Proper guide on ‘How to Purify Water in The Wild’

Featured Image

The thirst of exploring the wild can make you thirsty as well. Wilderness does have enough beauty and adventure to invite you. But fewer sources of water and pure water particularly, make it harder to survive in the wild. It is needless to discuss the importance of pure water while you are in the wild. This article is all about ‘how to purify water in the wild.’ In addition, I will also try to help you finding different water sources and using these sources wisely to get pure drinking water.

Different sources to find water

Different sources to find waterClean and clear water flowing from a place without people, manmade objects, or obvious signs of pollution is the best thing to drink in the wilderness. While in the outdoors, whenever you find a spring or stream don’t forget to fill your water bottles with it. In addition, you may find lakes, ponds, rivers, and snow or ice as different sources of water in the wild.

But, this will not be the obvious scenario for every outdoor. The source of water will not be the same for your tours in the wild. It will change depending on your location and environment. Let’s try to focus on the location-specific water sources.

In the Desert

In the DesertDesert is a kind of place where you will be in need of water frequently. But, there are hardly any water sources to quench your thirst. However, there are still some sources that you can make work to fill your water bottle. Make sure that you are searching for water in the desert only in the cooler times of the day.

How to search for water in the desert?

You may be a little annoyed to read the heading. But believe me, the possibility of finding a water source in the desert is close to zero if you don’t have the idea where and how to search for water. In the process, you can easily get yourself lost in the riddle of dessert. Additionally, it will increase the level of your thirst, but sadly there is no sign of water. Let me guide you to the different water sources in the desert.

Paying closer attention to the surroundings

Attention and concentration can ease your work in the desert to a great extent. Focus on your surroundings. When you see a gathering of wildlife in certain areas of the desert, there is a huge chance of getting a water source there. You can also follow the animal tracks to head in the direction for a water source.

The sight of green vegetation will also indicate the presence of a water source nearby. You may get the water directly, or you should dig down toward the root of the plant to get it.

On the other hand, some plants store water within their roots. You can drain out the water from those roots by pulling and cutting it. For example, in Australian desserts red or blue Mallee Eucalypt has water in their roots.

In addition, desert is always full of cactus and they may also full of water. Barrel cacti or barrel cactus is a very common name for the outdoor enthusiasts. Drinking from barrel cacti could be a good option unless you ended up with the poisonous one. The fishhook barrel cacti are the only safe species of the barrel cactus. You will find the species only in southern Arizona, the far west of Texas, and the southwest of Mexico. Firstly, take the top of the plant and scoop out the white flesh of it. Then, give a squeeze to bring out the moisture.

Cactus fruit like Prickly Pear can also be a water source for you in the desert. It may not satisfy your full water needs but surely can help with its juicy fruit edible.

Check the canyons or the creek beds

Canyons, creek beds or the low lying can be probably a great source of water in the desserts. In the northern hemisphere, search in the north facing canyons and go for the south facing canyons in the southern hemisphere. For the most of the day, they remain protected from the sun, and that’s why they will store water the longest.

If you find the creek beds dry don’t be disheartened. Try to dig into the edges to find any remaining water.

Look under the rocks and Transpiration

As you know the proverb, ‘to leave no stone unturned,’ just check or look under the rocks for any dew. Or, you can also get the help of transpiration method to collect the plant moistures. Take a plastic bag and put it over the tree leaves. You need to weight the bad with a small rock to collect the water in the base. Leave it for a day, and you will get some water at the bottom of your bag.


Many people use this drowsing method to find groundwater in the desert. They use a drowsing or diving rod-like ‘Y’ or ‘L’ shaped stick to locate underground water sources. But, don’t waste your energy learning or trying this method. Because many studies have already proved, this method is ineffective.

In the Mountains

In the mountainsFinding water in the mountains is much easier than the desserts. You will get a lot of visible water sources like ice or snow, and rivers or streams in the mountains. Running water is always safe to drink compared with the stagnant lakes or ponds. So, fill your water bottles with running water whenever you see them.

How to search for water in the mountains?

Well! I will make your job pretty easier in this section. Just go through the methods like playing closer attention to the surroundings, check the creek beds, and transpiration. I have discussed those thoroughly in the previous section of this article.

If you aren’t still lucky enough to find the water source you should look at the bottom of the mountain. Since water always find a way there, you may find some in the small crevices, gullies or even in the tree hollows.

In the Ocean

In the oceanSometimes I find it really horrible that I am in the middle of the water, I am surrounded by it, but still, I can’t drink any. That’s why people always feel inferior in the ocean. This is something like you are counting money in a cash counter of the bank, but none of the money is yours.

How to search for water in the ocean?

You can’t help yourself finding many water sources in the ocean. However, you still can find some to satisfy your thirst. Capturing rainwater and desalination are the two ways you can get water in the ocean.

Capturing rainwater

Rainwater is the only source of pure water in the ocean. You can capture rainwater for drinking. You need to use any material or object at hand for capturing rainwater.


Desalination makes the ocean water drinkable. It is a process of removing salt from the ocean. There are some inflatable desalination kits in the market. But, it might not come into use when you are trapped in the ocean. Don’t worry! You can still continue with the desalination method using some simple items.

Take a large bowl or container and place salt water in it. Then, place a smaller cup at the center of the container. Try to keep the edge of the cup above the sea water. Use a plastic wrap or similar thing to cover the container. Weigh the wrap down toward the smaller cup with the help of a rock. The heat of the sun will help the saltwater to evaporate, and it will condensate on the plastic material.

The rock will help the moisture to drip down in the smaller cup to provide you fresh water for drinking.

In the Tundra and Frozen Land

In the Tundra and Frozen LandYou may not get thirsty in the colder regions like arctic and alpine regions. But, this will put you at risk of dehydration. Arctic and alpine regions have an abundance of water. You will get it in the rivers, streams, ponds, and ice or snow. It’s needless to say again that you need to purify the stagnant pond water.

Before drinking you need to melt down the ice or snow. This will conserve the body energy of melting down the ice or snow and help you avoiding internal cold injuries. Try to take ice over snow as it will yield more water.

You can also melt the older sea ice since it loses its salinity over the years. Aged sea ice has rounded edges and bluish color.

In the Jungle

In the JungleThe jungle will give you ample opportunities to collect drinkable water. You will get a lot of water sources around you. What you need is just to find out those sources to fill your water bottles or just satisfy the thirst for that time.

How to search for water in the jungle?

Again in the environment of a jungle, the animals will lead you to the water source. Try to follow their tracks or observe the wildlife around you. You will definitely find a way to your desired water source. Bees and ant can also help you in the process. Bees are always close to a water source, and you can see ants forming a line towards a water reservoir within a tree.

If you are not lucky to find drinkable water sources in the jungle, then try the following to satisfy your thirst.

Collecting rainwater and dew

Collection of rainwater and dew is one of the main solutions to get drinkable pure water in the jungle. You can use the large leaves of the tree to use it as the surface to collect water. Just angle the tree leaves into the water bottle or container and let the water to store there overnight.

Green Bamboo

There is a drinkable liquid inside the stem of green bamboo. To collect this, you need to bend the bamboo down in the direction of the ground. Then, secure it in a position and place a bowl or container underneath the end of it. Next, you have to cut a small section off the tip. Leave it for overnight. You will get some odorless and clean drinking water.

Palm Trees

The flowering stalks of palm trees can provide you the much-needed drinking water. Use the methods I described for the bamboo trees to get the work done. In every 12 hours palm renew the flow of the water, so you will get plenty to satisfy your thirst. But, remember one very important thing that drinking these in large quantity can cause a laxative effect. And, you may end up dehydrated.

In the Forest

Each of the above-mentioned methods will come into play to collect water in the forest. Just try any of them to find drinkable water sources in the forest.

In an Island

There should be plenty of fresh water on an island. Just venture around the inland to find waterfalls or a stream. Most probably, you will find one. If not then there must be some palm trees and coconuts to give you fresh water. You can also use the above discussed other methods to collect drinkable water.

If you have the strength and energy to dig 3-5 foot hole, then you can easily get a few gallons of filtered water through a beach well. Just behind the first sand dune dig the hole. Stop sand craving back into the whole by lining it with rock or timber. Within several hours you will get ready to drink filtered water.

How to purify water in the wild?

A human being is able to survive without foods for a number of days but only a maximum of five days without water. If you don’t have sufficient water with you in the wilderness, it will be very difficult for you to survive. In addition, the water you will get in the wilderness is not ideal for drinking. They are contaminated with different types of microorganisms and parasites that may be very harmful to your health.

However, there are plenty of water purification methods that you can use to get pure drinkable water. Some of them are traditional filtering methods, and some of them are manual. But, one thing is very sure that you can easily get the work done using these techniques.

Traditional Methods

Boiling and stone boiling are the two traditional methods that people have been using for many years. These are the two easiest and prominent techniques of water purification.


BoilingBoiling the water to purify it is the classic method. Make a fire a get your water ready in just ten minutes. Just as simple as that!

Things you need

You don’t need any fancy or extravagant items to go with this process. You will just need the following:

  • A container or pot to boil the water
  • Fire (you can make fire through different techniques)
  • Something to hold the pot (piece of paper, cloth or leaves of trees will do)
The actual technique
  • Start a fire
  • Take a pot full of water and place it over the fire
  • Try with a lot of heat until you see the bubbles in the water
  • Allow the bubbles to roll over the boiling water for 5 minutes
  • Get the pot off the fire
  • Let the water to cool for another 5 minutes before drinking

Boiling works perfectly for clean water. However, it doesn’t remove any solids from water. It can kill the microorganism in the water but can’t remove the dirt. So, you need to combine other methods with it if your source of water contains dirt. You can use a sand filter to pass the boiling water through it. It will easily remove the debris and impurities.

Stone Boiling

In the wild, when you don’t have any pot to boil your water, and you are unable to make any fire, then this drinking water purification method will come in handy. If you are thinking how to purify water in the wild with just stone, then please read below get your answer.

Things you need

I am not going to show you how to purify water without boiling. As a matter of fact, this is boiling, but with stone. You need the following things:

  • A rock with a round hole (if you don’t have any pot)
  • Hot stone (if you can’t make any fire)
  • Small stones
  • Fire
The actual technique

If you don’t have any pot to contain water:

  • Take a rock that has a round hole
  • Pour water in that hole
  • Make a fire and place that rock in the fire
  • Use the rock as a pot to boil the water

If you can’t make any fire to boil the water, you can use hot stones to boil water. You can easily find hot stones in the wild.

  • Firstly, take a pot or container to fill it with water
  • Next, add some small stones that aren’t heated. These stones will prevent the hot rock to touch the bottom of the pot if you are using a plastic pot.
  • Now, take a hot stone and place it on the rocks. After 15 minutes replace the hot stone with a new one. Keep repeating the process until you get boiling water.

Try to clean the rocks as much as you can before pouring water into it or putting it into the water.

Manual Filtration Techniques

The first question comes after ‘how to purify water in the wild’ is ‘how to purify water without boiling?’ Well, there are some drinking water purification methods, which we can term as manual filtration techniques. There are two manual processes that I will discuss in this section, such as, DIY Filtration and T-shirt Filtration.

DIY Filtration

Make a filter of your own with the help of the materials you get in the wild. For example, you can make a bushcraft filter as a way to DIY filtration.

Things you need

You need very simple things to make this feature work.

  • Grass, sand, and dirt
  • Larger and less porous materials
  • Smaller and more porous materials
  • A container
The actual technique
  • Take a container
  • Start to make layers of gravel, grass, sand, dirt, and materials respectively from the bottom
  • Pour water at the top and let it pass through the filter
  • Collect the water in a clean container

You still need to boil the water to get rid of the microorganisms of the water. This filtration method will clean the water by removing any dirt in it.

T-shirt Filtration

Creativity is always the answer to the question ‘how to purify water in the wild?’ People have been using their t-shirts to get clean and safe water for a long time. They do this insane but yet helpful practice when they are devoid of any necessary supplies to purify their water.

Things you need

Again, just a few items will make this work.

  • A couple of clean t-shirts
  • Three rods of sticks
  • A container
The actual technique
  • Firstly, insert the rod sticks into the ground to create a triangle shape. A couple of inches into the ground will do to secure them.
  • Next, tie the t-shirts on the sticks in a manner that will place one on the top of the other. Because of this, you will get several layers of filtering material.
  • Now, place a container below the t-shirts to get the clean water.
  • Then, run the water through the filtrate to get clean water in the container.
  • Repeat the process several times to get better results.

Try to take clean t-shirts. Otherwise, the method will backfire with more germs. In addition, you still have to boil the water to get safer drinking water.

Purification Tablets or Drops

Purification tablets or drops are another popular way to purify water in the wilderness. Potassium permanganate, iodine, or chlorine is the main ingredients of these tablets and drops. You can normally get it in most of the drug stores.

Things you need
  • A 20 liter can (the size may vary according to the tablet or drop you are using)
  • Purification tablets or drops
The actual technique
  • First and foremost, take the can and fill it with water up to the brim.
  • Add the tablets or drops into the water as per instructions.
  • To help the tablets or drops to mix well with the water, shake the can for ten seconds.
  • Allow the water to rest in the can for about 20 minutes.
  • After 20 minutes it is ready to drink.

Read the instructions carefully before using purification tablets or drops.

Evaporation Traps

Evaporation trap is another creative way to get pure drinking water, and this is even without a water source. The most important part of this method is finding a spot in the land that was previously a water bed. It will make the job very easier. Survey the land very carefully to find such a place like this and go by the following instructions.

Things you need

Actually, you need a whole lot of things to make this happen. However, the most important thing you need for this process is a body full of energy.

  • Equipment to dig a hole in the ground
  • Non-poisonous plants
  • An empty cup
  • Plastic bags

The actual technique

  • Firstly, find a moist spot and dig 19 inches deep holes. The number of holes will give you more water. However, for dryer lands, you need to dig deeper.
  • Take some non- poisonous plants and throw them into the holes.
  • Place an empty cup at the center of the holes.
  • Cover the holes using the plastic bag and seal it by pouring sand around the bag.
  • Weigh the plastic wrap with a rock in the direction of the cup.
  • Allow the sun to evaporate water.
  • Collect and drink your water.


With distillation process, you can get rid of the salt of the salty water. In the wilderness, it is very common to get salty water. The huge amount of salt in this water can make you dehydrated. On the other hand, it also contains a lot of impurities. Distillation is the best way to turn this water in pure form.

Things you need

  • A big bowl or pan
  • A clear glass cup
  • Plastic wrap

The actual technique

  • First and foremost, take a pan or bowl and place the glass cup at the middle of it.
  • Fill the pan with salty water. But, be careful not to get any water in the glass cup.
  • Cover the pan or bowl with a plastic wrap.
  • Hold the pan in an upside down position.
  • Start boiling the water
  • With times the water will start to turn into steam form and will collect on the cover. Then the steams will condense into the glass.
  • Allow the water to cool before drinking it.

Use of Survival Straws

Many inventions have made life in the wilderness very easier. Survival straws are one of them. If you are not ready to spend your energy on the work like filtration and distillation, then this survival straws can work like a magic wand.

Survival Straws

The survival straws or the life straws is a kind of water filter that is designed to be used by an individual to filter the water for drinking. A survival straw can remove almost all of waterborne bacteria and parasites. This can filter a maximum of 4000 liters of water. Almost all the super shops sell survival straws in the hiking or camping sections.

Using survival straw to purify water

Just take the survival straw and hold it into the water body. Wait for a couple of minutes. The water will move into the filter membrane. Now, suck on the survival straw to draw the water from the water body. You will get very clean water. In addition, the water is free from microbial and other contaminants.

Using the sun

If you don’t get any other way to purify water for drinking and the question buzzing around your head ‘how to purify water in the wild,’ then take a deep breath and read this. You don’t need to worry about as the sun is out there to help you. Yes, I am talking about the sun that is above our head. UV lights of the sun and solar water disinfection are two common ways to get purified water in the wild.

UV lights

This will kill bugs in the water, and most importantly, it works well in large quantities.

Things you need
  • Water bottles or containers
  • Sunny day
The actual technique
  • Place the water bottles or containers out in the sun. Make sure to their labels.
  • Leave them for a day or a couple of days.
  • Now, you can drink the safe and pure drinking water.

Before doing this process, you still need to filter the water first, since the UV lights will only eradicate the microorganisms.

Solar Water Disinfection

This is also another popular water purification method in the wild. However, you need very sunny weather to execute this process. The UV rays of the sun will disinfect the water to give you pure drinking water.

Things you need

The only thing you need for this method is clear plastic bottles.

The actual technique
  • Fill the bottles to the brim with unclean water
  • Place the bottles in direct sunlight
  • Allow the bottles to sit for a few days
  • Collect the bottles, and they are ready to drink

This method will, however, only work in a sunny environment. In addition, it may be not effective against the bacterial spores.

Using chemicals

Chemicals like chlorine and iodine are the two most effective ones to work as a water purifier. They can purify drinking water in any given situation. So, if you are thinking for an adventure in the wilderness, don’t forget to take some chlorine and iodine with you. Who knows when these items will come handy?


Chlorine is one of the most well-known and active water purifier agents that we know about. It may help you in the wild to give you clean drinkable water.

Things you need
  • A container
  • Chlorine (the amount will depend on the temperature and the quality of the water)
The actual technique
  • Take the water container and add chlorine to it. For murky water, you need to use 4 drops, and for clean water, you require to add two drops of chlorine.
  • Next, you need to put the lid on and shake the container well to mix the chlorine with the water.
  • Take the container in upside down position and remove the lid slightly. Allow some water to pour out of the container. This will clean the lead and threads of the pot.
  • Screw the lid tightly and wipe the exterior parts of the container. The chlorine has to be on all the surfaces of the water.
  • Let the container sit in a dark or shaded room for about 30 minutes before drinking.


Iodine is another popular chemical that you can use to purify water. It is available in all the drug stores. Iodine is very much effective against microorganisms and different types of contaminants.

Things you need
  • A container
  • Iodine (the amount will depend on the state of the water)
The actual technique
  • First and foremost, fill the water container to the brim.
  • Then, add chlorine to the water. You will need 5 drops of the iodine for clear water and 10 drops for the muddy water.
  • Next, shake the container to mix the iodine and the water for best results.
  • Let the container sit in a dark or shaded room for about one hour before drinking.

The iodine mixes completely with the water, and it gives a bizarre taste to the water. You can add some vitamin-‘C’ components to neutralize the taste.

Using different filters

There are many filters in the market which you can use as the drinking water purification methods. Out of the many filters, I will discuss some well-known and effective ones such as water bottle filters, carbon water filters, ceramic filters, and gravity filters.

Water Bottle Filters

Water bottle filters are water bottles that have inbuilt filters in them. These items are very easy to use. In addition, you can get water bottle filters in all the supermarkets around you.

Using a water bottle filter to purify water
  • First and foremost, unscrew the lid of the bottle and add water to the brim through the opening.
  • Then, to enable the filter to work you need to squeeze the water filled bottle through the filter.
  • Finally, wait for about 15 minutes, and your water is ready to drink.

Carbon Water Filters

People have been using carbon as the drinking water purification method for longer periods of time. In addition, they are also trying to work on its modifications to make it even better. Activated carbon removes the impurities and chlorine from the water.

Using carbon water filters to purify water

Granular and the solid form are the two most common forms of activated carbon. However, it takes a long time for the water to flow through the solid carbon. Because of this, in most cases, solid activated carbons are not used as filters. But, the slower the water flows, the more impurities are stuck in the activated carbon.

You just need to buy a filter with in-built activated carbon and use it in the outdoors.

Ceramic Filters

Ceramic filters are another popular and simple way to purify your drinking water in the wild. Many travellers and backpackers have been using this method over the years. It is very effective against microorganisms.

Using ceramic filters to purify water
  • Firstly, take a ceramic material
  • Next, pass the dirty or unclean water through the pores of the ceramic material
  • Finally, you will get clean water on the other sides

This method is, however, is not very effective against organic pollutants and pesticides. So, you need to pass your ceramic filtered water through carbon filters as well.

Gravity Filters

Gravity filters are water filtering bags that are super easy to use. Just fill the bag with water, and the gravity will do the rest of work. The filtering system will remove the contaminants from the water to make it ready for your drink. You can get the pure drinking water in just a couple of minutes.

Using Plants

There are many plants in the wilderness, and the good news is that you can use these plants to purify your drinking water. However, you need to be careful to choose the plants that aren’t toxic.

Things you need

  • A plastic bag
  • A piece of string
  • Plants

The actual technique

  • Firstly, you need to find the right plant that will be used to extract the water. The best one for this process are plants like berry bushes since they are constantly exposed to the sun.
  • Then, select a branch with a lot of healthy leaves. Try to get rid of any insects or debris.
  • Next, wrap each of the leaves with plastic bags. Use the strings to secure the bags tightly. This will prevent the evaporated water from escaping.
  • Within a few days, you will get enough water to drink.


Don’t try this process until you are absolutely sure about the plant you are using.

Natural Chemical Treatments

In the wild, you may find a number of plants that have antimicrobial properties. These properties can help you to get pure drinking water.

All you need to do is find a plant like Oregon Grape. Just chew the roots of this shrub before and after drinking water. A bitter taste will occupy your mouth, but the antimicrobial properties of the berberine will kill the microorganisms of the water.


Sedimentation is the process where particles settle down at the bottom of any container that you are using to place the water. Except for the bottom part, the other parts of the container will have clean water for you. It will indeed work perfectly for murky water purification.

Things you need
  • A big container
The actual technique
  • Firstly, fill the container with dirty water.
  • Then, let the water sit there for a few days.
  • After some days you will observe the dirt particles at the bottom of the container. Take the clean water in another container. But, don’t let the dirt particles get their way in the other container.
  • Next, pass the clean water through a sand filter to remove the left particles in the water.
  • Finally, you are ready to drink the pure water.


There are so many options on ‘how to purify water in the wild,’ aren’t they? But, don’t get confused with those varieties, since you need to be open using any of the above-mentioned methods of water purification. Rather than reminding you about the importance of pure drinking water, I would like to ask you to go through all the details of water purification processes before your next outing. As you don’t know what is coming next and what will come handy to save you. Good luck with your next adventure!

Previous articleUnderstanding Different Borax Uses and Safety Issues
Next articleThe Complete Handbook of Paracord Lanyard with Different Knots
I’m a happy family man with some beautiful people to make me feel loved and endured. I make some time each day to grow as a survivalist alongside running my local grocery shop. But why? I felt the thrill when I was 13. My father being an ever-busy guy used to take me to the woods and taught me how to explore, meet, live with, and survive the enchantment of the misty mountains, old creeks, dense forests, and most of all, the marooned regions where life gets a distinct meaning without anyone to take care of you. I love my old man and live to die a dauntless human. However, I don’t want you to miss all the exciting stories I have to share with you. Let’s read some.


Please enter your name here
Please enter your comment!