Safe to Drink: How Long to Boil Water for Sterilization

How long does boiling water take?. The answer is, "It depends on the temperature of the water." If your water source has a high mineral content, it will take longer than if the water is from a well or spring with no minerals.

In this article, we will look at how long it takes for water to become potable when boiled.

What Is Potability?
How long do you boil water to sterilize it and make it safe to drink?

How long do you boil water to sterilize it and make it safe to drink?

To answer this question, we'll first need to know what the terms sterilize and safe mean. Sterilizing means "to make free from microorganisms" (source). So when you boil water, you're killing off any organisms in the water before you started to boil it.

Safe means "causing no risk of harm" (source). So if you were to drink a glass of water after it had been boiled for five minutes, there are no microorganisms in it; therefore, nothing harmful will happen to your body when you drink it.

On average, it takes approximately one minute and fifty seconds for one liter of water at 100°C (212°F) to evaporate completely—if the temperature stays constant throughout this process.

If we wanted our 1-liter pot to reach boiling point and then cool down so that we could drink safely again without risking any health risks such as sickness or disease outbreak outbreaks due to an outbreak disease caused by contaminated drinking water being consumed by humans who consume contaminated drinking water then we would need another hour plus time spent waiting while they cooled down enough before they became safe again after being boiled

For example, if you put your mouth over a pot, you'll feel the heat from the steam escaping through the lid. This is because the steam has nowhere to go except out of the pot. So, when you open the lid, steam comes into your face.

If you put your hand inside the pot, you'd find that the water would be hot enough to burn you. This is called the flashpoint. It's the temperature at which water starts to boil.

So, what happens when you boil water?

So, what happens when you boil water?

Water boils when its temperature reaches 100°C. When water boils, bubbles form around the surface of the liquid. These bubbles expand as they rise towards the surface. As the bubbles reach the top, they burst and release their energy as steam.

This is why water boils at 100°C. The bubbles don't have time to escape at lower temperatures before they burst. They just collapse and release all their energy as heat.

To boil contaminated water, you need to know how long to boil it. This is important because you don't want to boil it too long or risk killing all the good bacteria in the water.

If you boil water for too long, the bad bacteria will grow faster than the good ones.

So, here are some general guidelines:

1) Boil water for 5 minutes for every 1 degree Celsius increase above 100 degrees Celsius. So, for example, if the water is 120 degrees Celsius, boil it for 10 minutes.

2) When you start to see bubbles coming up, stop boiling.

3) After stopping the boiling process, wait another 2-5 minutes before serving the water.

4) Don't let the water cool down below 50 degrees Celsius.

5) Never leave the water unattended while it boils.

6) Always keep the water covered with a lid during the boiling process.

7) Use clean containers to serve the water.

8) Keep the clean water away from children and pets.

9) Make sure to store the boiled water properly.

10) Do not reuse boiled water.

11) Avoid drinking cold water straight after boiling.

12) Drink boiled water within 24 hours.

13) Store the boiled water in a refrigerator.

14) You can also freeze boiled water.

15) If you're cooking food in the same vessel where you've boiled the water, wash the vessel thoroughly first.

16) When you wash dishes, always rinse them under running water.

17) To prevent cross-contamination, avoid touching raw meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy products with your hands.

18) Wash your hands frequently.

19) Clean kitchen surfaces regularly.

20) Dry the vessels with paper towels.

Reasons to Purify Water?

Reasons to Purify Water

Untreated water can make people sick. In fact, about 2 million cases of diarrhea occur each year due to drinking unsafe water.

In addition, untreated water can lead to illness and death in children under 5 because their immune systems aren't fully developed.

Naturally, occurring water can contain bacteria such as Giardia that can cause digestive issues. Giardiasis is caused by ingesting cysts found in animal feces. Symptoms include nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and frequent bowel movements.

If you think your water could be contaminated, you should boil it for one minute before consuming it. Also, do not use ice cubes made from tap water since they cannot be properly sanitized.

You can buy bottled water at grocery stores and gas stations, but remember that many of those waters are filtered through sand filters which may not remove all contaminants.

Why does boiling water make it safe to drink?

Boiling water is the best way to purify it because it kills microorganisms, including bacteria and viruses.

Boiling water is a reliable method that works on all types of water (freshwater, saltwater), as long as you let it boil for at least 1 minute. Other methods only work on specific types of water (e.g., boiling bleach will not kill parasites).

What if I forget to boil my water?

Don't worry. You can still enjoy an adventure without worrying about whether or not your water was boiled. Just follow these tips:

Use bottled water instead of tap water. If you must use tap water, try to find a place where there isn't much activity around the area. This means no swimming pools, hot tubs, etc.

Use a filter jug. A filter jug is a great option when you're traveling with kids. It allows them to play while you're busy filtering water.

Use a reusable bottle. Don't rely on plastic bottles. They take hundreds of years to decompose and can leach chemicals into the water. Instead, bring a stainless steel or glass bottle along with you.

Types of Water Contamination

Types of Water Contamination

There are 2 types of contamination you need to worry about two types of contamination when drinking tap water: organic and toxic contaminants. Both require different treatment methods.

Organic contaminants can be killed off with heat. For example, you'll kill off most bacteria, parasites, and viruses if you boil the water. However, some organisms survive boiling and thrive in hot water.

Toxic contaminants aren't affected by heat. You won't be able to kill them off even if you boil the water. These include heavy metals such as lead, arsenic, and cadmium; industrial solvents such as benzene, trichloroethylene, and xylene; and naturally occurring substances such as radon gas and disinfection byproducts.

Types of Pathogens

Types of Pathogens

Boiling is the best way of getting rid of pathogens in contaminated drinking water. But what are they, how do you identify them, and why are they dangerous?

Here are the three types of Pathogen to know:

Protozoa. These are microscopic single-cell parasites like Cryptosporidium and Giardia lamblia, which can cause intestinal issues such

as diarrhea, nausea, and abdominal pain.

Bacteria. These microorganisms cause things like Salmonella poisoning and Escherichia coli infection.

Viruses. Viruses are much smaller than bacteria and don't usually cause illness, but they can infect cells and make them multiply out of control. This causes illnesses like the common cold, flu, and herpes.

Does boiling water affect its taste?

Boiling water affects its flavor. However, some people don't mind the taste of boiled water. They say that it tastes better because the oxygen gets dissolved into the liquid during the boiling process. On the other hand, some people dislike the taste of boiled water due to its flat flavor.

Alternative methods of Purification: 

If you want to avoid having to boil your water every day, then you should consider using one of the following options:

Distilled water. Distilling removes all impurities from water, leaving only pure H2O. The downside is that distillation requires energy, so this method is expensive.

Filtered water. Filtering removes particles larger than 0.1 microns (one-tenth the width of a human hair). This means that filtered water will remove any harmful bacteria and viruses, but not necessarily all the bad stuff.

Reverse osmosis. This system uses high pressure to force water through membranes. The result is clean, fresh-tasting water. But, unfortunately, it's also very costly.

Water purification tablets. These contain silver ions that kill bacteria and viruses. They're inexpensive, easy to use, and effective at removing many kinds of contaminants. However, they don't work on cryptosporidium or Giardia.

Water softeners. These add calcium carbonate to the water to help prevent mineral build-up. They're cheap, but they leave an unpleasant aftertaste.

Chlorine dioxide. Chlorine dioxide kills bacteria and viruses but doesn't harm beneficial organisms like algae. It's odorless, tasteless, colorless, non-corrosive, and non-flammable. It's also relatively inexpensive.

UV light. UV light breaks down organic compounds in water, killing germs and viruses. It's used for municipal water treatment plants but is also available for home use.

Boiling Water: A Scientific Breakdown

The first step in any water purification process is boiling. Boiling removes dissolved solids from the water, leaving behind just pure water. The longer you boil the water, the more contaminants will be removed. Different purity levels are depending on how long you boil the water. For example, boiling water for 10 minutes will leave you with water that has less than 0.3 parts per million (ppm) of total dissolved solids (TDS).

However, boiling water for 20 minutes will remove up to 99% of TDS.

If you want to know exactly what level of purity you're getting out of your water, you can test it using a simple litmus paper test. Simply dip a piece of litmus paper into your water and wait 5 seconds before reading the color.

If the color changes immediately, then your water is safe to drink. If it doesn't change until you add heat, then you should continue heating your water until it does change. Once you've reached this point, you can stop boiling your water.

What if you’re camping and don’t have access to a stove?

If you're camping, there are still ways to ensure your water is safe to drink.

If you can boil the water for 20 minutes or so, it will effectively kill any bacteria and viruses (though not Giardia, which takes much longer).

If you don't have access to a stove or other fire-based way of heating the water for long enough, there are other options:

Use a solar disinfection device. These devices use sunlight to heat your water and kill microbes. They're easy to find online and in outdoor stores—they look like small tubes with lids.

You fill the tube up with dirty water before leaving home, then set it out in direct sunlight during your trip (it's best if you've got clear skies) until the temperature inside reaches at least 130°F (54°C), then let it sit at least six hours before drinking.*

Boiling water is the simplest way to purify it.

Boiling water is the simplest way to purify it. Boiling will kill bacteria, viruses, parasites, and protozoa that may be present. It is also very effective at killing most other microorganisms.

Boiling can be done by bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute or by bringing it to a simmer for 10 minutes.

Does Boiling Water Completely Purify It?

Does Boiling Water Completely Purify It?

Boiling water to kill bacteria is overkill. But there are some situations where it could actually help. For example, if you want to drink a glass of tap water without worrying about parasites. Or if you're concerned about the safety of bottled water. However, boiling won't do much good if you're worried about something else – like chemicals in your water.

In fact, boiling water does nothing to remove large particles such as sediment and rust. And while boiling removes smaller contaminants, including viruses, bacteria, and heavy metals, it doesn't affect anything bigger. So if you're worried about things like lead pipes or pesticides, then boiling won't do anything to improve your water quality.

What it will do, however, is reduce the number of microbes in your water. This includes bacteria, protozoa, algae, and yeasts. While many of these organisms aren't harmful, others can cause illness.

So, how long should you boil your water? Well, if you're trying to disinfect tap water, then the rule of thumb is one minute. This is because the ideal temperature for killing pathogens is around 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Anything lower risks causing damage to your appliances, and anything above 160 degrees increases the chance of damaging food.

However, if you're simply looking to sterilize your water, then the answer depends on what you're worried about. If you worry about germs, you should boil your water for up to 5 minutes. If you're worried about chemical contamination, then you'll need to boil it for 10 minutes. And if you're worried about toxins, then you'll need 20 minutes.

If you're unsure whether to boil your water, then the safest thing to do is follow local health authorities' advice. They know exactly what's in your water, and they're trained to deal with it.

How to boil your water to sterilize your formula without going insane

How long do you boil water to sterilize FAQs:

1. Does boiling water kill bacteria? 

Boiling water kills bacteria as well or better than any other method. According to the World Health Organization, "Water temperature of 158°F will reduce (or kill )99.999% of bacteria, protozoa, and virus." The American Society for Microbiology says that water temperatures of 120°F are needed to kill most bacteria.

2. What about parasites like Giardia lamblia and Cryptosporidium parvum?

These organisms require much hotter water to be killed. The Centers for Disease Control recommends boiling water for at least five minutes.

3. Is boiling water dangerous?

Yes. You can get scalded when you touch the hot water. And even though boiling water is safer than drinking untreated water, it still poses a risk. For example, touching boiling water could burn you if you have an open cut on your hand. And if you accidentally swallow water that has been boiled, you could end up with serious problems.

4. Why don’t we just use water filters instead of boiling our water?

 Filters work by passing water through a porous material. As gallons of water pass through, it picks up dirt and debris along the way. So when the water comes out the other side, it's cleaner than before. Filters also tend to clog quickly. And since they only filter out small amounts of water each time, they can't handle large volumes of dirty water.

Filters also cost money. And unless you've got a lot of space, then you probably don't want to install a whole-house filtration system.


Boiling water is the simplest way to purify it. It works every time, and you don't have to worry about anything else. So, boil water before drinking and be safe.


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