6 Ways to Make Water Safer for Drinking at Home

Matt Marandola
Written by Matt Marandola
Updated October 20, 2021
A little girl drinking water from a glass
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Stay hydrated and enjoy cleaner water with these easy tips

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Water makes up nearly 60% of the human body at any given time, so there’s no wonder you want to sip it throughout the day. But if you’re worried about your home’s water quality, here are six ways to improve it and, in case of an emergency, make it safe for drinking at home.

When You Lack Access to Safe Drinking Water

1. Boiling Water

Close-up of water boiling in a pot
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Boiling water is the oldest and still most commonly used method to clean water and make it safe for drinking. When the water reaches its boiling point, it’s typically too hot for any sneaky microbes to survive. This helps eliminate the chance of getting sick when drinking water.

While this works wonders on the bacteria side of things, boiling water does not eliminate metals. You should use a home water softener to preliminarily eliminate large particles of metals, such as lead or copper. Before boiling water, call up your city’s water provider and inquire if this is okay to do first.

In the event that your home doesn’t have a water softener, filter the water through a fine, tightly woven cloth first. This should help catch large particles coming from the faucet.

To boil water, utilize your stovetop with a steel pot or kettle. This way, you can monitor the water as it boils. You can also use an electric kettle that plugs into the wall.

If you need to boil water in the microwave, do so in a microwave-safe bowl. Failing to use a microwave-safe bowl can cause the bowl to melt or even contaminate the water, defeating the purpose.

Water should boil for a minimum of 1 minute if you’re 6,500 feet or less above sea level and a minimum of 3 minutes if you’re 6,500 feet or more above sea level.

2. Chlorine Bleach

Chlorine bleach is the alternative to boiling water when it comes to removing harmful bacteria. The CDC recommends using a one-eighth teaspoon per gallon of water to sanitize. Do note that this is only recommended for unscented chlorine bleaches between 5% to 9%.

Like with boiling water, you may need to run the water through a cloth or coffee filter first if the water is coming out cloudy. There are also tablets that you can pop into the water if you don’t have any measurements available.

3. Iodine Solutions

Iodine solutions are a quick and easy solution for ridding water of specific types of organisms. This is why hikers often carry them in their backpacks. Based on the manufacturer’s instructions, you simply take a tablet or the solution and mix it in the water.

You’ll need to wait around 30 minutes before you can drink up, so you might want to prep these ahead of time.

Water quality tests may be worth it before using an iodine solution, as these tests look for certain bacteria and pH levels in your water. If there’s no Cryptosporidium present, then you can choose to go for iodine. But if there is, use chlorine bleach instead, as iodine will not kill this microbe.

4. Bottled Water

 A woman filling up a glass with bottled water
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While not the most intuitive option, it still makes water safe for drinking at home. If there are thunderstorms or other natural disasters approaching, you may want to go to the store and pick some up.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to run up how much plastic you’re using, you can aim to fill reusable water bottles at home. This way you have a decent stash of drinkable water in the event that the power goes out or utilities are shut off.

You’ll want to keep your stored water tightly sealed and away from direct sunlight. Ideally, the water should always start within 50-70° Fahrenheit, and this should keep it shelf-stable for around 6 months at a time, according to the CDC. Be sure to keep the drinking water safe by not storing near toxic substances, such as gasoline, cleaning products, and pesticides.

When You Want to Boost Your Everyday Water Quality

5. Water Filtration Systems

Water filtration systems are the best way to eliminate bacteria, heavy metals, and even large particles. There is a range of size options from whole-home to single-bottle filtration systems.

A whole-house filtration system may be right for you if you want to experience clean, drinkable water in more than just your cup. Whole-home filtration systems help clean the water for appliances and any other faucet you have in the home, such as your tub. You’ll need to hire a plumber near you to tackle the job.

If you’re looking for something smaller, you can opt for a point-of-use filtration system. These systems are installed either on the faucet in the sink or even in a pitcher or bottle.

Ideally, you’ll want at least one of these filters in your home, even when there’s not an emergency. This is one of the very few options that can tackle chemicals, metals, and bacteria. To determine which water filter is right for you, consider where you’ll be installing it and how often you’ll use it.

6. Ultraviolet Light Water Purification

Ultraviolet (UV) light water purification systems are something to consider when adding on a whole-home filtration system. These lights do a great job at tackling the microbe portion of filtration. There are also personal use lights you can drop into a bottle to kill off the germs if you prepped the water ahead of time.

However, UV lights don’t tackle large particles, so you’ll want to pair this with a filtration method to ensure you’re getting the highest quality drinking water possible.

When to Call In a Pro

If there hasn’t been an emergency in the area and your water starts coming out cloudy, you may want to call a plumber. White, cloudy water typically happens from air bubbles in the water supply. If the water is any other color or doesn’t dissipate after a few minutes, it’s time to bring someone in.

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