Hydration is absolutely critical to making an outdoor excursion safe and enjoyable. Proper water filtration/purification is an essential skill set. Proper knowledge and the use of excellent modern gear can make water filtration much easier and far more reliable. Filters/purifiers, tablets, boiling, proper gathering technique can all aid you in the search for good clean water.
I’d like to focus on this last point, proper gathering technique, for this article. I have noticed that as modern filtration gear such as hand operated filters has become better, people are paying less attention to where and how they get their water from. A few tips can not only make the task of gathering water easier, but far more reliable as well. Doing so will further reduce the chance of contracting things such as cryptosporidium or giardia.
As a rule, moving water is always preferable to standing water. Rivers, streams and springs are great places to initially gather water for filtration. However, these aren’t always available. So how can a person gather water from a standing water source in such a way as to aid in its filtration? One method is known as the Egyptian well. The name comes from the biblical story of the Nile turning to blood (or at least quite tainted with red impurities), and how the Egyptians may have “pre-filtered” this water for usage.
Travel around your water source and try to find the sandiest shoreline possible. Using any tools you may have for digging, or even your bare hands, dig a hole several feet from the water source. Keep digging until you hit the water line, the depth at which water will begin to seep upward into your hole. Continue digging until the hole is deep enough into which you can dip a container and retrieve the water. If this isn’t possible use a piece of cloth to soak up the water and squeeze it out into a container. Or, if you have a modern hand operated filter, you can pump water straight from the well into a clean container.
By doing this you will force the water to travel through the sand. Sand is an excellent pre-filter and removes many of the impurities of the water making your next filtration or purification step all the more successful.
This video, along with a method of creating an improvised water filter, shows how to properly create an Egyptian well. Thanks for the excellent post!
Until next time friends, I’ll see you on the trail.
Quick tip: Cotton balls with just light application of petroleum jelly and stored in an old prescription bottle, make an excellent fire starting aid.