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Does Boiling Water Purify It? Let’s Look at the Science

<strong>Does Boiling Water Purify It? Let’s Look at the Science</strong>

As a homeowner, you’re probably familiar with the concept of boiling water to purify it – after all, it’s one of the oldest and most reliable methods used by people across generations. However, have you ever stopped to consider if this “tried and true” method actually works? What type of bacteria will survive boiling temperatures?

In today’s blog post, we’ll take an in-depth look at the science behind boiled water and examine whether or not it is still effective for purification purposes. Does boiling truly kill off potentially dangerous microbes from your drinking water? Let’s find out!

What happens to water when you boil it?

Boiling water is a simple, yet powerful science experiment that just about anyone can conduct. As you heat up the water and it starts to reach a temperature of 100°C, an exciting process begins. When heated to its boiling point, the physical properties of water start to change dramatically. By examining these changes closely you begin to understand why it’s such an important resource for all living organisms. The liquid that was once one form nears its boiling point, but before it reaches its end state as steam and vapour, you start to notice bubbles appear at the bottom of the container holding the water and slowly making their way upwards until eventually, the entire surface is exploding with them.

boiling water on a stainless steel pot

This phenomenon is known as boiling and is a physical transformation of matter as particles are released into the steam. Boiling water helps us in countless ways like cooking food, sterilizing medical tools or creating electric power through turbines and generators. Understanding how this fascinating process works helps us to further appreciate our most precious natural source: water.

Does boiling water remove chemicals from the water?

We all know that boiling water kills many bacteria, but did you also know it can remove some chemicals from the water too? It’s true! Some organic and inorganic compounds, such as chlorine and heavy metals like lead, can be significantly reduced with a quick boil. This means that, while it doesn’t completely purify tap water, boiling it can help render it safer for basic cleaning or gardening tasks.

You do need to be aware though, that a hard boil won’t eliminate biological contaminants or pharmaceuticals present in the water – those require filtration and treatment with chemicals such as chlorine or ozone. So keep in mind: if you hear of threats present in your tap water, boiling is always an option as a first step towards improving safety and reducing hazardous materials.


Unfortunately, boiling water does not remove fluoride. To remove this form of hazardous contaminant, water must go through a special process involving anion exchange resins or reverse osmosis.


With the world increasingly concerned about water safety and quality, more people are asking the question of boiling their water removes chlorine. The short answer is yes, boiling water for upwards of 15 minutes will cause the chlorine to evaporate out of the water. This means that after you have boiled your water, you can smell or taste the difference compared to non-boiled chlorinated water. Boiling your drinking water is one way to make sure that you have safe, clean and healthy drinking water as the boiling temperature will also remove any other pathogens present in the water such as bacteria and viruses.


The simple answer to the question of whether boiling water can remove lead from it is “no”. Though several people may falsely claim that boiling water will reduce lead levels, the only method of removing this dangerous contaminant from drinking water is to treat it using an appropriate treatment system.

Fortunately, lead is virtually nonexistent in UK tap water and so boiling water to remove it is unnecessary.

Is tap water purified when you boil it?

Tap water may seem like a convenient and inexpensive option for drinking or cooking, but unfortunately, it is often contaminated with harmful elements. Boiling is an effective method of purifying tap water and rendering it safe for drinking. Some of those potentially dangerous substances include lead, mercury, cadmium, arsenic, and other heavy metals – though this varies by country and region. Additionally, chlorine and other unwanted chemicals used to purify the water can sometimes find their way into our homes. Heating tap water effectively kills many harmful organisms, which is why it has been used as a primary purification technique throughout history.

boiling hot water pouring from a water tap

Boiling has long been a traditionally-accepted way of killing pathogens, but it may be less effective to protect against some microbes such as viruses. All these contaminants can cause serious damage to a person’s health if consumed on a regular basis over extended periods of time. As such, boiling is an important step in purifying tap water for drinking and other food uses.

What other methods can you use to purify water?

Apart from boiling, one of the most effective methods for purifying water is filtration. Whether using a simple water filter or a more advanced reverse-osmosis filtration system, both are useful for removing suspended particles and other contaminants from the water. Other natural means of purification such as settling and distillation can be employed as well, although these require more time and effort to achieve satisfactory results and may not be suitable in some cases.

Fluid Pouring in Pint Glass

Ultraviolet light is also an option, wherein specialized UV lamps produce enough energy to break down bacteria, parasites and other microorganisms that are present in unfiltered water. However, it’s important to remember that while these methods can effectively make water safe for drinking, utilizing proper hygiene practices should still be considered first before consuming any form of untreated liquid.

How long should you boil water for to purify it?

Boiling water is the most effective way to purify it, killing 99.9% of potential contaminants. Generally, you should boil water for at least one minute, but an extra minute or two of boiling time can add an extra layer of security. Boiling kills bacteria, viruses and other organisms found in the water through denaturation, which makes them unable to reproduce. However, boiling doesn’t remove some chemicals like lead, fluoride and arsenic. So while boiling is a great way to quickly purify water temporarily, if you are looking for a long-term solution or want to be sure that your water is entirely safe from all contaminants, you should use a filtering system instead.

Does boiling tap water make it taste better?

Boiling tap water makes it easier to drink, but the taste may not be much different. Boiling constitutes a form of purification, but it is not as thorough as using a filter or reverse osmosis system. Many people claim that boiling tap water can improve the taste profile by reducing mineral content in the water and eliminating bacteria, but this is scientifically unsubstantiated. Tests have found that boiling does reduce minerals like iron and sulfur, but there is no proof that these reductions provide any noticeable enhancement in terms of taste. Ultimately, boiling tap water may make you feel better about drinking it, but don’t expect your taste buds to notice any significant difference.

Can you boil river or sea water and drink it?

Boiling river or seawater can effectively reduce the likelihood of contracting a water-borne illness such as dysentery or some form of diarrhoea. While boiling renders it safe to drink, unfortunately, it will not make it free of salt. Unless the proper purification processes have been followed which remove salts and other organisms, drinking river or sea water still poses health risks. Boiled river or sea water may alleviate emergency situations where access to clean drinking water is limited; however, for any longer than necessary use choosing an alternative source is best for long-term health and wellness.

How to test your tap water for contaminants

If you’re unsure about the quality of your tap water, testing it is a smart way to ensure that you and your family are safe from potential contaminants. There are a variety of methods for testing tap water, including at-home kits marketed toward homeowners as well as professional laboratory analysis. While DIY kits can provide general information about some common contaminants, lab tests will provide more accurate results and may include more types of contaminants if desired. Regardless of which method you choose, be sure to follow all instructions correctly in order to get the most reliable results. Knowing what’s really in your water is an important step in safeguarding the well-being of yourself and your family.

What is water hardness?

Water hardness is a measure of certain minerals present in water. Calcium and magnesium are the two most common substances found in hard water, which can lead to deposits that affect plumbing fixtures and appliances. Hard water can cause pipes to become clogged over time with scale buildup, reduce the soap’s ability to create lather effectively, and even leave spots on dishes or clothing after washing. Though it’s generally thought that soft water is preferable for drinking and cooking due to its lack of these minerals, some people prefer the taste of hard water because it contains more minerals. It’s important to know what type of water hardness level is present in one’s home for plumbing and appliance maintenance reasons as well as for finding the best-tasting drinking water.


Whether you’re looking to purify your water for drinking, testing it for contaminants, or determine its hardness level, understanding the basics of tap water can help you make informed decisions about your health and safety. Boiling tap water can be an effective way to temporarily purify it, but other methods such as filtering systems or reverse osmosis may be required for more thorough and long-term water purification.

At-home kits and professional lab testing can help you understand what is in your tap water so that you can decide the best course of action for ensuring its cleanliness. Knowing about your tap water will ultimately empower homeowners to make informed decisions when it comes to drinking, bathing, cooking, and cleaning with water. In the end, it’s all about protecting yourself and your family from potential contaminants and ensuring access to safe drinking water.

Read more about the benefits of boiling water taps, learn how a boiling water tap works or shop our full collection of taps.

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