Water is the most essential component of life on Earth.
In the United States, the average person uses about 75 gallons per day of freshwater. Most of this water is pre-treated in facilities and comes out of the tap clean and ready for drinking, a fact many take for granted. If you are camping and hiking you won't always have access to this source of healthy, potable water. Unfortunately, many water sources in the wilderness include microorganisms, bacteria, viruses and contaminants.
Boiling water is the most effective way to kill all disease-causing microorganisms, such as E. coli, Cryptosporidium and Giardia lamblia, which are present in lakes and rivers. Depending on your elevation level, you should boil water for different lengths or time. Water temperatures above 160° F kill all pathogens within 30 minutes and above 185° F within a few minutes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, water should be brought to a rolling boil for one minute. At altitudes greater than 6,562 feet you should boil water for three minutes. 2. Chemical Treatment
If boiling water is not an option, you can chemically treat your water with halogens such as iodine and chlorine. There are many products on the market that include iodine or chlorine in liquid and tablet forms specifically for water purification. The effectiveness of these products depend on the temperature, pH level and clarity of the water. Be sure to check the expiration dates on your water purification products. If they have expired, they may not be as effective. If the water is cloudy it will require more chemicals to treat. If the water contains large particles, strain it through a cloth before you treat the water. The water should sit at least 30 minutes after the treatment tablet has dissolved. Water that has a temperature below 40° F should sit for an hour. People with thyroid problems, on lithum, women over 50...