Safe Water Treatment

In case of an emergency, if you need to treat your water, here are three methods.


This is the safest method of treating water — and it also is the oldest. That is why most civilizations have drunk beer and ales, all manufactured with water through the brewing (boiling) process. Flavors were added in to cover up bad tasting water.


Bring water to a rolling boil for one full minute, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. Let the water cool before drinking. Oxygen improves the taste of water, so pouring the water back and forth between clean containers will help.


Household liquid bleach can be used to kill microorganisms. Be careful to only use regular household bleach that contains 5.25% to 6.0% sodium hypochlorite.

Do not use scented bleaches, color-safe bleaches, or bleaches with added cleaners. Use bleach from a newly opened or unopened bottle for strongest potency.

Add 16 drops (1/8 teaspoon) of bleach per gallon of water. Stir and let stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight bleach odor. If it doesn’t, repeat the dosage and let stand for another 15 minutes. If it still does not smell of bleach, discard it and find another source of water.

If you choose to use other chemicals such as iodine or water treatment products sold in stores, make sure they contain 5.25% to 6.0% sodium hypochlorite as the active ingredient.


These two methods will kill most microorganisms. However, distillation will take care of those that resist those methods. In addition, it will eliminate heavy metals, salts, and most other chemicals. Distillation involves boiling water and collecting the vapor that condenses back to water. For instructions on distillation, please visit