5 Ways to Purify Water in the Case of a Water Shortage

When disaster strikes, you’ll need to be prepared to purify water that may be unsafe, and to conserve the water you’ve stored.

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purify water camping stove boiling water
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Boiling Water

Boiling kills parasites, bacteria and other pathogens in water. It does not, however, eliminate all forms of chemical pollution. Also, you’ll still need to filter out any solids. A camp stove ($10 to $150) is a good item to have on hand for boiling because your power might be out as well. Any camp stove will do, but a portable stove that burns wood is nice in case there’s a shortage of other fuel to purchase. Don’t use camp stoves indoors—they generate carbon monoxide.

It’s never too early to prepare your family and your home for hurricanes, severe weather or natural disasters.

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water purification device
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Water Purification Device

Water Purification Devices ($15 to $450) are available at camping supply stores. They come in sizes suitable for one person or large groups. Some of these devices are capable of purification as well as filtration.

Before you set out on your next camping adventure check out these 15 cool camping accessories you can buy on Amazon. Many are highly rated, inexpensive and perfect for making camping easier and more fun.

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water purification tablets
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Purify Water with Tablets

Water purification tablets  are available at camping supply stores. They fit neatly in an emergency kit, are easy to use and usually have a shelf life of up to five years.

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purify water with bleach
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Be Careful With Bleach

Bleach is a readily available household item that can be used to purify water. Use only regular, unscented chlorine bleach with either 6 or 8.25 percent sodium hypochlorite as the active ingredient. Using a clean eyedropper and 6 percent hypochlorite bleach, add eight drops per gallon. For 8.25 percent, use six drops per gallon. Stir the water and let it stand for half an hour. If the water doesn’t have a slight chlorine odor, repeat the dosage and let it stand for 15 more minutes. In general, you’ll need more bleach if the water is cold or murky. Bleach has only a six-month shelf life, so be sure to keep a fresh supply.

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purify water with iodine
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Iodine is another household chemical that can disinfect water. It is, however, a harsher chemical than bleach. On the upside, you can also use it to treat wounds. Using 10 percent povidone-iodine, add 8 to 16 drops per quart of water, depending on the water’s cloudiness.

* If there’s a flood, don’t assume your well water is safe. Test it.

No Water, Now What? Check out these 27 Tips to Prepare for a Water Outage.

Brad Holden
Brad Holden, an associate editor at The Family Handyman, has been building cabinets and furniture for 30 years. In that time, he has absorbed so many slivers and ingested so much sawdust that he's practically made of wood.