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Survival Skills: How to Disinfect Drinking Water with UV Light Devices

What if you could make safe drinking water with nothing more than light? It may sound like science fiction, but it really is a fact. One of the most recent innovations in water disinfection is the portable UV light purifier. This device doles out a lethal dose of ultraviolet light, which kills or wounds many different types of waterborne pathogens. There are two main types of UV purifiers to choose from.

UV Pens
These little pocket-sized UV purifiers typically run on two AA batteries and work with push-button ease. To use, stick the light element into a glass of water. Hit the button and a 45-second cycle of glowing blue light will begin. The lightbulb should be stirred through the water. In most cases, the water should be safe for immediate drinking. If the water was slightly cloudy, zap it a second time.

UV Hand-Crank Models
What if you are out of batteries? There are hand-crank UV purifiers that provide disinfection with just a minute of manual labor. Fill the water bottle (in the kit) from your local source. Screw the bottle onto the device’s housing and flip it. Crank the handle until the LED light turns green (about 90 seconds). Flip it again, unscrew the bottle, wipe the threads clean, and repeat.

And whichever device you use, understand that cloudiness or significant solids in water will create hiding places for bacteria to elude the burning light of a UV device. This can mean that multiple doses of UV light still cannot properly disinfect the water, so make sure you use clear water with UV methods.

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