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How to Purify Water With Bleach In Only a Few Simple Steps

When you find yourself in a survival situation, water is the main necessity that will keep you going until your reach civilization. But not every type of water is equal. Polluted water can cause tons of diseases or even death, so you will need a method to filter it.

Emergencies come and go, but your health is vital to your survival, so take your time to do a bit of research beforehand. Fortunately for you, we’ve created this helpful little guide in case you don’t have the possibility of boiling your water. Use this knowledge to purify it with bleach.


Simple Instructions


First off, use only regular, unscented chlorine bleach products that are suitable for disinfection and sanitization as indicated on the label. You should know what the concentration of said product is so that you won’t put more than necessary in the water. Having excess chlorine makes the water dangerous to drink and greatly affects its taste.

First of all, take a look at the label and you should most likely see that it contains either 6 or 8.25% sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented, color safe, or bleaches with added cleaners. Also, note that if the water is cloudy you should let it settle and then filter it through a coffee filter, paper towel, or clean cloth.


How to Disinfect Water Using Household Bleach


First, you’ll need a clean dropper from your emergency supply kit or medicine cabinet. If you don’t have a dropper, go to the pharmacy and get one.

Next, get a bottle of liquid chlorine bleach that you have stored at room temperature for less than a year. Ideally, you’ll want the bleach to be as fresh as possible.

Figure out the right amount to use for your water. As an example, you should use 8 drops of 6% bleach or 6 drops of 8.25% bleach for one gallon of water. And you need double that amount if said water is cloudy, colored, or extremely cold.

Now stir for a while and let the water sit for 30 minutes. You should feel a slight chlorine odor coming from your water, which is a sign that the disinfection process was successful. If you can’t feel any chlorine smell, then repeat the process and let it sit for another 15 minutes.

Finally, if the taste of chlorine is too powerful, simply pour the water from one clean container to another and let it sit for a few hours before trying to drink again.


Bleach Usage Chart


To make things easier for you, here is a basic table of how much bleach of which type you should add to an existing body of water. We’ve chosen to show the graph for 6% and 8.25% sodium hypochlorite bleach because those are the most common ones.


Volume of Water

6% Bleach

8.25% Bleach

1 quart/liter

2 drops

2 drops

1 gallon

8 drops

6 drops

2 gallons

16 drops (1/4 teaspoon)

12 drops (1/8 teaspoon)

4 gallons

1/3 teaspoon

1/4 teaspoon

8 gallons

2/3 teaspoon

1/2 teaspoon


clean and clear water droplet


Additional Knowledge About Bleach Purification


You should be aware that you might need to store purified water for some time just in case of an emergency. For additional guidance regarding this subject matter, we recommend checking out FEMA’s website.

Ideally, you will also scout for other sources of water around your home if none is available for use, or if it contains way too many contaminants that bleach cannot eliminate. You could also try melting ice cubes or draining your heater’s hot water pipe if not in use for some time.

Of course, take all the necessary precautions. Use testing kits to see what contaminants are in a body of water so you can figure out the best filtration method one a case by case basis.

In case you own a private well, we recommend you thoroughly read this document. Private wells come with their own caveats and types of pollutants, especially if you live on a farm. With that said, we recommend following your local authorities’ guidelines to a pulp.


Other Similar Water Purification Methods


If you have the possibility, you can boil the water to provide a similar disinfection level to that of bleach. Similarly, a lot of chemical compounds won’t be eliminated through boiling, so be careful about that.

Another method you can use is by letting a body of clear water stand in the sunlight for hours on end. The UV rays emitted by the sun have the power of removing just as many germs as chlorine, bleach, or boiling. However, you will need a clear glass or plastic bottle (but preferably glass) so you can leave the water to bask in the sun.


Get a Professional Filter


For emergency situations, the methods mentioned above are great if you don’t have any drinking water stored somewhere. However, in an ideal scenario, you would already be storing clean and fresh water for later consumption.

To do this effectively, we recommend getting a professional water filter based on the types of pollutants that you have. There are numerous types of filtration units that you can read about online so you can decide which is better for your needs.

The thing you should remember is to always test your water before and after installing a filter. That way, you’ll know if the filter is actually doing its job as advertised. If it shows a major improvement, it means that the filter is working properly, and you should continue following the instruction manual when it comes to maintenance and cleaning.


young boy drinking water from a glass



One of the Most Common Pollutants


Did you know that one of the most common problems with drinking water isn’t necessarily a toxic element, but rather something that greatly affects your appliances, plumbing, and similar stuff?

Limescale is the ultimate enemy in most American and European households. And for this reason, getting a water softener or a water descaler is a must. Even if you have a filter that can take out hard particles, we still recommend getting a descaler for the remaining ones.

Limescale has the ability to decrease your water-based appliances’ lifespan by half. It also reduces the pressure of water thanks to large deposits of limescale inside the pipes. This, of course, also affects your water heater’s performance because it needs to work harder. And that means having to pay bigger bills.


The Most Effective Way to Fight Limescale


If you want to have the best of both worlds – the limescale-free advantages of softened water, but still be able to ingest the calcium and magnesium found in hard water, then we recommend getting a water descaler.

What a water descaler does is reshape the mineral crystals to make them less bulky and sticky. Thus, the crystals become smoother and smaller and will no longer cling onto surfaces such as your skin, scalp, pipes, or any other thing that hard water comes into contact with.

If you want to find out more about how descalers work, you can check out our homepage for all the technical details, pricing, and much more.


Frequently Asked Questions


How much bleach should I put in two cups of water?

Two cups of water usually means that you’re dealing with a total of 500 ml of water, so with that in mind, you should put ¼ teaspoon of bleach in that mix. As usual, test out how well this works by following the instructions above, namely letting the water sit for half an hour after stirring and checking to see if there is any chlorine taste. And, of course, filter the water through a clean cloth, coffee filter, or a paper towel.


Is chlorine dioxide the same as bleach?

Chlorine dioxide is indeed found in bleach, but it is not the same thing. There are a few key differences you need to consider when using either of these items for water disinfection purposes. For starters, bleach does not remove biofilm, while chlorine dioxide does. Chlorine dioxide does not form unwanted carcinogenic byproducts, while bleach does. Bleach is ineffective against complex organisms like protozoa or cysts, while chlorine dioxide can kill all of these and much more. And finally, chlorine dioxide is effective in only a few minutes when compared to regular household bleach. So, yes, chlorine dioxide is much better overall.


How long will bleach-treated water last?

In most cases, water that has been disinfected with bleach should last for up to five years if stored properly in a cool and dark place inside an air-tight container so that it will be kept away from dust and other pollutants. If you want to know more about safe and effective water storage, we recommend you read upon some excellent resources.


Can you get sick from drinking old water?

The answer is a little more complex than a simple yes or no, but if we were to put things into perspective, the short answer is yes. Chlorine dissipated from the water after about six months of storage, and if you’ve stored the water improperly, bacteria and algae will start to grow, thus affecting your health once ingested. To get more info about this subject, we recommend visiting this excellent Time article.


The Bottom Line


Bleach is a powerful substance that you can find most homes and stores and that can be effectively used to disinfect water. However, you must be aware of the warnings and indications above, otherwise you risk putting your health at great risk. Please share this article with others so that they’ll know what to do in case of an emergency situation.