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Bleach – Water Ratio For Drinking Water

March 5, 2015, by Ken Jorgustin

Bleach - Water Ratio

If your water source is uncertain, you should treat it first before drinking it.

One way to treat water for drinking is to add a small amount of regular bleach (chlorine). Here’s how much bleach to add, and a way to remember the quantity:

When obtaining water to be purified for drinking, avoid (if possible) water which is cloudy. Perhaps there is another nearby access to the same body of water which may be clear.

If scooping water from a pond, etc., try not to disturb the bottom so as not to disturb and pick up dirt or other debris into your water container.

If the water appears cloudy, if possible filter it before treatment. Use a conventional water filter, or any cloth or such filtering material to catch the floating particles as you pour from one water vessel to another. If you cannot pre-filter a cloudy water source, let it settle in a container for a time, and then gently pour off or scoop the water near the top which will be clearer. This is important because the floating ‘dirt’ particles within the water are tougher (takes longer) to penetrate while purifying with chlorine (bleach).


Having said that, one best way to purify water for drinking is to boil it for 1 minute.
Once the water has reached a rolling boil, it has become safe to drink.

Note that if the water source had been contaminated with chemicals, boiling it or otherwise treating it will NOT assure that the chemical is removed.

Know your water source as best you can.


Another way to purify water is to use a small amount of regular liquid bleach.

Use regular household bleach, which the only active ingredient is ‘sodium hypochlorite’.

UPDATE: For many years, regular bleach contained a concentration of 5.25% – 6% sodium hypochlorite. Newer ‘regular’ liquid bleach may contain a concentration of approximately 8% sodium hypochlorite (about a third more than the original bleach formula).

Having recently determined how much bleach to add to a 50-gallon water tank to purify it for safe drinking, I’ve put together the following charts for your reference.

“You must be 21 to drink”

2 drops bleach per 1 quart water

Mix the following amount of bleach with water, and wait 30 minutes for it to work. The water should have just a ‘hint’ of chlorine smell.


Water – Bleach Ratio For Purifying Drinking Water

(5-6% Sodium Hypochlorite)
numbers are ’rounded’

1 Quart water, 2 drops bleach
1 Gallon water, 8 drops bleach
5 Gallons water, 1/2 teaspoon bleach
10 Gallons water, 1 teaspoon bleach
50 Gallons water, 5 teaspoons bleach


Water – Bleach Ratio For Purifying Drinking Water

(8.25% Sodium Hypochlorite)
numbers are ’rounded’

1 Quart water, 1 drop bleach
1 Gallon water, 5 drops bleach
5 Gallons water, 3/8 teaspoon bleach (or three 1/8th teaspoons)
10 Gallons water, 3/4 teaspoon bleach
50 Gallons water, 3.5 teaspoons bleach

Note: If the water is cloudy, and if you still cannot smell any chlorine in the water after having let it sit for 30 minutes (there should be a hint of chlorine smell), the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) advises that you consider a 2nd round of treatment.

Note: According to the EPA, the maximum allowable ppm (parts per million) of chlorine bleach in drinking water is apparently 4 ppm.

Note: Generally speaking, water that has a chlorine level of 4 ppm would smell VERY strong of chlorine, whereas a ‘hint’ of smell indicates a level well below that. A chlorine test kit is the only true way to know for sure.

Note: Bleach will lose its potency (fairly quickly) over time. Generally, 6 months to a year after its expiration date may result in half strength.

Note: It is widely recognized that there are 76 drops per teaspoon.

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