Filtering vs boiling water

Hello everyone,

This is probably a Third World problem, and people here are mostly not from there, so I don’t know if this is the best place to ask. But here goes.

In India, water from the tap isn’t potable, unlike much of the West. We’ve always boiled it. But with additional people staying here, our rate of boiling has gone from once every two days to daily. Of course, we may stop getting guests, in which case the problem will solve itself. :slight_smile:

However, assuming it doesn’t, I’m wondering if it would make sense to use a filter as well, or instead. It’s probably easier than boiling, though it does require maintenance, always a pain in India. But the big question is whether filtering is as safe as boiling. I don’t know the answer to that. I suppose this is something I could research.

But if people here with experience would care to weigh in, I’d appreciate it.

Jug-type filters are cheap and easy. And yes, I believe that they are perfectly safe. The water here is more or less safe to drink but it tastes horrible and therefore I don’t quite trust it. We use a jug filter but I leave two small bottles of water for guests and there’s also a jug filter in the rental.

Hi @jaquo,

Thanks for the feedback. Can you provide a link to the kind of jug-type filter you mean? Thanks.

Sure :slight_smile:

Thanks, @jaquo. That’s helpful.

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I would have thought the question of whether boiling and/or filtering made water safe was entirely location dependent. Surely it depends on what you’re trying to remove?

Is your water contaminated with pathogens, or harmful chemicals? Because surely boiling is more appropriate for the former, and filtering for the latter. Maybe also bear in mind that pathogens local guts are accustomed to can still cause problems for travelers. If I were you I’d consult a local hotel with which you share a water supply.

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Hi @Lucy_R,

Those are all good points. Unfortunately, getting good information is hard in India. I was hoping that someone here was a water purification expert - you never know. :slight_smile:

No idea. But more likely the former than the latter, I imagine. I suppose I could have the water tested.

A quick google indicates that Mumbai actually has issues with both, but drinking arsenic-laced water for a few days isn’t likely to be as much of an issue as potentially giving yourself a pathogenic E.coli strain (which, lets be honest, a lot of Western tourists in India do).

The only foolproof way to treat water for microbes is to boil it. Filtering can of course take out other mineral contaminates but for microbes you can only rely on boiling.

I don’t search for stuff about India as much as I should, because it tends to be uniformly upsetting. But yes, water here isn’t good.



C ward, which includes areas such as Pydhonie and Bhuleshwar, was revealed as the area receiving the dirtiest water from taps.

C ward is us. :slight_smile:

I thought that filters can remove bacteria too. And there are these things called UV water filters. I’ve been looking online, but the information I’m finding isn’t giving me a clear picture. I also don’t know how accurate it is.

Oh yes - UV is in a different category though. It is not a mechanical filter like a Britta. It is a water treatment. I have one. I’m sorry, I thought she meant a mechanical treatment she did herself.

French Consumer Reports conducted a study on Brita jugs/filters, and found out that in real life conditions, they make water worse and not better, because people just never change the filters on-time. As a result, filtered water contains MORE lead and pesticides than unfiltered water (filters saturated with lead and pesticides send them back into the water during the filtering process).


There is a world of difference between a water filter system and a water purification system. Water filters like the Brita pitcher filters take out most nasty tastes, as well as suspended matter and some things like giardia and other ‘bugs’, but not necessarily germs/bacteria, etc. Only water purification systems remove dangerous pathogens like E. coli and worse. The cheap way to purify is to boil the water for a specified time, and then filter or treat with chlorine or other chemicals. There are “tabletop” or portable water purification systems, but they may not be inexpensive. There is a really good discussion here:

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I am in LOVE with the Berkey Filter --originally made in England now available in the US…I use two sets of filters - charcoal on top (Berkey Black filter) and two on the bottom section --filters arsenic, chlorine and more–there are other cheaper versions, I just happened to get a large Berkey Fitler system and a like it because it is stainless steel --NOT PLASTIC (like many table top pitchers). also it filters so much more, and at 2 cents a gallon for clean water, it’s a real bargain. Charcoal filters last up to two years, the chlorine / arsenic filter last one year (approx). Test the water periodically to make sure the filters are still working.

We live in Ghana and also have an issue with water. We have a filter attached to one tap and use that for drinking water. Have had no problems. If people don’t want to use it they can buy their own bottled water

Hi @Ann_Meredith,

Thank for responding. Yes, Ghana sounds similar. Can you provide me with any details about what filter you use?

It is a Phillips but unfortunately it is only available in Hong Kong. Not sure what other type to recommend but make sure it is easy to get refills. We stocked up in Hong Kong

Hi @Ann_Meredith,

Ok. if you happen to have a link to the product online, that would be interesting.

They sell good combination filters that pass the water beneath UV-C light for whole house or single outlets starting around 300USD. So, you get the filtration and light sterilization all at once without much flow restriction.