Emergency Water Filter
While you can buy many brands of emergency water filters to take with you into the wilderness or other area where drinkable water is scarce, usually, an emergency is only an emergency because you are under-prepared. In the event that you find yourself without drinkable water you may have to drink what you have available to you. However, there are ways that you can construct a simple emergency water filter out of basic materials.
One such way requires that you gather a container of some kind. This can be a plastic bottle, an aluminum can (if it is not rusted), or a large leaf or strip of bark twisted into a cone (if you know the plant from which it comes is not poisonous). If you have a solid, sturdy container, poke a few small holes near the bottom. The holes should be large enough to let water through, but not large amounts of sand, which will serve as the filtering mechanism of your emergency water filter.
Next you should fill your container with a few inches of sand at the bottom. Then find a heavy material, like gravel, small pebbles, or pocket change. This will serve to filter out large debris, preventing your sand filter from quickly clogging, and it will serve to put weight on the sand at the bottom, making your emergency water filter more discriminating and effective. Make sure you scrub any dirt off the material you put into your filter’s container.
To increase the efficiency of your emergency water filter you can add a piece of your clothing, preferably made of cotton, to the water filter either on the outside of the container covering the holes where the water comes out or on the inside, under the sand. You can also add activated charcoal, if you have it available, between the sand and gravel or other heavy material.
Once you have your emergency water filter ready to go, you should test it by running some of the water you intend to drink through it once. If there is a significant effect on the clarity of the water, you know it is working. If not, try running the water through a second time. If it still looks murky, try fiddling with the proportions of your filter, adding or subtracting sand, using different materials, etc.
Also keep in mind that even a well-made emergency water filter will not kill microscopic organisms. If you do not have an emergency water purification kit or iodine handy, you should try to purify your filtered water by boiling it before you drink it. An aluminum can could be used for this if you have nothing better, so keep in mind while choosing a container for your water filter that you should use plastic and save aluminum for the boiling process if possible.
If any of these materials are not available to you and the water you are considering drinking looks questionable, refrain from drinking it if at all possible. Even if you are thirsty, getting a stomach bug will probably cause you to either vomit or have diarrhea, both of which will further dehydrate and weaken you. Remember that it is very important to bring emergency water purification kits with you if you are going into deep or unfamiliar expanses of wilderness.
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