Can You Drink from a Waterfall? Everything You Need to Know

by | Oct 5, 2020 | Purifying Water

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Nature provides the best escape from the vibrant sounds of city life. From leaves rustling in the wind, to birds singing from the treetops, it’s hard to beat. Perhaps the most appealing sound nature has to offer is water falling from great heights, and hitting the stream or pool below. We’re talking about the waterfall.

There’s actually science behind why the sound of rushing water is soothing. Relaxation aside, waterfalls have become a welcome site for hikers and survivalists alike because they are believed to be among the safest natural water sources you can find. Which begs the question, can you drink water from a waterfall?

The Importance of Waterfalls

Before we get into whether or not it’s safe to drink from waterfalls, we want to take a brief moment to dive into their importance. If you ever happen across a flowing waterfall, you’ll notice a unique and thriving ecosystem that is full of life. There’s a reason for that.

Waterfalls provide tons of ecological and health benefits. They help purify water as they connect different streams. They spray a welcomed mist that carries essential minerals and nutrients for nearby plantlife. In turn, they create a lush scenery that is the foundation for healthy natural life cycles.

Can You Drink Water from a Waterfall?

There are a variety of factors you should consider when fighting out if waterfall water is safe for consumption. A common misconception is that fast flowing water is safe to drink without being treated. While that may be true in some cases, it’s definitely not a rule that you should live by.

The myth probably stems from the idea that moving water is safer to drink than still water. Which is by and large true, but there are still exceptions to that rule as well.

Just like water you find in a lake or stream, waterfall water can contain similar bacteria that can prove harmful or even deadly. So here are some things you can keep in mind before filling your canteen to the brim with tempting waterfall water.

Look Upstream

Waterfalls don’t just appear out of thin air. They usually have a source that forms a steady stream of water that either trickles or gushes down the side of a cliff. 

Determining whether or not a waterfall is safe to drink from can be as easy as scoping out its source. If you see a lot of animals using the water as a personal bathing spot, or worse, it’s in your best interest to avoid drinking the water without properly treating it. This will save you from the definite contamination and bacteria that calls the waterfall water its home.

Can Still Contain Bacteria

Now that you know what to look for upstream, you’re probably wondering if you can drink from a waterfall if the source seems safe. We wish we had a better answer for you, but the truth is, any natural water you find has the potential to contain harmful bacteria and viruses.

Even water that appears crystal clear, and is not giving off any discernible scent, can still have dangers lurking beneath the surface. Consider that water is home to millions of microscopic organisms, and consuming any amount can prove harmful. 

Be Safe by Boiling Waterfall Water

At the end of the day, there isn’t any survival or health expert that will give you the green light to drink waterfall water without treating it. Boiling is one of the easiest and most effective ways to purify water in the wild. Which is why we recommend boiling waterfall water before consuming it.

Brian Segal

As an outdoor enthusiast, I was drawn to bushcraft at a young age. I constantly find myself trying to learn and improve on my survival skills, and enjoy writing about everything I discover to help pass along to others.

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