eli5: When people used wells for drinking water, how did they not get sick? Was there some type of filter or was the water just naturally clean?

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eli5: When people used wells for drinking water, how did they not get sick? Was there some type of filter or was the water just naturally clean?

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Anonymous 0 Comments

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Anonymous 0 Comments

Yes, ancient cultures had filters using things like sand. However if we’re talking about bacteria, boiling solved most issues. Water was also commonly made into herbal teas, beer, wine etc. alcohol contents were much much lower ie 1-3% so you could drink all day.

Anonymous 0 Comments

People do still use wells for water. Water is effectively “filtered” through sand and soil which trap contaminants. Also, most diseases that infect humans only thrive and multiply in the human body (or sometimes in other animals) so if the water has moved through the ground for months before it reaches the well, there is a chance the germs have just died out by the time somebody drinks it.

Not all wells are safe however, in developed countries there are regulations on where you can put a well for drinking water and testing the water before using a well is either recommended or required. There are still cases of wells being contaminated by factories or people dumping waste, however. In poorer areas it is more common for people to get sick due to lack of testing and lack of control on where chemicals or waste may be disposed of

Anonymous 0 Comments

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Anonymous 0 Comments

People absolutely did get sick. A huge cholera outbreak in London was caused by cesspits being too close to wells. This actually clued Dr. John Snow (yes, really) in to how cholera spread, which was unknown at the time. The story about his work is very interesting. There are tons of articles and videos about it, so I picked one: https://youtu.be/mP4bCHf8DDQ

Anonymous 0 Comments

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Anonymous 0 Comments

Tons of homes are still on wells. Water is clean, and you should check it once and a while to be sure no bacteria is forming. If so, you can shock it, just like you do with your pool or hot tub.

My last house was on a well. The only issue I had with it is high mineral concentration, so unless you have a water softener, or some other form of mineral removal, you can get a lot of scaling/staining in toilets etc.

The upside is, no water bill, like I have now!

Anonymous 0 Comments

Many rural properties in the US are still fed by wells. The water is filtered naturally over a great deal of time by soil. You still are required to have a permit for a drinking well that checks things like where it’s placed, etc. It’s also wise to have your well tested periodically for bacteria, though there’s often a strong sulfur smell in that case that tips you off.

Anonymous 0 Comments

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Anonymous 0 Comments

A old-time well in Europe was closer to a hole in the ground than the Snow White version. Villages and towns usually had some regulations on what could be close to a well, but dirty water was a major factor in disease (and death in infancy). So yes, they often got sick.

Travelers often commented on what the local water was like, and sources were rated. Romans liked to keep their sources separate – the aqueducts don’t mix the flows from each spring or other source.