How Do You Purify Water for Drinking?


Quick Answer

To purify water for drinking, boil it or disinfect it with a small amount of chlorine bleach. Running the water through a carbon, ceramic or iodine filter can also make water safe for drinking.

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Full Answer

The EPA recommends boiling water and treating it with a small amount of bleach. Boiling is considered the safest method, as it can kill bacteria, viruses and protozoa. To purify water by boiling it, use the following steps.

  1. Filter the water
  2. Before boiling, filter cloudy water through a clean paper towel or cloth.

  3. Boil the water
  4. Let the water boil for 1 minute or longer. Higher altitudes require longer boiling times. Let the water cool before drinking.

Bleach can work as a backup when boiling water is not an option. People should only use unscented bleach with no additives, according to the EPA. To purify water with bleach, use the following steps.

  1. Filter the water
  2. Filter cloudy water through a cloth or paper towel before adding bleach to remove fine particles.

  3. Add a dash of bleach
  4. Do not add large amounts of bleach to the water. Two drops per quart or six drops per gallon are sufficient. Stir the bleach into the water.

  5. Let it sit
  6. Let the water sit for 30 minutes. This gives the bleach enough time to kill bacteria and viruses.

Filters can also make water safe for drinking and can be handy for sourcing water on outdoor adventures. Carbon and ceramic filters filter out bacteria and particles, whereas iodine treatment filters can also kill viruses in the water.

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