Water water everywhere, but not a drop to drink. In Ireland, we have an abundance of rainwater; most people know that we can’t just fill up a glass of it and drink it, but many don’t know exactly why. We have already looked at the features of mains and well water in the post ‘Mains Water vs. Well Water – what are the differences?’, but now let’s look towards the sky and see how safe rainwater is to drink.
There is a short, unsatisfactory answer to whether it is okay to drink rainwater or not. Sometimes it is okay, but most of the time it isn’t. Rain passes through the atmosphere, and its quality can be dependent on your surroundings. Suppose you live relatively near to a toxic, fume-spouting industrial plant, for example. In that case, you can be sure that you shouldn’t be drinking the rainwater falling in that area. It is also worth noting that the condensation is your surrounds may not have come from your surroundings; it could have blown from somewhere else. It may have been a while since you have covered rainwater, evaporation and condensation in school, so here is a short recap video:
Not only is it where the rain comes from that determines its drinkability, but also how you collect it. You don’t want to drink rainwater from a puddle because you will be drinking any contaminants like bacteria or metals from the soil. Similarly, you don’t want to drink rainwater if you collect it in a dirty or contaminated container. If you collect it in a rainwater unit, then even bird droppings could spoil it. While there are units that can filter out all the bad stuff, the price for these can be tens of thousands of euro.
We recommend that people don’t drink rainwater. That said, some people can drink it and still not be affected negatively. Those who have been drinking rainwater their whole lives may have built up a sort of immunity. That immunity is not unlike those who have been drinking well water their entire lives. That’s not to say that their guests won’t get sick if they try this rainwater that is so unlike the filtered tap water that they are used to at home.
So, for what can you use rainwater? While you shouldn’t drink it, you could use rainwater around the household in other ways such as filling your toilet cistern or watering your plants. You can read more about that in our post 5 simple ways to conserve water at home.
How do you use rainwater? Do you drink it? Do you have another use for it around the house? Let us know in the comments!
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