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Friday, May 27, 2011

Four Different Ways to Treat and Purify Water for Drinking

Traveler's diarrhea can be a nightmare. What's worse, drinking contaminated water can give you much more than a case of the runs. Giardia, amoebic dysentery, cholera - these are just a few examples of water borne illnesses that could really ruin your trip. There are a number of options for treating your water, but here are four of the most effective methods.


Boiling water for a sufficient amount of time will effectively kill all harmful organisms. You should boil the water for at least three minutes if you are at sea level. At 5,000 feet above sea level, you should boil the water for at least five minutes. For every 1,000 feet above that, boil for another minute.


Iodine is a chemical agent that treats water by neutralizing harmful organisms. It needs to be kept in a dark container and cannot be exposed to light. While this option is preferred by many because only a few drops are required for treatment, there is a distinct odor and taste caused by the iodine and some people find it offensive. Iodine can be purchased in liquid form from most camping and recreation stores.


Chlorine is a chemical agent, like iodine, which kills harmful parasites and bacteria. It takes longer to work than iodine, often up to four hours. However, chlorine treatment does not cause an offensive odor or taste. Chlorine can be purchased in tablet form from many camping and recreation stores. You can also order it online from companies like

UV Light

UV light is another effective way of neutralizing harmful organisms. The UV light destroys the DNA of the organism and thus they can not reproduce, making them safe to consume. There are many companies that provide a UV treatment device, but SteriPen is the most well known and they have a positive reputation. UV light treatment is an attractive option because it takes approximately one minute to purify sixteen ounces of water, and there is no odor or aftertaste associated with the treatment.

While these are all effective treatment options, it is important to note that for them to be effective you need to first filter your water. This will remove larger organisms and harmful chemical and materials. A filter can be purchased from a camping or recreation store or online at If you do not have a filter, you can use cheesecloth or a coffee filter instead. Whichever option you choose for treatment, make sure you follow the instructions closely. Don't let a preventable illness ruin your trip!

For more information about how to treat water, visit the website WEBSITE.

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