One of the top survival priorities in an emergency is to find and disinfect enough drinking water to supply your needs. 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 on lockdown and with curfews, accessing clean water at all hours of the day can be challenging, so we’ve created 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 range and the power goes out, you can do it on a grill!) Boiling is sufficient to kill pathogenic bacteria, viruses and protozoa (WHO, 2015). If water is cloudy, let it settle and filter it through a clean cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter. Bring water to a rolling boil for at least one minute.
Plants can purify water
Plants are natural water filters both above ground and in the water. Hikers and other outdoor adventurers use plants in the woods to get clean drinking water, but you can do the same thing at home. There are a wide variety of plants you can use to filter your water.
- Cilantro is one of the most common household items that can purify water. Just grind it up and filter water through it. This herb may even remove heavy metals as effectively as charcoal filters. You can also use lemon peels, the core of a cactus and pine tree branches.
- Stop throwing away banana peels, they can be saved to filter water! Researchers are now finding that banana peels can be used effectively for removing pollutants and bacteria from your water. This is because there are substances in banana peels, which stick to any potentially toxic materials and remove them from your water. Thereby making it safe and clean to drink.All you need to do is mince and mash them up to use as filter, see the video below.
- Cactus leaves and their gooey core inside cactus leaves (mucilage) has been known to remove sediment from water throughout history, and research has found it also can also remove arsenic and bacteria. Boiling the mucilage with contaminated water creates a floating film that can easily be skimmed, creating safe and drinkable water for people in need. The technology was successfully used 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 tree shows how they were able to sieve dirt, bacteria and even dye out from water, they also effectively removed 99% of E. coli bacteria. The very same tissue that delivers life-giving sap to all parts of the tree also traps bacteria. It’s even possible that using the right type of xylem plant can filter out some highly toxic viruses too.
Sunlight (UV light)
It is well documented that solar energy can be an effective means of cleaning contaminated water. This is because ultraviolet (UV) light destroys the formation of DNA linkages in microorganisms, thereby 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 out in the sun for six hours. Solar water disinfection is an age-old method touted by the World Health Organization for areas where access to clean water is limited. UV rays in the sunlight tear apart the microbes to make water safe. Drink up!
Ceramic Pots and Gravity
Gravity and a clay ceramic pot are all that is needed for this technique. UNICEF and the Water Sanitation Program received accolades for providing Cambodia with ceramic water filters, a purification system that reduced the country’s 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’re in a pinch. It has advantages over chlorine in both convenience and efficacy- also many people find the taste less potent. It appears safe for short and intermediate length use (3-6 months), but questions remain about its safety in long-term usage. It should not be used by persons with an allergy to iodine, persons with active thyroid disease, or pregnant women.