One of the easiest ways to become sick is through contaminated water. Whether in a rural area with only a river to rely on, or in a built-up city where tap water is suspect, clean water is an essential commodity.
When travelling to a destination with unsafe water, be prepared. Don’t rely on just one method of treating water. It is always important to have a back-up in case of emergencies. Innovations have dramatically improved how unsafe water is treated. Read on to discover three simple and brilliant ways to keep your water clean and disease free.
1. Put the Kettle On to Boil Water
It has long been known that boiling water is an effective way of treating unsafe water, so why is it so brilliant?
Boiling water is unarguably the cheapest method of treating unsafe water. As long as you have access to a heat source, you can boil water almost anywhere. It’s also incredibly easy. Simply bring to and keep at a rolling boil for one minute to ensure all nasties are killed.
Many hotel rooms have a kettle so if you are visiting an area where the water is unsafe, don’t forget to use it to brush your teeth and to take with medication.
If you’re out hiking above 2,000 meters, you’ll need to increase the time at a rolling boil to three minutes to ensure the water is purified – the boiling point at 2,500 meters (about 7500 ft.) is 92 ºC.
But you won’t always have access to the right facilities to boil water. Furthermore, while this method is brilliant for killing most disease-causing microorganisms, it doesn’t remove other contaminants such as heavy metals and chemicals.
Additionally, this method only disinfects unsafe water. Cloudy water will still need to be filtered to remove the debris. Coffee filters, paper towels or cotton wool all work well, and you can pass the water through them several times until it is clear.
2. Pop a Water Purification Pill into your Water Bottle
Aside from bacteria and viruses, Chlorine Dioxide is the only purification tablet on the market effective against the parasites giardia and cryptosporidium, which cause gastrointestinal infections. No wonder the World Health Organization recognises it as one of the primary methods of water disinfection.
Tablets are affordable, lightweight, and with one tablet needed for one litre of water, it is an easy treatment for large volumes. Unlike iodine and bleach, they leave a minimal aftertaste. Depending on the brand of tablet, treatment time varies from 10 mins up to four hours until it is safe to drink.
So remember to bring 2 water bottles with you to allow extra time to purify your water.
But as with boiling, Chlorine Dioxide does not filter the water. Try using in combination with a filtration device such as Life Straw. Additionally, although Chlorine Dioxide is excellent for treating bacteria, viruses and pathogens, it does not remove heavy metals or chemicals from the water.
3. Invest in Modern Technology to Treat Water
Innovation in technology has increased accessibility and convenience to water treatment. Life Straw, for example, uses “hollow fiber membrane ultra filtration”, which trap bacteria and pathogens in its pores but allow water to flow through. The SteriPEN uses ultraviolet light to destroy 99.9% of bacteria, viruses and parasites in under a minute. More and more innovative products designed for outdoor adventures to purify drinking water are now available, so it’s worth having a look around.
However, as with purification tablets and boiling, these two technologies fall short in addressing both purification AND filtration in one fell swoop.
The Ultralight Water Purifier GRAYL seems to be the silver bullet that addresses all concerns with unsafe water in a compact bottle that can be slipped into a backpack or handbag when travelling. A 473ml bottle, Grayl filters and purifies water of bacteria, viruses and pathogens and uses activated charcoal to treat heavy metals and chemicals. It does all of this in just 15 seconds.