How to Drink Tap Water Safely

If you have to drink tap water (and there are times when we all have to), here are some tips that will reduce the pollutants that may be in it.

The Thirty Second Wait

When water sits motionless in pipes overnight, toxic metals have much more of a chance to leach into the water from pipes and plumbing fixtures. The most notorious culprits are faucets, most of which contain lead. Water that has sat in a faucet overnight or longer will be the most heavily polluted. So when you draw water from a tap that has not been in use for awhile, allow the water to flow for about thirty seconds before using it for drinking or cooking.

Even when the water has not been standing for a long time, the change in water pressure when you suddenly turn on a faucet can cause pollutants to break loose from pipes and fixtures. So when you are drawing tap water for drinking or cooking, try to remember to turn the water on gradually, then wait about ten seconds before filling your container.

Open Air

When water from a public water supply comes out of the tap, it still has chlorine in it from the disinfecting process. Chlorine in water is volatile - that is, it evaporates easily. Just allowing your tap water to stand in an open container (with a wide mouth, such as a cooking pot) for two or three days will remove most of the residual chlorine.

Boiling

Boiling water for ten minutes is an excellent way to disinfect it, and boiling also removes any remaining chlorine and other volatile pollutants that may be in the water. There has been some criticism of boiling tap water because, it is claimed, nonvolatile pollutants become more concentrated as the level of water decreases from the boiling. This is not a valid argument. The amount of water evaporated from ten minutes of boiling is quite small, certainly not enough to significantly concentrate any remaining pollutants.

If you are going to boil your drinking water, use a stainless steel, glass or porcelain pot. Don't use aluminum. Trace aluminum in drinking water has been linked to increased rates of disease, Alzheimer's disease in particular.

Stirring

Stirring tap water in an electric blender at low speed (to avoid splashing) for ten minutes will cause volatile contaminants to evaporate, as in boiling. If you use this method, be sure to do it with the blender cover off to allow for evaporation.

All of the above methods will improve tap water, but they can't remove all of the potential pollutants. Tap water treated by these methods shouldn't be used in place of adequately treated water except for short periods of time.


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