Is Snow Melt Safe to Drink?

If you melt snow for drinking water in the winter, do you need to boil it for purification?
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If you melt snow for drinking water in the winter, do you need to boil it for purification?

Question:

If I plan to drink snow melt in the winter, do I need to boil it for purification first?

Submitted by - Dave - Port Washington, WI

Answer:

Drinking water made from clean white snow melt is generally considered safe because pathogens don't usually survive in it. But that's not always the only consideration. In areas with lots of traffic like outside of well-used huts or in patches of late-season snow there may be added pollutants that you'd want to filter or otherwise clean out.

For the best results, pull fresh, clean-looking snow from a designated "drinking snow" area away from traffic zones, toilets, or dish pits. Also, add a little water to the it before heating up your melting pot, which can scorch and taint the water with a bad taste. Boiling water, which is the most effective method for disinfecting it, is often part of making coffee or warming up in winter, so if you do end up heating the water to that point you'll get some peace of mind no matter where you got it.