Does Boiling Water Really Work?
When water main breaks occur or water authorities find contaminants beyond acceptable limits, the public is typically informed right away and told to boil their water before using it for consumption or other direct uses. When these warnings and boil water advisories occur, it leaves many wondering if their city’s water supplies are actually safe – especially those living without a reverse osmosis drinking water system or home water filter. Most municipalities will test and monitor the water, but does boiling water actually help? How long have you been drinking the water since this happened or was noticed?
If you follow the boiling water techniques, residents should boil water for at least three minutes to kill most infectious organisms. Boiling water kills harmful bacteria and parasites. Allow water to cool completely before consuming or using. Boiling is better than other disinfection methods. Dishes should be rinsed in a bleach solution of one tablespoon of bleach per gallon of water and allowed to air dry. Household dishwashers typically do not reach temperatures sufficient to kill infectious organisms.
However, there may be some other surprising details that you need to know before boiling your water. In some instances, boiling water could actually worsen some contaminants, like nitrates, in drinking water. Even the Environmental Protection Agency acknowledges that when it comes to nitrates in drinking water, boiling water will NOT reduce nitrate levels. In fact, it will make the level of nitrate worse because some of the water will evaporate but the nitrate will not. This increases the concentration of nitrate in the water. Boiling water kills coliform bacteria, but does not remove nitrate. Do NOT boil water with both coliform and nitrate. It may increase the nitrate level, making the problem worse! Nitrate is an acute contaminant, meaning that one exposure can affect a person’s health.
If you’re concerned about your drinking water, we have solutions for your home. Boil water advisories can be a scary thing for sure, but knowing you’re protected at all times with a reverse osmosis filter can take a little of the worry away. A home water filter protects all the time, not just when something happens!
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