With heightened concern about current and future droughts throughout North American and news reports about the benefits of rainwater harvesting, many people wonder, “Can you drink rainwater without getting ill?” The answer is “yes” if you take the following into consideration.
Rain falls from the sky, passing through the atmosphere before reaching the ground. Because the air is not spotlessly clean, rain drops may pick up a few contaminants while heading toward earth. Before drinking collected rain, you want to be confident of where the rain fell. You don’t want to consume rainwater that fell near an industrial site or chemical factory that may spew pollutants into the sky, and you would never consume rain near one of the world’s well-known radioactive sites, such as the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant that was heavily damaged during the 2011 Japanese tsunami.
“Never drink rainwater that has run off of the roof of a plant or industrial facility,” warned Steven Sweeney, CEO of Rain Harvesting Supplies, Inc., a leading online retailer of rain harvesting tanks and components. “It’s possible you could pick up a toxic substance, and you always want to be safe. Of course, never drink rainwater that you find standing in puddles or in dirty containers.”
If you feel certain the rain is clean, is it safe drink?
A lot of people do. Rain is the main water supply for much of the world’s population. Actually, the levels of pollution, smoke, mold, dust, pollen and other impurities are fairly low in rain water – often lower than water that comes from many municipal water companies serving the public.
“But before drinking rainwater, personally ensure that the water is safe,” Sweeney said. “Simply boil the water to kill off germs or run it through a home water purification system.”
You also may drink rainwater if you collect it directly from the sky and let it fall into a clean, disinfected container. Allow the rain to sit for at least an hour. If necessary, run it through a coffee filter to remove any debris. You may want to refrigerate the collected rain to prevent growth of any microorganisms
“Of course, it is easier to collect rainwater in a professional rain harvesting tank made of plastic or metal,” Sweeney said. “The roof of your house, barn or workshop serves as the collection surface, and the rain relies on gravity to move down through your gutters and into your rain tank.”
Rainwater is not drinkable straight off a roof because roofing materials and gutters may introduce contaminants, such as asbestos, lead, and copper to the water.
“Most modern building standards minimize that problem,” Sweeney said. “But any water intended for drinking should be filtered, disinfected and tested on a regular basis. The easiest way to ensure pure water is to run it through a carbon filter to kill any bacteria. Many people rely on rain water as their entire family’s water supply, and it costs only a few hundred dollars per year to make it drinkable.”
Can you drink rainwater collected from an area of the country known for acid rain?
“Actually, most rainwater is naturally acidic, which is why flowers, shrubs and trees love it,” Sweeney said. “Drinking water rarely has a neutral pH because it contains dissolved minerals. Municipal water supplies can be acidic, neutral or basic, depending on the source of the water. The most acidic rain that you would want to avoid drinking would be the rain falling near an active volcano. Otherwise, acid rain isn’t an issue. If you want to drink rain, just take a few precautions. Using rain is ecological and will help reduce your water bills.”
About Rain Harvesting Supplies – We are a leading supplier of rain water harvesting products and equipment. We have been helping rain water system professionals for the past 5 years. We stock thousands of rain harvesting products; rain water tanks, rain water pumps,rainwater filtration systems, plus thousands of other products. Whether you are looking for a rain collection system or rain harvesting filter, we can help. Please visit www.RainHarvestingSupplies.com to learn more.