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DIY Water Treatment System

Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 by in Survival News |

Alternate plans to provide your own utilities might seem like a complicated matter, but they don’t have to be. If, after an emergency, water is no longer running, there’s no need to die of thirst sitting in your house. Replicate the actions of your local water treatment facility and you’ll have safe water in no time. Here’s how to set up a small system for water disinfection and usage right on your kitchen countertop.

Get The Gear 
For this setup, I’m using one of the commonly available blue water jugs with a spigot for my clean water reservoir, a 5-gallon water cooler jug as my disinfecting vessel, a jug of concentrated bleach, a large funnel, a stainless mesh strainer, a pack of coffee filters (the flat, round ones are best), a raw water collecting bucket, and a bowl of bleach water with a rag for disinfecting surfaces.

Find It 
Before you can start disinfecting water, you’ve got to find some. Hit your backyard rain barrel, your nearby creek, or any other source of local fresh water. No matter how clean it may look, it should be considered contaminated by harmful organisms and in need of disinfection. Use your designated bucket to bring it back to the house.

Filter It 
Your local water plant filters raw water in a variety of ways, and so should you. The raw water you collect might be muddy or dirty, or contain visible particles. A quick trick to filter it is to pour the water through a coffee filter or a clean cloth. For ease of use, I lay this filter in a kitchen strainer, and put that in a large funnel. I’ll pour the raw water from the bucket through this filter, into the water cooler jug. Let the water stand for several hours if it is muddy, and just pour the clearer water off the top. This will make disinfection much more effective. Remove the funnel and strainer when you’re done and put it in the bucket to avoid cross-contamination of wet surfaces.



Bleach It 
Your next step is to carefully use ordinary household bleach to disinfect water. Read the labels before you start doling out chemicals. Ordinary bleach is 5.25% or 6% sodium hypochlorite, and it can be used for disinfection at a rate of 2 to 4 drops of ordinary chlorine bleach per quart of water. However, many bleach manufacturers have gone to a “concentrated” bleach solution, which is 8.25% sodium hypochlorite. If this is the case with your bleach, keep your minimum dose to 2 drops per quart, and lower the maximum dose to 3 drops per quart. As a rule, colder water needs a little more bleach than warm water, and muddier water needs more bleach than clear water.


Calculate and then double-check the numbers to figure out how many drops of bleach you’ll need for the volume of water you have. Once the bleach is added, shake the container for a minute. Use your cloth and bowl of bleachy water to wipe down the bottle exterior and any surfaces that may have had raw water splashed on them. Set the bottle in a dark place, or at least in the shade, for one hour. In that time, the bleach will kill any pathogens and make the water safe to drink. Pour it in the water carrier with the spigot, and you now have safe running water again. Use it wisely.


Whether there is a disaster, a water shortage, or the power went out on your electric well pump, follow these steps and you’ll be back on the path to safe water. Just be aware that chemical disinfection doesn’t remove toxins, fallout, etc. It just kills the living pathogens that would make you sick.


What would you do if the water stopped running? Tell us your plan in the comments…….









Thanks to Tim Macwelch at OutDoor Life

4 Responses to DIY Water Treatment System

  1. Bleach should not be stored long term as it loses it’s potency, rather for long term use get a bucket of granular “pool shock” which never loses it’s kick….

  2. Virginia says:

    I have a gas operated generator to keep my well working. I also have an extra refrigerator which I have filled with bottles of filtered water, so even if the electric is off the water is purified and will stay clean even if the fridge has the door open. My generator will also run my fridge. I have a supply of survival food on hand to sustain for several days, plus my canned food, cereal, pasta and packaged soy and almond milk that does not need refrigeration. I have a small garden for fresh vegetables and potatoes.I have candles,flashlights, lamps, a camp stove and Bar b q, for cooking and heating water with a supply matches, lighters and fuel on hand for camp stove and generator. In the summer there is a large canal 1/2 mile from my home filled with river water. I have charcoal filtered water bottles that I can use to carry with me in an emergency or after I collect the river water as well as bleach on hand I have a fireplace and wood on hand in case of cold nights. In extreme cases I have a hose bib on my water heater and can get water from there to flush toilets if necessary. I have a first aid kit with antibiotic cream etc. All I need is a gun to repel predictors. Remember when people cannot feed there dogs they pack up so your neighbors dog just might become your enemy in extreme cases.

    • Can goods are only ok for about three years, I strongly recommend freeze dried foods for long term storage.The BBQ is ok but again it will consume too much fuel in a crisis. Look into a Rocket Stove, a Deadwood Stove and a Kelly Kettle. I have all three in my supply room for emergencies as you can cook full meals with sticks you find in the yard so there is no need to stockpile fuel. Along with your water supply it is wise to obtain a serious water filter like the Katadyn Pocket, you can never have enough water in an emergency situation even with a well. For your electrical consider a small solar system as gas can run out in a long term emergency.

  3. Keith says:

    I live on a mountain in the ozarks i could just go out front to my creek and drink it as it is very clean but i am a survivor and a boy scout also army 12 bravo combat eng i would Boil the water even though i know i can drink it and be safe why take chances with your health if i had no way to make a fire i would then dig a pit put a container in it and then cover the pit with a piece of plastic and place a rock on top of the plastic to make the center of the plastic drop to the middle so the condensation would run down the plastic into the can or container it is a simple source of water i would filter it and drink it only if i could not get easier water sources

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