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How to Disinfect Water with Bleach

SKU: LW001

You can disinfect water and make it potable using a teaspoon, 5-gallon bucket, and powdered calcium hypochlorite (78%).  Follow these simple steps and make your water biologically safe to drink. The concentrated chlorine mix we will show you how to make here can be added to water to kill bacteria, virus, and many other biological contaminants that can make you sick and dehydrated during a disaster or other water emergency.

One important point before we get started is that this article deals with disinfection, not purification.  Many preparedness articles mistakenly refer to disinfection as purification, which is incorrect. Disinfection kills biological contaminants that can make you sick but leaves EVERYTHING in the water.  Purification kills pathogens and removes contaminants from the water, including biological and chemical substances. 

The water disinfectant in this tutorial can:
  • Disinfect water jugs
  • Disinfect water coolers
  • Disinfect well water
  • Disinfect water bottles
  • and disinfect contaminated water, making it safe to drink.

There are several steps involved in making liquid disinfectant.  Measurements do not need to be exact, and if you are going to error, error on the side of too much calcium hypochlorite.  

STEP 1: Make the water disinfectant concentrate.  

WARNING: Do not drink this.  It is the concentrate you use to disinfect your water.

Make 1 Gallon of Water Disinfectant (Concentrate)

  1. Fill a 1-gallon jug with water leaving an inch of space above the cap.
  2. Measure out 1/2 teaspoon of 78 % granulated calcium hypochlorite.  Do not level off the teaspoon.
  3. Add the calcium hypochlorite to the 1-gallon jug.
  4. Replace the cap on the jug and shake for 1 minute.  
  5. Remove the cap and allow to stand for 1 hour. 

Make a 5 Gallon Bucket of Water Disinfectant (Concentrate)

  1. Fill a 5-gallon food grade bucket with water leaving 3 inches at the top empty.
  2. Measure out 2 1/2 teaspoons of 78 % granulated calcium hypochlorite.  Do not level off the teaspoons.
  3. Add the calcium hypochlorite to the 5-gallon bucket.
  4. Cover the bucket with the lid but do not snap it on.
  5. Remove the lid after 1 hour.

STEP 2: Treat Water with Disinfectant Concentrate

Now that you have your concentrated water disinfectant, you can treat the water with it. Use the information below based on how much water you want to treat. Remember that the basic ratio is 1 part concentrate to 100 parts water.
How Much Concentrate How Much Water
2.5 Gallons Concentrate 250 Gallon Water Tank
1 Gallon + 2 Quarts + 1.75 Cups Concentrate 160 Gallon Water Tank
1 Gallon Concentrate 100 Gallons of Water
2 Quarts + 1 Cup Concentrate 55 Gallon Water Drum
1 Quart + 1 Cup Concentrate 30 Gallon Water Drum
2 Cups Concentrate 12 Gallons of Water
1 Cup Concentrate 5 Gallon Bucket of Water

Step 3: Allow Disinfectant to Kill Pathogens

Once the water has been treated, allow the water to stand for at least 1 hour, longer if possible. This allows the disinfectant to kill the living organisms. Once the water has been allowed to stand, you can dispense the water for drinking. If there are particulates in the water, dispense the water through a coffee filter. You can also pour the water between two cups or two buckets to aerate it. This allows the chemicals to disperse as a gas. An alternative is to run the water through a quality water filter to remove the chemicals before drinking.

Disinfecting Kitchen Utensils, Water Jugs, Coolers and Water Bottles

The concentrate can be used to disinfect many common kitchen items.  Using the concentrate in a 50/50 mix is strong enough to disinfect dishes, knives, forks, spoons, water jugs, coolers, water bottles and anything else that may become contaminated due to contact with food or hands.  The process is:

  1. Fill a sink or large bowl half full with water.
  2. Fill the remaining portion of the sink or bowl with disinfectant.
  3. Place items that need to be disinfected into the sink or bowl and wash.  Allow to sit for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Rinse the items with fresh water and they are ready to use.
How to Disinfect Water with Bleach
How to Disinfect Water with Bleach
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