Safe drinking water in the Philippines

How safe is the water that you drink in the Philippines?

The answer for most people is that it isn’t, unless you drink the correct water.

Every hotel that I have visited recently has provided one or two bottles of drinking water daily during my stay, so the availability of decent drinking water is quite good.

BUT…. making coffee or tea ?  Do you boil the bottled water or the tap water ?

I have been boiling tap water, and have not had any problems, but I have found out that the correct guidance for boiling water for health safety is to boil the water for at least 2 minutes.  The average kettle cuts out just as it reaches the boiling point… so is it totally safe ?

I just held my kettle button down for two minutes so I can make my next coffee in a safe way 😉


    The United Nations High Commission Handbook of Emergencies and Water Manual says that boiling water is the surest method of water sterilization. The Department of Health recommends that water should be brought to a rolling boil for at least two minutes to effectively inactivate all major water-borne bacterial pathogens.

Having just experienced the floods in Manila, and seen first hand the children playing in the dirty waters that have built up everywhere, I am very concerned now about the health aspects of purified water being available.

Clear water is not necessarily safe to drink. Purifying it by boiling or disinfection will make it suitable for drinking, cooking, brushing teeth, etc.”

The Philippines Department of Health has advised Filipinos in flooded areas to avoid outbreaks of diarrhea, by following these guidelines for purifying water:

  • Water must be filtered first to trap and remove large impurities. Any clean cloth or coffee filter can be used as a sieve.
  • If the water is cloudy, it can be made to stand for half a day, after which, clear water can be scooped and then filtered.
  • Boiling water kills all potential germs you may get from contaminated water. Heat water and allow it to boil for two (2) minutes then let it cool. Boiled water that has cooled can be used immediately. Stirring it or putting it from one clean container to another container several times or adding a pinch of salt or powdered juice can improve taste.
  • Water can be disinfected by adding two drops of 5 percent chlorine solution (unscented bleach) for every one (1) liter of unrefrigerated water. Allow it to stand for an hour. If a faint chlorine smell is detected after an hour, then it is safe to drink. Repeat the procedure if you cannot detect the smell after your first try. If it does not have the faint chlorine smell on the third try then the water must be discarded since it may contain many germs. To improve taste, allow it to air some more or transfer it from one clean container to another several times.
  • Follow provided instructions if you opt to use commercial chlorine tablets for purifying water. Chlorine solutions are also available in most health centers or evacuation centers.

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