Purifying water while camping in the Wilderness

Much like many other myths perpetuated by Hollywood, drinking directly from a stream of water – regardless of its Eden-like beauty courtesy of exquisite cinematography – can be a far bigger health hazard than we are led to believe. If you are camping in the woods with your loved ones, it’s always wise not to rely on natural spring water.

Remember to always carry enough fluids on you for your time in the wilderness. However, if you really have to drink water from natural sources, the least you can do is to boil the water to make it less harmful. Boiling water kills the harmful bacteria present in the water.



Following are a few quick methods to boil water while you are camping:

On a Fire


This is perhaps the only method that pops into your head when you think of boiling water in the wilderness and is the most logical one as well. You simply need fire, a metal pot with a lid and a rag to handle the hot pot. If you have used up the fire for other purposes and are left with a bunch of burning coals, you can still boil your water, except it might take a little bit longer.



Simply fill up your pot with natural water and put it on the fire or coals. The amount of time it takes water to boil depends on the type of water, the intensity of the fire, altitude and the ambient temperature. In any case, it should not take too long for water to start simmering.

Boil as much as possible to fully benefit from the method. When you are satisfied, take a wet rag and remove the pot from the fire. If a piece of cloth isn’t at your disposal, you can always use a bunch of leaves to do the job for you.

Cover the pot and leave it to cool down for few minutes. Now the water should be safe enough for consumption.

On Camping Stoves


Camping stoves come in all shapes and sizes, and it entirely depends on which one you buy for your camping needs, any basic stove will do the job for you. Using a stove is perhaps the easiest and also the cleanest way to boil water, since it takes a lot of effort to first ignite and then keep the fire burning in the wilderness.


Same rules and precautionary measures apply to all kinds of stoves. Stoves use butane, white gas or other fuels to ignite the fire.


Grandfather’s camping stove – Author: Reuben Strayer – CC BY 2.0
Grandfather’s camping stove – Author: Reuben Strayer – CC BY 2.0

Always be careful with stoves: take your time and thoroughly read the instruction manual that comes with the stove.

Turn on the stove and be very careful when igniting it. Some stoves need matches, while others have built-in self-ignition systems (it makes a spark) so there is no need for matches in this case. After it’s lit, simply put your pot on the stove and wait for it to boil.

Since you are out camping, put your stove out in the open and never ignite a gas stove inside a sealed tent. Most tents are made out of highly flammable material, and stoves release carbon dioxide, a deadly combination if you are using a stove in an enclosed space. Use adequate hand protection while removing the boiling hot water from the stove.

Additional Tip:

There’s often water to drink, you just need to make sure it’s safe
There’s often water to drink, you just need to make sure it’s safe

If all fails and you are unable to get a fire going, or your camping stove fails, it is always handy to keep a few purification tablets in your backpack. This is the safest and cleanest way to purify water in the wilderness and make it consumable.

These purification tablets aren’t very expensive and will save you the hassle of igniting the fire. There are all kinds of methods available out there to purify water, and you must consider them before making your way to the campsite.

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fmssolution is one of the authors writing for Outdoor Revival