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SpecialistMichael, MS, CSCS
Category: General
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Experience:  Senior Information Specialist
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I have a spring that forms a pond on my property. Can I drink

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I have a spring that forms a pond on my property. Can I drink the water if I boil it first?
Generally speaking you could (probably) drink the water that leaves the spring in an emergency situation but ideally you would want that water evaluated for chemicals from ground runoff, local leech bed contamination as well as any of the high doses of minerals and dangerous heavy metals that are found in some ground waters. There is no way to tell this - but obviously in an emergency, water is definitely a priority.

As a general rule, most if not all disease causing pathogens are killed around 1 minute of 212 degree F* boiling. To otherwise be safe, and for peace of mind you can boil for 2 - 5 minutes if you like - this is using the EPA as a reference here in the US.

If its cloudy you should filter it through cloths to get any heavier debris out because rock and ground filtration is usually minimal at best. After filtering the water with cloths, the heavier stuff should settle then you can draw off the clear water and proceed to boil.

This is why tap water is considerably better than other sources, as water, from what sources is treated in multiple steps for disinfection and contaminate removal.

The other option, again in an emergency, would be 1/8th teaspoon mixed in each gallon of water, mixed thoroughly and left for roughly 30min to 1 hour to work and disinfect. You might actually notice, if you are on city water that it smells of slight chlorine as this is a common way to treat some water.

I would definitely have the water evaluated FIRST before drinking it - either way, pending the water eval, you should boil as even exposure to whats thought as an otherwise "clean" area can have bacteria in it.

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Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Can we shower and wash our hands with this water?
Generally, adults and children are find to shower as long as nothing is swallowed though keep in mind MANY DO NOT recommend this, I also would not unless you absolutely positively had no choice to - even then I would boil the water... With children this might be an issue for obvious reasons. I still would consider this unsafe though, but the EPA will say in some cases its OK in emergency situations.

You want to still observe caution as there are water pathogens that can still cause infection in eyes, ears etc.. generally slim chances but if you had to in a case of an emergency you could. If you were in a situation like that, rain water is a good choice though.