Bleach is a precious and versatile survival commodity, but unfortunately one that is often overlooked in prepper stockpiles. Aside from its disinfecting, germ-fighting power for cleaning, we can also use bleach to reliably disinfect and he found water supplies that may be questionable.
Pure, unadulterated bleach will reliably vanquish all sorts of bacteria and viruses that might be present in your drinking water if you add a precise amount.
How much bleach should we add to our water in order to purify it?
The correct ratio for disinfection of water is 6 drops to 1 US gallon when using standard, unscented 8.25% concentration sodium hypochlorite bleach. If disinfecting smaller amounts of water or attempting to precisely measure bleach for larger quantities, add two drops to every 1 liter of water.
Once treated, agitate and allow the water to sit for 30 minutes before drinking.
Considering how little bleach is needed to successfully purify water supplies even a single jug of common, basic bleach can purify a truly massive amount of drinking water.
However, there is a lot more to know about this process if you want to ensure good results and avoid potential mishaps. Keep reading to learn all about the use of bleach for the disinfection of water
You Have to Use the Correct Kind of Bleach
Now, it is absolutely true that you can use common, garden variety bleach for this purpose but what you cannot use is bleach with any sort of adulterating additive, be it a thickener, fragrance or any other such trickery.
Also you cannot use any so-called oxygen bleaches or bleaching agents that are not straight up sodium hypochlorite.
Thickening agents or oxy bleaches will contaminate the water you are trying to treat, as will the fragrances.
You don’t want to drink either, and concerning the former they may be poisonous from the get-go. Fragrances and thickening agents may or may not be, but take no chances and at any rate it is not going to make your water any safer or taste any better.
It would be the very summit of tragedy to use any of these modified bleaches in an effort to purify your water and end up poisoning yourself anyway.
Also, double check the label of the product you are buying to ensure that it is free from any such additives but also that you are getting bleach that is an 8.25% concentration of sodium hypochlorite. That is what the prescribed ratios above are for.
You can use sodium hypochlorite bleach of differing strength, but you’ll need to adjust the ratios for safety.
Also, take care if you are purchasing your bleach in large quantities or from any chemical supply retailers, as these could be dramatically stronger than over the counter, household bleach for your laundry room.
Note that these might work and be convenient for purifying massive quantities of water but they are entirely too strong to make metering them out for smaller quantities easy or reliable.
I Thought Bleach was Dangerous to Drink?
Bleach, uncut and unadulterated, is indeed very dangerous to ingest, but as the old saying goes anything can be a poison or a medicine depending on the dosage.
So we are entirely, 100% crystal clear let me remind all readers that you should never, ever drink bleach for any reason. Sodium hypochlorite, in any significant concentration, destroys tissue.
Drinking bleach will play hell on all of your mucous membranes, dissolve the lining of your throat and then start to dissolve the interior of your stomach.
What’s worse, your body will naturally want to purge itself of this dreadful poison and when you begin to vomit you’ll have stomach acid coming up with it to attack the now deteriorated tissues of your throat. I hope I have made my case that this is a grisly and terrible way to die.
However, this same sodium hypochlorite that is so dangerous in high concentrations makes for a powerful and safe germ fighter in trace concentrations.
Adding sodium hypochlorite to water leads to a chemical reaction where oxygen is released in abundance throughout the water and it is the oxygen, not the sodium hypochlorite itself, that kills the invisible, but highly vulnerable microorganisms in the water that could make you so dreadfully sick.
Even better, compared to various drug therapies and antibiotics that germs can develop resistance to, there is no way for the nasty germs to develop any sort of resistance to this chemical reaction which obliterates them utterly by disrupting their molecular bonds. Blinded by science? How about disintegrated by science!
Anyway, bottom line up front is you should never, ever drink bleach straight and only ever administer it to your water supply and it precise quantities with strict attention paid to the procedure for safety.
Try the Following Tips to Ensure Good Results
Bleach is not a panacea. Bleach kills germs, pretty much all kinds of germs, in the water but can’t do anything about other forms of contamination such as those posed by heavy metals and other chemical contaminants. Only filtration or other specialized forms of purification can deal with those.
Also, you might treat your water supply with bleach and still get sick from it if you don’t follow best practices when it comes to handling and dispensing.
This is an especially common, and unfortunate, occurrence when using bleach to treat water in any container that you’ll be drinking directly from, or any container which relies upon some sort of cap, nozzle or other dispenser.
What happens is that contaminated water gets trapped, waiting, in the threads of the cap or the neck, or elsewhere in the dispenser and then gets swept into your mouth or into your vessel upon dispensing the treated water.
Although unlikely, you should still take steps to prevent this unhappy occurrence. All that is needed to counter this is for you to unscrew the cap a turn or two, just enough to let water leak out.
After you treat the water with bleach, shake up the contents, unscrew the cap a little bit, and then squeeze to forcefully flush out these nooks and crannies.
You can do the same thing with any sort of nozzle or other dispenser by forcefully flushing it out with your now treated water
Additionally, these ratios only work for clear water. If your water is cloudy or murky with any sort of silt or other dissolved solids, you should make every attempt to pre-filter it in order to clear up the water.
These murky solids will impede the bleach, and if you cannot filter it you’ll need to add even more bleach to overcome this which could pose significant health hazards in the bargain. Filter first, and then bleach!
Common, unscented and unmodified 8.25% concentration sodium hypochlorite bleach can be used to treat drinking water by adding six drops to one US gallon. Larger or smaller quantities of water can be treated accordingly by adding two drops for every 1 l.
In any case, the water should be agitated and then left for 30 minutes to ensure elimination of all dangerous or harmful microorganisms. Remember that water that is murky must be filtered prior to treating or else more bleach must be added to ensure total sterilization.