Water Source and Treatment – A Full Guide


Open Water: A major source of water for camping

Water taken from streams, lakes, and springs may contain bacteria and parasites too small for you to see. Treat any water that does not come from a tested source, using one of the following methods to treat the water.


Bringing water to a rolling boil for a full minute or more will kill most organisms.

Treatment Tablets

Water treatment tablets are sold in small bottles just right for hikers and campers. The label usually instructs you to drop one or two tablets into a quart of water and then wait 30 minutes before drinking. Tablets may leave a chemical taste in the water. After the tablets have had a full 30 minutes to do their work, you can improve the flavor by adding some drink mix.

Treatment tablets can quickly lose their strength
after a bottle has been opened. Find the date on
the label and use only fresh tablets.


Camping stores and catalogs offer water treatment filters that are effective and easy to use. Some operate by pumping water
through pores small enough to strain out bacteria. Others contain chemicals or carbon. Follow the instructions that come with the filter you plan to use.

Here are a few filters, best for small use to large use.