One of the easiest and most well-known ways to treat water is by boiling it. The high temperature kills disease-causing organisms such as bacteria, viruses and protozoan parasites. It is also possible to treat water by a distillation process. In either case you will have to have a heat source.
“Boiling or disinfection will not destroy other contaminants, such as heavy metals, salts and most other chemicals,” an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) spokesperson said.
Therefore – do not boil the water if the contaminants are toxic metals, nitrates, pesticides, solvents, or other chemicals. Also, boiling will not remove any sediment, dirt or particles.
How To Treat Water By Boiling
- Bring water to a rolling boil (when ½-inch bubbles are rising from the bottom of the pot) for at least one minute. At altitudes above 5,000 feet (1,000 meters) boil water for three minutes.
- Cover the boiled water and let it cool naturally.
- Store in clean containers
Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers. This also will improve the taste of stored water.
You can improve the flat taste of boiled water by adding a pinch of salt for each quart or liter of boiled water.
How To Treat Water By Distillation
You can also make water safe by distilling it. Distillation involves boiling water and then collecting only the vapor or steam that condenses.
While this is a more challenging process than the others we discuss it is the only method which renders water completely clean. Boiling and chlorination will kill most microbes in water. Distillation will remove microbes (germs) that resist these methods, as well as heavy metals, salts and most other chemicals.
To distill, fill a pot halfway with water. Tie a cup to the handle on the pot’s lid so that the cup will hang right-side-up when the lid is upside-down. Make sure the cup is not dangling into the water then boil the water for 20 minutes. The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.
Distilling contaminated water can be achieved with plastic soda bottles and the sun. If you are interested in this process, check out the video below.