Four steps to sterilize water with the power of the sun


Did you know that sunlight, and specifically UV radiation has amazing anti-microbial qualities? It’s actually a fairly common method of treating water, air, and contaminated surfaces among other things, and in China, the vast majority of people hang dry their clothes in the sun for this very reason.  With issues of clean drinking water affecting huge amounts of the global population, there are some interesting practices of water purification catching on.  According to the WHO, the microbiological and epidemiological evidence shows that “solar disinfection of household water has the ability to appreciably improve its microbial quality and reduce household diarrheal disease of consumers.”

According to the CDC, the maximum bactericidal effect of UV radiation occurs at 240-280 nm.  At the wavelength of 254 nm, UV light has the ability to break the molecular bonds of the DNA of microorganisms.  This process disables them, deactivates their ability to reproduce, and leaves them virtually harmless. Keep in mind-this process is for elimination of biological contaminants, not chemical.  Further purification may be required.

If you live in an industrialized country where clean water and water purification systems are available, I’d first recommend to take advantage of those options but it never hurts to know that you could use the following method of water sterilization under the proper circumstances if the need arose. Some would say that aside from the measurable effect this process has on micro-organisms, it is also a useful way to “energize” your water.

 4 Easy steps to sterilize water with the power of the sun

  •  Start with clear bottles-2 liters or smaller. Make sure to wash them and remove any outside labels.  Make sure the bottle is made of clear PET plastic. Using cloudy, white plastic or certain kinds of glass will block the UV rays from contact with the water.
  • Start out with water that is not cloudy or visibly dirty. Fill the container nearly to the top and shake the bottle between 30 and 50 times.  Fill the bottle the rest of the way and re-cap. This step will oxygenate the water and make the process more effective.
  • Put the bottle laying down in the sun for maximum exposure. To increase exposure further, you may lay the bottle on a reflective surface.
  • For people living at latitudes between 15 degrees N and 35 degrees N or 15 degrees S and 35 degrees S, allow 6 hours in sunny conditions (less than 50% cloud cover). When there is more than 50% cloud cover, the water should be left out for up to two days.

You may never need to make use this knowledge, but it doesn’t’ hurt to know.  It’s yet another testament to the amazing power of our sun!


About the author:

Isaac S Haynes,  PhD, MATCM, LAc. is a nationally certified acupuncturist and a practitioner of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  He holds a Doctorate in acupuncture and Tui na from Zhejiang Chinese Medical University and has a practice in Madison, Wisconsin.  You can visit: for more information.   You can also connect with Isaac on facebook and google+.

Dr. Isaac S. Haynes
Dr. Isaac S Haynes, PhD, MATCM, LAc. holds a Doctorate in Medical Sciences from Zhejiang Chinese Medical University. He is a California State Licensed Acupuncturist and is Nationally certified in Acupuncture by the National Certification Commission on Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. Aside from running a private Acupuncture practice in Silicon Valley (, he also runs a website that offers high quality superfood products for sale to the public. For more information, please visit: You can also connect with Isaac on facebook and google+.