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7 Ways to Make Sure Your Drinking Water Is Safe

Without water, you’ll be dead in three days, and while finding water in the outback can be difficult making sure it’s safe to drink is important so let us show you how to enjoy safe drinking water when off the beaten track.



Water purifying tablets can be purchased at chemists, supermarkets, hardware stores and some service stations. The active ingredient in the tablets is typically chlorine, chlorine dioxide or iodine and is effective against a wide range of bacteria, viruses and parasitic protozoa. While an inexpensive solution, tablets don’t remove sediment or chemical pollutants, can leave a taste in the water and aren’t very effective against some forms of pathogens. 

To use water-purifying tablets, simply dissolve one or two tablets in your water container and allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes. While it is better to filter the water before adding the tablets, you can filter it before drinking it. 



While boiling your water will kill virtually all disease-causing germs including viruses, bacteria and parasites, it won’t remove sediments or pollutants. The Centres for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that to make water microbiologically safe to drink, you should bring it to a rolling boil for one minute.  



Inline water filters simply attach to your hose or sit inside a filter housing, but care must be taken in reading and understanding what functions the filter can handle. Some filtration cartridges will reduce chlorine taste and odour, sediment and chemical pollutants but they don’t remove bacteria from the water, so a second filter will be required. 

There are inline filters that contain silver nanoparticles and granulated carbon that reduces sediments, chemical pollutants and algae while removing chemicals tastes and smells from water. They also prevent bacterial growth like Giardia and cryptosporidium and kill harmful bacteria including common E. coli, Cholera and Typhoid. 



  • Platypus Gravity Works Filter System: This system comes in 2L and 4L and uses gravity to feed water through a filter to remove sediments to produce clear water. This system doesn’t remove chemical pollutants or bacteria, viruses and parasites. 

  • LifeStraw: Simply place the LifeStraw directly into the water source and suck up the water directly, this is better suited for your grab bag as an emergency filter. It protects against bacteria, parasites and viruses while filtering out microplastics, dirt, sand and cloudiness. 

  • Katadyn BeFree: Simpler than the Platypus Gravity Works, the 3L bag has a removable filter in the filler. The filter removes microorganisms such as bacteria and cysts as well as sediments.

  • Sawyer Squeeze and Mini Water Filtration: The Squeeze allows you to fill up a small pouch (3 sizes) with water and then attach a small filter before squeezing the water into a drink bottle. The Mini is a small filter that can be added to your drink bottle so you can sip filtered water through it. The filter removes bacteria such as salmonella, cholera and E. coli as well as protozoa such as giardia and cryptosporidium while also sediments and microplastics. 

  • Grayl Water Bottle: Simply add fresh water to the empty bottle then press the lid that contains a filter, like a coffee press, to produce clean purified water. The filter removes viruses, bacteria and protozoa while filtering out microplastics, sediment and silt, chemicals such as chlorine and heavy metals. 



Having the ability to carry decent amounts of fresh and clean drinking water from home is a bonus and these days there a many water tank options to suit your 4WD. I’ve been running the Boab 40L poly water tank in the rear passenger footwell of my Prado for years now, connected to a 12V pump, and it only ever gets filled with clean drinking water. It took a while to get rid of the plastic taste, but I only use food grade water hose now and that has done the trick.  

Besides poly water tanks, it’s not hard to find a stainless steel to fit the space you have available or a bladder system that can sit within the internal panels or in the rear passenger footwell of your 4WD. Just remember that water is heavy so fitting a big water tank could affect your GVM. 

There is also the option of jerry cans or buying bulk or bottled water from supermarkets, but this can be expensive, especially in the outback. 



The Guzzle H2O Stream is a portable water filter that can be used to fill anything from a water bottle to a jerry can or the water tanks on your camper, caravan or 4WD and is designed to turn freshwater into safe drinkable water, instantaneously. 

There is a three-stage process to filter and purify the water. The first is a pre-filter cloth that restricts silt, sand and sediments from entering the next stage. This is only required when drawing water from a freshwater source. The second stage uses an activated carbon block 0.5-micron filter to remove particles larger than 0.5 microns while also chemically filtering the water of bad taste, odours, chlorine, NFS 412 emerging contaminants, lead, mercury, volatile organic compounds, sediment and cysts.  The third stage uses LED UV-C which has been tested to prevent 99.99% of bacteria, protozoa and viruses. 

The Stealth is powered by a rechargeable 3000mAh LifePO4 battery that will treat approx. 121 litres of pumped water per charge or approx. 340 litres if using a pressurised water source (tap).




  • Eli Friedlander : November 24, 2022

    Just returned from a 6 weeks outback adventure and find it hard to believe that water from the creeks, gorges and billabongs we came across needs any filtration at all. It was pure, natural and better tastings than our Sydney tap water. However, we always carry a 20lit jerry can in our 4wd for emergencies only and fill up plastic bottles and thermos flasks with water from taps at our overnight stay every morning before hitting the road. Maybe filling up a van’s or camping trailer’s water tank from a natural source using a sophisticated filtration system is an overkill and only the water used for drinking should be more thoroughly treated.

  • Ross Scoble: November 24, 2022

    Excellent article

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