How to Filter River Water for Drinking in 2023: 6 Easy Ways

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Water is essential to human survival. Drinking clean water has become increasingly difficult as rivers get polluted with chemicals from factories and farms.

A lot of people don’t know that they can filter river water for drinking purposes. In fact, it’s not just for drinking either. There are many uses for filtered river water including irrigation, livestock watering, and industrial processes.

In this article, I’m going to explain how to filter river water for drinking.

How to Filter River Water for Drinking

What is River Water Filtering?

River water filtering is a process that removes contaminants from river water before the water is consumed by humans. The goal is to ensure that the water is safe to drink.

There are two different ways to filter water: mechanical filtration and chemical filtration. Mechanical filtration uses gravity to move the water through filters made of sand, gravel, or rocks. Chemical filtration uses chemicals to kill bacteria and viruses.

Both methods are effective at removing impurities from water. However, chemical filtration requires additional equipment, such as pumps and tanks, and may require special permits depending on local regulations.

Mechanical filtration is cheaper and simpler to install, but it doesn’t always remove all of the impurities in the water.

Why is Filtering River Water Important?

Filtering river water is important because it protects us from harmful bacteria and viruses. Without proper filtration systems, we could easily contract diseases like cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery, hepatitis A, and others.

These illnesses can cause serious health problems, especially in developing countries. Most cities rely on rivers to supply their residents with clean drinking water, and many of these rivers are polluted.

By filtering the water, you remove harmful bacteria and chemicals that could cause illness.

Is It Safe to Drink Filtered River Water?

It’s safe to drink filtered river waters, but it depends upon the source. Some sources may contain dangerous levels of contaminants like lead, arsenic, mercury, and pesticides.

Others may contain bacteria, viruses, parasites, and chemicals that could cause illness. Before drinking any type of water, always test it for contamination.

There are many different ways to filter water, and each method offers varying degrees of protection against harmful elements. 

How to Filter River Water for Drinking

Filtering river water is a great way to ensure that your family gets clean, safe drinking water. There are many different ways to filter river water, depending on what type of filtration system you’d like to install. Here are some tips to keep in mind when choosing a method of water filtration.

1. Boiling to Filter Water

The process of boiling to filter river water is a great way to purify water. Boiling water kills off any harmful microorganisms, making it safe to drink.

There are many different ways to boil to filter river water, but here we will discuss the easiest method. To boil to filter river water you will need a pot, stove top burner, and a container to hold the filtered water.

First, fill the pot with water until it reaches half full. Next, turn the heat on high and bring the water to a rolling boil. Once the water boils, reduce the heat to low and let the water simmer for 10 minutes.

After 10 minutes, remove the pot from the stove and pour the hot water into a container. Let the water cool down completely before drinking. This process should yield clean, safe drinking water.

2. Survival Straws

A survival straw is a device designed to filter water by removing sand, dirt, and debris. These devices are commonly used by hikers and campers to purify water from streams and rivers.

A survival straw is made of plastic, metal, or bamboo, and is attached to a piece of cloth or fabric. The survival straw filters water by passing it through a mesh screen, allowing only small particles to pass through.

Survival straws are available in many different sizes, depending on the size of the stream or river you plan to drink from. If you plan on using a survival straw to filter water from a stream or river, you should always test the water before drinking it.

Most survival straws include instructions on how to test the water, but if yours doesn’t, here’s how to test it yourself.

First, fill a glass jar half full of water. Then add a few drops of food coloring. Stir the water until the color turns clear. If the water remains cloudy after adding the food coloring, it contains too much sediment.

Next, pour the water through the survival straw. If the water passes through without any problems, it’s safe to drink.

3. Water Sterilization

Water Sterilization filtration systems are great for filtering out bacteria, protozoa, and cysts. You can also use them to remove chemicals and toxins from your water.

To sterilize water using a gravity filter, simply place it in a container and let the water flow through. You’ll notice that the water becomes clearer as it flows down the screen. Once the water reaches the bottom of the filter, it should be safe to drink.

These filters are lightweight and portable, making them ideal for long hikes. Some models include a solar panel to power the system, allowing you to charge your phone or tablet.

4. Disinfecting Tablets

When it comes to cleaning our drinking water, we rely heavily on filtration systems. These systems remove harmful bacteria and viruses from the water, but they aren’t perfect.

Even though they’re designed to filter out 99% of pathogens, there’s still a chance that something could slip through.

To ensure that our water stays safe, we disinfect it by placing it in contact with chlorine tablets. Chlorine kills off any remaining germs, leaving us with clean, healthy water.

We recommend that you keep these tablets on hand to protect yourself and your family from illness.

5. UV Light Devices

Ultraviolet light devices are used to purify drinking water. These devices shine ultraviolet rays onto the water, killing bacteria and viruses that may be present.

Ultraviolet light devices are commonly used in municipal water systems, but they can also be used in home water filters.

Some models include timers that automatically turn off the device once the water reaches a certain level, allowing you to save energy costs.

6. Solar Water Disinfection

The solar disinfection process uses sunlight to kill bacteria in water. The sun’s rays pass through clear glass and hit the surface of the water.

The light energy causes electrons to jump from atoms in the water molecules to the oxygen molecules in the air. This creates ozone, which kills microorganisms.

Ozone is colorless and odorless, so it doesn’t affect taste or smell. The process takes only minutes, and it works best in warm weather.


How Long Should River Water Be Boiled to Purify It?

River water isn’t safe to drink without being purified. However, boiling it for a certain length of time may not be enough to kill harmful bacteria. You’ll need to boil river water for at least 20 minutes to kill off any harmful microorganisms.

What If You Have No Equipment with You to Purify the River Water?

If you have no equipment with you to purify the river water, there are still options available to you. There are several methods available to purify river water without any equipment. One method involves using sand filters. Sand filters work well if you have a lot of debris in the water. Another option is to boil the water. Boiling the water kills bacteria and parasites, making it safe to drink.


In conclusion, filtering river water is an easy way to ensure that you’re getting clean, safe drinking water. However, it’s also a great way to save some money and help protect our environment.

So whether you live near a river, lake, stream, or ocean, keep these simple steps in mind and you’ll never have to worry about where your next drink is coming from ever again.

Joanna G. Lackey

Hi, I'm Joanna, a writer freelance writer who specializes in topics about health and nutrition. I live in the Pacific Northwest with my husband and three children. I'm a mom to two dogs and a cat. I love reading, writing, and taking photos.