How to Clean Rain Water

Written by chris magyar
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How to Clean Rain Water
Rainwater can be cleaned for safe use. (Regentropfen-Apfel im Regen image by Oskar from

Rain water is a collection of pure H20 particles, air pollution and other contaminants in the atmosphere. If the water touches a surface such as an asphalt roof, more pollutants may be present. Cleaning rainwater for the purpose of watering plants or drinking is called harvesting. Harvesting can be accomplished using three very important steps: catchment, filtration and storage.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Catchment system
  • Filtration system
  • Storage container

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  1. 1

    Install a catchment system that fits your space and the amount of water you’d like to use. The catchment system is where rain is collected and filtered. Select a catchment system that is low-impact, meaning it has as little contact with land and debris as possible.

  2. 2

    Install a mechanical and finer filtration system in the catchment. Mechanical filtration systems include materials such as screens, gravel and wire mesh. A finer filtration also must be selected and installed before rain water is collected. A chemical filter is one recommended system to ensure water is safe for drinking. Another filtration option is reverse osmosis, where only water is pushed through a membrane, leaving the pollutants to be extracted. Reverse osmosis systems, mechanical and chemical systems can be purchased easily online. (See resources.)

  3. 3

    Select and install a storage system ensuring the rain water is fully secured, allowing no water to evaporate and no pollutants to contaminate the water.

  4. 4

    Collect rain water, checking catchment, filtration and storage systems often to ensure all parts are working properly.

  5. 5

    Test the first batch. While rainwater is variable and testing every batch would be prohibitively expensive, it's a good idea to test the first batch to make sure your filtration system is producing acceptable water. The EPA can direct you to a local testing facility or lab by calling its Safe Drinking Water Hotline, 1-800-426-4791. There are also home water quality testing kits commercially available at online retailers.

Tips and warnings

  • When purchasing equipment, search auction and discount websites. Many rain water harvesting items can be found at a discount.

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