Water Purification Boiling

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Water Purification

Water purification can be done with a small backpacking stove.



"Fortunately, medical literature indicates no permanent damage from getting giardia..."
The Editor

Backpacking water purification by boiling is a certain method of killing giardia. But it's inconvenient and time consuming.

water purification by boiling

Backpacking Water Purification by Boiling

Backpacking water purification by boiling does readily kill giardia. And you don't need to do it for five minutes as some literature states. Just bring the water to a boil and giardia will be dead.

The problem is that if you are on a major hike or backpacking trip, you probably don't have this overwhelming desire to carry the amount of fuel needed to boil water for days. You also may not want to spend your time doing this type of water purification, when you could be hiking or reading or having witty conversation.

If it's hot, and the humidity is low, you should be drinking about a quart an hour when you are backpacking. You can easily down 7-10 quarts a day. You'd spend all your time and fuel boiling drinking water for giardia if you had to purify water that way. I've done it. I don't recommend it.

Water Purification Tips

If you do boil water for backpacking water purification, you'll probably want to give it a little extra boiling time at higher elevations. The general rule is to add one minute for each 1,000 rise in elevation.

This is probably more important if you are worried about water borne organisms other than giardia - like typhoid. Giardia is quite easy to kill with heat.
My one big recommendation for water purification by boiling is to make sure the water is actually boiling - a rolling boil with big bubbles coming up and shaking the pan.

It's surprising how many think that a few very tiny bubbles on the bottom of a pan constitutes boiling. That's not boiling. That's just a few bubbles.
Kids are especially likely to mistakenly think that a few bubbles constitutes boiling. But so do some adults.

They're eager. They're watching the camp stove heat the water. But they sometimes don't wait long enough. Perhaps that's why some literature suggests the long boiling times. They figure dumb people aren't smart enough to know what boiling is, so they tell them to boil it a long time in hopes that they might eventually get the water to an actual boil.
For water purification, bring the pan of water to a rolling boil, and the giardia will be dead.

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Water Purification by boiling