Is Boiling Tap Water the Same as Filtered Water? (A LOT is Left Behind)

Boiling water is an easy way of getting safe drinking water in emergencies but some people believe in boiling tap water as the de facto water purification method.

Boilied tap water is not the same as filtered water because it takes much longer and will not remove physical contaminants like dirt, rust, or heavy metals nor will it remove chemical contaminants like insecticides, herbicides, pesticides, or pharmaceuticals. Boiling water does, however, do a great job removing bacteria and viruses from water.

Read on to learn more about what boiling removes from contaminated water, what it leaves behind, and helpful tips to filter your water easily at home.

What does boiling remove in contaminated water?

Boiling effectively removes (by killing) pathogenic bacteria, protozoa, and viruses.

Studies have shown that enteric bacteria, viruses, and protozoa survive in an inactive state in liquids at temperatures below 100°C. The WHO recommends bringing the water to a rolling boil for at least one minute if you live in an area with an altitude of below 5,000 feet.

You should boil the water for at least 3 minutes for higher altitudes. After boiling the water, cool it down naturally without using any ice and then store it in clean bottles or containers with lids. You can also add a pinch of salt per quart of water to help improve its taste.

So, in summary, boiling will remove the following contaminants:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Protozoa

What can boiling not remove in contaminated water?

As we have seen, boiling will remove pathogenic bacteria, viruses, and protozoa from water. However, boiling will not remove chemical contaminants. Additionally, dirt and other suspended solids cannot be removed by boiling. Here are some examples of contaminants that boiling will not remove in water:

  • Mercury
  • Lead
  • Arsenic
  • Chromium 6
  • Barium
  • PFAS
  • Chlorine
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Insecticides
  • Pesticides

Also, boiling reduces the water volume, so the concentration of chemical contaminants will increase.

The surest way of removing chemical contaminants from water is by using a water filter. Even in an emergency, you can use inexpensive filters (like pitcher water filters). Also, stock up on chlorine tablets for your disaster preparation.

Why filtered water is better than boiled water?

Boiling water is a great way of getting safe drinking water in emergencies, like in the event of a natural disaster as you wait for normalcy to return. Boiling will kill the disease-causing microorganisms, keeping you and your family safe from waterborne diseases.

However, boiling cannot remove chemical contaminants, and these contaminants will still expose you to diseases like cancer.  Therefore, you should only use boiling in emergencies but stick to filtration for your daily drinking water needs.

A good water filtration system will remove pathogens and all other chemical contaminants in the water. Additionally, filtration can take care of any dirt in the water to give you crystal-clear drinking water. Suffice it to say that water filtration will result in greater quality drinking water than boiling water.

However, you should ensure you aren’t using an old filter because old filters are defective and unreliable. But if you replace the filters as often as the manufacturer recommends, you will have nothing to worry about.

Do you need to boil filtered water?

Unless for food preparation purposes, there is no need to boil filtered water.

Filtered water removes more contaminants from water than boiled water, so it is counterproductive to filter it and then boil it. A 3-stage RO system will remove the bacteria and viruses in water and filter out pesticides, insecticides, and other chemical contaminants.

Read more on how a 3-stage RO system works by following this link.

What is the best water filter for home use?

There is no one-size-fits-all water filter. The filter that will work for you will depend on your unique needs. Here are our top picks for the different categories (representing the different needs).

WATER FILTER CATEGORY BRAND NAME LINK
Best pitcher filter Zero water pitcher filter Check Price on Amazon
Best portable water filter Membrane solutions portable filter Check Price on Amazon
Best faucet-mounted filter Waterdrop faucet filter Check Price on Amazon
Best faucet-integrated filter Appaso drinking water faucet filter Check Price on Amazon
Best under sink filter Waterdrop under-sink filter Check Price on Waterdrop
Best whole house filter iSpring whole-house filter Check Price on Amazon
Best RV filter Camco RV/Marine filter Check Price on Amazon

Follow this link to read the detailed buying guide explaining why the above are our top recommendations

Final thoughts

Filtering water is better than boiling water. Even though boiling will help you rid the water of all those harmful pathogens, it takes a water filter to remove chemical contaminants like lead, chlorine, mercury, arsenic, etc. That is why you should stick to filtering water and only boil it when dealing with an emergency.