Turning Rainwater Into Drinking Water: 3 Ways To Do It (2023)

There’s nothing better for an off-grid homesteader than knowing that they can have all the water they could ever want just by installing a few water tanks to harvest the rain. The only problem is, can rainwater be filtered for drinking?

Rainwater can be filtered for drinking as long as you have a clean catchment surface and you use a proper filter. Water for the whole house can be filtered using a uv filter or quantum filtration system or you can use a gravity filter such as a Berkey Water Filter just for your drinking water.

If you are interested in converting your harvested rainwater into something drinkable, this article will dive deeper into all that you need to know on how to do it. I felt a true sense of freedom when I finally put in filters to make my water drinkable. I have all that I could ever want and no one else can touch it.

Turning Rainwater Into Drinking Water: 3 Ways To Do It (1)

Clean Water Begins With Best Practices

A lot goes into a typical water system to ensure that the water is clean and safe to drink. You are the water company now and that burden lays with you. It is best that you make sure that every part of your system is as clean as possible and constructed with the proper materials.

A filter only goes so far. If the water you are starting off with is green and filled with debris, you are going to have a tough time turning it into drinking water. It’s important to make sure you have a clean catchment surface and some pre filters along the way.

Best Roof Material for Rainwater Collection

Turning Rainwater Into Drinking Water: 3 Ways To Do It (2)

There are many ways to build a roof, with asphalt shingles, terracotta tiles, thatch, but none of those are suited for being used to harvest rainwater. All of them leach either chemicals or natural tannins that make the water almost impossible to filter efficiently.

Pre-painted, corrugated metal roofing is the only roofing found to be clean enough to harvest rainwater for drinking. It offers up the cleanest catchment surface possible, with little to no leaching as long as the roofing is kept in good shape.

(Video) 3 Way To Make Rainwater Drinkable

Pairing the roofing with a galvanized steel seamless gutter will help you go even further in ensuring pristine water in your catchment tank. Seamless gutters make it possible for the water to travel freely out of the gutters and into the downspouts without any “dams” in between.

Plastic gutters from home depot are OK, but the do use a raised coupling to connect different gutter sections and it is there that debris, algae and pathogens tend to collect. Sure enough after the next rainfall, they’ll all end up in your water tank.

To keep the roof and gutter material in good shape for continual clean water harvesting, it is advisable to pressure wash and clean out the gutters every 6 months. Before washing down the roof, make sure you disconnect the downspouts so all of that debris doesn’t end up in the tank.

(Video) Rainwater - Is It Safe To Drink? EASY How To Rainwater Filtration

Leaf Guards and Prefilters

Turning Rainwater Into Drinking Water: 3 Ways To Do It (3)

Before the rainwater from the roof even gets into your water tank, you should have a couple of pre filters installed. I like to use a leaf guard, with my favorite being this one that you can buy on Amazon, as well as some panty hose or paint strainer. These prefilters serve as an additional measure towards ensuring that only clean, debris free water enters the tank.

A leaf guard is a device that is installed on each downspout of the gutter system. Essentially, it is a slanted screen that diverts large debris out of the downspout but still lets clean water continue through. The leaf guard acts like a course filter.

Right wear the inlet pipe lets out into the water tank, I like to install panty hose over the pipe end. This panty hose catches even finer debris that the leaf guard missed. It is surprisingly good at its job. All I have to do is replace it every month and it is able to do its job.

Best Tank Types To Store Water For Drinking

Almost any water tank will do for harvesting rainwater. All throughout East Hawai’i where rainwater catchment is common practice, most people use a tank with a vinyl liner. These tanks are able to store very clean water, but there is some people worry of leaching from the vinyl.

The best tank to store water for drinking would be a galvanized water tank. Galvanized metal has been tested to be very safe when it comes to the possibility of contamination through leaching. They are rated safe for drinking water storage. However, these tend to be very expensive. There are tradeoffs with anything.

Any water tank is better than no water tank, just make sure that it is fully enclosed or covered in some way. We still have a few filters for the water to run through before it reaches our water glass.

Are you a DIYer interested in learning more about installing your very own rainwater harvesting system? I wrote an article about exactly how to do it. Be sure to give it a read.

3 Different Ways To Filter Rainwater For Drinking

Filtering your rainwater into drinking water has never been easier. There are many systems out there that do a fantastic job for very little price. It was a game changer when we finally got one of our own. No more trips to the county water spigots filling up 5 gallon bottles. Drinking water now flows right out of the tap.

UV Filtration Systems

A UV Filtration System treats unsafe water containing pathogens and bacteria with a germicidal ultraviolet light. The UV wavelength scrambles the DNA of the live organisms, making them unable to reproduce and cause you to be ill.

A UV Filtration system can be used to treat the water of an entire house. It does not filter out coarse debris, prefilters are necessary for that, but it does a great job at killing pathogens.

(Video) Make your own water filter and never buy drinking water again.

It utilizes a ballast that acts as the power control center and a specialized UV bulb inside of a housing. The prefiltered water is exposed to the light, killing off any pathogens and then continues on to the home.

The drawbacks of this system is that it does take power to operate, making it a little more challenging for those 100% on solar. It is also necessary to change an expensive light bulb every year.

If you are interested in getting a UV Water Purification System of your own, use this link to go to the UV System that was installed on my sisterʻs home that sheʻs been drinking from for months.

Quantum Filtration

This is what I have on my house and I have to say, I am a fan. After 3 years of using this filter to turn our rainwater into drinking water, I am happy to say no one has gotten sick. We have even had it tested on numerous occasions and it comes out with passing marks every time.

The Pulsar Quantum Water Filter developed by US Water Systems utilizes an advanced technology using a positively charged surface on the filter media that attracts the electrons in the pathogens, which are destroyed when they come in contact with the dynamic Activated Silica ceramic surface. Death on a quantum level.

These filters are very easy to install with some basic plumbing knowledge and require no electricity to operate, making them perfect for the off grid homesteader.

Before these filters came along, I never thought I’d be able to filter my rainwater into drinking water. I’ll tell you, it sure is nice not having to worry about accidentally drinking the water while taking a shower.

If you want to learn more about these Quantum Filters, here is a post I wrote that dives deeper into the Clarify Quantum Disinfection System that I have at home.

Quantum Disinfection vs. UV Disinfection

Instantly Kills 99.99% of bacteria
Adds nothing to the waterAdds nothing to the water
No power needed
No chemicals addedNo chemicals added
Disinfects 24/7/365
Low Maintenance

Passive Gravity Fed Filters

For those of you looking for a simple, plug and play solution that takes no skills what so ever, there is still hope for you. There are several passive gravity fed filters that work much like your home Brita water system that you may already be familiar with.

Just pour the water in the top and let it filter down.

(Video) Top 7 Mistakes to Avoid when Harvesting Rain Water

The best name brand in this market is this Berkey Water Filter that you can get on Amazon. Itʻs what I used during my earlier days on the homestead. These filters are able to eliminate 99.99% of any harmful bacteria that may be in the water as well as particulates. They are easy to setup and require no power to operate.

There are some downsides to this system though. You have to regularly fill them with water that needs to get filtered. This can be difficult because they are designed to be paced on the countertop, which can make the top of the unit so high that you would need a stool to reach the top.

It is also hard to know when to refill them due to their height. It is also unclear how often you need to change the filters. For the price, I’d choose to go with the Pulsar Quantum Disinfection and just treat the whole house.

Keeping Water Fresh During Dry Periods

There are times when it doesn’t rain for long periods of time. If water is left sitting for too long without being replaced, it can become stagnant and smelly leading to some foul tasting water. These problems are simple to overcome using one of the 2 methods mentioned below.

Chemical Treatment

One simple option to treat water that has to sit for too long is to add some bleach 1x per month. Bleach keeps the water free from algae, mosquito larvae and other pathogens and just keeps it clear over all.

Since we have filters installed to filter our rainwater to drinking water, adding bleach is considered safe because it is commonly filtered out along with any bacteria during the filtration process.

All it takes is a cup full of bleach for every 2000 gallons of water or so and your water should stay safe through the longest of droughts.


If you are not comfortable with adding chemicals into your drinking water to keep it fresh, you could try using some form of aeration.

Aeration helps oxygenate the water and keep it moving, lessening the stagnant, smelly water that is common when it sits for a longer period of time. It may not help with eliminating mosquito larvae or bacteria from forming. Bleach really is the best for that.

If you are interested in earning more about how to keep water inside tanks clean, I dove deeper into the subject in this post that Iʻm sure youʻll enjoy.

(Video) Drinking Rain Water (How We Are Filtering Rainwater)

I sure do hope this post helps you come closer to clean drinking water. Itʻs becoming harder and harder to come by, the best way to ensure you have it is by developing the systems you need to get it. Happy water harvesting!!

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What are the two ways of collecting rainwater? ›

There are two major techniques of rainwater harvesting.
  • Surface runoff harvesting. In this method, rainwater flows away as surface runoff and can be stored for future use. ...
  • Groundwater recharge. Groundwater recharge is a hydrologic process where water moves downward from surface water to groundwater.
Nov 5, 2019

How is rainwater harvested for drinking purpose? ›

Despite sometimes aggressive marketing claims, drinking rainwater has not been shown to be more beneficial than other sources of clean drinking water. It is prudent to never assume that rainwater is safe to drink. Rain can wash different types of contaminants into the water you collect.

What is the easiest method of rainwater harvesting? ›

Rain Barrels

This is the easiest and cheapest method of rainwater harvesting, especially for homes. In this method, barrels or water tanks are installed below the downspouts of a rooftop guttering system. The water is then funneled or directed into the tanks.

What are the four different methods of rainwater harvesting? ›

Catchment- Used to collect and store the captured rainwater. Conveyance system – It is used to transport the harvested water from the catchment to the recharge zone. Flush- It is used to flush out the first spell of rain. Filter – Used for filtering the collected rainwater and removing pollutants.

How many methods of rain water are there? ›

There are three main types of rainwater harvesting system: direct pumped, indirect pumped, and indirect gravity.

What are the 3 methods of water conservation? ›

Water conservation can go a long way to help alleviate these impending shortages.
  • Check your toilet for leaks. ...
  • Stop using your toilet as an ashtray or wastebasket. ...
  • Put a plastic bottle in your toilet tank. ...
  • Take shorter showers. ...
  • Install water-saving shower heads or flow restrictors. ...
  • Take baths.

Can you make rainwater drinkable? ›

Before this water can be drunk, it must be purified of these impurities. The best filtration options for making rainwater potable are reverse osmosis and distillation. Mechanical filtration (via a sediment filter or Rusco spin-down system) is also integral to the success of rainwater treatment.

How do you make harvested rainwater drinkable? ›

The most common treatment technologies to purify rainwater include chlorination, ultraviolet (UV) radiation, ozonation, microfiltration and ultra filtration. When collected rainwater undergoes any of these processes then it is safe for potable purpose.

What are the best ways to purify water? ›

Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute is the simplest way to kill most types of germs, even if the water is cloudy and at high altitudes. If water is cloudy, allow it to settle and filter through a clean cloth or coffee filter before boiling.

Can you boil lake water and drink it? ›

Boiling is the best way to make lake water potable, by disease-causing organisms like viruses, bacteria, and parasites. Never drink water from a natural source that you haven't purified, even if the water looks clean.

What are some methods to purify water? ›

Here are some of the most effective water purification methods that have stood the test of time:
  • Boiling. The simplest method to purify water is to boil it for a good time. ...
  • Water Purifier. ...
  • Reverse Osmosis. ...
  • Water Chlorination. ...
  • Distillation. ...
  • Iodine Addition. ...
  • Solar Purification. ...
  • Clay Vessel Filtration.
Jul 23, 2019

What are the three parts of rain harvesting system? ›

Any rainwater harvesting system has three components: Catchment, Conveyance, and Storage.

What are the 8 rainwater harvesting? ›

Rain water harvesting is collection and storage of rain water that runs off from roof tops, parks, roads, open grounds, etc. This water run off can be either stored or recharged into the ground water.

What is rainwater harvesting class 3? ›

Rainwater harvesting: Rainwater harvesting is the process of collecting and storing rainwater that falls on roofs, parks, roads, and other open areas. This runoff water can be stored or recharged into the groundwater system.

What are the three methods of rainwater harvesting in India? ›

(i) In hilly and mountainous regions, people build diversion channels like 'gul' or 'kul' in Western Himalaya for agriculture. (ii) Roof-top rainwater harvesting was commonly practised to store drinking water, particularly in Rajasthan. (iii) In West Bengal, people develop inundation channels to irrigate their fields.

What are the methods of rain? ›

Broadly there are two ways of harvesting rainwater, namely; surface runoff harvesting and rooftop rainwater harvesting. Rainwater harvesting is the collection and storage of rain for reuse on-site, rather than allowing it to run off. The stored water is used for various purposes, such as gardening, irrigation, etc.

What are the 5 steps to conserve water? ›

Following are some ways to conserve the water:
  • Turn off the tap and shower, when not in use.
  • Fix leaking pipes.
  • Unclean water can be used for cleaning, watering plants and washing cars.
  • Use mug instead of tap while brushing teeth.
  • Use a bucket to clean the floors.

What are the two main methods of water conservation? ›

A little water conservation methods that can be practised by individuals to reduce the wastage of water are provided below. Installing flow-restricting shower heads to save water during showers. Taking bucket-baths instead of showers.

Why is collecting rainwater illegal in the US? ›

That said, while Texas allows rain water harvesting in some counties, a few states in the western U.S. have traditionally outlawed rain harvesting altogether. The reasoning is that rainwater eventually makes its way into streams, rivers, and other water sources to which various individuals possess legal claims.

Is collecting rainwater illegal US? ›

Colorado is the only state in the US where rainwater harvesting is completely illegal. Every house is allowed to collect two rain barrels with a capacity of up to 110 gallons, however, anything greater than that is considered a breach of the law.

How can we recycle rainwater at home? ›

Refill your fountains and fish ponds. Refill your swimming pool. Replace the use of tap water with rainwater to wash your driveways and sidewalks (if you don't use a broom) Use it for all indoor non-potable fixtures (toilets and clothes washer)

How long do you have to boil rainwater to make it drinkable? ›

Collect your water and pour it into your kettle. Switch it on and let it boil for at least 60 seconds to 2 minutes.

Can dogs drink rain water? ›

As tempting as it may be for your dog, it's important to remember that rainwater is not always safe for your dog to drink. When rainwater hits earth, it comes in contact with several contaminants or chemicals that aren't safe to drink.

How can you collect rain water and reuse it? ›

To collect as much of the rainwater as possible, install a larger tank or connect several rain barrels together so that the overflow from a full barrel can be routed into empty barrels. An overflow outlet at the top of the barrel can be designed to channel the excess water when the barrel is full.

How do you purify rainwater? ›

Water treatment options include filtration, chemical disinfection, or boiling. Filtration can remove some germs and chemicals. Treating water with chlorine or iodine kills some germs but does not remove chemicals or toxins. Boiling the water will kill germs but will not remove chemicals.

Which is the most easiest way of purification of water? ›

Boiling is a reliable and easy way to purify water.

What is the best type of water purification? ›

It is best to use a point-of-entry filter system (where your water pipe enters your house), or whole-house filter system, for VOCs because they provide safe water for bathing and cleaning, as well as for cooking and drinking. Activated carbon filters can remove some VOCs.

Is any water drinkable if boiled? ›

Boil. If you don't have safe bottled water, you should boil your water to make it safe to drink. Boiling is the surest method to kill disease-causing germs, including viruses, bacteria, and parasites. adding a pinch of salt for each quart or liter of boiled water.

Can you drink ocean water if you boil it? ›

Can you drink boiled seawater? No. Boiling seawater does not make it safe to drink because it doesn't remove the salt. Freshwater on the other hand - say from a river - can be boiled to make it safe enough to drink.

How do you purify water in the wild without fire? ›

A simple and inexpensive - but not necessarily the best tasting - method of purifying wild water is by dropping in a couple of purification tablets or drops. The most common chemical used is iodine, but chlorine or potassium permanganate are also effective.

Are the two ways for purifying water? ›

Water can be purified using chlorine tablets or liquid chlorine. As an off-the-shelf water purification product, chlorine is cheap and effective. However, caution should be taken when using chlorine liquid or tablets to treat drinking water.

What are the 4 methods of chlorination? ›

The different types of chlorine disinfection are batch disinfection, simple chlorination, super-chlorination followed by dechlorination, and shock chlorination.

What are 30 ways to save water? ›

50 Best Ways to Save Water
  • Shower Instead Of Using A Bucket. ...
  • Use A Dishwasher To Wash The Dishes. ...
  • Rainwater Harvesting. ...
  • Avoid Flushing Too Much. ...
  • Stop Using Sprinklers When It Rains Outside. ...
  • Regular Toilet Maintenance. ...
  • Avoid Watering Drylands. ...
  • Avoid Throwing Bottles With Leftover Water.
Dec 28, 2022

What are 100 ways to save water? ›

100 Ways to Save Water
  • When washing dishes by hand, don't let the water run while rinsing. ...
  • Evaporative coolers require a seasonal maintenance checkup. ...
  • Adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.
  • Run your dishwasher only when it is full and you could save 400 gallons a month.

Which method is used to collect rainwater? ›

Rainwater harvesting (RWH) is the collection and storage of rain, rather than allowing it to run off. Rainwater is collected from a roof-like surface and redirected to a tank, cistern, deep pit (well, shaft, or borehole), aquifer, or a reservoir with percolation, so that it seeps down and restores the ground water.

What is rainwater harvesting write any 2 ways to conserve water? ›

Rainwater harvesting is the accumulation and storage of rainwater for reuse on-site than allowing it to run off. Rainwater can be collected from rivers or roofs. The harvested water can also be used as drinking water, longer-term storage, and for other purposes such as groundwater recharge.

What is the process of collecting rainwater called? ›

The correct option is B rainwater harvesting. The method of collecting and storing rainwater for later use, rather than allowing it to run off is called rainwater harvesting.

What is the best way to collect rainwater for plants? ›

The simplest method for harvesting rainwater is with rain barrels. Using rain barrels involves no special plumbing. They can be purchased, often through local conservation groups or from catalogs or garden centers, or you can make your own.

What are the 3 methods of water harvesting? ›

There are three methods of harvesting rain water as given below:
  • Storing rain water in collection tanks.
  • Recharging ground water aquifers, from roof top run off (Fig. 2.2)
  • Recharging ground water aquifers with runoff from ground area.

How many methods of rainwater harvesting are there answer? ›

Explanation: There are two ways of harvesting rainwater, 1. Surface runoff harvesting: In urban area rainwater flows away as surface runoff, this runoff can be used for recharging aquifers. 2. Roof top rainwater harvesting: It is a system of catching rainwater where it falls.

How do you harvest and drink rainwater? ›

To start collecting rainwater, build a rain barrel from a plastic drum to catch the water. Attach the rain barrel to a downspout from your home's roof along with filter diverters to get rid of some of the contaminants. After you have enough water in the barrel, be sure to filter and disinfect it so it's potable!

How do you collect rainwater and keep it clean? ›

Clean the barrel using a non-toxic substance such as vinegar to remove residue or algae. ✔ Clean out downspouts and roof gutters for the most effective mosquito control. However, if you find mosquitoes in your rain barrel, you may use dunks. A quarter dunk added monthly may be adequate for a 55-gallon rain barrel.

What absorbs rain water best? ›

Heavy rains often mean water going down the slope to someplace else. Mulch beds do a much better job of slowing down and absorbing rainwater then lawns. This is because the mulch, as it decays, helps return porosity to our urban soils.

How long is rainwater good for? ›

Summary. Rainwater can be stored indefinitely if you have the right systems in place to ensure the water is safe for drinking once it leaves the tank and into your water system.

Is it illegal to catch rainwater? ›

Colorado is the only state in the US where rainwater harvesting is completely illegal. Every house is allowed to collect two rain barrels with a capacity of up to 110 gallons, however, anything greater than that is considered a breach of the law.


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