8 Myths About Water purification that can Make you Sick

water purification

Water purification and storage is one of our most important preps, but unfortunately, there are a number of myths in circulation that will cause problems for people.  Here are a few that you need to be aware off.

1, It is a myth that you need to boil your water to make it safe to drink.  Water boils at 212 degrees. However, getting your water to a temperature of 150 degrees pasteurizes it.  Boiling Water Verses Pasteurization to Make Safe Drinking Water

2, Running water is safe to drink. Don’t believe this one. Remember it came from somewhere and there could be a dead animal between you and the source.  If you don’t have the means to treat your water and have to choose between running and stagnant water always choose the former.  But if you have the means always treat it.

3, Eating snow is a good way to rehydrate safely.  False, eating snow can result in hypothermia and even lead to dehydration because of the energy your body has to expend to melt the snow. Always try to melt snow before you consume it.  If the snow is not fresh, stay away from it or at least make sure, you treat it as you would any other water.

4, People from third world countries do not need treated water because they get “used to their water” and “develop immunity to the diseases that are in the water”. In fact, while their bodies can develop some resistance to e-coli; they do not necessarily develop immunity to cholera, hepatitis, dysentery, guinea worm or typhoid or other diseases.

5, Water can expire.  False, if you put treated water from a municipal water system into a clean container, it will still be good when you get it out regardless of the length of time it is stored. Water that is stored for a long period can develop a stale taste.  One thing you can do to make water that has been stored for long periods taste better is to aerate it, by mixing it up or pouring it from one jug to another to add oxygen.  If the container is damaged in anyway, treat it as you would any suspect water.

See also  Water Purification in Cold or Freezing Weather Can be a Problem

6, Since I have chemical water purifiers, I don’t need a water filter.  Chemical water purifiers like Chlorine Dioxide will kill 99.9% of all microorganisms (like protozoa, bacteria, and viruses) in your water.  Chlorine bleach is also a decent water purifier as long as it is fresh (less than a year old) and unscented.  Purifying Water with Chlorine Bleach and Pool Chlorine. Remember that chemical water purifiers will not  remove chemicals and other contaminants from your water.  Using a purifier and filter together is a good combination to make sure your water is safe for drinking.

7, I have a swimming pool in my backyard, that is our water storage.  While swimming pool water can be used for irrigation and cleaning, it has problems when it comes to drinking it. First, you are assuming that no animal waste, nuclear waste, or other contaminants will get into the pool water. Second, you use chemicals in the pool and normally have a pump running to circulate the water.  The pump will quite running as soon as the power fails and the chemical are questionable.  Is Swimming Pool Water Safe to Drink?

8, Sand and homemade water filters work.  False, I have played with the idea of making homemade filters for water purification at various times.  However, I have never made one that I would trust to effectively treat water enough to drink.  They can remove dirt and sediment from water effectively and improve the quality of the water, however I would want to treat the water by a second method prior to drinking.

Learn about water purification, it is one of the most important subjects that you should study. If you look at the categories located on the right hand side of this page you will find one called water purification.  This will lead you to number of post on water purification and lots of information on water filters and chemicals.


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5 thoughts on “8 Myths About Water purification that can Make you Sick”

  1. When working in disaster areas under EMAC, our safety officer told us that if bottled water was in short supply, that at least two methods should be combined to produce wash water for personal hygiene and decon. The recommended method was filtration followed by chemical sterilization with chlorine. Lacking bleach, betadyne can be used for wash water, but not for drinking unless you know that nobody is allergic to iodine. SODIS is also a viable method for sterilizing filtered water, but to ensure safety, treated and filtered water should also be tested for petroleum or chemical contamination from agricultural pesticides, etc. Any surface runoff should be considered suspect.

  2. Industrial field test kits are used by the military and NGOs for monitoring water quality in disaster areas. Their use generally requires specific training and familiarity with the testing standards. When I was in Public Works we used DEXSIL field test kits for monitoring ground water wells at the landfill. Most water test kits depend upon your sending samples to a lab for analysis, which won’t be practical under austere conditions. Before buying a field test kit, you need to educate yourself on what your specific testing needs are for, what the allowable limits for those contaminants are; some useful references are:


  3. We live in an area where we need to boil our water to be safe before drinking and using it for cooking. I’ve read on your blog before about pasteurization vs. boiling and that was good to know. We leave our water container on the woodstove for a long time. It never gets to the boiling point, but stays at 150 degrees for an extended period for sure. – Margy

  4. The new guardian water purifier from MSR (out of Seattle, made in the USA), actually does both.

    It is not cheap, and isn’t commercially available until Jan 2016, but it cleans out chemicals and viruses, meaning that it is a filter and purifier, without any chemical treatment. It is worth a look.


    No- I do not work for MSR, I have just used their stoves and other gear for years without fail. Their sweetwater purifiers have worked well for me, but this is a giant step above just about everything else on the market.

  5. For the point 8, the fact that in many (poor) countries and areas over the world, people uses water from well even without a homeade water filter.

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