Water Purification

When travelling, clean water is not always available. In some parts of the world such as Africa, the Middle East and Asia, it may be difficult to regularly obtain clean water.
Sources of water can be polluted with microorganisms such as bacteria and parasites. Water may also be polluted by chemicals. Therefore, you need to pay attention to the water you drink.

The following sources of water are recommended:

  • Drinks made using boiled water
  • Water in sealed bottles
  • Water that has been properly treated and stored (48 hours in the fridge and 24 hours at room temperature)

Clear and odourless water is not necessarily safe for consumption

Some tips before you leave:

  • Bring along two containers. This will allow you to clarify, prefilter and purify the water more quickly
  • Always bring a backup method if your system breaks down or is damaged

Here are some methods you can use for purifying water:

In many cases, it is preferable to combine two methods to make sure that the water is treated for all types of microorganisms. For instance, filter the water before boiling it.

Water that has been purified must be stored in a disinfected and closed container.

  • To clean your container, you can wash it with purified water or sterilize it in boiling water (if the container material allows).
  • Also wash all the container caps with treated or boiled water.

In addition, pay attention to the following in remote locations:

  • Collect water as far away from polluting activity or chemical spills as possible.
  • Avoid using stagnant water since it generally contains more microorganisms.
  • Choose water that is as clear as possible.
  • Collect the water upstream from human activity.
  • When water contains particles, it is preferable to pre-filter or clarify it before treating it.

To clarify water:

Place the water in a container and let it sit. The suspended particles will settle at the bottom of the container. If the particles are small and light, the process may be longer.

Pre-filtering water:

Run the water through a filter (such as a coffee filter, T-shirt, etc.) other than the filter for removing microorganisms. This process is especially useful when dealing with very small and light particles.

Source: Public Health Agency of Canada (phac-aspc.gc.ca)
Source: Guide d’intervention santé-voyage
Source: Government of Canada: travel.gc.ca
Source: Travel Medicine

The information provided is for personal use, reference and education only and is not intended to be a substitute for a Physician’s advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult your healthcare professional for specific information on personal health matters.