How to Purify River Water for Drinking

Are you going to the world of mountains and rivers? Are you still taking your drinking water to your campsite? Before heading on the trip, find out some portable drinking water sources in the locations where water is available along with your travel.

You must take enough water storage for you and your fellows to last your whole trip. If clean water is not available, learn how to purify river water for drinking before you head out. Drinking water from unpurified resources can result in waterborne illnesses, such as giardiasis and cryptosporidiosis.

In this post, I will tell you how to purify river water for drinking? Some of these methods are free and some are expensive but they all are time-saving and easy to apply.

So let’s create a scene, imagine, you are on the trail and for a reason, you lost your drinking water and you need to drink water from a stream or river. This first thing that will probably come in your mind is, is this water drinkable? It is where the need of purifying method come.

How to Purify River Water for Drinking

So, how can you purify water in a river? It isn’t rocket science. Here are some easy ways to have clean water.

Disinfecting Tablets

Don’t forget to take these tiny tablets with you if you are going outdoor for hiking. These tablets are effective against bacteria, viruses, cryptosporidium, and giardia.

These are simple to use. Just dissolve a tablet in your river water and thoroughly mix it, after that let it cool for almost 30 minutes.

This is a cost-effective solution as each tablet can purify up to 5 gallons and cost approx $1. These tablets are easy to carry as they have almost no weight. But if you are a sensitive soul, you would not like adding a chemical in your drinking water.


This is the easiest and effective way to purify river water. It kills all harmful bacteria and parasites in the water. You just have to boil water for a minute and let it completely cool and you are good to go.

People who live in high altitudes need more time to boil the water as at high altitudes boiling takes time. After boiling and cooling, strain the water with a piece of cloth.

One good thing about this method is, you don’t need any special geat to purify water. Just a campfire stove and a container are enough to boil the water.

But boiling and cooling take time. Moreover, this will also change the taste of water a bit.

Survival Straws

These amazing compact filtration tools are only 9 inches long and weigh just 2 oz. The most amazing thing is that they are light in weight and their flow rate is 1.7 liters per minute. Per straw 1000/L filtration occurs. This tiny beauty filters out 99.9% of bacteria and parasites. These straws are cheap and affordable as well.

These little creatures have a drawback as well. They can’t filter water in bulk which makes cooking difficult. You can use filter water by sucking them into your mouth. One other drawback is that they don’t filter out toxins and other chemicals.

Water Filtration

If you are a hiking lover, you will be happy to know that hiking water filtration systems are also available on this website which work on a manual pump. These water filtration systems are suitable for practical extended trips. They are handy to fill the tea kettle and water bottles with clean filtered water.

These hiking water filtration systems are lightweight and remove bacteria, cysts, protozoa, algae and other harmful chemicals which results in an improved taste. But sadly, they are expensive.

Water Sterilization

For outdoor lovers, water sterilization systems are available with effectively and easily filter the river water for drinking and cooking. These water sterilization systems are different from water purifiers they don’t remove the contaminants-they simply destroy them.

A UV light is attached in the water sterilizing system which disrupts the DNA of the bacteria. Bacteria still remain in the water which causes infection. But they destroy almost 99.9% of dangerous microorganisms including, bacteria, giardia, and protozoa. These water sterilization systems are small and active.

These systems are costly and they need a power supply as well. They are good with clear water and some river water needs to be prefiltered before using it.

Bottom Line

All the above methods are cheap and easy to filter river water while going outdoors. If you are going to a jungle for hiking, don’t drink river water without purifying it. Remember, you can live and survive without food for a couple of days but not without water.

So before hiking, try to collect some knowledge about the water resources of that area.

Hiker mostly chooses UV or water filtration system to purify their water. River water is a good choice than stagnant lake water.