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Boiling water for dummies

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Spend a little time researching how long you need to boil water to make it safe and you’re liable to find conflicting answers, even from “trusted” government and health organization sources.

“Boil water for ten minutes.”

“Five minutes of boiling.”

“Boil the water for 20 minutes.”

“A rolling boil for one minute.”

“You should boil water twice as long at high altitudes.”

Which do you pay attention to? They can’t all be right. The winner is – drum roll, please – ZERO minutes. That’s not a misprint. This information comes straight from Princeton University via the auspices of the Wilderness Medical Society. Here’s the science behind it.

“…water temperatures above 160° F (70° C) kill all pathogens within 30 minutes and above 185° F (85° C) within a few minutes. So in the time it takes for the water to reach the boiling point (212° F or 100° C) from 160° F (70° C), all pathogens will be killed, even at high altitude.”

There you have it. By the time water reaches the boiling point, it’s already safe to drink. You don’t even need a thermometer. Just get it to a rolling boil for any length of time and you’re done. Turn off the heat. Let it cool down. Drink.

The Holistic Survival Team

Flickr / Sterlic