How to Kill Bacteria in Water

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Sterilize water to destroy bacteria.
Sterilize water to destroy bacteria. (Image: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images)

Water seems like a pure substance, but most water sources are contaminated with bacteria. This bacteria can make you sick, so it is important to sterilize the water before drinking it. When you are in the outdoors you may find yourself looking for fresh water. Water from streams or rivers can be used, but it needs to be sterilized. Well water is often safe because it is naturally filtered through the layers of earth. However, even well water can be contaminated with bacteria. The easiest way to purify water is by boiling it or adding chlorine bleach.

Things You'll Need

  • Pot
  • Plastic jugs
  • Chlorine bleach

Boiling Water

Pour water into a large pot and cover the pot with a lid. Set it on the stove and turn the heat on high. Bring it to a rolling boil and remove the lid. Boil the water for three minutes.

Sterilize a plastic storage bottle with a tight-fitting lid by setting it in a gallon of water that has 1 tbsp. of bleach in it. Let it sit for two minutes, then rinse under hot water and set aside.

Pour the boiled water into the container once it has cooled enough to handle. Seal the container tightly and store it in a cool, dry location.

Bleaching Water

Sterilize plastic storage jugs by sitting them in a bleach solution for two minutes and rinsing thoroughly with hot water.

Fill the jugs with water and add five to seven drops of bleach for every gallon of water.

Seal the jugs tightly and store them in a cool, dry location.

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