You’ve probably heard that boiling water makes it potable, or safe to drink.
So, if you’re concerned about lead in your water supply, you might be wondering if there’s a simpler, easier method of lead removal than water filtration: boiling your water.
In this article, we’ve answered the question, “Does boiling water remove lead?” We’ve also shared some information on lead’s origins and dangers, and the best ways to remove this heavy metal from your water.
📌 Key Takeaways:
- Boiling water doesn’t remove lead.
- In fact, boiling your water may increase the concentration of lead per gallon of water.
- The best ways to effectively remove lead from water are by installing a capable carbon filter, a reverse osmosis system, a KDF filter, an ion exchange filter, or a reverse osmosis water filter.
Table of Contents
📤 Can You Remove Lead From Water By Boiling It?
No, you can’t remove lead from your home’s water supply by boiling it.
Unfortunately, boiling water is only effective for killing microorganisms like bacteria and viruses, and speeding up the dissipation of chlorine.
Boiling water doesn’t remove lead because lead is a dissolved contaminant. It doesn’t turn into a gas when it’s heated to water’s boiling point, like chlorine, and it isn’t a live organism that can be killed, like bacteria.
Boiling water to reduce its lead content might actually have the opposite result. As water boils, some of the water turns to vapor. That means that at the end of boiling, you’ll end up with less water, but the same amount of lead – increasing the concentration of lead per gallon of water.
📖 How CAN You Remove Lead From Water?
Unfortunately, there are no free at-home methods of removing lead from water. If you want to effectively and quickly reduce lead in your water, you’ll need a drinking water filter.
Luckily, many lead removal filters are easy to use and affordable to buy and maintain.
Activated Carbon Filters
Our top recommendation for lead removal is an activated carbon filter.
A number of activated carbon-based filters are capable of adsorbing lead into their media, pulling it out of a water supply.
You can find carbon filtration media in numerous filter applications, including water filter pitchers and under-sink water filter systems.
Not all carbon filters reduce lead, so check that a filter has test results or an official NSF 53 certification for lead removal to support the manufacturer’s claims.
Reverse Osmosis Filters
Reverse osmosis filters are our recommended lead removal water filters for folks who have big budgets and want to remove everything from their water, including lead, chlorine, VOCs, other heavy metals, microorganisms, and other contaminants.
A reverse osmosis system uses several filtration stages, including a semi-permeable membrane, which rejects virtually all total dissolved solids – including lead.
The best reverse osmosis systems can reduce more than 99% of lead – guaranteeing water that’s virtually lead-free.
KDF Filters & Ion Exchange Resins
Certain KDF filters and ion exchange resins are also capable of treating lead contaminated drinking water.
KDF 85, KDF 55 or KDF-C media can all reduce heavy metals like lead. Ion exchange water filters may also be capable of reducing heavy metals and lead.
You can find KDF media and ion exchange resin in various types of water filters, including pitcher filters, whole home filtration systems, and under-sink water filters.
Finally, water distillers are capable of eliminating lead and all other contaminants in drinking water.
A distiller boils water, then condenses it back into liquid form in a separate chamber, leaving the contaminants behind.
We don’t recommend water distillation as our top choice lead reduction treatment because it takes up to 5 hours to distill a single batch of water.
Ready to get a filter? Check our list and reviews of the best water filters for lead reduction right here
🩺 How to Reduce Lead Exposure
Not sure you want to commit to owning a water filtration system to get rid of lead? We’ve shared a couple of short-term solutions for reducing your lead exposure before.
Drink Bottled Water
It’s expensive and will contribute to single-use plastic waste, but drinking bottled water is an option if you need to stop drinking lead contaminated tap water but need to save up for a lead filter.
Avoid Using Hot Water From Tap
Hot water absorbs lead at a faster rate than cold water. So, if you need to use warm water, don’t drink straight from the hot water tap. Boil a pot of water from the cold water tap instead.
Run Your Water For 5 Minutes
Water that has been in contact with lead pipes for a long time (such as overnight) is likely to be more highly contaminated. So, run your water for 5 minutes every morning before using it for drinking.
🤔 What Is Lead?
If you’ve clicked on this guide, we’re going to assume that you already know all about lead and its dangers, so we’ll keep this section short and sweet.
If you just want a refresher on lead in drinking water, keep reading.
💡 Lead is a heavy metal that has no purpose or use in the human body. This bluish-gray metal is found naturally in the earth’s crust, and has been used in industrial and manufacturing processes for thousands of years.
Lead Health Effects
Lead accumulates in the body over time. That means that low but prolonged lead exposure could lead to dangerous levels of lead in your body, causing health problems including:
- High blood pressure
- Cardiovascular problems
- Reproductive issues
- Kidney dysfunction
- Lead poisoning (symptoms include headaches, joint pain, weight loss, and vomiting)
Children and pregnant women are especially at risk from lead exposure. Children may experience brain damage and developmental issues from exposure to lead from a young age.
🚱 How Does Lead Get Into Water?
Lead may naturally enter a water supply at the source, but lead concentrations are reduced by water treatment facilities.
If your drinking water contains lead, it’s most likely that you have lead pipes leading to your home.
📌 Lead pipes are now banned in the US, according to the 1986 Safe Drinking Water Act Lead Ban. However, this ban didn’t enforce water suppliers to remove and replace existing lead pipes, so many of the pipes supplying our homes with water are still made from lead.
Aside from lead service lines, lead may be present in all the pipes in your home’s plumbing system, especially if your home was built before 1970.
Some copper pipes use lead solder, so even if your pipes themselves aren’t made from lead, that doesn’t mean their design is lead-free.
📉 What’s The Safe Level of Lead in Water?
There is no safe level of lead in water. Even drinking a small amount of lead in your tap water could lead to adverse health effects.
📌 The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has an action level of 15 PPB (parts per billion) for lead in water, and a maximum recommended level of 0.
The Food and Drug Association (FDA) regulates lead in bottled water. No more than 5 PPB of lead can be present in bottled water products.
🔎 How to Know If Your Water Contains Lead
There’s no way to know by signs, smell, or taste that your drinking water contains lead. Nor will you know how much lead your water contains. Water containing 1 PPB of lead will look, taste, and smell exactly the same as water containing 50 PPB of lead. That’s why lead is so dangerous, and lead poisoning such a risk.
The only way to know whether or not you have lead contaminated water is to test a water sample.
We recommend getting a laboratory water test if you have any concerns about lead in your water. Lab testing is the most accurate, thorough way to detect lead contamination.
If you don’t have any reason to be concerned about lead in your tap water, you might still want to use a low-cost DIY at-home test kit to get a general idea of whether or not your water contains lead.
📌 We don’t recommend relying on your local water quality report to determine your water’s lead levels, since lead is most likely to enter water on its way to your home, downstream of the testing site.
❔ Does Boiling Water Remove Lead? FAQ
Does lead go away when you boil water?
No, lead doesn’t go away when you boil water. In fact, boiling water will simply increase the concentration of lead per gallon of water, because some of the water will evaporate.
How do you get rid of lead in water?
The only way to get rid of lead in water is to install a water filtration system that can remove this heavy metal. Reverse osmosis filters, certain carbon filters, ion exchange resins, and KDF filters are all capable of reducing lead in tap water.
Can you cook with water that has lead in it?
Yes, you can cook with water containing lead, but it isn’t recommended because some of the lead will be absorbed by the food. Even if your water has very low levels of lead, be aware that lead leaching can occur.