Can you safely drink rain water?

6 Answers
Is there anything in rain water that is healthy?

While rain water theoretically starts off as pure distilled water, when it condenses in a raincloud, just like any pure sample of water it quickly interacts with it's environment to change this. Minor alterations might include such reactions as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which acidify the water by producing carbonic acid, bicarbonate ions and dissolved carbon dioxide. More significant would be the reactions created by sulfur and nitrate oxides which can lead to acid rain through the production of such dissolved solutes as hydrogen disulfide.

Any particulate material in the environment can also be accumulated as a raindrop falls to the ground. This effect is more predominant in highly industrialized regions, but true to some extent everywhere. For this reason, rain has a love/hate type of relationship with the earth and it's population. On the one hand it tends to act as a natural cleansing agent for the atmosphere, while in the same vain it deposits such pollutants on the surface of the ground or in bodies of water. Neither are beneficial, but as it does not constantly rain, or never rain there is somewhat of a balance established between the two.

Harmful nuclear isotopes that accumulate after a nuclear disaster or the use of a similar weapon, are similarly removed for the most part by the action of rain. This would be beneficial in that, it would no longer be inhaled by the earths inhabitants. But the ground would now carry this radioactive product to the water, animals and plants of the land and sea, similarly harming the population who live in the area through their dietary intake.

Airborne pathogens can be collected by rainwater as well, and while less common, it still is a potential risk. Of course there are many means to remove this particular threat, by halogenation (usually the addition of small quantities of chlorine, bromine or iodine) or by the application of heat, irradiation, etc. Still there is no one method that is generally available as a cure-all for all the potential contaminants rainwater might possess. Proper distillation, and reverse osmosis are the best methods to purify rainwater, or just about any water for drinking purposes.


In industrialised nations,in particular the Eastern seaboard,Europe,China and Japan,rainwater is no longer safe to drink.The rain that falls in some places is actually dilute sulphuric acid.As industries spew out sulphur based compounds,sulphrous acid and Sulphur3oxide,they rise up into the atmosphere,mix with rain and in some cases,get oxidised to form sulphuric acid(Nitric acid rain is also formed this way from nitrogen based compounds).The two acids raise the acidity of the soil,slowly kill fish in the lakes and make that water directly undrinkable.(You don't want to drink dilute battery acid do you?).In the US,The North East and the Eastern seaboard are most heavily affected.
Rainwater collected in any major US city is more or less dangerous to consume,and it is not just the acidity.Soot particles from car exhaust come down with the rain(If you live in L.A,please check your gutter)and and all sorts of industrial chemicals(potentially carcinogenic) are dissolved in that water.Not to alarm anybody but it is true.Stay away from that rainwater.


Rain water is made of condensed particles from our atmosphere. Much of our atmosphere is polluted with diesel fumes, factory fumes, and other undesirable chemicals. To drink rain water without first filtering it would be to ingest these chemicals, albeit in water form. So, to answer your question, rain water is not safe to drink, unless you first filter it.

It's kind of like eating snow. It's probably okay to nibble a little snow, but to gather bowls of it and drink it all day long would not be a good idea.


It probably isn't safe to drink because it has not been filtered or boiled, if it goes through these processes then it would be a bit more safe to think about drinking. But no I would think it is not safe unless there is no water around and you need to drink or if there was an emergency such as no water from taps. But I wouldn't as it ain't safe, I think.


It's realativly as clean as our air. The air you cannot go without, so you breathe it, but the rain water you can avoid. Sadly, the one from the tap is not better and most of the bottled water is basically tap water.

If you really feel like drinking rain water, do it. ;)


Better not, unless you are dying from thirst.