Finding and disinfecting enough drinking water to meet your needs is a top survival priority in an emergency. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are creating a series of articles to make your social distancing a little easier and more enjoyable. With many cities closed and with curfews, access to clean water at all hours of the day can be a challenge, so we've put together a list of the best ways to filter water at home naturally:
This tried and true method is the easiest to do at home with little equipment (plus, if you have an electric stove and the power goes out, you can do it on a grill!) Boiling is enough to kill pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and protozoa (WHO, 2015). If the water is cloudy, allow it to settle and filter through a clean cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter. Bring the water to a boil for at least a minute.
Plants can purify water
Plants are natural water filters both on the surface and in the water. Hikers and other outdoor adventurers use plants in the forest for drinking water, but you can do the same at home. There are a wide variety of plants that you can use to filter your water.
-Cilantro is one of the most common household items that can purify water. Just grind it and filter the water through it. This herb can even remove heavy metals as effectively as charcoal filters. You can also use lemon peels, the core of a cactus, and pine branches.
-The banana peels can be saved to filter the water! The researchers found that these shells can be used effectively to remove contaminants and bacteria from the water. This is because there are banana peels that stick to any potentially toxic material and wash it out of the water. All you need to do is chop and mash them to use as a filter.
-Cactus leaves and their sticky core within cactus leaves (mucilage) have been known to remove sediment from water throughout history, and research has found that it can also remove arsenic and bacteria. Boiling the mucilage with contaminated water creates a buoyant film that can be easily skimmed, creating safe, drinkable water for those in need. The technology was used successfully during the 2006 Haiti earthquake, where displaced people needed clean, potable water.
-Xylem plants are so effective at purifying water that an MIT research study on a white pine shows how they were able to sift dirt, bacteria and even stain them from the water, they also effectively removed 99% of E. coli bacteria . The same tissue that delivers the life-giving sap to all parts of the tree also traps bacteria. It's even possible that using the correct type of xylem plant can also filter out some highly toxic viruses.
Sunlight (ultraviolet light)
It is well documented that solar energy can be an effective means of cleaning polluted water. This is because ultraviolet (UV) light destroys the formation of DNA bonds in microorganisms, thus preventing them from reproducing and thus rendering them harmless. The cheapest and easiest way to disinfect water? Sunlight. Just leave a clear glass or plastic bottle in the sun for six hours. Solar water disinfection is an old method promoted by the World Health Organization for areas where access to clean water is limited. UV rays in sunlight destroy microbes to make water safe.
Ceramic and gravity pots
Gravity and a clay pottery pot are all that is needed for this technique. UNICEF and the Water Sanitation Program received praise for providing Cambodia with ceramic water filters, a purification system that reduced the prevalence of diarrheal diseases by 50%. The porous nature of ceramic prevents nearly all bacteria and protozoa from reaching the water supply, specifically reducing E. coli by 99 percent.
Iodine has been used to disinfect water for nearly a century, and you can keep tablets in your pantry for when you have trouble. It has advantages over chlorine in both convenience and efficacy, and many people find the flavor less potent. It appears safe for short and medium term use (3-6 months), but doubts remain about its safety in long term use. It should not be used by people with an allergy to iodine, people with active thyroid disease, or pregnant women.