Treat water for drinking…a cheap alternative

What's the cheap way to purify water?
What’s the cheap way to purify water?

A prepper friend recently asked me what is the cheapest way to treat water for consumption. Well, since our body is about 60% water, it makes good (survival) sense to learn how to treat water for consumption. There’s already so many products sold in the market today to do this ‘water treatment’ thing but I have never really thought about what is the ‘cheapest way’. So, I decided to do a bit of research to find the cheapest way to treat water.


My first thought would be to simply boil water. Electricity, gas or wood fire would do the trick. But in an urban landscape, gas and electricity may not be there at all in a case of a  disruption. Personally, I used to carry Lifestraw but I later found a more compact, practical and adaptable solution…the Sawyer Mini Filter.

Sawyer mini water filter is compact and has more 'added value' compared to the Lifestraw
Sawyer mini water filter is compact and has more ‘added value’ compared to the Lifestraw

The Sawyer Mini can filter up to 100000 gallons of water. That is like a freaking 37000 liters of water. If an adult drinks an average of 3 liters of water a day, it would take about 30 years to wear out the filter! The Lifestraw on the other hand can only do a maximum of 1000 liters.

If you work out the cost for a liter of water for the Sawyer Mini…it will probably win hands down. No doubt it is the cheapest way to treat water for consumption.

Then I found a few websites talking about treating water with bleach. Yup…good old bleach. Read here and here.

Household bleach to treat water
Household bleach to treat water

I think almost every household in Malaysia would have a bottle of bleach in their laundry kit. Its cheap and it works to disinfect as well as to remove those stubborn stains on clothing. A bottle of good quality bleach…say Clorox brand would probably cost no more than RM10.

Compared to the Sawyer mini liter to liter capability, the Saywer may win but in terms of ease of ability, practicality and multi use of a product, I reckon the bleach is a clear winner.

Below I copy & paste the information provided on Clorox website on using bleach to treat water for drinking. For full details, click here to go to Clorox official website.

  • Prior to addition of the bleach, it’s important to remove all suspended material from collected water by letting it settle to the bottom or by filtration.  This means that after you collect some water that hasn’t been treated, you need to let it sit long enough to let any debris settle to the bottom of the container.
  • Next, decant the clarified contaminated water into a clean container, then add the bleach.  Use the table below to determine how much bleach to add—it depends on how much water you are treating.
  • Allow the treated water to stand for 30 minutes.  Properly treated water should have a slight chlorine odor.
  • If there’s no chlorine odor, then you need to repeat the treatment.  Just add the same amount of bleach, and wait for another 15 minutes.  Check again for the chlorine odor before drinking the water.
Amount of Clear Water Amount of Clorox® Regular-Bleach Amount of New Concentrated Clorox®Regular-Bleach
1 quart 2 drops 2 drops
1 gallon 8 drops 6 drops
2 gallons 16 drops 12 drops, or 1/8 teaspoon
5 gallons 40 drops 30 drops

Here are some other important things to remember.

  • ONLY use Clorox® Regular-Bleach or new Concentrated® Clorox Regular-Bleach.  DO NOT use the Scented bleaches, High Efficiency bleach Splash-Less bleach, Ultimate Care bleach, or the Bleach Pen.
  • Use bleach that was purchased in the last 4 months.
  • If the water you want to treat is cloudy and you can’t decant or filter it, add twice the amount of bleach recommended above.

So, if you are looking for the cheap way to treat water, why not look under the sink or in your laundry room for that bottle of bleach. If you are using Clorox, then the above guidelines is just for you. However, if you are using other brands of bleach, read this page to make sure you are using the correct type, amount and method to treat your water…the cheap way.