How Effective Is Boiling Water to Eliminate Viruses?
It’s common knowledge that boiling water does a lot to make it safe for drinking and bathing. But are there viruses that can survive the heat and still pose a danger? You’ll discover how effective boiling water is, how to do it properly, what viruses it kills, and how different viruses react to extreme temperatures.
The truth is that boiling water is very effective in killing or inactivating human pathogens. However, this does not guarantee safe water, as boiling doesn’t do anything to remove dirt, metals, or minerals that may be in the water. Boiled water is generally considered safe to drink, but should not be used for extended periods if it can be helped.
How Heat Kills Viruses
Pathogens in water have been studied and found to be killed or rendered inactive when boiled in water. These include bacteria such as salmonella, viruses including hepatitis A, and protozoa such as giardia.
Some studies have even shown that the closely related coronavirus that causes SARS has been effectively killed at the temperatures required for boiling water.
How Viruses React to Freezing Temperatures
In the quest to keep your family safe from viruses and bacteria, your freezer isn’t the best bet. It takes incredibly low temperatures to kill viruses - much lower than your household freezer can ever get.
To give you an idea, viruses and bacteria have been known to stay alive in negative 80-degree Fahrenheit temperatures. This is compared to typical household freezers, which generally sit between zero and five degrees Fahrenheit.
Freezing temperatures can, however, make viruses dormant, therefore slowing their spread. But this doesn’t do much good if the viruses have a chance to thaw out and get back to work spreading. To effectively kill bacteria, protozoa, and viruses in water, boiling is the way to go.
140-Degrees Fahrenheit: The Magic Number
Most germs, viruses, and bacteria will die around 140-degrees Fahrenheit. This is significantly lower than the 212-degrees Fahrenheit at which water boils. Luckily, most tap water in the US has been treated and made safe before it ever comes into your home.
But, there are a few situations in which you may need to boil water. If you’re traveling, for instance, and you’re not sure whether the water is safe, it’s a good idea to boil it before drinking it or bathing with it. Or, in the event of an emergency, when something has happened to your water supply.
It’s very easy, if not efficient, to boil water and make it safe for drinking. If you live under 6500 feet above sea level, simply bring the water to a rolling boil for one minute. Then, remove it from the heat and let it cool on its own. If you live above 6500 feet, boil the water for three minutes, instead of one, and let it cool on its own.
If you believe there may be sediment, minerals, or metals in your water, it’s best to run the water through a filter in addition to boiling it. However, boiled water is considered relatively safe to drink.
About Marc Francis Plumbing
For 25 years Marc Francis Plumbing has been serving Johnson City, Tennessee, with pride. They are licensed, bonded, and insured to guarantee peace of mind. First and foremost they provide excellent workmanship and superb customer service. They are communicative, transparent, and provide 24-hour service in the event of an emergency.