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How to Sterilize Water

This is a great lesson for learning about water, hygiene, sanitary habits, germs, etc. Itís a good piece of information to know also if for some reason your water supply is ever in question. And, itís a good way to teach them not to drink directly from rivers, streams, ponds, etc.

Do you have any idea how much water you use each day? The average person uses at least ten of gallons of water a day for drinking, washing, and flushing the toilet. What happens if you water supply is interrupted or corrupted for some reason? You could have a busted pipe, loss of electricity for an extended period of time, natural disaster such as hurricane or tornado. Even a drought can cause problems with wells.

What if you have to use an alternative water source for some reason? You have to be very careful to avoid potentially lethal germs and bacteria in untreated water. You do this by sterilizing any water source that is questionable. How do you sterilize water?

The best way to sterilize water is to boil it vigorously for 5 minutes. Thatís 5 minutes at sea level. If you live above sea leave then you would need to boil it longer, up to 10 minutes at higher elevations.

Water can also be sterilized with unscented household bleach. A 4 liter (approximately one gallon) container will require 4 eyedroppers of bleach. Do not drink water immediately after adding bleach. Allow it to sit for an hour or two.

You can also store sanitized water in containers. New, opaque, heavy plastic containers, with screw caps make good storage containers. The liter containers that soda comes in also make for good water storage containers. Empty milk and juice containers are not as durable and may crack with age. Remember that not just the water you want to store needs to be sanitized. So do the containers you want to store the water in.


Wash container with hot, soapy water and rinse thoroughly. Very thoroughly! You do not want any soap residue to remain inside the container. Fill 3/4 full of tap water and 1 cup of liquid bleach for a 4 litre container. Shake well, turning upside down to sterilize the cap. Allow to stand for several minutes. Pour the contents into the next container. The same bleach solution can be used to sterilize three 4-liter (one gallon) containers.


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