7 Simple Strategies for Disinfection of Water

Image of a UV-C LED light for the disinfection of water


The purpose of disinfection of water supplies is pathogen elimination. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), these harmful pathogens are responsible for waterborne diseases and even death. 

The most common diseases transmitted through public water supplies are typhoid (including paratyphoid), cholera, shigellosis, salmonellosis, and Legionnaires disease. Control the pathogens causing these diseases with treatment to substantially diminish the overall number of viable microorganisms in the water.

If you are looking for strategies for disinfection of water at your facilities, these seven methods are the most widely used and the most effective. Take a moment to evaluate which one might be best for your facility.

Key Takeaways:

  • There are three steps in water purification: clarification, disinfection, and filtration. When it comes to disinfection, you can choose from several different disinfection methods.
  • Sodium hypochlorite is the process of water disinfection using standard household bleach. You can also use germicidal bleach or concentrated germicidal bleach.
  • Solar disinfection (SODIS) exposes water to sunlight in a see-through container to allow ultraviolet (UV) rays to disinfect the water.
  • Chlorination, boiling, and pasteurization are also common methods for the disinfection of water. They are equally effective and have their own series of processes.

  • UV-C LED water treatment works much like SODIS, using UV light to disinfect water. Although, UV-C treatment uses LED lights instead of UV from sunlight.

Disinfection of Water Strategies for Your Facility  

Many believe sterilization is the only way to kill all the microbes in water. This method is the least practical form of water disinfection. Furthermore, you cannot maintain sterilization in the distribution system. 

The reduction of microbes in water is sufficient for protection against pathogens. Achieving this reduction does require effective purification methods.

There are three primary steps to the purification and disinfection of water, including:

  • Clarification: Removes debris or suspended particulates
  • Disinfection: Process of eliminating harmful microscopic matter from water 
  • Filtration: Screens particles from the water using various materials

When it comes to the water disinfection step, use one of these water disinfection strategies in your water purification process:

1. Sodium Hypochlorite  

Household bleach, also called sodium hypochlorite, will disinfect water, making it safe for using and drinking. Check the label on the bleach before using it for water disinfection. It should read 6 to 8.25% sodium hypochlorite and not contain any fragrance, color, or added cleaners. 

Make sure to use a clean dropper, place the recommended number of drops in the water, stir, and let stand for 30 minutes. If you can still smell the bleach, wait for an additional 30 minutes and check again. 

Repeat until you can no longer smell the bleach in the water. Use this table below as a quick reference guide from Clorox Consumer Services when choosing bleach for water purification.

Table for the process of disinfecting water with bleach

2. Iodization Purification  

Iodization is the process of using iodine to disinfect water. Healthcare professionals typically use iodine for medical applications, such as surgical prep, although it is a safe and effective way to purify water. 

Add five drops of iodine to each quart of water. Conversion charts are available for larger quantities. If the water is cloudy, add an additional ten drops of iodine, stir, and allow the water to sit for no less than 30 minutes before using it. 

This method is also effective in the purification of air. 

3. Solar Disinfection (SODIS) 

SODIS is the process of exposing contaminated water using sunlight from a transparent container. It is one survival experts use most frequently when boiling isn't possible. The SODIS process uses UV-A rays to deactivate harmful pathogens. 

Several factors contribute to the elimination of harmful germs and microorganisms, including:

  • Temperature
  • Light
  • Humidity
  • Nutrition
  • Time

4. Chlorination Disinfection    

Chlorination is the process of adding chlorine to public water sources and is the most widely used form of water disinfection. Recently, this disinfection method has become less common. 

Municipalities still use this method for the disinfection of water supplies. However, homeowners generally hesitate to consider chlorination due to the vast dimensions of the system. 

Advantages of this method include:

  • Chemical disinfection of water is effective at destroying bacteria
  • Measures the number of chemicals in the water
  • Effective at eliminating algae

5. Boiling Water 

Boiling water is the safest method of water disinfection, has little to zero cost, and is chemical-free. When a public water supply reaches dangerous contaminant levels, municipalities will establish a Boil Water Order

The water temperature must reach 212 degrees Fahrenheit (water's boiling point) to effectively boil water to make it safe for drinking and other potable uses. Viruses, parasites, and bacteria cannot survive in temperatures this high.

Keep in mind that boiling does not remove chemical contaminants such as:

  • Salts
  • Heavy metals
  • Other harmful chemicals

Boiling water is also fuel-intensive, and you must allow the water to cool before anyone consumes it. Also, you must be more thorough in the other two stages of purification (clarification and filtration) to ensure the success of this method. 

6. Pasteurization

Similar to boiling, pasteurization uses heat to disinfect water. Water gets heated to 149 degrees Fahrenheit for six minutes, although you can use a higher temperature to reduce the time required. 

This method uses a solar oven, but you can utilize other traditional heat sources. Unlike boiling, pasteurization is less fuel-intensive but requires an initial upfront expense to purchase the heating source.

7. UV-C LED Water Treatment System 

Another source of UV purification is a UV-C water treatment system. You install these units between the water source and the faucet at the point of use. 

This method uses UV rays to purify water without chemicals or added heat. The way these systems work is that they operate at 254 nanometers (nm) of UV light and alter the DNA of microorganisms as the water passes through the system. 

Chicago Faucets offers the BioArmor® UV-C point-of-use water treatment system. It is a new and effective way to help eliminate dangerous pathogens and microorganisms. The chart below shows the average log reductions of three of the most common pathogens using the BioArmor® system. 

Graph of the three most common pathogens and the log reductions after UV-C LED water treatment

Advantages of this method include:

  • No harmful chemicals added
  • Zero disinfection byproducts
  • Easy to install 

Pro Tips: Install a BioArmor® with touchless commercial restroom fixtures for optimal health and hygiene for anyone using your facilities. 

Protect the Most Vulnerable Member of Society with Chicago Faucets    

Harmful waterborne pathogens place our most vulnerable citizens (children, elderly, and immuno-compromised) at risk of contracting potentially deadly diseases. It can occur even in the most well-established and developed communities. 

If you own, operate, or manage a facility where vulnerable people regularly frequent, including schools, assisted living facilities, and hospitals, Chicago Faucets offers a simple solution to your water disinfection strategies: the BioArmor® water treatment system. 

At Chicago Faucets, we care about the health and well-being of everyone using the public water supply. Even those using well water can benefit from our UV-C water treatment system.

Protect the most vulnerable members of our society. Install a BioArmor® at your facility. Contact us today for more information.

Topics: water treatment system, UV-C LED, Boiling Water, disinfection of water, Chlorination, Iodization Purification, Sodium Hypochlorite, Solar Disinfection (SODIS), BioArmor® UV-C