There has been a lot of discussion about the quality of water in many places, and if you have watched the news, you’ve seen all the good and bad. What about rain? Is rainwater drinkable? Is it safe to drink rainwater?
As rainwater collection becomes easier and more common, it’s natural to to wonder if the water is safe to drink.
Though rainwater is great for irrigation systems and watering your plants, many are skeptical about drinking the water themselves.
In fact, with water quality being an issue, this fear may be for good reason. While there are ways to make rainwater drinkable, depending on how you harvest the water, it may or may not be safe to drink.
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Is it safe to drink rainwater?
For those of you who have never attempted to drink rainwater before, you might be wondering if you can drink rainwater when it falls from the sky.
In this case, yes, but rainwater is only as safe as the container that you keep it in. So, if the rain is coming directly from the sky, then this is pure enough for you to drink.
Though the rain falling from the clouds is pure when in the air, this doesn’t automatically mean that stored rainwater is safe to drink.
Is rainwater pure?
So, is rainwater pure? Yes, but because it hasn’t been purified, there are many risks involved. Let’s talk in-depth about what those risks are.
Because fresh rainwater is collected without any type of purification right after, there is a high risk of contamination. After all, rain doesn’t always fall straight into your system.
Dirt, Debris, Bird Feces
Sometimes dirt, debris, and even bird feces can be washed off your roof and into your water supply. If you don’t purify this collected rainwater in any way, you would be directly drinking all of these things.
Bacteria, Chemicals, Viruses
Rainwater can also bring other problems like bacteria, chemicals, and viruses that could all be hazards to your health. It has even been linked to the spread of water-borne diseases. E. coli is common.
Soot, Dust, Smoke, and More
Also, anything that can land on the roof of your house could be a potential danger if it gets washed into the water. This includes soot, dust, smoke, and other small particles in the air.
There are also major issues, such as roofing materials like piping, gutters, or storage that are hazardous and could contain lead, copper, and even asbestos.
Untreated rainwater collected from roofs is not safe to drink.
On the one hand, if you live in an area where it rains often, you might get fewer contaminants. This is primarily because the stuff on your roof gets continually washed away.
Nevertheless, it doesn’t make that much of a difference. Rainwater is still not advised for drinking.
On the other hand, if you live in an area where it doesn’t rain often, your roof could be collecting tons of dirt and dust all over it.
Then, when it rains, it will all be washed into your water supply. This is something that often occurs in areas that have more consistently dry weather conditions.
What does rain water taste like?
Regardless if it’s safe or not, we’re sure you’ve wondered what does rainwater taste like. Does it taste cool and refreshing like sparkling water, or does it have a metallic taste? When is it safe to drink rainwater?
These are all questions that people tend to ask when thinking about tasting rainwater for the first time.
Though this might be a disappointing answer, rainwater simply tastes like water. It is cool and refreshing since it is typically raining during cold weather months, and it doesn’t have any particular taste than what regular filtered water would taste like.
So, the next time it rains in your area, don’t be afraid to take a taste. You will likely see that it is just plain water and doesn’t taste any different.
The only advice we have is don’t drink it if it has been sitting in a container.
Is rainwater safe to drink when stored in rain barrels?
Rain barrels don’t contain filtration or disinfection. It’s not safe to drink water from them. Rainwater is fresh water straight from the sky, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t reasons to be wary. The rainwater is pure in some ways since it had not been treated or put through any chemical processes.
It also has nothing added to it, like chlorine or iodine, which can help keep parasites from surviving in the water.
However, if you use a collection system to store the water, it heightens the risks of being unsafe for human consumption.
This is because the container can be contaminated and allows for dirt and dust to be washed into the system.
Using rain barrels
If you have a rain barrel that you use to collect your rainwater, then contaminants could be an even bigger issue. This is because rain barrels don’t allow for any filtration or disinfectant system.
As a result, it leaves your water open to parasites, viruses, and bacteria more than other collection systems.
Even if you intend to use an additive to help the issue, this may not be enough. Adding iodine or chlorine to the water are good options, but it doesn’t have any sort of defense against chemical contaminants.
Also, there are some types of parasites that are very tolerant of chlorine and will still survive with it added to the water.
So, when comparing rain barrels to more complex and engineer-built collection systems, rain barrels tend to be worse for drinking water.
Many states have restrictions on rain barrel use for rainwater, even if it’s for irrigation.
Therefore, while it is the easiest option to purchase, you will need to check with your city and state regulations to see if you can use it at all.
Can you get sick from drinking rainwater stored in a cistern?
As discussed, rain barrels are not ideal for storing rainwater for drinking. This is because they are not necessarily designed for that purpose. Instead, they are made for irrigation systems so that you can water your plants and garden.
If you’re wondering whether or not can you get sick from drinking rainwater, the answer is you can.
Then again, is it possible to actually make drinkable rainwater? How do you go about this?
A cistern, which has models designed for storing rainwater, can provide safe drinking water for your home.
Some people will add other treated water to the cistern. We advise against this because it will make the already-treated water less safe for consumption.
Also, you will need to properly maintain cisterns to keep the water safe. Routine maintenance will help keep the cistern clean and safe for water storage.
You will also want to think about emptying the container every 10 days. In doing this, you can be sure that the water doesn’t become stagnant and attract insects like mosquitoes.
Lastly, you might want to add a water filter, too, which will help keep the water clean. If you don’t, then you can get sick from drinking rainwater.
How to make rainwater safe to drink
Looking back to what we have discussed so far, you might be thinking: how do you make rainwater safe to drink?
To be able to have drinkable rainwater, you will need to disinfect, filter, and test it for purity regularly. Doing this ensures it is free of contaminants, viruses, and bacteria that could be harmful to your health.
Without it, the lead from pipe coatings or bacteria growing on your roof could get into your water supply and cause illnesses.
There are two steps that you should follow to keep yourself and your family healthy.
Step 1: Boil It
The first thing to do is to boil the water before any attempt to use it. If you are going to be drinking the water, you need to kill all the bacteria and viruses with heat to ensure that it is safer to consume.
However, this is only one step of the process, and you will need to do both steps to make sure the water is completely safe.
Step 2: Use a Home Filtration System
The second step is to use a home filtration system to purify the water. There are many different sizes of purification systems available nowadays, so this won’t be too difficult to find.
Some can be used in your fridge, which purifies the water you pour into it and dispenses it through the front of the refrigerator.
There are also smaller options for those who don’t have a lot of room to dedicate to this.
Pitchers and portable metal water bottles all come with individual purification systems. Just make sure to replace the filters as needed.
Is rain water safe for drinking?
There are two answers to this question: yes, and no. This is because this question is too vague to get a specific answer that takes into account more than one situation.
No, rainwater is not safe if you are drinking it from a rain barrel or other rainwater collection system. Without any filtration system to purify the water, you will not want to drink it.
When is rain water safe for drinking? If you are talking about sticking your tongue out when its raining and catching drops in your mouth, then yes.
Rainwater that comes straight from the clouds is safe enough to drink because it doesn’t have any of the contamination issues since it doesn’t touch anything on its way down.
If you have a collection system and want to use that water for drinking in a safe way, following the boiling and purifying method will allow you to get rid of the bacteria and viruses before they can do anything to your body.
So, is rainwater safe to drink? It all depends. With caution, you can water your vegetable garden with rainwater, especially from larger cisterns with a first flush diverter. Water the soil only, avoiding the plant. Also avoid picking produce after watering with rainwater. You should allow time for the leaves to dry and for ultraviolet light disinfection.
Some areas have water that is fine to drink, while others have had difficulty with purification systems and getting fresh and clean water to residents.
Setting up a rainwater harvesting system for your homestead is a way to capture and collect rain. It’s not safe to drink without purification right from a harvesting system.