6 Natural Ways to Purify Your Water

Monday Jun 9 | BY |
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Purify Water

Even when you’re away from home,
you can reduce contaminants in your water through some natural methods.

A 2001 study of 19 U.S. cities by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) discovered something disturbing—pollution and deteriorating, out-of-date plumbing systems were sometimes delivering drinking water that could pose health risks to some residents.

Some of the contaminants that showed up repeatedly in the tests were lead, germs, by-products of chlorine treatments (linked to cancer and reproductive problems), aresenic, and radon.

A 2013 study by researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) looked at the drinking water in 25 U.S. cities, and detected twenty-one contaminants in at least nine of them. Most were in low concentrations, but eighteen are not regulated under the federal Safe Drinking Water Act. Researchers don’t even know the potential health effects of many of the contaminants, though they did say that one of the perfluorinated compounds (PFOA) has been linked to cancer.

In a 2014 article in Environmental Health Perspectives, author Julia R. Barret noted that “assessing the human health effect of any given chemical requires careful epidemiological and toxicological study, which has not been conducted for most drinking water contaminants.”

More research needs to be done, but in the meantime, many Americans use water purifiers of some sort to further purify the water they drink. It’s not always possible to enjoy the benefits of a purifying device, however, especially if you’re traveling.

For those times when you need a natural way to reduce the potential contaminants in your water, try these methods.

1. Use Apple and Tomato Peels

They say necessity is the father of invention. That was the case in Singapore, where germs, pollutants, and pesticides were seeping into water supplies. A young research associate at the National University of Singapore wanted to find an inexpensive way to clean it up, and landed on the brilliant idea of using apple and tomato peels.

He actually did a study to show it worked. First he tested tomato peels in contaminated water, measuring their ability to absorb and remove toxic metal ions and organic pollutants. Results showed that they effectively dissolved organic and inorganic chemicals, dyes, and pesticides. Next, he tried apple peels, and found that they were effective at extracting a range of pollutants.

Mr. Ramakrishna hopes the results of his research will benefit disadvantaged farmers living in remote villages in Singapore, and continues his research into how natural fibers may be used for water purification.

To apply these findings to your water, peel some apples and tomatoes, place them in a rubbing alcohol solution for 2 hours, and then let them dry out. Once they are thoroughly dried, place them into a container of water and let them sit for a few hours. Remove the peels and enjoy.

2. Use Banana Peels

Mr. Ramakrishna wasn’t the first to think of the idea of using fruit peels to purify water. In an earlier 2011 study, researchers found that banana peels can also help remove potentially toxic metals (like lead) from water. In the study, the banana peel quickly removed lead and copper from river water as well as, or better than, many other materials. The purification apparatus made of the peels was reused up to 11 times without losing its effectiveness.

3. Sunlight and Lime Juice

If it’s bacteria you’re worried about, this method may be best. Researchers form the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine found that adding lime juice to water treated with a solar disinfection method removed harmful bacteria like E. coli significantly faster than solar disinfection alone—in just 30 minutes.

So-called “solar disinfection” involves placing the water in a clear container in the sunlight for at least six hours, usually, so adding the lime definitely created a time savings. Unfortunately, the method wasn’t as effective at killing viruses.

4. Good Old Boiling

This one has been used for centuries, and still works in a pinch. Simply put your water in a pot and boil it. The heat kills off any germs that may be waiting around to make you sick. This method doesn’t get rid of metals or pesticides, though, so you may want to combine it with some of the other methods here for the purest result.

5. Use Seaweed

In a 2011 article, the University of Connecticut called seaweed the “new trend in water purification.” Seaweed needs inorganic nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorous to survive, and can also use nutrients derived from sewage treatment facilities and from land runoffs. University of Connecticut biologist Charles Yarish has led the charge for using seaweed to clean waterways of pollution and waste from both people and fish, noting that such methods would make coastal waters healthier. One of his goals was to use seaweed to help clean up the East River in New York.

You’ve heard of seaweed wraps at the salon, which are reported to help draw toxins out of the body. Seaweed baths are recommended for the same reason. In a pinch, you may want to try a bit of seaweed in your water for purification, though you may not prefer the taste as well as water purified by fruit peels.

6. Try Essential Oils

A number of natural plant oils can kill bacteria and viruses in water. Oregano has emerged as one of the most powerful oils to have on hand in an emergency. It has antibacterial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-parasitic properties that make it effective in reducing the contaminants in your water. To make a natural water filter using oregano and other household products, check out this video.

Do you have other natural ways to purify water? Please share with our readers.

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“Study Finds Safety of Drinking Water in U.S. Cities at Risk,” NRDC, 2001, http://www.nrdc.org/water/drinking/uscities.asp.

Brian Bienkowdki, “New report: Unregulated contaminants common in drinking water,” Environmental Health News, December 5, 2013, http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2013/unregulated-water-contaminants.

Julia R. Barrett, “Chemical Contaminants in Drinking Water: Where Do We Go from Here?” Environmental Health Perspectives, March 2014; 122(3): A80, http://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/wp-content/uploads/122/3/ehp.122-A80.pdf.

National University of Singapore. “World’s first water treatment techniques using apple and tomato peels.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 July 2013. .

“How to Purify Water with Fruit,” The Alternative Daily, April 20, 2014, http://www.thealternativedaily.com/purify-water-fruit/.

Renata S.D. Castro, et al., “Banana Peel Applied to the Solid Phase Extraction of Copper ad Lead from River Water: Preconcentration of Metal Ions with a Fruit Waste,” Ind Eng Chem Res 2011; 50(6):3446-3451, http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ie101499e.

American Chemical Society. “Banana peels get a second life as water purifier.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 10 March 2011. .

“Sunlight Plus Lime Juice Makes Drinking Water Safer,” Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, April 17, 2012, http://www.jhsph.edu/news/news-releases/2012/schwab-lime-water.html.

Christine Buckley, “Seaweed: The New Trend in Water Purification,” UConn Today, July 27, 2011, http://today.uconn.edu/blog/2011/07/seaweed-the-new-trend-in-water-purification-2/.

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story

Colleen M. Story, a northwest-based writer, editor, and ghostwriter, has been creating non-fiction materials for individuals, corporations, and commercial magazines for over 17 years. She specializes in the health and wellness field, where she writes and ghostwrites books, e-books, blogs, magazine articles, and more.

Colleen is the founder of Writing and Wellness. Her fantasy novel, “Rise of the Sidenah,” was released with Jupiter Gardens Press in September 2015. Her literary novel, “Loreena’s Gift,” is forthcoming in spring 2016 from Dzanc Books. She lives in Idaho. www.colleenmstory.com

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