In the US, 4 to 32 million cases of waterborne gastrointestinal diseases occur each year. That’s plenty enough, but that doesn’t even include waterborne diseases from private wells. Nor does it include the other effects of contaminated water, such as infections.
So, as crucial as water is for survival, it can also cause many health problems. That’s why it pays to know how to make water safe to drink. This way, you can make even turbid water potable in cases of emergencies or disasters.
To that end, we came up with this guide listing some of the top treatment methods for drinking water. Read on to learn what they are so that you can reduce your risks of waterborne diseases.
1. From 0 to 60 in 212 °F (100 °C)
If you’ve ever wondered, “does boiling water make it safe to drink?” the answer is yes, it absolutely does. Indeed, it’s a scientifically-recommended method to destroy all types of pathogens in water. It even works for cloudy or turbid waters.
However, the effectiveness of this method also relies on how long you allow the water to boil. In typical situations or environments, you need to let the water boil for at least one minute (hence, the “60”). You should also wait for the water to cool in a clean container.
If you live somewhere with an elevation of over 6,500 feet, make sure to boil the water for no less than three minutes. Such places include a few cities in Arizona, like Flagstaff, and many others in Colorado.
2. Pasteurize for at Least Six Minutes
Pasteurization is another heating method to make water safe to drink. It’s different from boiling in that it uses a lower level of heat (less than 212 °F or 100 °C). According to experts, heating water to 149° F (65° C) for at least six minutes will kill germs, viruses, and parasites.
As with boiled water, make sure you allow pasteurized water to cool in a clean container.
3. Capture and Trap Contaminants With Filters
If your tap water turns cloudy, murky, or turbid, run the water through a filter first. It’s best if you use an actual water filter, but if you don’t have one handy, you can use a coffee filter or a piece of clean cloth. Doing this will help remove larger particles and contaminants.
You can then boil the filtered water. Don’t forget the 60-second or 3-minute water boiling rule.
You should also get in touch with your local water supplier to let them know about the change in your tap water. In many cases, these issues occur due to main water breaks, which result in contamination. These are pretty common, with 240,000 breaks occurring each year in the US.
You might also want to use water filters throughout the year, even if your tap water looks clear. Basic water filters remove impurities like bad smells and sediments. Others, such as an LG water filter, can remove these as well as chemicals and metals.
Either way, most filters can give you not just potable but also better-tasting water.
4. Water Purification Tablets for Emergencies
Water purification tablets are your lightweight options for making water safe to drink. They work by discharging free chlorine into the water to kill most pathogens.
The amount of water that one tablet can purify depends on the brand. In most cases, though, a single tablet can give you one to two liters of potable water.
It’s important to follow the product’s instructions as they have specific timelines. Some products may require submersion and dissolution in the water for half an hour. Others may need up to an hour to work and kill the waterborne pathogens.
Water purification tablets are great for emergency situations and outdoor activities. However, some of them may look like medications or even candies. As such, make sure that you keep them away from your little one’s tiny, inquisitive fingers.
You should also stick to water purification tablets that get rid of bad odors and tastes. Cheaper products, while still effective, can leave an unpleasant flavor in the water.
5. Treat It With Warmth
Thermal treatment is another low-key method to make water safe for drinking. This involves the direct exposure of transparent bottles with water to the sun’s heat and UV rays. It’s a roundabout procedure, as you need to let the bottles stay under the direct heat and light of the sun for a few hours.
The UV radiation of the sun inactivates waterborne pathogens like bacteria. Its heat, in turn, works pretty much like pasteurization. In this way, thermal water treatment is like a 2-in-1 method that makes water safe to drink.
Knowing how to carry out thermal treatment is handy for survivalists and those who love to camp. You may even be able to use this in case there’s a power outage, and you also run out of gas for boiling.
6. Purify With UV Light
Speaking of ultraviolet radiation, there are water purifiers that specifically use UV light. Known as UV water purifiers, these utilize germicidal ultraviolet light. They work by directly exposing the water to UV radiation.
In a typical UV water purifier set up, the water passes through a flow chamber. It’s in this chamber where you’ll find the mounted UV light bulb. As the water flows into this area, it receives direct exposure to UV radiation.
The UV light then inactivates as much as 99.99% of the pathogens in the water.
Master These Techniques on How to Make Water Safe to Drink
There you have it, six of the easiest, low-key ways on how to make water safe to drink. As you’ve learned, some of them, such as thermal treatment, are great for emergencies. For your daily water consumption, though, it’s best to use filters or purifiers.
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