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How to Treat Rainwater for Drinking

How to Treat Rainwater for Drinking

Despite being beneficial for so many things, rainwater isn’t as pure as most of us might think. According to the center for disease control and prevention, rainwater can host parasites, viruses, bacteria, and harmful chemicals often linked to highly infectious disease outbreaks.

But that’s not just it. Also, dust, smoke, and potentially dangerous heavy metals are characteristic contaminants. Of course, you don’t want all these pollutants in your drinking water.

So, how should you protect yourself?

Well, you are about to find out how to treat rainwater for drinking. Trust me, it is not rocket science; however, several processes go into play for the water to be ultimately safe.

It seems like you are well into this; let’s dive right in.

How to Purify Rainwater for Drinking at Home 

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Water harvesting and purification started a long time ago, but it has since gained popularity given the high levels of industrial pollutants present in water masses.

Treatment and purification of rainwater for home use seem to be the only solution to this menace.

Usually, when rainwater evaporates from the ground to the sky, it is without a doubt pure H20. It gets contaminated with dust, smoke, pollen, and many other substances along the way such that when condensation happens, it is not pure water anymore.

More so, during harvesting, it lands on your roof and gets in contact with even more foreign materials such as rust, leaves, debris, and even animal droppings. Things that you need to get rid of if you want your water safe for drinking.

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Method 1: Filtration

To get rid of solid particles, color, taste, and even odor, we use a method called sediment filtration. But before sediment filtration, there is a need to remove debris such as animal droppings, leaves, and dust particles.

Usually, a good pre-filter is fitted at your collection point just as the water flows from the gutter to the barrel. The finer the filter, the better. Check out this gutter filter. However, install it at a location you can easily access and clean.

Once the large debris is done with, it is time now for sediment filtration. Where the fine solid particles, color, taste, and even odor are removed from the water. Usually, the sediment filters work alongside UV disinfection and RO systems for more effective results.

Method 2: Boiling

An old-school method is still in use today. Nevertheless, the results are just as effective as the modern methods.

CDC recommends boiling rainwater for at least a minute or three more if you live at an altitude greater than 2,000 meters. Why? Because water boils at a much lower temperature in high altitudes.

However, boiling won’t eliminate the fine sediments and debris, but be sure all the disease-causing pathogens will be no more. Therefore, it would be best to incorporate filtration before boiling. You can use a sieve if the water isn’t badly off.

Method 3: Ultraviolet Radiation

This is a form of sterilization that works by disrupting and damaging pathogens. I have witnessed this method being used in most states in America, and the results are astonishing.

But how does this method work?

Normally, it requires rainwater free of any sediments and debris to prevent shadowing. So, an integration of a filtration system is necessary. You should know that shadowing prevents adequate penetration of UV light, reducing the effectiveness of sterilization.

Alas! There is a catch when using this method. The water must not contain sulfur, tannins, or any bacteria related to sulfur. More so, it must be short of 0.3 parts per million iron and 0.005 per million manganese. Another reason for a filtration system.

If used correctly, it is one of the best methods when treating rainwater for drinking. Check out this ultraviolet light bulb used for under-the-sink RO systems for water filtration.

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Method 4: Chlorine Treatment

For many years people have used chlorine to treat water from mainstream sources such as lakes and rivers. The few who use it to treat rainwater have just as much to say. If not among the most effective, it is the best.

Well, numbers don’t lie. What makes me vouch for chlorine is that it is responsible for eliminating serious waterborne infections such as hepatitis, cholera, dysentery, and typhoid.

See also: How to measure rainfall using rain gauge at home

Not to say that these diseases are nonexistent, but for years, the cases have been at a record low. However, I must state that chlorine is very reactive. A reaction with natural organic materials results in toxic compounds of chlorine such as chloroform.

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So how should you go about this problem?

For one, a solution is imminent, encompassing reverse osmosis to get rid of the chlorine by-products. Also, you can use filters to remove the organic materials from the water before commencing chlorine treatment.

Dealing with the chlorine smell and taste is easy. In the filtration system, add a carbon filter, better still, one that is activated. In the end, you will have safe drinking water free from the not-so-good chlorine taste and smell.

Check out these chlorine purification tablets:

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How to Treat Rainwater for Drinking: Frequently asked Questions

Can you purify rainwater to drink?


While most people would think that rainwater is free from impurities, it actually gets contaminated with dust, smoke, debris, and pathogenic microorganisms. So you need to have it purified before you get to drink.

Several methods have proved useful. For instance, reverse osmosis is one among the many. However, you should combine ultraviolet radiation to completely sterilize the water.

How do you sanitize rainwater?

Rainwater might contain disease-causing pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and parasites.

You must get rid of them, or else you risk getting sick from drinking the water. Some proven methods to sanitize your rainwater include chemical disinfection using chlorine, filtration, and boiling.

I should add that integrating filtration with the methods above gives more effective results.

See also: What are the disadvantages of water purification tablets?

How do you sterilize water for drinking?

Boiling seems to be the most effective method to sterilize your water. But if I must add, using ultraviolet light is also effective.

These methods are sufficient enough to disrupt and kill any pathogenic microorganisms such as bacteria and viruses. You can drink this water without the worry of getting sick.

In sum, I wish I could tell you to pick just a single method on how to treat rainwater for drinking from those discussed in this article. But the reality is you won’t get the desired results.

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You need to incorporate filtration as the initial method and then choose one method from those discussed above. That way, you will get safe drinking water free of any sediments, debris, color, leaves, and even smell.

In the end, you will have pure and safe drinking water at your disposal. But remember to cover the water, so no pathogens or debris fall inside.

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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Rainwater Collection-


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