Rainwater is an excellent source of drinking water whether you’re living on a homestead or surviving after a disaster. However, it’s not as simple as setting out buckets when it rains. You need to set up a proper rainwater harvesting system. And even then, you have to be careful not to make any serious mistakes.
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Trust me, I know. The first time I collected rainwater, I just assumed the water was clean and pure. Well, it was, but not after hitting my roof and running through my gutters. After the first rain, I went out and dipped a cup into the rain barrel, took a sip…and immediately spit it out.
The water didn’t look that dirty, but it tasted horrible. All sorts of toxins had leached out of my roofing tiles and into the water, not to mention the bits of dirt and leaves from my gutters (and probably some bird poop). I should have let the rain rinse the roof for at least 10 minutes for collecting the water.
And even if I had waited that long, I still should have purified the rainwater before drinking it. There are all sorts of pollutants in the air (and therefore, rain) that we can’t see, smell, or taste. You want to avoid those as much as possible. So yea, I didn’t know what I was doing.
I’ve learned a lot since then thanks to videos like this one from Starry Hilder Off Grid Homestead. Starry goes over 7 common mistakes people make when harvesting rainwater. Look over this list of mistakes and make sure you’re not making them or you’ll live to regret it.
Here they are:
- Forgetting to make sure it’s legal in your area.
- Using the wrong kind of barrel (the wrong kind will leach dangerous chemicals into your water).
- Buying expensive barrels. If you’re search hard enough, you can find them used.
- Not setting up a system for getting your water out (such as a spigot or pump).
- Not keeping your barrels covered (with sheets, screens, or even cooking oil).
- Forgetting to let rain rinse your roof for 10 minutes before collecting rainwater.
- Using a small system. It takes a lot of water to live.
Be sure to watch the video below where she expands on all of these points.