If you’re looking for the best way to purify water at home, there are several methods you can use to remove bacteria, viruses, parasites, chemicals, & other harmful particles from your drinking water.
These vary from free & simple methods such as boiling water in a pan to investing in a shop bought water distiller. We’ll look at 5 of the most common & practical methods below.
What Is Purified Water?
Purified water is essentially water that doesn’t contain any impurities, or at the very least impurities at very low levels. Hikers or wild campers often use dedicated purification filters or purification tablets to purify water in the wild, to make it safe to drink. Purification tablets, however, tend to have a strong taste and aren’t designed to be used long term or at at home.
Why Purify Water At Home?
To prevent contamination with germs, most municipal water supplies are disinfected with chlorine or chloramine. These can affect the taste and odour of water. Studies have also linked chlorine & chloramines with a number of potential health concerns.
And whilst standards & regulations are in place to monitor the presence & levels of contaminants in tap water, they may still exist in low levels. Germs & chemicals can also still get into water supplies after water has been treated.
Purifying water at home is one of the most powerful ways to remove these pollutants from your water.
Are Purified & Filtered Water The Same?
People often confuse purified & filtered water as the same thing. They are, however, different things. Water purification removes unwanted impurities from water completely (or to very low levels) by processes such as adsorption, distillation or UV radiation.
Filtered water on the other hand is more limited and prevents the passage of solid particles through a filter, while the liquid flows through it. Activated carbon filters, for example, are not powerful enough to remove pollutants below a certain size.
Purified water is actually considered to have a higher purity than spring water, tap water or filtered water.
5 Best Ways To Purify Water At Home
Here are 5 of the best ways to purify water at home.
1 – Boiling
Boiling is one of the simplest ways to purify water at home. It’s also one of the best methods if the water is clear and there are no particles or sediment. If water is cloudy, first let it settle, then filter it through a clean cloth or coffee filter prior to boiling.
To purify water using this method, bring water to a rolling boil, in a clean pan. Allow the water to continue boiling for at least one minute to kill bacteria and other microorganisms. Boiling water in a counter top kettle is not sufficient – it needs to be boiled in a suitable pan, where it can reach a continuous rolling boil for a minute or longer.
Once boiled, allow the water to cool naturally and store it in clean containers with covers.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), boiling is sufficient to kill pathogenic bacteria, viruses and protozoa.
2 – Distillation
Distillation is one of the most effective and powerful ways to purify water. During the distillation process, water is boiled and the steam is collected, leaving harmful particles behind. The steam is then cooled and condensed back into liquid water that is safe for drinking.
Distillation is a more complex process than boiling, but it is also more thorough.
Keep in mind, distillation removes everything from the water – including minerals such as calcium.
3 – Ultraviolet Light Disinfection
Ultraviolet light disinfection is a simple way to kill harmful microorganisms in water. UV light disinfection is commonly found in outdoor water purifiers and emergency water disinfection kits. These aren’t really the most practical or best ways to purify water at home – however, you can use UV light to purify water in your home by using a water filter that contains a UV disinfection cartridge.
A benefit of UV light is that it’s a natural disinfection method and doesn’t leave behind any harmful by-products like chlorine does. UV light disinfection works best with clear water without sediment, so it isn’t very effective in purifying turbid water. UV light disinfection is also not an adequate purification method for water with large particles because it doesn’t remove the sediment.
4 – Chlorine Bleach Or Iodine
Whilst it’s likely not the first choice for most people, you can purify water at home with bleach if you really need to. Iodine is another method that will purify water effectively. The active ingredient in travel purification tablets is commonly chlorine or iodine because these chemicals deactivate bacteria, viruses and parasitic protozoans in water.
If chlorine is used make sure it is unscented and doesn’t contain any added cleaning agents. Bleach should be less than 1 year old to work effectively and says its suitable for disinfection and sanitisation on the label. Use a clean dropper to add bleach to water in proportions outlined in this guide.
Stir the water and let it stand for around 30 minutes before using.
Whilst chlorine bleach kills bacteria and other microorganisms, it can also leave behind harmful by-products like chlorine residuals. So this is likely to be more of an emergency way to purify water in the home – for example during a flood, or with compromised well water.
5 – Reverse Osmosis
Reverse osmosis is the process of pushing water through a semi-permeable membrane to remove impurities from the water.
It’s a filtration method that works best when clear water is contaminated with larger particles such as sand, silt, and silt. It’s important to note that reverse osmosis is not a disinfection method.
While reverse osmosis is an effective way to purify water at home, keep in mind it takes a long time for the water to pass through. Reverse osmosis also creates a significant amount of waste water.
It’s sometimes recommended to use other purification methods first and then use reverse osmosis as a secondary filtration method.
Best Way To Purify Water At Home – Summary
If you’re looking for the best way to purify water at home, effective methods include distillation, UV light filters and reverse osmosis.
Water distillers can be bought online for a reasonable cost, whilst UV light filters and reverse osmosis systems will generally cost you a bit more and require installation.
Boiling water is also a simple, cost effective way to purify smaller amounts of water at home, with bleach and iodine also options to use in an emergency.