July 12, 2022

It’s vitally important to drink enough water anytime you’re working, playing or spending a lot of time outdoors. This also goes for hiking, camping and outdoor sports. If you are hiking in the hills or mountains, you’ll encounter mountain streams or lakes. Can you just drink the water? The safe answer is, no.

Drinking water from a tap or a well is the safer choice. Water straight from nature commonly makes you sick, as it can include damaging bacteria or microbes. Nevertheless, there are people who will fill their canteen or bottle straight from a mountain stream, even though this is not really wise.

No matter just how clean and perfect the water appears, some microorganisms live in lakes and streams. Bring bottled or faucet water for drinking. On long trips, far from modern conveniences, make sure to purify any kind of water from the wild, either by boiling for one minute or using purification tablets and/or water filters. Use water disinfecting tablets for washing items (just do not both disinfection and purification products). Water purification tablets, filters, and disinfecting tablets can be acquired at camp supply stores.

Don’t Drink from Streams, Rivers or Lakes

Even if the water looks pleasant and clean, you should not drink it directly from rivers, lakes or streams. It often contains microorganisms, infections or microbes that can make us sick. Natural bodies of water often contain animal waste. Other unknown but common factors are a dead, decomposing animal nearby, germs, infectious matter and inorganic impurities. Drinking water straight from natural sources may lead to stomach problems, intestinal problems and infections. Any of this could ruin a great day or vacation. Don’t take this risk. It’s better to bring enough water with you than expect do have safe water from streams or other natural bodies.

Take Enough Safe Water

There is lots of water in the mountains, however do not rely upon it. It’s much better to make sure you have a good supply of drinking water before setting out in the mountains. On a 6-8 hour hike, you should count on drinking about two liters of water. The real amount of drinking water you need depends on you and the weather conditions. If it’s really hot, you’ll require more water than on a cooler day. Yet even on a perfect day, when you feel great, it’s important to stay hydrated.

What If I Need Water?

How to Make Stream Water Safe to Drink
Boiling the water, for at least one minute and preferably up to 10 minutes, will kill a lot of germs and other microorganisms.

Of course, there may be situations when you quickly need water while outdoors. If you wind up with an unexpected situation, such as running out of water, being out longer than you expected or facing another issue, you might think drinking water from a stream is the best option. While it’s true dehydration is dangerous, unless you find yourself in a life-or-death scenario, you should not drink water directly from a stream, river or lake in many scenarios.

If you need to drink water and a natural source is the only available water, here are important thoughts and points.

  • The higher, the cleaner – The higher elevation you are in the mountains, the cleaner the water. That’s because high up, you’re closer to the source, which means there’s less danger of contamination, such as from livestock.
  • Does the water flow rapidly? – Another vital aspect is whether the water flows fast and well. If so, it is normally safer to consume it.
  • Where is the water coming from? – If you can see where the water is originating from, you can assess the circumstance better. Water from a glacier is cleaner than water from a source you can’t see.
  • Test with a small sip first – If you want to drink the water, it is suggested to smell it initially. After that, take a small sip and spit it out. You’re tasting and smelling to see if something is clearly wrong. If you are not exactly sure if it’s safe, it’s better not to take a chance.
  • Major problems – Never consume stagnant water, warm water or water with noticeable particles.
  • Filtering – If you need drinking water in the mountains, use a water bottle with a filter. You can find these in any kind of outdoor shop. There are also chemical tablets that cleanse water. Make certain to follow the instructions and know how to use them.
  • Boiling – Boiling the water, for at least one minute and preferably up to 10 minutes, will kill a lot of germs and other microorganisms. However, small bits such as dirt and sand need to be removed by other means.

How to Make Mountain Stream Water Safe to Drink

The best thing you can do is plan ahead and bring safe water for hiking and camping trips. If you need to filter and detoxify water while in the wild, it’s possible to do this and make it safe. You must bring a water filter for long backpacking journeys and emergency circumstances. These can come in the mode of pumps, filtration straws and chemical tablets that dissolve right into the water you collect.

If you venture out without a purification system, an additional method is to boil the water. If you’re carrying an outdoor camping stove or can build a fire, you’ll need a pot that can take heat safely. You can boil water for 10 minutes to make it risk-free to consume.


South End Water Filtration specializes in HALO Water Filter products including the HALO H2 Zero Whole Home Water Filter. HALO systems solve hard water problems, give your family clear, great-tasting water and are totally maintenance free. We’re just a click away to help and answer any questions. South End Plumbing and South End Water Filtration will give you a free estimate. Call us at 704-486-1988 or contact us online to schedule a visit.