Water, the life giving element we sometimes take for granted is not always available. The human body can last almost 30 days without food, but when it comes to water, that is a totally different story. It is estimated that an adult human male can survive 4 days without water. This time is drastically reduced depending on the environment and the activity he undertakes. Water is available today in all developed countries and it has become a valuable source of income for some companies, after all, this liquid is being bottled and sold on at a large scale for profit. But if we take today’s modern man from his day to day environment and we place him outside his comfort zone, in the wild, what would be his chance of survival?
One thing is certain; it will be high enough if he manages to find water. But even so, once water has been found we have to make sure we filter it before we drink it and this is what this article is all about.
Once the struggle to find a source of water has ended it’s time to make the water drinkable and this can be done in many ways (tablets, UV pen filters, commercial filters, etc.). But what can be done when you don’t have one of these solutions available? The answer is: you build your own filter from what Mother Nature has to offer.
You will need a plastic bottle which will serve as the support for the filter. You will have to cut the bottle in two and place the top part in the bottom part, used as a cup. It should look something like in the picture bellow. Make some tiny holes in the cap to allow the water to drip in the bottom part.
Now that you’ve made your filter support, you will need to find the following, a piece of cloth, charcoal, sand, small rocks or gravel.
The cloth piece will be placed in the cap and it will assure a good filtration of the smallest impurity particles that managed to pass through the layers above. In case of an emergency, you can use a piece from your own clothes, like a small piece from your T-shirt.
The charcoal can be acquired from the fire you’ve made during the day and it should be placed as the last layer. The charcoal’s role is to remove certain impurities from the water since it has a highly porous texture that can adsorb even odors or colored substance through a chemical reaction. Be advised that sodium and nitrates are not absorbed by the charcoal. You can make a fire by following these steps and once you’re done, you can use the charcoal for water filtration.
Next comes the sand, a first layer has to be put on top of the charcoal as its role is to retain the large and the fine particles of dirt and provide you with clean water. Once the water passes through the sand the larger particles will settle on top of the layer of sand while the smaller particles are eaten by microscopic organisms which can be found in the layers of slime that form around the sand particles.
And last but not least, the gravel or the small rocks which will be put on top of the sand. The role of the gravel is to dissipate the flow of water over the entire treatment bed. The water will be forced to flow through the gravel/rocks and spread over the entire surface and at the same time it strains out the particles that are bigger than the gaps between the rocks. The gravel it is used mainly as a strain for the larger particles of dirt.
Most people prefer to add two layers of sand and gravel to their filter for better results. Bellow you can see a diagram on how the filter should look.
Now that you’ve filtered your first cup of water, we have to make sure it doesn’t contain any bacteria. Remember that filtering doesn’t destroy the harmful microorganism in the water. A good way to get rid of germs is by boiling the water for up to 5 minutes.
Another thing we should consider, if possible, is the removal of metal and other solids from the water. This can be done through a distillation process, which is also good for removing bacteria. You will need a teapot, a piece of hose and another recipient to collect the water. Attach the hose to the teapot and raise it up with a tree branch, bend its end and put the recipient below the hose and wait for the water to boil. The water from the teapot will evaporate and the vapors will rise through the hose condensing at the end of the hose in the bet we formed. As the vapors are condensed, they will form rain drops and fall into the container below.
In case you will not have a plastic bottle, you can improvise a water filter by using tree branches and pieces of cloth. Below you can find an example of how to do it.
Once you manage to filter water in the wild, you still have to boil it to make sure it doesn’t contain any harmful bacteria. You should also practice and improve this skill every time you find yourself out in the wild.
Stay safe out there and be prepared!
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