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Boiled Water vs. Bottled Water: Which is Better?

Comparing ways to purify tap water

In 2018, when the city of Austin flooded, a boil-water alert went into effect for a period of roughly two weeks. Water flooded the municipal water system, bringing sediment and silt along with it. The city couldn’t filter the water faster than it was coming in. When that happened, the city issued a district-wide alert to all citizens: boil your water to remove bacteria, like giardia and cryptosporidium or risk exposure to contaminants.

Bottled water flew off the shelves in record numbers, and many looked to filters or even boiling tap water as an alternative.

When looking at these ways to treat tap water, it’s important to consider each option’s advantages and disadvantages. Both can help remove impurities and kill bacteria, but their effectiveness varies drastically. To help prepare you during the next water crisis, we’ve compiled some crucial information on how boiled water compares to filtering it.

Analyzing Boiled Water

People have been boiling water for thousands of years as a way to filter contaminants and remove impurities, but does boiling tap water purify it and how effective is this method?

Boiling water is a simple but effective way to purify water at home or in the wilderness, as the high heat can kill harmful bacteria. Specifically, water boils at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, whereas most microorganisms cannot survive in water above 160 degrees Fahrenheit for more than 30 minutes. Another benefit of boiling water, is that doing so retains minerals found in tap water. Drinking warm water may also have several health benefits such as aiding digestion and improving blood circulation.

Disadvantages of boiling tap water

Although boiling water may appear to be cost-effective considering you don’t need to buy anything new, it can actually be quite expensive considering the impact this method will have on your energy bill. Another reason why many people don’t boil their water is that the process is very time-consuming. To purify water through boiling you’ll need to wait several minutes for the water to boil, then allow it to cool unless you’re willing to drink it hot. Furthermore, boiling water does not kill all bacteria or remove chemicals present in tap water, the only way to safely do so is by using a water filter.

Does boiling water remove contaminants such as chlorine and lead?

Boiling water can only remove solids and bacteria, meaning it will not remove harmful substances such as chlorine and lead from tap water. Furthermore, boiling tap water with lead actually concentrates this contaminant making it more dangerous than if left alone.

How to boil water

If this is your only option, here’s how you boil tap water to help purify it according to the CDC:

If your tap water is cloudy:

  1. Let it run through a clean cloth, paper towel, or coffee filter to help remove contaminants. If you do not have any of these materials, simply allow it to settle.
  2. Next, take the clear water and put it in a pot or pan
  3. Bring the water to a rolling boil for at least one minute, or three minutes at elevations above 6,500 feet
  4. Let the boiled water cool to a desirable temperature
  5. To store, use clean containers with tight covers that have been sanitized

If your tap water is clear:

  1. Bring the water to a rolling boil for at least one minute, or three minutes at elevations above 6,500 feet
  2. Let the boiled water cool to a desirable temperature
  3. To store, use clean containers with tight covers that have been sanitized

ANALYZING FILTERED WATER

What is filtered water?

Filtered water is tap water that is treated by going through a water filtration system. There are many types of systems and ways to filter water, but they all essentially work to remove contaminants from water in your home.

Benefits of filtering tap water

Compared to boiling, filtering water is a much faster process that enables people to enjoy clean, healthy drinking water with the touch of a button or lift of a faucet handle. Furthermore, filtered water is usually held to higher standards than water purified through boiling. In fact, outside groups such as the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF) rate water filters based on their ability to remove contaminants. Filtering water is healthier to drink, better on your skin when showering, and helps keep clothes fresher if used for laundry. A wide range of water filtration options such as whole house, under sink, and shower filters also means you can choose where and how you want to filter in your home.

Filtering water is healthier to drink, better on your skin when showering, and keeps clothes fresher if used for laundry.”

Disadvantages of filtering tap water

There really aren’t any health disadvantages of filtering tap water, although the system itself and price of future replacements should be considered. You’ll also want to think about installation complexity, as some water filters such as our Clean Water Machine can simply be plugged in while others such as our OptimH2O® Reverse Osmosis + Claryum may require tools or assistance from a professional.

Ways to filter tap water

There are several ways to filter tap water, which can impact the system best suited for your needs:

  • Ultra Violet (UV) Filters: UV filters are an ultra-effective way to help purify water by using different frequencies of ultraviolet light. Essentially, the DNA in microbial cells absorbs the light — killing bacteria and viruses. However, UV filters will not remove other contaminants such as chlorine, lead, or chemicals which is why they should be used in conjunction with other types of filters.
  • Reverse Osmosis: Reverse osmosis systems are generally regarded as the most effective water filter for removing contaminants. They work by pushing water through a reverse osmosis membrane under pressure, leaving the contaminants on one side and purified water on the other. Aquasana’s OptimH2O® Reverse Osmosis + Claryum water filter removes 5x more contaminants than other RO systems while retaining beneficial minerals.
  • Activated Carbon: This is the most common type of filter, which works by pulling impurities from water and binding it to char created from activated charcoal in the filter. Although this is a great start, these filters should be used alongside other filtration methods to better safeguard water from viruses and bacteria.
  • Ion Exchange: Ion exchange filters are most commonly used to treat hard water, and they work by exchanging one ion for another from water passing through it. Typically, they replace hardness causing ions such as calcium or magnesium with sodium to soften tap water. These filters are great for this purpose, but they do not remove bacteria or other particles as effectively as other filtration methods.
  • Mechanical: Mechanical filters are usually the first part of a full filtration system, as it works by catching physical materials using nylon floss, synthetic foam, or pads. These should be used as a pre-filter rather than an overall solution.

Comparing boiled and filtered water

There’s a lot of confusion about how you should make sure the water you drink is safe and healthy, but the overwhelming conclusion is that filtered water is a better solution than boiling it. 

When looking at boiled vs filtered water, we found that boiling water isn’t enough to completely purify water because it leaves harmful contaminants such as lead and chlorine. Additionally, using a water filter offers much more convenience by enabling you to enjoy healthy, great-tasting water at the touch of a button or lift of a handle compared to waiting for water to boil and cool.

Overall, filtered water is better for your health and comes with a host of other benefits compared to boiled water. Aquasana has a wide variety of water filtration solutions to help you provide clean water to any or all areas of your home. To get filtered water from every faucet, consider a whole house water filter. If you just want filtered water from your kitchen, consider an under sink or easy to install countertop filter.

Have more questions about which Aquasana water filter is right for you? Contact us and we’ll help find a solution catered to the unique needs of your home!

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