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Thread: Boiling water.

  1. #1

    Default Boiling water.

    Hi everybody I'm new to these forums and fairly new to wilderness survival. I've read and seen that boiling water is a good way to purify it but I've always seen this done with ground water, river and stream water, but never lake or pond. If you're in a situation where there is a dirty pond or lake as the sole source of water, is it safe to boil that water and drink it? I've seen on Survivorman some situations where there was some bad looking water and he always passes on it to look for a better source of water, so does that mean that that kind of water is bad news no matter what? I'm asking this because come spring time my friend and I are going to have a survival weekend deep in the woods and I know of a lake nearby but it may be dirty and full of parasites and I'm hoping boiling the water will help us.


  2. #2
    Senior Member doug1980's Avatar
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    From what I have read is that moving water is the best to use however boiling pond or lake water will sufice. Boil for several minutes to ensure that all parasites are taken care of. Also I seen that if you dig a hole a foot away from the shoreline and allow the water to seep in that the water will be cleaner. Also read that the deeper water is less contaiminated than the surface water, so dipping your container deeper will give you slightly better water.
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    Senior Member tacmedic's Avatar
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    How about boiling on over to the introductions section and telling us a little bit about yourself so that we may better tailor our answers to your specific situation.
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    whipper snapper hermitman's Avatar
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    Yes you can boil the dirty pond or lake water it still won't be clean but if you need it to be clean you can just filter it. If you don't know how to do that there is information on it on this site (sorry I'm not like these other guys I'm young and lazy so just go look for yourself but its right on this site). Little side note I wouldn't go on a survival campout deep in the woods if you don't know what your doing.
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    Bush Master MCBushbaby's Avatar
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    The problem with some water sources is contamination either by sewage or by chemicals. Boiling does nothing to chemicals and you can get some nasty arsenic or mercury poisoning by drinking groundwater near a mine. Sewage in diluted amounts can be safely boiled, but sludgy water.... walk past it and keep walking!
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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Might I recommend a good quality water filter for your survival weekend deep in the woods.
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    Senior Member snakeman's Avatar
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    Boiling water kills parasites and stuff but doesn't remove chemicals or salt. If your at a regular lake that isn't polluted, even if the water is brown and nasty looking, boiling for a few minutes should kill the parasites. Nice, clear fast moving cold mountain stream water is good to though, but you never know when theres a rotting dead deer around upstream laying in the creek so boiling is always good to do.The reason survivor man was looking for the best water is probably because he didn't have something to boil in without digging a hole and puttin' water in it and boiling it with hot rocks or burning out a wood bowl and boiling with rocks.

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    The taking of water from it's source is very important and much ignored.

    Never take surface water, and never get lake or pond water at the bottom. Heavy metals and sediment are heavy and fall to the bottom. Always plug your container and go a few inches under the water, I practice this even in streams.

    Boiling water is always a good idea even if you have a filter. The act of boiling makes "hard" water more digestable. Many don't realize, up in the mountains in certain areas, if you are not use to hard water, it will give you stomach problems. Boiling it breaks down the properties that make it hard.

    I have never had this problem, but have read about it a few times. I am also use to hard water as where I live, it's pretty hard.

    It never hurts to have a few of those iodine tabs in your kit. I don't carry them, but have used them very successfully. Once was in the Panama jungle, my team got lost, okay, okay, ya'll laugh but it was pretty serious. I always carried too much, so when I pulled out 4 packages of iodine tabs, everyone was happy. We followed the directions and drank swamp water. It tasted nasty, but in the jungle, sweating on patrol, drinkable water was at a premium, no matter how it tasted.

    So, you use a t shirt to filter particles out of the water when you pour it in your cup, then you boil the water for 15 minutes and let cool, then you add iodine tabs and you're good to go.


    Other notes. Before you pull the water, stop--------look around---------if you don't see any vegatation around the water------------something is def. wrong!!!!

    If you see a sheen-----------something is def. wrong!! ---------if you see anything that deep in the back of your brain, gives you suspicion, go with the gut feeling because, something is def. wrong!!!!!!!!!

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    What I like to do, always with lake water, is dig a small trench near the shore and allow it to fill with water. Then 45 minutes later, all the debris and some bacteria will collect at the botton, leaving clean water on the top. Then I rock-boil it in a wooden container for about 30 minutes.
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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Just a question. Why boil the water for 15 or 30 minutes as the process of bringing the water to a boil does everything that a longer boil would do?
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    Senior Member wareagle69's Avatar
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    good jobs folks between you all you covered about every aspect of finding water in the situation that was asked,so christagious read and reread very closely write down alot of what was written here it is very thourough
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    Senior Member wareagle69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by crashdive123 View Post
    Just a question. Why boil the water for 15 or 30 minutes as the process of bringing the water to a boil does everything that a longer boil would do?
    to much information out there is misleading from the so called "experts" from everything in my experience and the professionals that i have talked to brining the water to a vigourous boil for a minute will suffice, i have done this for years and have never gotten sick and niether have those that i have spoken with, but i would aslo like pict and pvgoutdoors and jason montana to put in on this point oh yeah maybe eugene also he has gotten the approval as bonafide here.
    there are those that will argue the ten minute or longer theory but i hold with the idea that at 212 degrees what will die will die what good does boiling it for 10 minutes do if it dies at 212 it dies.
    Last edited by wareagle69; 12-21-2008 at 10:12 PM.
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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wareagle69 View Post
    to much information out there is misleading from the so called "experts" from everything in my experience and the professionals that i have talked to brining the water to a vigourous boil for a minute will suffice, i have done this for years and have never gotten sick and niether have those that i have spoken with, but i would aslo like pict and pvgoutdoors and jason montana to put in on this point oh yeah maybe eugene also he has gotten the approval as bonafide here.
    there are those that will argue the ten minute or longer theory but i hold with the idea that at 212 degrees what will die will die what good does boiling it for 10 minutes do if it dies at 212 it dies.
    Agreed, and that was my point. While boiling for 15 or 30 minutes will not hurt (other than cause evaporation loss), it will consume fuel that may need to be conserved.
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    Honestly, I don't know why I boil for 15 minutes. It's just what I've always done. I have this copper pot that holds about 3 cups of water. I fill'r up and stick it on the fire and forget about it for about 15 minutes.

    The question got me to wondering, so I checked a few manuals; one says 5 min., one says 8 min.

    Wondering if the longer the boil, the more break down of such things as lime and magnesium.

    I remember taking water samples up in far N.Ga., I was having problems as you need to get all the air out of the 40ml vials. I could not do it. The water kept bubbling in the container. I found out that the bubbling was from water coming up from the dolemite that was high in lime. Don't ask me why, that's what the geologist told me.


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    Bush Master MCBushbaby's Avatar
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    I heard you only need to boil for 2 minutes... but scientifically speaking, water is just under 212 for a while prior to visual boiling. It's all part of the heat curve (whatever it's called)... so as soon as you see it boiling, it's been 2 minutes of sufficient heat.
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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Most sources that I have found state when it boils, or boils for 1 minute it is good. Here's one source that I consider fairly reliable. http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel/contentWaterTreatment.aspx Altitude is also a consideration.
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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitch.chesney View Post
    I heard you only need to boil for 2 minutes... but scientifically speaking, water is just under 212 for a while prior to visual boiling. It's all part of the heat curve (whatever it's called)... so as soon as you see it boiling, it's been 2 minutes of sufficient heat.
    I believe it is pastuization.
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    See, I've heard everything from "when it boils" to "30 minutes". When I went to India, we basically all settled on "when it boils +1.5min" and that seemed to work fine for a month - out of a group of 22, 0 got sick (a miracle, really). Now, I don't doubt random pond water is probably more contaminated than India's tap water, which where we were was likely pre-filtered, but that's just one experience and consensus more

    When I start up camping again, I plan on giving it a few minutes. I think we came to that 1.5min consensus since 1.5min kills like 99.999% of germs, and the full 30min is effectively 100%.

    I'm no biologist, but I'd imagine the 1-2min rule would work best on parasites and single-celled critters, and least on bacteria and viruses. So, I suppose if you're concerned about human waste contamination for whatever reasons, a longer boil might be best (or maybe a new water source).

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    Super Moderator crashdive123's Avatar
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    Here is a some more info on the topic from an ezine piece.

    The main reason boiling is recommended as a water treatment is because it can be done simply and because the disease causing organisms are destroyed by heat. Holding the water at a high enough temperature for long enough will destroy pathogens. The organisms of interest are cysts such as cryptosporidia and giardia, and bacteria such as E.coli, typhoid etc. Although the boiling does not remove them from the water, it does kill them and thus they will cause no illness.
    How Long Should Water Be Boiled?
    There are many times suggested: 1 minute, 3 minutes, 5 minutes, 10 minutes etc. Some advocates even suggest adding a minute to the boiling time for each 1000 feet of altitude. So which of these times is correct? After all, the amount of time the water needs to boil determines the amount of fuel needed (to boil 1 litre of water requires about a kilogram of wood). As it turns out, none of them. You do not even need to boil it for one minute - you just need to bring it to the point of boiling. Let's consider why.
    According to the Wilderness Medical Society, water temperatures above 70 C (160 F) kill all pathogens within 30 minutes and above 85 C (185 F) within a few minutes. So the higher the temperature, the less time is needed to kill the micro-organisms. Bringing the water to boiling point raises it well over the 85C mark. Not only that, but the water must then be allowed to cool (unless you are making a cuppa). So the total time the water spends above 85C is significant and sufficient to kill pathogens.
    If it is sufficient just to bring water to 85C for a few minutes, why are you told to boil it? Basically because that is a foolproof way of guaranteeing the water will be the right temperature. Most people, do not carry thermometers with them when camping so it would be difficult to determine when the right temperature was met - once it reaches boiling you know what temperature it's at within a couple of degrees.
    How Effective is Boiling Water?Boiling water is an effective method for destroying bacteria and other pathogens. If the water is turbid, filter it through a clean cloth, or coffee filter to remove particulate matter before boiling as that will improve its appearance.
    Boiling will not provide any safeguard against other things such as heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, pharmaceuticals etc that may contaminate a water supply. It may remove chemicals which have a lower boiling point than water but what about the others? Neither does it remove turbidity, foul tastes and odors.In short, boiling water does not purify your water. It is certainly effective at eliminating the target pathogens but will not be effective against other contaminants - you really need a decent water purifier for that. However, drinking boiled water is certainly better than dehydration.
    With the growing number of toxic substances and the increase in sources of contamination, purified water is more important than ever for continued good health.


    http://ezinearticles.com/?Does-Boili...er?&id=1383221
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