I’m sure you have seen brown colored water. Brown colored water? What’s that? Where did that color come from? Of course, it came from mud. Muddy water is brown in color, didn’t you know that? This is called turbid water, in scientific terms.
Here in Mumbai, especially during the rainfalls, the water coming out of the taps becomes quite turbid or muddy. For making it clear, many people who don’t have water filters, make use of alum. They put the water first into a container, move a piece of alum along the water surface in circles, a few times and then let the water remain standing in the container for a few hours. This makes the bad stuff (mud in this case) settle at the bottom of the container. Then they pour the clean/clear water into another container, slowly.
Due to the high turbidity of water during the rainy season, at times while using alum, I had to use alum for a longer time to make the bad stuff settle down. The water became crystal clear in a few hours, but it was difficult to drink – It had a sour taste. So, I searched for other methods for treating turbid water. There were a list of substitutes to alum for treatment of turbid water on wikipedia, but none easily available here.
Then, I came to know the simplest method for this. It’s the one which everyone can use, without anything technical involved. It’s called boiling. After boiling the turbid water, leave it for two to three hours. You’d leave it naturally for cooling down, wouldn’t you? (I wonder who could drink boiling hot water). In this time, the bad stuff settles down. Once this happens, slowly pour the clear water into another container. You may also want to use a cloth for a filter. I found that a silk cloth works best. A Cotton cloth works but has two disadvantages – one, it gives a taste to the water and second, it is not a tight weave so it is unable to filter some stuff out. Silk is a very tight weave and can filter quite well. Get some natural silk, not the artificial / colored one. Natural silk is golden in color.
Boiling also kills most if not all the bacteria / virii that may be in the water. It also makes the water quite safe to drink. There are other cheaper options to boiling but they aren’t as effective and may or may not be able to kill most of the bacteria. Sites like WHO (World Health Organization) and others tell you to boil the water for 5 – 10 minutes, but this is not at all required. Once a rolling boil has been reached, you can turn off the gas / fuel. No need to waste the fuel anymore. If the water has reached a rolling boil, it means that most of the harmful bacteria / virii have been killed, much before reaching the boiling point! And the water is safe to drink.
There could be a few virii which could still survive a rolling boil, but these are mostly not harmful ones. Is there any way to kill even these? Yes! For killing these, you will need to boil the water under pressure. The simplest way is to use a pressure cooker and boil the water till 20 minutes. In 20 minutes, due to the pressure, a temperature of 121 degrees is reached and no microorganism survives this temperature. This does take additional fuel, but if you want to make sure you get water completely free from micro-organisms, this is one way. (Actually, the water isn’t free of micro-organisms – it still contains the dead bodies of these micro-organisms, but you can safely drink it).
Drinking boiled water (after it is cooled) can be different in taste but here’s a tip – If you put it in a bottle and shake it for some time, the water regains its taste. You can also pour it back-and-forth between containers. I am myself drinking boiled water since a few months and now if I try to drink water out of the tap, I don’t like it. I have become used to boiled water.
Every individual should be concerned about purity of water since everyone’s health depends a lot on it. There are other factors affecting health, but pure water is important. I had once read about someone having seen a dead cow floating inside a water plant. Can you guess where this was? It was in the U.S.! Did that shock you? If such things can happen in the U.S., what about other countries? So, stop assuming that the water coming from the tap is clean and pure. Do something to make it pure to drink!
I have found some very cheap ways to filter and purify water, which even the poorest man in the world can afford. I’ll try to post about these someday, whenever possible. If people start using such methods, at least some diseases can be avoided to a great extent.
Do you have any methods you use at home to filter and purify water? Have you ever got turbid water out of the taps? What methods do you use to purify water? Let me know in the comments below.