Traditional Water Purification Methods in India



70% of the human body is made of water, which plays an important role in human health. Therefore, civilizations, both ancient and modern, have made it a priority. Almost all settlements have traditionally clustered around water sources. However, in most cases, the water requires purification before consumption

With time the ways of purification have evolved drastically. While now, we have water purifiers packed with RO, UV, UF, TDS and various other technologies. But have you ever thought about what was used before introducing these technologies? Keep reading to find out which are India’s traditional water purification methods.

Traditional water purification methods:

The various traditional water purification methods will help you understand how far the journey of water purification methods has come in several years. Following are some of the traditional water purification methods that were commonly used in India:

1. Purification through Winnowing Sieve: 

This purification method is used when water is polluted by wind-borne impurities such as dry leaves, stalks, and coarse particles. People used to pour water through a winnowing sieve to filter the impurities. It was widely used by people who lived in villages. However, this method cannot purify water containing a high amount of turbidity or mud.

2. Purification through Cloth:

This method can be considered one of the oldest water purification methods that were practised widely. This process used thin white cotton cloth or discarded garments as the filter medium. It can easily filter raw water containing such impurities as plant debris, insects, dust particles or coarse mud particles. However, this purification method is not ideal for highly turbid water. It was widely used to filter well water. In some areas of India, if the raw water is muddy and highly odorous, then the wood ash of the Sal tree (Shora robuta) is mixed with water and filtered through cloth. 

3. Purification through Clay Vessels:

India has an exceptional grip over pottery. People used clay utensils to cook food, store them and in many other ways. Clay vessels with a suitable pore size are sometimes used to filter highly turbid water. First, the turbid water is collected in a big clay jar and allowed to settle down. Next, the water in the jar will trickle through the porous clay wall of the jar. This trickled water is collected in a vessel by placing it at the bottom of the porous clay jar. This doesn’t just purify the water but also helps keep it cool. 

4. Purification using Plant Parts: 

Highly turbid water with fine suspended and colloidal particles were first coalesced and settled out using the nuts of a locally available plant in some of the southern districts of Tamil Nadu, India, which is then filtered using cloth filters. Nuts excrete coagulant chemicals that can purify the water’s impurities. Wiry roots of the rhizomes from the ‘ramachham’ were placed in a clay jar, with a tiny holes in its bottom. The raw water is then poured inside, and then the water is allowed to filter through this layer of roots, resulting in clean water being stored at the bottom of the jar. Such water is usually clean and has a nice smell as well. 

5. Jempeng Stone Filter Method:

This method cuts a small artificial pond or bypass channel by an irrigation canal carrying muddy water. Jempeng stone filter units were usually placed in artificial ponds. This unit has an average height of 60 cm, a diameter of 50 cm, and a wall of 10–12 cm thickness. The unit is placed on the top of a stone-supporting gravel bed, and the water is filtered through the filter unit’s porous wall and collected inside. This method can purify highly turbid water. Besides, the only cost involved is the investment cost; no maintenance is required in such a unit. 

These are some of the commonly used traditional water purification methods in India. According to the analysis made by The Readers Time, they are not as effective as modern, advanced technology-infused purifiers. But they are quite efficient in their ways. You may still use them to purify your water if the impurities content of the source of your water is low to moderate. 

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