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The GO Outdoors Guide To Water Purifictaion

Whether you’re camping close to home or travelling across multiple countries or continents, you need to be aware of viruses and bacteria which potentially live in your drinking water. 

To make water safe for consumption you need a water purification system. 

The main waterborne pathogens such as Protozoan cysts, bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella, as well as viruses such as hepatitis A live in water and thrive on bodily waste. Many bacteria live off human waste, even what we would consider ‘clean’ waste such as soap. 

Soap can be damaging to the natural environment, causing harmful bacteria to form by hindering the development of ‘friendly’ bacteria. 

Invisible to the eye, these pathogens and bacteria live in your stomach after consumption, causing nausea, cramps, sickness and infection, so it’s important your water is 100% safe to consume.

  Water treatment allows you to kill: 

  • Particulate matter, e.g. dirt, sediment, rust, scale, radioactive particles. These are removed by filtration or by allowing sediment to settle and then to be removed. 
  •  Bacteria, e.g. Cholera, Salmonella, E-coli, Typhoid. Removed by microfiltration, boiling or chemical treatment. 
  • Protozoa, e.g. Giardia, Cryptosporidia, Entamoeba. Removed by microfiltration, boiling or chemical treatment. 
  • Viruses, e.g. Polio, Hepatitis A. Removed by boiling or chemical treatment.

Methods Of Purification


  • Kills off all water-borne pathogenic organisms. 
  • The boiling process needs to be maintained for 5 minutes which can be time consuming. 
  • The best general solution for family situations. 
  • Only requires a pan and a heating implement.


Iodine/Chroline Chemical based treatments

  • These are the most effective treatment against all pathogens. 
  • They will not clean the water, i.e. remove sediment. 
  • They need to be left long enough to work effectively. 
  • Iodine is not recommended for pregnant women, those with thyroid problems, or for prolonged use.
  •  Leaves an after-taste.


Neutralising tablets

  • These remove the ‘disinfectant’ taste associated with iodine or chlorine, making the water more palatable and can be combined with your filtration method of choice.


Water Filter Units

A water filter unit is a filter bottle that can hold unpurified water and filter it within minutes. This can also remove dust, rust and sedement, making it an ideal choice for camping. 

The Benefits:
 Simple construction –simply a water bottle with a straw top
 Easy to use – simply fill bottle, squeeze and drink. 

Special filters such as Pentacell filters combine iodinated resin, microfiltration and a carbon filter for effective removal of all sediment and micro-organisms. 

Simple to connect and easy to pack, water filter units work from a pump system, and usually come with 2 separate reservoirs, one for dirty water, and one for the clean, purified water. 

 Water Filter Capacities: 

An 8-10 litre capacity would be a suitable amount for a group or family camping, and will provide water on demand for the trip’s entirety. 

Many filters are disposable for a whole season of camping or caravanning, equating to the purification of around 4500 litres of water. 

You can get your water filtered via a pumping action, or some filters work through the power of gravity. 

Suitable for caravans and boats, water filters are ideal if you have a base, as they can take up packing and storage space. Silverised carbon within the filter prevents bacteria growth to keep your water purified. 

 Some powerful filters have capabilities to remove 99.9999% of bacteria and protozoa from your water. 

Look for wall mounting clips so you can prop your unit up.

Water Purification Tablets

Effervescent water purifying tablets are ideal for easy packing and take up little room. 

A single tablet will purify 5 gallons or 25 litres of water. On the basis that an adult will consume around 2 – 3 litres a day, a couple of packs of tablets will last for well over a week’s trip.

 Specific water purification tablets, such as chlorine water purification are ideal if you have a specific need. 

Strong tablets can treat around 70 litres of water, perfect for long distance trips and for all those odd jobs, such as cleaning your teeth and preparing food.


Water Purification Liquids

Usually used for camping and caravanning trips, a bottle of water purification liquid is ideal for adding to a water tank to kill of bacteria and keep your drinking water clean and clear. 

Cost effective and long lasting, an average 250ml bottle will treat up to 625 litres of water. Usually created with liquid biocides, water purification liquid is ideal for stopping water-borne bacteria and virae. 

Droplets are faster acting than water purification tablets.