Thirsty Are Those Who Do Not Prep- Part 4, by The Grumpy Gunfighter

Without water, survival is impossible, even if you have a storage facility filled with bullets, bandaids, beans, and batteries. My family and I prep in the desert southwest and have taken action so that we won’t find ourselves thirsty in the event of a crisis.

In parts 2 and 3 of this article series, I thoroughly covered both professional drilled and hand dug wells. But once you have access to the water, you need to be sure it is safe to drink. So, let’s look at methods for survival water filtration, purification, and disinfection.

Survival Water Filtration, Purification, and Disinfection Methods

There are a variety of ways to filter, purify, and disinfect water. We will look a several of these and compare them.


What Boiling Is and What It Does

At a very basic level, boiling is a simple way to sterilize water. Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute will kill most bacteria, protozoa, and viruses; however, boiling water will not remove chemicals, such as herbicides, pesticides, and solvents from the water. Additionally, boiling will not remove any heavy metals from the water.

Boiling water will also not remove particles such as silt, dirt, and debris. Water with debris suspended in it is often referred to as turbid water. To reduce the turbidity of the water you are preparing, it can be helpful to filter the water first with a rag, handkerchief, millbank bag, or a store bought filter before boiling the water.

It is also recommended by the CDC to boil water for three minutes at altitudes above six thousand and five hundred feet. The reason behind this is because water boils at lower temperatures at higher elevations. At sea level water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, but as we increase in altitude the boiling point of water drops because of decreases in atmospheric pressure. For example, at 10,000 feet above sea level, the boiling point of water drops to only 193 degrees Fahrenheit.

How To Boil Your Own Water Using a Water Bottle

An easy way to boil water can be to hang a stainless steel water bottle over the flames of a small campfire until a rolling boil forms inside the water container. It is often recommended to boil water in a stainless steel water container or bottle with a single wall and no paint or protective coatings, as these can melt or leach chemicals into your water when heated.

Do not try this method with double walled vacuum sealed water bottles, as these will not transfer heat efficiently and could explode, due to the sealed inner layer becoming super heated and building up pressure.


What Distillation Is and What It Does

Distilled water is water that has been heated in a container to the point where it goes from being a liquid to being a vapor that is then allowed to leave the original container and cool to where it then condenses back into a liquid state in a sterile container. The idea behind distillation is that all of the contaminates which have a higher boiling point than water are left in the original “dirty” container. This process generates a completely mineral-free water. This distillation process will remove minerals, bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, and even salt. This can be particularly helpful for those individuals living along coastal areas, because creating your own water distillery can allow you to make even ocean water drinkable.

It is important to note that distillation will not remove some chemicals that have a lower boiling point than water. For example, chlorine and pesticides will not be removed during distillation, and so it may be helpful to filter these out with activated carbon prior to distillation.

How To Build Your Own Portable Water Distillery


There are a few supplies required. These supplies are listed below:

  1. Pierce a small hole in the center of the plumbers cap with sharp object.
  2. Insert the coupling into the cap so that it penetrates through but sits snugly in the rubber end cap.
  3. Attach the the copper refrigeration tubing to the coupling that is firmly seated into the cap.
  4. Using your hose clamp and screwdriver, affix the clamp around the diameter of the plumbers cap.
  5. Fill the canteen with filtered water or sea water.
  6. Place plumbers cap over the open mouth of the canteen and use the screwdriver to tighten the adjustable hose clamp until it is firmly sealed around the open mouth of the canteen.
  7. Uncoil roughly a foot of the coiled copper tubing that protrudes from the top of the canteen, and leave the other nine feet coiled.
  8. Place the bottom of the filled canteen on a stove top or over the fire, where only the bottom of the canteen is exposed to the heat source.
  9. Place the free end of the coiled copper tubing into the clean water bottle in a safe spot away from the fire or stove.
  10. What will occur is, once the water boils in the metal canteen, the vapor will travel up through the open coupling and into the metal coiled tubing. The vapor will then condense and trickle into the clean waiting container. If used on a stove top, there is little chance of the end cap ever melting due to the heat; however, if you don’t feel comfortable using a rubber end cap, you can fashion one out of metal to attach to the top of your canteen. This might be useful in situations where you are using a campfire to heat your canteen. One simple method is to purchase two canteens or stainless steel water bottles and then saw off the top of one so that it can be placed over the open mouth of the other

Portable Water Filters

What Portable Water Filters Are and What They Do

There is a wide variety of portable water filters on the market, and if used properly they can reduce the risk of drinking contaminated water. However, it is important to know the features and limitations of these popular types of filtration systems. Below are arguably the top three most used and useful filters that I carry with me and are great items to consider packing in your go bag.

Sawyer Mini

The Sawyer Mini filter is very popular with outdoor enthusiasts and preppers alike, because it is lightweight, small enough to fit in your pocket, and if used properly can filter up to 100,000 gallons of water. The filter consists of a hollow fiber membrane, which is essentially a series of tubes that catch particles one Micron and above. Dirty water is gravity fed or can be sucked like a straw through the filter in one direction.

It is important to note that the filter will only work properly when water passes through in the right direction, so be sure to pay attention to the arrow indicating the direction of flow. This filter can be gravity fed, meaning it can be attached to a water pouch and hung up so that dirty water from the pouch flows down the length of the filter and clean water will drip out from the other end.

Useful Features of the Sawyer Filter

A very useful feature that the Sawyer filter has is that it can be attached to a Camelback or similar backpack type water bladder system. It can be attached by severing the water line tube from the backpack roughly halfway. The tubing then fits around the two nozzles of the Sawyer filter. This allows the user to filter water by sucking on the end of the of the Camelback tube and when water is drawn up through the tubing it will pass through the in line filter.

Notes on Sawyer Filter

It is important to note that after each use, the filter should be cleaned by pushing clean water back through the filter the opposite way of its flow. This will dislodge built-up particulates captured in the hollow fiber membrane.

Manufactures also advise not to use this filter in silty water, as the more particulates sucked in, the shorter the lifespan of the filter. Clear water is the best choice to process through this filter, as it has less particulates that will clog the membrane.

The Sawyer Mini will filter out bacteria, protozoa, and pathogens, such as salmonella, e coli, cholera, anthrax spores, and giardia.

This filter has no active carbon in it, which means that it will not improve the taste or get rid of chemicals in the water. For example, herbicides, pesticides, and viruses that may be in the water will not be filtered out.

Web-Tex Inline Filter

The Web-Tex inline filter is similar to the Sawyer Mini, in that it can attached inline to a Camelbak bladder tube. However, there are some distinct differences. The Web-Tex is slightly larger than the Sawyer Mini and can only filter around 350 gallons. The Web-Tex uses a two micron filtration, which isn’t as small as the Sawyer. With this being said, there are some distinct advantages to the Web-Tex.

Advantages of the Web-Tex

The Web-Tex primary advantage is that it is able to filter and purify water. This means that it will improve the taste of the water while also removing most chemicals, herbicides, pesticides, and trace metals.

Note on Web-Tex

It is important to note that this filter will not be able to remove viruses, although it will reduce the particles that viruses cling to. A chemical treatment and or boiling are needed to effectively eliminate viruses.

Tomorrow, we will continue by going over more options for survival water filtration, purification, and disinfection.

See Also:

SurvivalBlog Writing Contest

This has been another entry for Round 78 of the SurvivalBlog non-fiction writing contest. The nearly $11,000 worth of prizes for this round include:

First Prize:

  1. A $3000 gift certificate towards a Sol-Ark Solar Generator from Veteran owned Portable Solar LLC. The only EMP Hardened Solar Generator System available to the public.
  2. A Gunsite Academy Three Day Course Certificate. This can be used for any one, two, or three day course (a $1,095 value),
  3. A course certificate from onPoint Tactical for the prize winner’s choice of three-day civilian courses, excluding those restricted for military or government teams. Three day onPoint courses normally cost $795,
  4. DRD Tactical is providing a 5.56 NATO QD Billet upper. These have hammer forged, chrome-lined barrels and a hard case, to go with your own AR lower. It will allow any standard AR-type rifle to have a quick change barrel. This can be assembled in less than one minute without the use of any tools. It also provides a compact carry capability in a hard case or in 3-day pack (an $1,100 value),
  5. Two cases of Mountain House freeze-dried assorted entrees in #10 cans, courtesy of Ready Made Resources (a $350 value),
  6. A $250 gift certificate good for any product from Sunflower Ammo,
  7. American Gunsmithing Institute (AGI) is providing a $300 certificate good towards any of their DVD training courses.

Second Prize:

  1. A Model 175 Series Solar Generator provided by Quantum Harvest LLC (a $439 value),
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Third Prize:

  1. A Royal Berkey water filter, courtesy of Directive 21 (a $275 value),
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Round 78 ends on September 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.


  1. I live in a suburban-edge a of a city where it is no longer possible to readily drill wells. However, I have thought outside the box and realized that the neighborhood storm-drainage system goes through my property in a manner that I can install a “Sewer pipe drain plug” like what utility companies use when working on utilities. I calculated with the length of the pipe that I can easily capture and store 20,000 gallons that refills every rain. if installed correctly and accounting for water head (pressure of water based on height in the concrete piping) These concrete pipes are normally sealed between the joints, so it becomes a large hidden water source. Add a 12V DC water pump (solar) and I have a water supply. And with several rain barrels from down spouts , I am pretty good to go. Just wish I could move to the country away from the city, but I will just have to shelter in place for a SHTF scenario but the wife is not fully in on the plan….

  2. I’d suggest that you collect some of that storm water runoff from your “hidden reservoir” and have it tested. Most state health departments will do this for free. I think you will be shocked at what the report will say. Certainly trace amounts of gasoline and oil, and who knows what else. Remember that streets gather the rainfall and funnel it into the storm drains, along with liquids from roadkill and whatever liquid someone dumps.
    Tom361, you said that it is no longer possible to drill wells in suburbia. Take a look at hand drilled wells. You might be surprised at what you can accomplish if you own the yard your house sits on. If you live in an apartment then that won’t work.
    Good luck!

  3. I’m in a similar situation as Tom361, I’m in a suburb 15 miles outside of Boston. About 10 years ago I dug a shallow well and found the ground water was polluted with heating oil from a neighbor 5 houses up the street.
    This was right about the time I discovered SurvivalBlog and JWR’s concept of the Golden Horde.
    The ground water pollution, the golden horde and a few other things convinced my that bugging in wasn’t the best plan.
    I still live in the Boston Suburb, but I now own 5 acres on the side of a mountain in central NH.
    The land with a small cabin is only 100 miles from my house, but it seems like it is a World away.

  4. Check out They have plans, that I’ve used for a slowsand filter with charcoal. I got 40 pounds of activated charcoal to use in mine from amazon. I did an instructable on it too

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