Are you planning an extended camping and hiking trip? If so, you'll need to plan for a supply of drinking water. The easiest method is to simply bring jugs or bottles of water with you. However, you may not have the cargo space to transport a lot of water. Also, if you'll be hiking a lot and changing campsites, you may not be able to carry a large amount of water. In either of those cases, you'll need to find natural water and filter it. It's not hard to do, assuming you have the right equipment. Here are three effective methods for turning natural water into potable water:
Boil it. This is probably the most effective method for treating natural water. Simply build a fire and position a pot or metal canteen directly above it. Pour the water into the pot and wait for it to build to a rolling boil. Once it does, let it continue to boil for several minutes. After that, all of the bacteria and impurities will have burnt off and you'll have safe potable drinking water.
If you don't have a metal pot or canteen, you can use other materials, like plastic. However, fire can melt plastic, so you'll have to keep the vessel at the right distance away from the fire so the water boils but the vessel isn't damaged.
Filter it. Most outdoor stores sell a wide range of filters that are supposed to remove all bacteria and other dangerous elements. Some simply have filters to strain out impurities. Others have a two-part system where they strain impurities and then treat the water with chemicals like iodine.
The effectiveness of filters varies widely. The more expensive filters will have tiny holes so even the smallest particles are filtered out. Less expensive filters may not be intricate enough to catch extra small particles of bacteria.
Treat it. One of the most convenient methods is to use iodine tablets. You scoop up water in a canteen or bottle and then drop the tablet in. Let the tablet dissolve and you have potable drinking water. Iodine also comes in liquid form, in which case you just use a couple of drops. While this method is effective and convenient, it's also expensive. If you're going on a long trip, it may be costly use iodine treatments for all of your drinking water.
For more information, visit an outdoor store in your area. They can recommend the potable water solution that best fits your needs.