Tips for boiling water with or without power

Winter Weather Tips

AUSTIN (KXAN) — With many Central Texans under a boil water notice, and many still without power, here are some tips to make sure your water is safe to consume.

Many of the boil water notices have resulted from a loss of pressure in water systems, which means water providers can’t guarantee bacteria hasn’t gotten into the system. People should bring water to a rolling boil for two minutes before using it for drinking, cooking or making ice, and then let it cool.

To improve the “flat” taste of boiled water, the Environmental Protection Agency says in its emergency water disinfection guide that you can add a pinch of salt to each quart or liter of water you boil, or pour the water from one clean container to another a few times.

Bottled water is also a good option, but right now supply is limited. KXAN is compiling a list of water distribution sites in Central Texas.

Water but no electricity?

If the water is cloudy, let it settle and then filter it through a clean cloth or coffee filter, the Environmental Protection Agency says in its emergency water disinfection guide.

If you have a gas burner in your home that can safely light, you can use that.

You can also use an outdoor grill or camping stove. Never use either in an enclosed space because of fire and carbon monoxide hazards.

You can also use a LifeStraw filter if you have one or water disinfection tablets.

Iodine is another option. Add five drops of 2% tincture of iodine to each quart or liter of water. If the water is cloudy, add 10 drops and then stir. Let it stand for half an hour before using it.

Another option is to use household bleach. Make sure it’s regular and unscented and doesn’t have any added cleaners to it. Check the label — the active ingredient should contain 6% or 8.25% of sodium hypochlorite (NaClO). Use a dropper to add the following amount of bleach and “Double the amount of bleach if the water is cloudy, colored, or very cold,” the EPA says: (mobile users, swipe to see the full chart)

Volume of WaterAmount of 6% Bleach to Add*Amount of 8.25% Bleach to Add*
1 quart/liter2 drops2 drops
1 gallon8 drops6 drops
2 gallons16 drops (1/4 tsp)12 drops (1/8 teaspoon)
4 gallons1/3 teaspoon1/4 teaspoon
8 gallons2/3 teaspoon1/2 teaspoon

Stir and let the water stand for half an hour. You’ll smell a slight chlorine odor. If the taste of chlorine is too strong, you can pour the water between clean containers and let it stand for a few hours.

No water?

Look for other sources, such as ice in your freezer or even snow and ice outside.

You’ll want to use similar disinfecting methods to the above, such as boiling and filtering the water from snow. If you can, grab newer snow or ice. As temperatures warm, you may also be able to collect water as the snow and ice melt.

When boiling, don’t pack in the snow, Pelican Water says in a blog about how to melt snow for water. Instead, add a little at first and then keep adding until you have the amount of water you want.

No water and no electricity?

Find what sources you can, including ice and snow as above. You will still need to disinfect it, possibly using bleach or iodine as outlined above.

Pelican Water also has some tips for melting snow without electricity, including using a fire, grill or camp stove outside. People can also fill a water bag or Ziploc with snow, seal it, and set it in a sunny place.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Austin-Travis County

More Austin-Travis County News

Tracking the Coronavirus

Coronavirus Cases Tracker

Latest Central Texas COVID-19 Cases

More Coronavirus Live Blogs

Trending Stories

Don't Miss