Table Salt Discovered to be Key in Water Purification Method

Published on: 2012/05/16 - in Science & Tech

Queen’s University researchers have developed a new process to make drinking water safer by using table salt.

This development may be especially beneficial for developing countries where 80 per cent of disease is due to poor water quality and sanitation.

“The need for clean water for drinking, hygiene and sanitation purposes in developing regions is overwhelming,” said Ms Dawney, lead author of this research.

The overall result of their study suggests that basic table salt could a successful and cost effective method to reduce murkiness in water that’s caused by some soils.

Ms Dawney worked with Professor Joshua Pearce, of Queen’s Mechanical and Materials Engineering, in discovering that the introduction of table salt to murky water caused particles in the water to clump together.

After these clumps are removed, the water is left to stand in sun for up to six hours to kill pathogens which cause diarrhea. And it’s the initial salt treatment that is key to making safe drinking water, because although exposure to sunlight is a process used to disinfect water, it does not work when the water is murky.

If this process can be proven effective in the field, the number of people in developing countries that can use that method to supply themselves with clean, safe water will be significantly increased. The next stage of trials will include determining how table salt work on different soil types found in Africa.

To learn more, including how the levels of added salt may affect the taste of the water (page 8), read the study paper recently published in the Journal of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene for Development.


Photo: Leonid Mamchenkov