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How does UV light sanitise drinking water?

How does UV light sanitise drinking water?

You may have been hearing a lot about UV light over the past few days, specifically because the US President suggested it to treat coronavirus patients. 

There is a type of ultraviolet light that does kill viruses, it’s called UVC. It is dangerous to human skin, and quite rightly, the global medical community have rejected President Trump’s suggestion. However, UVC light is an extremely effective tool against decontamination and sanitisation. It has been used in hospitals for years. It is also the best way to kill viruses in water.  

So how does UVC work, and how effective is the use of ultraviolet light in drinking fountains, water refill stations, and dispensers to provide safe drinking water?

How does UVC work?

UVC rays have the shortest wavelength of the three main types of UV rays: UVA, UVB, and UVC. This also means UVC have the highest energy, and can therefore kill bacteria and viruses, (e.g. pathogens). It is a powerful tool against decontamination because it destroys molecular bonds that bind the DNA of viruses and bacteria (hospitals have been using UVC light to decontaminate wards and surgical tools for years.)

Ultraviolet light is a natural means of effectively cleaning drinking water without using harsh or toxic chemicals. The UV light rays with wavelengths of 240 - 280 nanometers destroy approx. 99.9% of the crucial DNA of potential pathogens and thus prevent their reproduction. 

Using UVC to treat water

UVC light is becoming increasingly popular way of disinfecting water. From home systems to self-cleaning water bottles, UVC is used to neutralise potentially harmful bacteria from drinking water.

As a supplier of drinking water products we are seeing a growing demand for gyms, schools, offices, and public spaces to provide a safe way for people to stay hydrated using sustainable products (as opposed to single-use plastic bottles). We have responded by building our hygiene range of drinking products, which utilise UVC technology, as well as copper, that used for its antimicrobial properties. 

Our hygiene range of bottle filling machines, drinking fountains, and water dispensers include leading brands such as OASIS, Blupura, and Borg & Overström . These manufacturers have employed UVC technology to provide protection against bacteria and viruses. For example, the QUASAR range from OASIS treats water at the point of dispense – effectively reducing 99.99% of pathogens. Similarly Blupura and have introduced a UV-line out system for their dispensers, which again remove any harmful bacteria before the water reaches your glass.

Safe drinking water is a growing concern for customers across Europe, not just the UK. Our colleagues at German water company aQto have been providing their customers with safe, hygienic water solutions utilising UV-C in their 'dispenser plus' range of water coolers. Each water dispenser also has a high-performance filter system, electronically monitored re-contamination protection and an automatic flushing function.  

Safe drinking water for everyone

Some of the ways advancements in drinking water technology are helping keep drinking pure water safe for everyone:

UVC-LED technology is used to biologically destroy harmful bacteria and viruses, without the use of chemicals or mercury-based lamps. UVC-LEDs allow for instant full-intensity power and no heat transfer to the water.

Bottle fillers that provide clean and safe water without the risk of touching high-use buttons that could harbour dangerous bacteria.  

The popularity of copper surfaces to replace traditional touch points in hospitals and other critical care industries is a testament to the natural anti-microbial effectiveness of copper OASIS fountains feature copper top, front nose, and push pads as an additional weapon in the fight against infections. 

Water dispensers featuring touch-screen control panels help provide ease of use and maximum hygiene at the same time. Simply wipe the touch surface clean with an antibacterial spray or wipe. Perfect for the HORECA and Office sector where many hands will be touching the dispense surface.


In amongst the chatter that will follow Trump’s latest briefing, we welcome any focus of conversation around the use of ultraviolet light to kill viruses. We do so with the obvious caveat that it should be looked at within the context of decontamination, not in treating patients. We believe that UVC is the best solution for treating water at the point of dispense in drinking products, and coupled with copper technology, filters, and regular sanitisation, help to ensure we all enjoy a safe and healthy drinking experience.


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