What is the best way to make water safe to drink? Part 2

This blog is a follow up from our last blog on filters, and looks at alternative methods such as drops, boiling, and UV. Unlike a filter, which actually removes small particles and bacteria from the water by passing it through a series of meshes and membranes, these methods aim to kill these microorganisms instead. So, basically, you’re drinking a bunch of tiny dead bacteria bodies. I hope you’re proud of yourself, you vampire wannabe.

Here are the pros and cons of each of these methods:

UV:

This is a very rare method that shines a UV light on the water, in some cases activated by shaking the bottle. The UV light kills the microorganisms after a recommended period of time, and you’re able to safely drink the water.

Advantages:

  • No chemical by-products
  • Quick and easy to use

Disadvantages:

  • How long do you have to shake it for??
  • Only small amounts of water can be cleaned at a time
  • The whole drinking dead corpses thing

Drops:

This is a very common method that accomplishes the same mission of killing off the microorganisms, but in this case using small amounts of chemicals, like bleach.

Advantages:

  • Very lightweight and easy to carry
  • Can clean large quantities of water at once
  • Good back-up system to a filter

Disadvantages:

  • Water is tainted with chemical
  • Taste can be off

Boiling:

The oldest method for cleaning water, boiling kills microorganisms by.. well.. boiling them! To effectively clean the water, it must be brought to a rolling boil, and to be safe, it should be kept boiling for a few minutes.

Advantages:

  • Confidence that the water will be safe to drink
  • Hot water ready to go for cold nights!

Disadvantages:

  • Slow
  • Consumes a lot of fuel
  • The water needs time to cool (unless it’s being used for a hot drink)

While I would also prefer a filter over any of these methods, I recommend taking drops along for any camping trip. Although there is a chemical residue left behind which may not be good for your health, drops can easily filter large quantities of water very quickly in case of an emergency or a filter breakdown. The idea would be to never have to use them, but if something goes wrong, it’s always good to have an effective backup plan.

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