Finding Water is the key to Survival

When you find yourself in a Survival Situation, Finding water should be your number 1 priority. Whilst humans can live many days without food we can last but a few days without water.

Finding water is an essential skill for any Survivalist to have. A typical adult should drink 2 -3 litres of Water per day (more in hot climates). Water can be found or readily produced in all climates and landscapes (even in desert conditions) it’s just a matter of knowing how to find it.

Part of your Planning Process as a Prepper would have been to research water sources in your current location or indeed your Bug Out locations.

Once you have found a water source you will need to make it safe to drink as most natural water sources will contain some sort of contamination from chemical pesticides and fertilisers to bacteria and parasites. There are 3 main methods to make your water safe to to drink and a few less well known options used by experienced Survivalists !


In most cases, water can be made safe by boiling alone. Provided the water is visibly clear (streams / rivers and such) boiling should kill any insects, parasites and water born diseases (such as Hepatitis). It is recommended you keep the water at a rolling boil for just over a minute (at sea level) or 3 minutes at altitudes over 2000m (as water boils at lower temperatures the higher above sea level you are.


There are many Personal Water Filtration devices currently on the Market, most can be purchased at your local camping shop or online via Amazon, Ebay etc. A popular Market Leader is Lifestraw ! This lightweight and low cost cost Personal Water Filter will filter up to 1000 litres of water killing 99.9999% of all water born bacteria.

Chemical Treatment

Water Purification tablets can also be found at any outdoor/camping store and even large supermarkets.  Chemical treatments contain antimicrobial substances such as iodine, chlorine or grape seed extract that are introduced to water to make it drinkable. Generally they require 30-45 minutes to render water safe to drink so this option is best suited to those who have set up a base of some kind.  Chemical treatments are by far the lightest tool to use for survival water purification, but any water treated with them tends to taste pretty terrible.

Improvised Water Treatments

In an emergency, you can use naturally occurring antimicrobial plant alkaloids to chemically treat your water.  Be warned the effectiveness of improvised chemical treatments is far less reliable than a commercial chemical treatment.  Use these techniques only in an emergency!  Oregon Grape (Mahonia aquifolium) is a common understory shrub in the pacific northwest.  The bright yellow inner bark of the root contains a powerful antimicrobial alkaloid called berberine.  You can chew on the root before and after drinking questionable water as a form of ‘herbal’ water treatment.  The root is very bitter and far too tough to swallow.

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