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WATER PUMPS, TANKS, TESTS, WELLS, REPAIRS
WATER CONSERVATION MEASURES
WATER CONTAMINANT LEVELS
WATER HAMMER NOISE DIAGNOSE & CURE
WATER ODORS, CAUSE CURE
WATER PUMP REPAIR GUIDE
WATER PRESSURE LOSS DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
WATER PUMP SHORT CYCLING
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER TANK REPAIR PROCEDURES
WATER TANK: USES, TROUBLESHOOTING
WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT
WATER TREATMENT EQUIPMENT CHOICES
WELLS CISTERNS & SPRINGS
WELL CHLORINATION & DISINFECTION
WELL FLOW RATE
WELL WATER PRESSURE DIAGNOSIS
WELL YIELD IMPROVEMENT
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
How to boil drinking water for safe use: here we provide the details of just how long to boil water to sterilize it for drinking purposes. We give water temperatures needed and time durations needed for safe drinking water.
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This article series outlines methods to purify or sanitize drinking water in an emergency following a disaster such as an earthquake, flood, or hurricane.
For explanation of the types of contaminants found in water and how they are removed in residential water systems, see WATER TESTS, CONTAMINANTS, TREATMENT. See WATER TREATMENT EQUIPMENT CHOICES for details on other water treatment options. See Filters for Drinking Water Purification for a discussion of portable and emergency water filters that are designed to purify drinking water, including portable ceramic water filters, silver ceramic filters, magnetic (bogus) water purifiers, paper and polypropylene water filters, etc.
See DRINKING WATER PURIFICATION for a discussion of various methods used to purify emergency drinking water. A companion article, DRINKING WATER - EMERGENCY SOURCES,describes possible sources of drinking water that may be useful in emergency conditions.
If drinking water is of questionable purity, boil the water for at least five minutes, and/or add bleach, and/or distill drinking water before using if a distiller and electrical power or an alternative heat source are available. See information on water treatment under the "Disaster Supplies Kit" section of some public documents.
Boiling water can kill nearly all microorganisms except, as author Matthew Stein points out in When Technology Fails, prions - which are not often present in a water supply. Remember however that boiling water will not reliably remove most chemicals nor will it remove radioactive contamination.
Even if there has been a loss of electrical power, natural or LP gas may be available at some buildings, allowing you to boil water to produce safe drinking water in an emergency. Our page top photo shows a pot of cold water that has just been placed on a natural-gas fired stovetop to begin the boiling procedure. Tip: your water will boil faster and you'll waste less fuel if you keep a top on the container during heating.
Safety Warning: do not enter a building nor attempt to use gas appliances in a building if there is a smell of gas odors or if the gas piping and appliances have been damaged by a storm, earthquake, or other event.
In most environments, the length of time that water is exposed to temperatures of 185 degF. or higher between the time it reaches 185 degF. and the time that it reaches boiling at 212 degF. is sufficient to kill most organisms and pathogens in the water.
That's why experts have not suggested that you need to boil the water for more than a minute or so. If you are boiling water on an unusually hot powerful heat source, boil it a bit longer to be safe. Typically, experts recommend three minutes of rolling boiling water at sea level altitude.
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