How Long Should You Boil Water to Sterilize It And Why?

logo by Editorial Staff | Updated on November 24th, 2022

Water is an essential part of life, but it can also be a breeding ground for harmful bacteria. That’s why it’s important to sterilize your water before drinking it. But how long should you boil water to sterilize it? And what are the benefits of doing so? Find out the answers to these questions and more in this blog post.

Quick Answer: Exact Time is 20 Minutes

Water is used for a variety of purposes such as cleaning, cooking, and so on. As a result, clean water is required. However, the situation becomes considerably more delicate when the water is utilized for drinking or cooking.

Boil Water

Although the water appears to be clean, there may be germs and pathogens in it that might cause difficulties if drank. Because water is an essential requirement for all living things, it may be sterilized to guarantee that it is safe to consume or cook with.

Why Is Drinking Water Boiling?

Drinking polluted water can cause severe stomach discomfort, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydration. No one wants to go through that, therefore if you don’t have bottled water, keeping your water drinkable is critical.

Here are a few reasons why you might need to cleanse your water:

  • Hiking in the Outback Camping
  • Life in a remote cottage
  • Going to another nation
  • Natural calamities that wreaked havoc on infrastructure

These are the most prevalent explanations. In addition, disease outbreaks, chemical spills, and industrial waste are examples of occurrences that might pollute the water supply.

Of course, the final two reasons need far more than simply boiling water.

Some of the most prevalent water pollutants are as follows:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Parasites
  • Metals (iron, lead, mercury)
  • Harmful chemicals (pesticides, herbicides, etc.)
  • Pharmaceuticals

The first three are organic in nature and may be destroyed by boiling water. The final three items on the list are unaffected by boiling water.

3 Harmful Organisms Killed by Boiling Water

  1. Bacteria: Bacteria including E. coli, coliform, cholera, salmonella, and shigella can cause serious infections and even death if not treated.
  2. Viruses: Coronavirus (which causes SARS), norovirus, hepatitis, rotavirus, viral meningitis, poliovirus, and coxsackievirus are all common viruses found in untreated water (causes hand-foot-and-mouth disease).
  3. Cryptosporidium, Giardia, Toxoplasma gondii, Entamoeba histolytica, and Cyclospora cayetanensis are all parasites that can cause serious intestinal illnesses.

So, what is the greatest method for making water drinkable? How long does it take to boil water for drinking? What are some other water purification methods? Relax and keep reading because we’ve got the answers to these and many more questions in this tutorial.

Is it true that hot water kills germs?

Boiling water destroys germs in the water as well as bacteria on the surfaces of goods immersed in boiling water. Because moist heat is a great way of sterilization, boiling baby bottles for five minutes is a suggested practice to sanitize them.

When preparing dishes, cleaning countertops, and other large-scale operations, however, using boiling water is impractical and may result in burns and injuries. So, if you’re intending on using hot water to sterilize larger tasks, it’s generally not the ideal option.

What Effect Does Boiling Water Have on Its Safety?

In the event of biological contamination, boiling water renders it safe to consume. Simply bringing a batch of water to a boil will destroy bacteria and other creatures. Other contaminants, such as lead, are more difficult to filter out.

Water from rivers and/or reservoirs includes a range of species, including bacteria and viruses, before it reaches a treatment facility. Even though the water appears to be clean, it is most likely teeming with dangerous germs. Some bacteria are dangerous to ingest and can cause digestive issues as well as cramping and diarrhea symptoms.

When a person does not have access to safe, treated water, boiling water is the most efficient way of purification. When water hits its boiling point of 212o Fahrenheit, many species cannot live. In fact, if the water temperature rises beyond 160o Fahrenheit, no life will live for more than thirty minutes.

How Long Should You Boil Water to Sterilize It?

Sterilization is the most effective approach to keep water safe to drink. Sterilization destroys all bacteria as well as viruses and illnesses in the water. Even though the water appears to be pure, it might still be poisoned. Water contains viruses and bacteria that can cause illnesses such as cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery, E.coli, and others.

There are several techniques for removing all of the bacteria and viruses from the water. Disinfecting it and treating it with chemicals are two techniques. It might even be as easy as heating the water to sanitize it. However, because it takes time for the water to reach boiling temperature, it is critical to wait until it does in order to sterilize it effectively.

After the water boils during heating, it will take around 20 minutes to sterilize it. Water has a boiling point of 100 degrees Celsius, and when the heat reaches that temperature, the water boils. To sterilize water for any purpose, it is critical to keep it boiling for 20 minutes at 100 degrees Celsius.

The time it takes to boil water might vary depending on a variety of factors such as temperature and altitude. In most cases, if the temperature is kept low, it will take more than 20 minutes to thoroughly disinfect the drinking water.

TemperatureThe time for which the water is to be sterlized
175 Degrees FahrenheitMore than 30 minutes
212 Degrees Fahrenheit20 minutes
250 Degrees Fahrenheit15 to 20 minutes

Temperatures of Boiling at Various Elevations

How can you know whether a pot of water is boiling? Contrary to popular belief, it has nothing to do with bubbles or steam. Water’s boiling point is determined only by temperature.

When water hits 212°F (100°C) at sea level, it boils. This is the temperature to keep in mind when camping, trekking, hunting, or simply visiting regions where clean water is a premium.

If you’re going to climb a mountain, you’ll need to know a different number: 200.1 °F (93.4 °C). At heights of 6,250 feet or above, water reaches its boiling point.

What is the significance of elevation? It has something to do with atmospheric pressure. Simply explained, as you go higher and higher above the earth, air pressure decreases, affecting the boiling point of water.

When you reach greater heights, you’ll have to boil for a longer amount of time.

Why do you need to boil the water for so long to sterilize it?

Drinking water must be sterilized for a variety of reasons. It might be due to a defective pipeline or a malfunctioning cleaning system. To avoid waterborne infections, sterilization becomes a realistic solution. 

Boiling the water to sterilize it takes time for a variety of reasons. The following are the reasons:

The temperature is the key cause for the sterilization taking so long. When the temperature is high, the water usually boils quicker, and the sterilizing process also accelerates. On the other hand, if the temperature is low, it will take longer for the water to boil. 

Because of the low temperature, sterilization takes a long time. Boiling water should be done at 212 degrees Fahrenheit or 100 degrees Celsius. It will ensure that sterilization takes no more than 20 minutes.

When it comes to sterilizing water, another issue that requires time is the altitude or pressure in the air. Higher altitudes have lower air pressure, which causes the water to boil quicker. As a result, the sterilizing process will be faster at higher altitudes. Similarly, sterilization will take longer when performed at a low altitude or in an area with high air pressure. The water boils at 194 degrees Fahrenheit at 10,000 feet above sea level.

Some bacteria or diseases are tenacious, and eliminating them from water would need continuous boiling or high heat. As a result, sterilizing the water requires keeping it on high heat for an extended period of time.

How to Remove Biological Contamination from Water

To cleanse tap water, follow these steps:

  1. Bring a kettle of water to a boil (212 o F)
  2. Wait for about one minute.
  3. Reduce the heat and allow the water to cool before drinking, cooking, or brushing your teeth.

It usually takes thirty minutes for the water to cool fully, so plan ahead and boil more than you need in one sitting. Use the boiling water for chores such as washing fruits and vegetables and hand-washing dishes.


When planning a vacation to the woods, it is vital to purify the water. Because the water is unfit for human consumption, simply boiling it is insufficient.

As a result, sterilizing the water becomes a necessity.

It can also be dangerous if water from natural sources is drank without being sterilized.


Editorial Staff

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