Going camping? Be Careful What You Drink

Camping is one of the best ways to kick back, relax and unwind after long periods of enduring the hassles of city life. It gives you the opportunity to become one with nature and enjoy fresh air, peace and quiet, and the beauty of the wild. And while there are numerous benefits for camping, there are a couple of drawbacks too. The most notable of which is that in the wild, you lack the conveniences of modern living. Top of the list is safe drinking water.

Yes, there is ample water in the great outdoors – after all, that’s where themajority of our tap water comes from –, but is it safe for consumption? The answer is no. Drinking water obtained directly from outdoor sources such as streams, rivers, and lakes could be very dangerous for your health as the water is tainted with all types of water contaminants. Just because it looks clean doesn’t mean it is. Here are 5 dangerous things that are present in untreated water:

  1. Untreated water from rivers, streams and other above-ground water sources are rife with disease-causing micro-organisms including harmful bacteria and viruses. Consuming the untreated water introduces these pathogens to your body which can result in serious illness.
  2. Ground water contains a lot of chemical toxins. From fertilizer and pesticide residues that have washed into the watersource from farms to chemical spills from factories that find their way into rivers and lakes. These toxins make untreated water very dangerous to drink as they can cause serious harm to your body.
  3. Heavy metals. Drinking water from untreated sources could expose you to heavy metals such as lead, mercury, and arsenic that could potentially have negative effects on your health. These metals can sometimes be present on the earth’s surface and get into the water as it flows over.
  4. Faecal Faecalmatter from humans, domesticated animals as well as wildlife washes into rivers contaminating the water. This makes untreated water, in addition to being icky, dangerous for consumption.
  5. Suspended impurities. These can originate from animals, humans, plants or could be innately present in the water from the source. Suspended particles make water hazy, smell bad and generally become unsuitable for drinking.

How do you purify untreated water?

Although untreated water is dangerous to consume raw, there are several things you can do to purify it and make it safe for consumption when you are out camping. Lifestyle Health Suggests options:

  1. Boiling the water.This is the oldest and most basic way of purifying water for consumption. Although this method kills disease-causing microorganisms including bacteria and viruses, it does not get rid of other impurities such as heavy metals, chemicals and suspended particles in the water. This method should only be used as the last option in case no other method of purification is available.
  2. Water filters. Filters designed for purifying untreated water are pretty good at removing water contaminants. They will effectively remove the suspended particles, most chemicals, but not viruses or heavy metals. Boiling filtered water can, however, help eliminate the viruses leaving you with somewhat safe drinking water – assuming the heavy metal elements are below dangerous levels.
  3. Distillation. This is the most effective way of removing all the impurities in water. Distillation will remove up to 99.9% of all the harmful substances leaving you with water that is 100% safe for consumption. For maximum purification, make sure you pass the distilled water through a carbon filter to remove any chemical impurities that might have remained after the distillation process. Non-electrical water distillers that can use a gas burner, open fire, hot plate or wood stove are available and are ideal for campers.