What is the Best Way to Purify Water?

A man filtering a bottle of water and the words

Did you know that over 2.2 billion people live their daily lives without access to safe water? That's nearly one-third of the global population!

Although almost everyone reading this has regular access to clean, potable water, that statistic makes it overwhelmingly clear that isn't the case worldwide. 

With World Water Day this month on March 22 (more on that in a minute!), we want to take this opportunity to highlight the importance of clean water, as well as effective tips on the best way to purify water for drinking and day-to-day use. 

Not only is this an excellent survival skill to have, but it's also incredibly practical to know how to purify water while camping, hiking, or otherwise adventuring in The Great Outdoors.

A man sitting on rocks along the banks of a river in a forest, pondering the best way to purify water

World Water Day

The United Nations created World Water Day nearly three decades ago in 1993, as a way to bring awareness to the importance of clean, safe fresh water. 

World Water Day directly supports the UN's Sustainable Development Goal 6: clean water and sanitation by 2030. 

Every year, World Water Day has a different theme to highlight various aspects of fresh water. 2022's theme is "Groundwater, making the invisible visible."

Life would very literally not be possible without groundwater; it's critical to not only humans, but the environment and wildlife as well. What better reason to explore the best way to purify water?!

A man sitting next to an alpine lake using the hand pump method, considered the best way to purify water

What is the Best Way to Purify Water?

Truthfully, the best way to purify water is any method that, well, purifies it. Water simply needs to be clean and safe to drink, so if you prefer one of these purifying methods over the others, then that's your "best" one.

Whether you prefer the easiest, fastest, or most affordable method (or something else entirely!), here's an overview of the best ways to purify water.

1. Filtration

Many experts believe that filtration is the best way to purify water. This method is highly effective and affordable, and with a wide range of personal water filtration devices available today, it's also convenient. 

Personal water filters, also often called portable water filters, remove sediment and contaminants from water in just a few simple steps. 

Because filtration doesn't involve chemicals, the process doesn't remove salt or other important minerals from the water. This is the primary reason that filtering is widely considered the best way to purify water. 

As with most things, technology has come a long way when it comes to personal water filters and there are several types to choose from. The type and size you need largely depend on how you intend to use it. 

For common uses including purifying water while hiking or camping, the biggest concern is filtering out physical debris and sediment, so a filtration straw or bottle is sufficient.

Filtering out bacteria and viruses becomes more of a serious concern when it comes to international travel and major backcountry adventures, like thru-hiking. In these cases, you may want to consider a UV light filter or hand pump for purifying water. 

With so many options for personal water filtration devices, it can quickly become overwhelming. To get you started, here are some of our top picks in different categories.

A man filtering water into a bottle, which is a convenient and perhaps the best way to purify water

2. Water Purification Tablets

Another popular, portable method for purifying water (say that three times fast!) is using water purification tablets

The active ingredient in water purification tablets, sodium dichloroisocyanurate, quickly and effectively kills up to 99.9% of water contaminants. After dropping a tablet in a bottle of water and letting it sit for 30 minutes, you have clean, potable water. 

As a bonus, most water purification tablets are designed with outdoor enthusiasts in mind — they have a 5-year shelf life and come in no-fuss packaging that holds up well in your pack.

3. Boiling Water

Boiling water is hands-down the best way to purify water. It's incredibly cost-effective and safe, and cleans water more thoroughly than other methods. 

The only caveat with boiling water as a water filtration method, of course, is that you may not always have access to a heat source. That is exactly why personal water filtration devices and water purification tablets have become so popular.

In instances where you do have a heat source and can easily boil water, bring it to a rolling boil for at least 3 minutes, then cover it and cool until it's a tolerable temperature for drinking.

Do you use a personal water filtration device, or do you recommend another method as the best way to purify water? We'd love to hear all your tips!

Speaking of water, did you know The Wander Club has an entire collection of Travel Tokens dedicated to water?! 

Our Water Tokens include all the oceans, along with other spectacular bodies of water including the Great Lakes, mighty Colorado River, Gulf of Alaska, and many others!

Enjoy discovering the best way to purify water, and happy shopping!


1 comment

Thank you. Great blog entry.

Jon King March 20, 2022

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