Is It Safe To Drink Rainwater?

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Sometimes, you’ll do anything to have something to drink. It does not matter if it’s a beer, Pepsi, or tap water. Your body needs something. Yet in times of need, water is essential for our bodies. However, can we get this from nature? Is it safe to drink rainwater, for instance?

While it is not always hazardous to your health, it is not recommended that you drink rainwater on a regular basis. Yet you see people collecting rainwater and drinking it all the time on survival shows or see it recommended by some health experts. However, it’s not always safe for drinking. In fact, in some cases, it can even be deadly.

In a time of survival, you need water to stay alive. Therefore, rainwater is likely the best thing you can drink that is not guaranteed to have deadly pathogens in it that will kill you in days. This is also why health experts recommend it more than any other clean water source in survival situations.

However, if you ask experts in the water industry…they’ll tell you that there is STILL a big risk to drinking rainwater. Let’s dive into why this is the case.

Potential Contamination

animal defecating near water

Ideally, you can drink rainwater without as many problems as those from standing water from a creek. That is simply due to animals urinating and defecating near or in the water. Some animals even die in small water areas like this. However, saying something is better than this is not saying much.

Rainwater can still carry some problems with it, but this is likely determined by your location more than anything else. Probably the first big thing to consider is what happens when you collect rainwater.

Like with any other water you collect, it is possible for it to be contaminated. For example, if you collect it in a barrel and a bird decides to poop and that poop happens to land in this rain barrel….now you have contaminated water. It may not be noticed right away either.

However, there have been times like this in history where contaminated water that was collected ended up making people sick. To a point that is spread disease and infected many more who did not even drink the water.

The Problem With Rainwater Itself


People seem to think that rainwater has no problems with it. This is wrong to assume. Keep in mind, it is STILL from nature. This water has not been purified as of yet. Therefore, it has not gone through all the steps, from a health standpoint, to be considered 100% safe to drink.

Rainwater can actually contain pathogens, parasites, bacteria, viruses, and even chemicals or acids from acid rain that can actually make you sick. Again, this is often depending on the location you’re in. For example, if you’re near a place like China where there is a lot of air pollution, that can get into the clouds.

The pollution that goes into the air has to end up somewhere, which is the entire basis behind man-made climate change. However, it holds true heavily with rainwater. Once the pollution is absorbed by the environment around you….that gets into the clouds and comes out in the rainwater you’ve collected.

Therefore, you’re essentially collecting polluted water that will contain harmful chemicals.

Problematic Collection Issues

rain gutter

You’d think that any form of water harvesting when it comes to rainwater will be fine. You’re just collecting water, it’ll be fine if it hits somewhere else first, right? Not exactly. Some people actually collect rainwater at their own homes. This is not a bad thing….until it is.

Many will collect rainwater that hits their roof and comes down through the gutter or pipe system. This can be an easy way to collect rainwater with ease. Yet it is a terrible idea to do this, but we know that it might not seem that way.

See, when you collect stuff that hits other areas first…it’s going to also end up being contaminated by those other things. This means the water can be affected by asbestos, lead, and copper. All of which can be incredibly harmful to the human body.

That is not even addressing the idea of what happens if you have a fire going indoors. Your chimney will put dust, smoke, potentially even dirt into the air. The rainwater coming down will also be affected by this.

Now you’re having contaminated smokey water before it hits roofing materials, which then leads out to lead or asbestos-filled gutters and/or piping. All to eventually collect in a barrel that may or may not be open, where animals can drop feces into it.

Are you seeing the problem here?

Purifying Rainwater

Purifying rainwater or any water in the wild can be a challenge, but there are a couple of ways for you to accomplish this to make the water safe.

Optimally, boiling the rainwater to kill any possible pathogens is the best thing you can do. This may not be possible, especially in a survival situation. Water filtration can also be used if you happen to have a filter handy. Lastly, you can use chemical means to purify the water such as using Aquatabs.

If you are in dire need of water and have no way to purify it, just know that rainwater harvesting straight from the sky is about your best bet.

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