Water Purification System: The Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS)



Solar powered water aeration equipment floating in Jordan Lake | Water Purification System The Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS) | Featured

Find out more about the SODIS water purification system and get a modern yet practical way to get safe drinking water.

RELATED: 25 Ways To Get Clean Drinking Water In An Emergency

In this article:

  1. Knowing Ways to Purify Water for Survival Is Vital
  2. Introducing the SODIS Water Purification Method
  3. How to Purify Water with SODIS 
    1. Pick Your Container
    2. Check Water for Clarity
    3. Filter the Water If Unclear
    4. Pick the Right Spot

SODIS: Modern Water Purification Method for Survival

Knowing Ways to Purify Water for Survival Is Vital

Water purification is a very handy skill to have in your back pocket. Out in the wild, you will need it for sure.

The water you find in the wilderness may be unsafe with disease-causing bacteria.

Tap water is also not always safe to drink at home sometimes. This is evident in well-documented incidents of water contamination.

This element is so vital to our survival, regardless of our situation, which means clean water is a must. Thus we need to know several if not all methods to purify water.

Be it water purification systems for camping or water purification systems for home, you need to know more for your survival.

Introducing the SODIS Water Purification Method


SODIS, or solar ultraviolet water disinfection, is one of our favorite emergency water purification systems. It is a portable water purification system which uses solar energy or UV-radiation to disinfect contaminated water.

During its time in the sun, the UV-radiation kills off harmful germs and diarrhea-causing bacteria. It's also convenient since it is a kind of portable water filtration system.

Despite the fancy acronym, this water purification system is actually simple and works for free. All it requires to purify water is a bottle, sunlight, and a little time.

How to Purify Water with SODIS 

This water purification method is simple, but also very tedious with the materials used. Here are the steps to this water purification method with tips to do it the right way:

RELATED: Conquering The Cornerstones: Water – The 2nd Pillar Of Survival

1. Pick Your Container


Using a clear or light blue bottle is a must; both plastic and glasswork great. You may also potentially use a plastic water bag, such as a Ziploc.

Do not use a container more than three liters because this water purification system only works with fairly small containers. Your water container must also be very clear and free of scratches.

The water clarity needs to be clear, as well. If you have a scratched bottle or murky water, the sun cannot penetrate through the bottle of water.

2. Check Water for Clarity


If you are not sure if the water is clear enough, try peeking through the bottle then read a newspaper headline through the bottom of the bottle.

Although you may not have a newspaper handy, this is a good tip to keep in mind. If you do not believe it could be clear enough, then the water is probably not useable.

3. Filter the Water If Unclear


If the water is a little murky, you can try using a thin cloth, such as a bandana, and filter the water through the cloth.


This will help eliminate some sediment or moss going into the water bottle.

4. Pick the Right Spot


Once your water bottle is full, set it in direct sunlight for at least six hours. If there are half clouds or less, you should double the amount of time to 12 hours.

If there are full clouds, you should let the water sit for two days. Be sure to pick a spot which will not get a lot of shade during the day.

The bottle should be in direct sunlight during its exposure time. Come back later, and enjoy your clean drinking water.

This video from RedDog Fabrication will give you another idea for purifying large quantities of water using the SODIS method:

Explore all methods of procuring yourself a safe drinking method in case of a survival situation with limited resources.

This SODIS water purification method should be on top of your list. It is simple, viable, and basic resources or materials to help you are available around you.

Would you consider this water purification method to get drinkable water? Let us know your thoughts about it in the comments section below!

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Water Purification System: The Solar Water Disinfection (SODIS) | https://survivallife.com/water-purification-system/

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on April 23, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.

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  1. GNN

    April 24, 2014 at 1:06 AM

    Hi Stephanie, some great tips here. I go camping a bit and live in Australia where we are currently in a drought and water is at a premium, so some useful stuff here – thanks

  2. Left Coast Chuck

    April 28, 2014 at 2:07 PM

    This method is fine as long as there are no harmful chemicals in the water. It will not remove petroleum distillates which are harmful to ingest. It will not remove pesticides or organophosphates which are also harmful. Only distillation will remove those chemicals.

    While there is no direct evidence that using a plastic bottle will release polymers into the water, I would prefer to use a glass bottle for this method of solar purification. I believe that repeated use of PET type plastic may release chemicals that have long term effects.

    That presents a real dilemma. Do you die of thirst now? Do you die of petroleum/organophosphate poisoning? Do you die much later of cancer-caused plasticizers? Decisions, decisions, decisions.

    I tried solar distillation for a week recently. I now know why survival kits in lifeboats are using reverse osmosis water filters in place of the solar distillation units they used to use. In a hot climate you will die of dehydration using a solar still. SoCal has been experiencing hot-for-the-season weather for most of the last month and I think that is a good test climate for most of the country short of late July, early August. Lacking a vast array of solar distillation units, you would only delay dehydration. Sitting in the sun from dawn to dusk produced about 4 ounces of water. That’s 128 ounces short of an average human’s water need. I am going to try distillation using a tea kettle and a heat source in the next couple of weeks. I’ll report my results on some appropriate forum.

    • joe

      March 22, 2019 at 8:00 PM

      Glass will block most of the UV rays, so if you did use glass bottles, you would have to leave it in the sun for a much longer tiem.

  3. BillyBoy

    April 29, 2014 at 11:30 AM

    “Come back later, and enjoy your clean drinking water.”??? Not clean, disinfected. Maybe. OR, you can just spend about $60 for a Sawyer water filter good for 1 MILLION GALLONS that actually will give you CLEAN drinking water. (Go to Amazon and buy there). I just tested mine a few days ago, my daughters volunteered. I took some yellow pond water, ran it through a clean tee shirt, then through my Sawyer filter. I put it in a glass, and some bottled water in another. Both girls chose the pond water as tasting better. Will fit in you Go Bag easy. Don’t take chances with your water. Spend the $60.

  4. Left Coast Chuck

    May 1, 2014 at 10:59 PM

    While I certainly could be wrong, I don’t believe any water filtration system will remove petroleum distillates or organophosphates from water. If society collapses, all the manufacturing and chemical plants; all the sewage treatment plants, everything that dumps its “treated” waste into either a lake, river or the ocean will be dumping hundred, thousands, perhaps even millions of gallons of chemically contaminated water into the adjacent water. While we envision that our local sewage treatment plants only handle grey water and black water from household drains, many small chemical producers and some householders have been known to dump pesticides or other chemicals down the drain when they didn’t know what else to do with it. With a general nation-wide power failure, the treatment plants may have a choice, let the sewage back up in the sewers until it spills out into low lying houses and businesses or pull the plug and just left everything run out into whatever waterway the plant is adjacent to. I am of the opinion that if the electric grid goes down for some period of time thereafter the only safe water will be distilled water unless one has one’s own deep water well or an isolated spring away from civilization.

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  6. Derek Sharpie

    June 1, 2014 at 9:22 PM

    very simple yet amazing way of purifying water.
    i prefer to use berkey water filter since it can instantly and easily purifies any water. plus it is easy to carry and very ideal on outdoor trips

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  10. Bill

    May 4, 2018 at 8:25 PM

    Good information here. I’m glad you covered ways to make sure it is clear enough to disinfect and the clearness test as well as using the bandana for a filter.
    Awesome! Thanks!

  11. AllAboutWaterFilters

    May 11, 2018 at 2:00 AM

    This is very educational! I’m glad to see posts like this. Thank you for sharing. I’ve definitely learned a lot. We can definitely use this in case of emergencies.

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