7 Ways to Purify River Water (and Some That Won’t Work)

If you find yourself in the wild, be it on a hike or a hunting trip, it’s always smart to bring at least one water purification system with you. You never know when disaster will strike and you’ll have to drink river water.

To avoid getting sick, you should always purify river water before you drink it. These seven methods are the best methods of river water purification.

Water Filters

These handy devices are designed to remove bacteria, viruses, and chemical impurities from water, leaving you with clean drinking water.

Boiling Water

The second-best method of water purification, endorsed by the US National Park Service, is boiling water. This will kill parasites, bacteria, and viruses.

DIY Activated Charcoal/Carbon Filter

An upside of activated-carbon filtering is the removal of some toxic products. Tiny carbon particles can decompose toxic compounds, such as pesticides, into non-toxic products.

Bleach (Chemical Disinfection)

Bleach purifies water through the use of sodium hypochlorite, which is a chlorine solution often used by big water systems for purification. Once you mix bleach with water, acid and oxygen will form. The oxygen will purify water.

Disinfection Tablets

Disinfection tablets use chlorine or silver ions as the active ingredient. Silver ion tablets are particularly powerful, but they can take up to four hours to purify water, and long-term use can lead to the development of argyria.

UV Light Wands

A UV light wand is essentially a small water purifier. It purifies water by damaging the DNA of bacteria, viruses, and parasites in the water, making them as good as dead.