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How many of you have seen this improvised water filter or one similar to it?

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

All too often we see posts scattered across social media that seem "COOL" and "POPULAR" in the survival, preparedness, and bushcraft circles. The below picture is one of them. From the very beginning of this diagram to the words clean, clear safe to drink water. The example is very misleading and incorrect. Even simply utilizing the same materials used in the example differently could create a better secondary filtration system.

Water is essential to all forms of life on earth and beyond 2/3 of the earth’s surface that is covered by water, most of the land has readily available water. Water is essential for life, so take time to learn the skills that matter most and will save your life.

The Importance of Water:

  • Up to 60% of the human body is made up of water

  • The human brain is made up of about 75% water

  • The water lost by sweat, evaporation, or body functions will have to be replaced.

  • Water helps maintain body temperature

  • Required to help with the digestion of food

  • ½ a gallon of bodily fluid (2.5% of body weight) reduces the body’s efficiency by 25%

  • A fluid loss of 25% loss of body weight usually is fatal

Water for human consumption must be free of contamination, either natural or caused by man. Unfortunately, nearly all water found in nature is either known to be contaminated or at risk of being contaminated. The means to test water are complex, expensive, and time-consuming which makes them out of reach in a survival situation. In most cases, gathering water from nature requires that we assume contamination is present and treat all water for what we believe is the most likely contaminant.

In simplified terms, water contamination can be thought of as being suspended or dissolved in water.

  • Suspended contaminants can be removed through physical/chemical treatment such as filters (ie. the improvised filter shown above) or flocculation/sedimentation methods.

  • Dissolved contaminants need to be removed through distillation, reverse osmosis, ion exchange, active biological treatment, absorption, and disinfection. (Ie. Water still needs disinfection even after using a water filtration device such as a Sawyer Filter, LifeStraw, Grayl, or others like them).

Choosing the proper method to disinfect. Depends on what type of contaminant is present. The only way to truly know would have to be done through scientific study and analysis.

In a crisis situation, it is unlikely we will know what treatment method is best and it really doesn’t matter because we won't be privy to a scientific analysis given the circumstances. Emergency water treatment is risky and the methods shown above should only be attempted if you find yourself in an immediate life-threatening situation. Taking extra steps to learn how to make water safer is better than being sick and sorry later.

My answer is a person in need of water in an emergency must simply do the best they can. This is why carrying gear (ie. cotton bandannas to pre-filter, a Sawyer or Grayl System to filter, and either a metal container to boil water or a form of chemical disinfection) all while having the knowledge and skills to use them all in conjunction and correctly is so important.

So think about this the next time you're out in the wilderness or looking at just how prepared you really are. Knowledge and skills can go a long way when it comes to staying healthy and can even help one avoid death.

Guys, I hope this information helps out if the time comes to ever need it, and If you like what we are doing at the Woodsrunner School. Show your support, by sharing our content.

Joshua Barnes

Founder & Director of Operations

Woodsrunner School, LLC

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