Have you ever looked at the heavy rain outside and thought it’s such a shame that it can’t be used?
If the area in which you live gets a lot of rainfall, you might wonder if it’s safe to use rainwater for various purposes around the house.
What, exactly, is in rainwater?
Rainwater is called a mixed electrolyte. It has many ions in it, such as sodium, magnesium, potassium, and chloride. In addition, rain collects impurities in the atmosphere when it comes down to earth.
The good news is that you can collect rainwater and make use of it so that it doesn’t go to waste.
However, there are important things to know about it, such as how to use it safely.
- 1 How To Use Rainwater In The Garden
- 2 How To Use Rainwater Inside The Home
- 3 Can You Drink Rainwater?
- 4 How To Treat Rainwater
- 5 Things To Know About Harvesting Rainwater
- 6 What About Commercial Water Filters?
- 7 How You Should Purify Rainwater
- 8 Related Questions
- 9 Conclusion
How To Use Rainwater In The Garden
Is rainwater clean and good for your plants?
Yes! You can safely go ahead and use rainwater in your garden. It’s a fantastic way to supply your plants with water they need to survive and thrive, while also saving on your water bill costs.
The great thing about rainwater is that it’s soft, so it’s safe for your plants.
When water is described as soft, it means that it contains fewer ions than hard water that contains higher quantities of dissolved minerals, such as calcium.
Here are some ways in which you can use rainwater in the garden:
- Collect rainwater and use it to water your lawn, pot plants, and flower beds.
- You can use rainwater to fill up your pond or pool.
- You can use water to wash items in the garden, such as fountains, paved areas, garden furniture, and more.
How To Use Rainwater Inside The Home
You might think you can only use rainwater in the garden, but this is definitely untrue!
You can use rainwater for a variety of tasks indoors. These include:
- Flushing the toilets
- Watering houseplants
- Rinsing vegetables
- Washing clothes. The benefit of using rainwater for laundry is that you won’t need as much detergent. This is because rainwater doesn’t contain limescale-causing minerals.
- Bathing or showering. You might not think of using harvested rainwater to wash your body when you shower or bathe, but you can definitely do so.
Can You Drink Rainwater?
You know you can use rainwater around the house, but what about drinking it? Is it safe?
It’s important to know that not all rainwater is safe. It basically depends on where you’ve sourced it.
If you’re collecting water that’s fallen near chemical plants or paper mills, it’s definitely not safe and should be avoided.
If the rainwater has run off buildings or plants in the garden, that can result in the water having collected contaminants, so water sourced in this way should also be avoided.
When collecting rainwater for drinking purposes, always make sure that the container you’re using is clean, otherwise that will add contaminants to the water, making it unsafe to drink.
Generally, once your container is clean, rainwater is safe to drink because it has low levels of mold, pollution, and other contaminants, and it’s been said that these levels can be lower than what you’ll find in water from the public water supply.
That said, rainwater you’ve collected could contain bacteria and dust, so you’re probably better off treating it before you drink it.
How To Treat Rainwater
There are two important ways to make your rainwater safe to drink. These are:
- Boiling and filtering it. When you boil water, you will kill any germs that are in it. But bear in mind this won’t remove chemicals that are in it. Filtering the water is important as it helps to further remove any contaminants, including dust and pollen. You can also choose to filter your water through a coffee filter if you want to remove debris.
- Collecting rainwater in a disinfected container. Always make sure that the container has been washed in the dishwasher so that it’s clean.
Note: Adding iodine or chlorine in your water is sometimes recommended to kill germs, but these won’t protect you against any chemicals in the water. As the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention (CDC) reports, some parasites that you can find in water are tolerant to chemicals like chlorine!
Things To Know About Harvesting Rainwater
Although there are various methods that are talked about when it comes to storing your harvested rainwater, there are some important things to know about how you collect and store it.
- Rain barrels might seem like a safe way to store drinking water, but they’re best used for storing water that you’ll use for other purposes around the home. This is because they don’t filter or disinfect the rainwater.
- Make sure you put fine wire mesh on the barrel so that you prevent insects, leaves, and other materials from entering it. In addition to that, make sure the barrel is dark, such as painted black, to prevent natural light from causing algae to grow inside.
- Prevent mosquitoes from entering the barrel and laying eggs by ensuring the barrel is tightly sealed.
- Use concrete or metal in which to store rainwater. Some concrete types can actually neutralize acidity, while corrugated metal is both sturdy and doesn’t cost a lot of money.
- Keep algae growth at bay. Keeping your rainwater containers out of the sun is always a must to prevent algae growth, but it’s also a good idea to add some iodine or chlorine to your water to kill off any algae that’s already present and prevent germs.
What About Commercial Water Filters?
You can use a commercial water filter for your rainwater.
These come in a variety of types, such as membrane, carbon, and ceramic filters. Filters that remove the most pathogens ideally have pore sizes of less than one micron, as SFGate reports.
If you want to use a filter that removes viruses, the best ones are reverse osmosis and hollow fiber filters.
A micron is a unit of length that’s a millionth of a meter!
How You Should Purify Rainwater
We’ve already mentioned the importance of boiling and filtering rainwater, but there is a purification process that you need to know about: it makes use of bleach.
As you know, bleach is a strong disinfectant so after boiling the rainwater, it’s a good idea to add four drops of liquid chlorine bleach to one quart of rainwater.
Then, let it sit for about half an hour so that the water can be disinfected properly. If the water is very cold, you should increase that time to an hour, as eHow reports.
You can also try the solar pasteurization method.
How this method works is that you put one quart of water in a Ziplock bag, then put about two feet of heavy-duty aluminum foil (shiny side up) laid out on the ground.
Next, put the Ziplock bag on the foil in an area that receives strong sunlight.
To really absorb those UV rays, you should put more aluminum foil around the Ziplock bag so that you create what looks like a bowl that will reflect UV rays to the bag.
Then, you have to leave it for a few hours. When the rainwater is brought to 160 degrees Fahrenheit or more for several hours, this will kill any germs that are in it.
How much rainwater do you need to fill a one-liter bottle?
Just one millimeter of rainwater that falls over one square meter will be enough to give you one liter of water. Imagine how much that will work out to over a year!
Is it legal to collect rainwater?
In the U.S., the federal government doesn’t restrict rainwater collection, but some states have a few rules and regulations, such as when it comes to how much rainwater can be collected as well as how it’s harvested.
Is rainwater clean?
Using rainwater instead of tap water can help to make you live more sustainably, prevent water waste in your home, and encourage you to feel better about doing your bit to help the environment.
However, there are important things to know about harvesting rainwater and how to use it.
While using rainwater for tasks around the house such as washing laundry and watering plants is safe, when it comes to drinking rainwater you need to be extra careful about treating it so that it’s completely safe.
In this article, we’ve featured some of the easiest ways to collect and use your rainwater in safe, effective ways, so you can make the most of rainfall in your region.
Don’t let it go to waste anymore!