Drinking Water

Safe Drinking Water

Do NOT risk drinking directly from natural fresh water sources! They can be contaminated by human and animal waste. Water from lakes, rivers and springs often contain pathogens that will use YOUR body as their intermediate host. If this happens, you will NOT have a Romantic Camping trip!

Unless posted as SAFE, the water from a campground spigot may also contain bacteria that will make you ill. Fortunately, you have many options for converting potentially contaminated water into SAFE drinking water.

Check out the following water purification options…


Boiling is an effective technique for making water SAFE. Bring water to a steady rolling boil to kill bacteria and microorganisms like giardia lamblia and cryptosporidium. Of course, the boiling purification method does use considerable time and fuel especially when camping at high elevations. You will likely find other purification methods more convenient.

Water Filters

Portable water filters for camping are usually small and light (1-2 pounds or less). For this reason, they are a popular among backpackers and outdoor enthusiasts. Dirty water is pumped into a screen-filtered flexible tube and then through a ceramic or charcoal filter, ending up in your container. These water filters are designed to remove bacteria, protozoa and microbial cysts, all of which can make you very sick.

Unfortunately, water filters can become clogged with impurities and over time they can become themselves contaminated. Look for filters that are enhanced with silver metal nanoparticles which are blended within the ceramic or charcoal filter. The silver works to suppress possible growth of pathogens within the filter.


Iodine has long been the preferred chemical used for purifying water. The iodine kills many of the most common pathogens present in natural fresh water sources. However, Iodine remains ineffective against some protozoa, such as cryptosporidium.

Another drawback to Iodine is that it tastes really BAD. Kits can be purchased that include an iodine tablet and a second tablet (usually vitamin C or ascorbic acid) that will remove the iodine taste from the water AFTER it has been disinfected.

REMEMBER: Do NOT add vitamin C (or other flavor mixes) until iodine has had sufficient time to work. This time is 30 minutes in relatively clear, warm water, but is considerably longer if the water contains sediment or is cold. Also, don’t use the iodine tablets left over from last year. Iodine tablets lose their effectiveness after about six months.

Chemical Purifiers

Silver ion or Chlorine Dioxide tablets or droplets can actually disinfect water more effectively than Iodine. They also leave hardly any noticeable taste in the water. These water purifiers can be found under names like Micropur, Aquamira, and Pristine.

These chemical disinfecting agents will kill cryptosporidum and giardia if utilized correctly. Unfortunately, this purification system generally takes between 30 minutes to 4 hours, depending on the formula.

Ultraviolet Purification

Ultraviolet (UV) light destroys DNA. Exposure to intense UV light prevents microbes from reproducing. UV light is capable of killing microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, molds, algae, yeast, and even cryptosporidium and giardia. However, UV light has no impact on sediment, chlorine, metals, and other chemical contaminants. For this reason, the UV system works BEST when combined with a portable water filter.

Check out the portable UV water purifier sold by SteriPEN. These UV water purifiers are lightweight and work very quickly!

Getting Sick

If you ingest contaminated water you will likely contract travelers diarrhea. The symptoms include bloating, abdominal cramps and nausea combined with three or more unformed stools within 24 hours. This is definitely a bummer way to spend up to three to five days of your Romantic Getaway.

Each year, an estimated 10 million people experience traveler's diarrhea. If you are a healthy individual this experience is NOT the end of the world. Your primary concern will be rehydrating and replenishing your lost electrolytes. Use Gatorade or Enlyten (electrolyte strips) to help your body recover more quickly.

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