Instructables
Picture of How to Purify Muddy Water
One of the major problems we face during camping trips is finding clean water suitable for drinking and cooking. Even though you select a camping site near a water source, one can not be sure that the water is fit for consumption. Further, what can one do in the event of an unpredictable rain, muddying the entire water source...?

Do not worry. This Instructable will take you through the steps involved in cleaning and purifying the muddiest of muddy water and make it suitable for drinking and cooking.
 
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Step 1: Chemicals Required

Aluminium Sulfate

Aluminium Sulfate, Shortly known as Alum, when added to raw water reacts with the bicarbonate alkalinities present in water  and forms a gelatinous precipitate. This floc attracts other fine particles and suspended material in raw water, and settles down at the bottom of the container. The water over this sediment is almost clean other than some fine particles dissolved in it.

Alum is in a crystallized form which you can powder and store in a clean glass container.

Bleaching Powder Solution

Bleaching powder or chlorinated lime is used to disinfect the water from bacteria. The chlorine present in the bleaching powder solution kills almost 90% of the bacteria present in water.

Bleaching powder also known as Calcium hypochlorite is in a powdered form. Add one or two teaspoons of the powder in a glass bottle, add water and mix well. Use a metal cap for the container as it may corrode plastic cap.

Both Alum and Bleaching powder are commonly available in most of the grocery stores.

Step 2: Water Sample

Picture of Water Sample
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Look at the water collected from the source after heavy rains. It is muddy and also contains lots of floating material. Now let us see how we can convert this dirty water in to clean drinkable water.
BalbirS5 days ago

please advise if we add 1/2 tsp ferric alum + 1 tsp 30% bleaching powder to a bucket of water leave overnight, filter through a triple layer of hanky cloth, will the water b fit 2 drink-reply please

antoniraj (author)  BalbirS4 days ago
the amount of alum varies with every water sample based on presence of dissolved particles. please carry out tests with different percentage of alum, say 1/4 tsp, 1/2 tsp or 3/4 tsp. the water should be clean with all those particles settled in the bottom and there should not be any taste of alum. if the water is not clean increase the amount of alum. If it tastes of alum, then reduce the quantity of alum.
Secondly, the amount of bleaching powder you have mentioned seems to be on higher side. Allow the alum-mixed water to settle down overnight and only drain out the clean water from top without disturbing the sediments. if you want you can filter this water again, add a drop or two of bleaching powder solution per litre of water and use it for drinking. here again, the smell of chlorine should be barely noticeable
BalbirS5 days ago

please advise if we add 1/2 tsp ferric alum + 1 tsp 30% bleaching powder to a bucket of water leave overnight, filter through a triple layer of hanky cloth, will the water b fit 2 drink-reply please

manojkumar665 months ago

I am very thankful to the author because we are facing same problem. So we got an idea to purify the sedimentation occurred in water during rainy season.

Again Thankyou

Manoj Kumar,

Megasys Biotek Pvt Ltd,

KINFRA, Koratty, Thrissur Dist,

Kerala-680309, INDIA

antoniraj (author)  manojkumar665 months ago
thank you... have a good day
sciencenut9 months ago

Can you verify the quantity of powdered Alum? I would expect half a teaspoonful to be about 5 grams ( 5000mg) or about 1 gram per liter. 50mg would be just a barely visible speck of alum. Thanks

antoniraj (author)  sciencenut9 months ago

when you treat water in large quantities, 10 mg per liter (50 mg for 5 liters of water) is more than enough.Too much of alum will change the taste of water and may cause nausea & stomach upsets. However, the dosage depends on the impurities present in water. Sample tests with varying quantities of alum is normally carried out in water treatment plants and some times it is lower than 5 mg per liter of water

mehlani9 months ago
Thank you for sharing. Always nice to learn something that can potential save your life!
antoniraj (author)  mehlani9 months ago
thank you very much...
Nice instructable, but I would like to state that you cant just easily find that at walmart or some place. Me and a few friends conducted a scientific experiment to see if using salt, half a lime, and the sun will purify water, and we found it works pretty well. You may want to do that in addition. I will post my scientific paper with this if you want to read it. Once again nice tutorial :) https://docs.google.com/document/d/1O0fHYU9XmUn2rWCXQDhlG5EMZZtTBAQGTy7wX7bRGtQ/edit?usp=sharing

PS. Where could you get this stuff because I cant find it at the store.
antoniraj (author)  magranger151 year ago
Thank you. Good scientific experiment you conducted there. I have saved a copy of that for future reference.

Alum and bleaching powder are the most common material used all over the world to purify drinking water. Alum is most efficient than salt as a flocculation agent and the proper dossage does not leave any taste in the water. At my place I can find them easily. Alum is also used in almost all of the barber shops, applied on face after a shave. Try some small shops instead of walmart
Breygon1 year ago
nice instructable. I used to work in a water treatment lab so can agree with this method. just a thought on speeding up the coagulation part.. some treatment works use floculants with air agitators and skim off the scum at the surface. I haven't tried but perhaps try rigging a bike tyre co2 canister to an aquarium bubbler and see if this can shorten that step (or hook up a hand pump). also if you are carrying a water filter (water jug style) for final treatment there is now one on the market that uses membrane filtration that is VERY good (designed for potable waters but I would use it in this scenario) can filter ~800NTU 0-5um particulates from 1L in <20 min to achieve <5NTU. NOTE this does not stop viruses or anything smaller than 0.01um.
antoniraj (author)  Breygon1 year ago
Breygon, you are absolutely right. that is the way most water treatment units function. I have just simplified this instructable as a guidance for persons struck up during camping with muddy water. As you suggested, the water can be filtered after chlorination to remove very fine particles with a portable water filter.
GabbieZee1 year ago
Amazing! Thanks so much for this. Clear and easy to follow!
antoniraj (author)  GabbieZee1 year ago
thank you,,,
Tezcumpapa1 year ago
I've always wondered how that was done. ...without fire. Thank you!
antoniraj (author)  Tezcumpapa1 year ago
you are welcome...
ojsefg1 year ago
This could be a great thing to teach while traveling.
antoniraj (author)  ojsefg1 year ago
thank you...
Cool but can't you get poisoned by drinking to much of this?
antoniraj (author)  TheMrCOOLguy21 year ago
This is the most common method used by most of the world to purify water. If you use the specified dosage of these chemicals they are not harmful.
wazzup1051 year ago
Interesting the addition of Alum, but 6 or 7 hours.. that's a long time when you're hiking. (although it's better to carry a few liter of water for a few hours then to discover after a few hours there's not a drop in miles. Also, preparing the water in the evening at camp will make sure you have clean drinkable water the next morning)
antoniraj (author)  wazzup1051 year ago
If the water is muddy it needs time for the sediments to settle down. Clean water from steams does not require addition of Alum and can be consumed after chlorination with few drops bleach solution. I assume people start hiking / camping with some clean water from home.
Most do, but on longer hikes especially in the summer when the sun is beating down on you, you tend to balance between the amount & weight versus the heat. I've gotten the purifying tablets from camping goods stores, they're good, but (A) expensive, (b) you can't drink the water for 30 minutes, until the purifying tablet has finished. (the ones with the ascorbic acid 2nd tablet take away the Iodine/chemical taste, but still leaves some.)
billbillt1 year ago
This is great..Poor areas in the world need to see this..
antoniraj (author)  billbillt1 year ago
thanks..
dssouthern1 year ago
Very cool. Never know when this kind of thing will come in handy.
antoniraj (author)  dssouthern1 year ago
thank you
samalert1 year ago
Niraj this is really a common method which needs to get recognition on grass root level and thank you for helping the society this was great and enlightening.
antoniraj (author)  samalert1 year ago
thank you
Aegian24241 year ago
wouldn't it be safer to evaporate the water?
antoniraj (author)  Aegian24241 year ago
evaporate or boil...? you can boil it to get more pure water
ojsefg1 year ago
Wow.
HollyMann1 year ago
Great job - good to know!
And are these purifiers safe?
Alum is the most common agent used in flocculation, which is the large scale version of what the author has done. Flocculation is used all over the world to purify water.
Part of my job is to maintain a flocculator unit for my work site. It is a small unit (about the size of a school bus) and produces about 90 gallons per minute. The water is very safe to drink and tastes IMO better than the municipal water at my home.

Thank you, author for showing how anyone can use this process to make safe water!
Thanks guys - I figured so..but thought I should ask! :) Great job on the Instructable!!!
antoniraj (author)  HollyMann1 year ago
Thank you.. yes, they are safe. these are the water purifiers used in most of the world
artlife1 year ago
THANK YOU! We do not have safe drinking water here unless we buy it from Coca Cola or PepsiCo, Have you used this method on a larger scale?
antoniraj (author)  artlife1 year ago
Yes, we have used this method on a larger scale which also caters for a filtration unit