine tablets are effective ways to disinfect water. Simply drop one tablet into a container filled with water and wait for the tablet to dissolve before consuming.
- Portable Water Filters: Portable water filters are a lightweight and simple way to purify a fresh source of water. This method separates bacteria and other pathogens from the water and is especially useful in areas with high-silt particles such as rivers and streams.
These methods are simple and effective ways to purify water for personal use on camping trips, but it’s important to note that they are not all-encompassing water solutions and don’t always guarantee the removal of contaminants. Additionally, they all require adequate water storage containers with secure lids, as once the water has been purified, it must be stored in a closed container to prevent further contamination.
Storing and Testing Clean Water
To guarantee a safe source of clean water while camping, it’s important to establish a testing process for measuring safety over time. The below testing strategies are simple and cost-effective methods for testing clean water on a camping trip:
- Test Strips: Test strips are the most accurate way to measure purity over time. To use the strips, simply submerge the strips in the water and wait for the result o show on the strips.
- Bottle Filtration System: Filter water directly from the source with a filtration system. It’s important to stay vigilant with the process and replace the filter cartridge as needed.
Additionally, it’s useful to understand the pH balance of any water sources. Most clean water sources have a neutral pH balance between 7.0 and 8.0. Any sources that read higher or lower than these benchmarks could contain higher levels of contaminants that would be beneficial to test.
Finally, there’s also the classic DIY method for purifying water that consists of using a tarp, charcoal, and sand or pebbles. Here’s a great tutorial video which demonstrates the process:
Camping can be a fun and relaxing experience as long as there’s an adequate source of clean water. Use the above methods to clean and store water for your upcoming camping trip. Have fun!