Have you ever been out hiking and came across a spring and wondered if it was safe to drink from?
Well, the answer is it depends. After reading this article you will have a better understanding on what makes spring water safe to drink and how to determine if the spring you found is safe to drink from.
Water is always safe to drink if you boil it, but sometimes you don’t want to have to take the time to do that, so learn these tips, and you will be able to determine if the water is safe or not.
What is spring water? Well, spring water is water that comes out of the ground. It can come from a cave and flow out like a creek or it can just seep thru cracks in the rocks on the side of a cliff. Pretty much any water that appears to be coming out of the ground is considered spring water.
The reason spring water has the potential to be safe to drink without boiling or filtering is because the earth filters it as it flows thru the ground. The dirt and rocks catch particles that could be in it and traps them, so then once the water reaches the surface it doesn’t have much in it. Also, since it is flowing under the ground and isn’t exposed to the surface it has a lower chance of having human or animal pollutants in it.
Springs can be found anywhere.
Normally they are found in areas with surface rock, and it helps if the rock is a karst type.
Karst rock can be ate away by the water which allows it to escape from the surface.
Sometimes springs can be right beside roads though, and they don’t just have to be in the middle of the woods. Springs in woods are normally prettier though and safer to drink from. Springs tend to have really clear and fresh water.
So now that you have a better understanding of what spring water is and why it might be safe to drink fresh from the earth, we can get into some information to help determine if it is safe.
The first thing when considering if you should drink water without boiling is if it is flowing. You never want to drink water that is stagnant or just sitting around. Water that is sitting and not flowing can grow bacteria and have other harmful things in it. For water that is fresh it must be flowing.
Secondly you need to find where it is flowing from. If you come across a creek or stream and think it is spring water, then you need to confirm this before drinking it. The best way to do that is to follow the stream up to where it is coming from and see if you can find the source. If the source can not be found, then it would probably be better to boil the water, even if it looks clean.
The next thing after making sure the water is flowing and finding the source is smelling the water. If the water has an odd scent to it, then it should not be drunk. Some areas are high in minerals that can make you sick.
One such mineral is sulfur which smells like rotten eggs. If the water has an odd scent, then you should not drink from it. Another thing to consider is the area that you are in.
If you know the history of the area, and know that their were mines around, then it might be best to avoid drinking the water because it could be coming from a mine and the water might not actually be getting filtered by the earth.
Another thing that has to do with knowing the area is if it is an area with a lot of farm lands. If there is a lot of farm lands around, then farm chemicals such as pesticides might be getting into the water source.
Another form of contamination is animal waste, so if it is near farm lands, then you have to consider that too. To find water that is less likely to be contaminated by different surface problems you should find a spring source at as high of elevation as possible. By being at a higher elevation it is less likely for the contamination to have reached it because water always flows to the lowest point.
Another thing to do before drinking from a spring and to help you determine if it is safe or not is to look at the surrounding area. If you find signs of animals, such as tracks leading to the water, then chances are better that it is safe to drink. This isn’t always the case because animals tend to have stronger stomachs and immune to certain things, but it is a sign that should help. Also, you don’t have to worry about animal signs meaning that there is animal waste in the water because animals are smart enough not to leave waste near water that they are drinking.
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Spring water can be just as safe to drink as purified or boiled water. This is because it has been flowing under the ground, sometimes for hundreds of miles, and it has been naturally filtered. The larger particles get trapped in the bigger rock and as it flows the smaller particles get trapped in the smaller rocks. Also, since it is below the surface it hasn’t have the chance to get polluted by surface contaminates. You should still be cautious though with spring water and make sure that is what it is when you come across a stream or creek. The best thing to do is find the source, but if you can’t there are some things to consider.
Remember to make sure to find the highest source of water possible because water flows down, so if there are surface pollutants, they will not have got into the water. Also, consider the area so you can know if you have to worry about mine water or farm lands. Another thing is to make sure the water has a good flow, so bacteria can not build up and consider the smell of the water to make sure it doesn’t have any noticeable odd odors. Lastly, look for signs of animals drinking from the water. If animals have been drinking from it, then it increases the chance of it being safe for you, especially if it passes the other test.
Now that you know these tips, you should be able to determine if spring water is safe to drink. When in doubt boil the water so you don’t get sick, but use these tips to eliminate doubt. Next time you are out in nature or hiking, you can determine if the spring water is safe, and if it is then enjoy a refreshing drink of earth made fresh water.