How safe is drinking water in India?

Safe drinking water is a concern for travelers to India, including for Indians visiting India who prefer bottled water or distilled water in India.

Contaminated water can cause a range of diseases, including diarrhoea, and spoil your well-planned trip. It can also result in hospitalisation and put unnecessary strain on your finances.

Here are some tips to ensure that the water you are drinking in India is safe for drinking.

  • Avoid tap water. Always drink mineral water or bottled water. Make sure the seal on the distilled water bottle is not broken. Also, buy bottled water from a reliable source.
  • This is because there are rogue vendors who refill used mineral water bottles with tap water and sell them. Also check the product expiry date on the bottle.
  • Avoid buying food from street vendors.
  • Avoid ice cubes in the drinks.

Check the seal of the water bottle before buying it.

While water purifiers are common in most Indian places, and mineral water is easily available, there may be places where you don’t have access to distilled water. In such cases, drink boiled water. Boiling water kills bacteria, parasites, and virus mostly responsible for diarrhea.

Boil water at least for a minute. Let it cool naturally. Do not add ice. If you are at a hill station at higher altitudes, then let the water boil for five minutes.

If it is not possible to boil water, it is then important to know some water treatment or water purification methods, while you are in a country where water pollution is common.

Here are some common water purification methods you can use while in India.

Iodine is the best way to purify water. Some common iodine products available in the pharmacies are Globaline, Potable-Aqua, or Coghlan’s.

However, iodine tablets or liquid iodine may not kill the parasite that causes diarrhoea (cryptosporidium) and other coccidian parasites like cyclospora and toxoplasma. Also, if the water is below 5 degree celsius, try to warm it before putting iodine in it.

Iodine takes about 30 minutes to work in normal temperature. In colder weather, allow water to stand for longer time.

Some tourists also use crystalline iodine. They are durable and you can make your saturated solution from the crystals.

You can then use the solution to purify water. WARNING: Crystalline iodine (4 to 8 grams) can be fatal if swallowed in a single dose.

You can also use water bottle filter. However, some water filters may not remove all the viruses. For example, some water filters have pore sizes of 0.1 to 1 micrometer and can remove bacteria that causes diarrhea.

However, viruses are smaller than 0.1 micron and will not be removed by these filters. To kill these viruses, add iodine to the water once it has been filtered.

Chlorine is also effective for water purification, but it is not as effective as iodine.

Also read: Don’t forget essential vaccinations before traveling to India

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1 Comment

  • Reply
    anand prakash
    September 2, 2014 at 4:40 PM

    Safe drinking water is not avaible from water taps in India. Many people stugle for it. Unsafe drinking water is the major cause of bad health. It is only 5 liters per day per person. DJB has done it through water ATM. All villages and cities can be provided safe water ATMS. GOI should give top priority over other health projects.

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