Overkill – How long to Boil Water for Drinking – Kills Bacteria, but also wastes energy

Overkill – How long to Boil Water for Drinking – Kills Bacteria, but also wastes energy

Here’s how you can have your clean water and save the environment too.

When in doubt about the possibility of your water supply, you can ensure its cleanliness, or at least its anti-microbial condition, by boiling it. But if you don’t have an updated prepper book or wilderness manual, you may not know that boiling water for extended periods of time doesn’t make it any cleaner. In fact, boiling isn’t even necessary.

It’s a misconception that water must reach the boiling point, 212 degrees Fahrenheit, to kill pathogens. The temperature needed to knock off most critters, excluding extreme varieties such as bacteria living in volcanoes, is just 185 degrees Fahrenheit. Bacteria, microbes, viruses and parasites are killed off after just a few minutes at that temperature. Disease-causing pathogens, then, are already dead by the time the water begins to boil.

In developing countries where firewood is scarce and water is filled with bacteria, it is imperative to adhere to recommended boiling times. Since you’re unlikely to have a cooking thermometer handy, the prudent route is simply to wait for the water to boil.

Yet various safety guides recommend boiling water for 5, 10, even 20 minutes. At this point much of the water will evaporate, and fuel would have been wasted. In light of criticism about wasting energy to boil water, the Centers for Disease Control and the Environmental Protection Agency recently lowered their suggested boiling times. Both now recommend heating water to a rolling boil for only 1 minute.

In survival situations when fuel and water supplies are limited, waiting too long for water to boil can have dangerous repercussions. When all you have are a few pieces of firewood and water from a muddy stream, sitting idly by as the water boils away may result in a long cold thirsty night.

Boil Drinking Water 1 Minute

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