Clear Water is not Clean Water

Don't judge your water by its cover.


To demonstrate that clear water is not always safe to drink


  • Four plastic water bottles
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Sugar
  • Cinnamon or some other visible spice


20 minutes


Bring four water bottles full of water. The bottles should contain clean water, water with salt, water with sugar, and visibly dirty water (could use cinnamon or another spice). Have participants choose which water they would like to drink. Have them take a big gulp. Make sure they are facing the group so that the group may view their reaction to the taste. Participants can take turns, but make sure to rearrange the water bottles between each taste test in order to preserve the surprise. Shake water bottles as necessary. 

Next, ask group members what they have learned from this activity. Which water bottles look clean? Is a clean-looking one always actually pure? How does this translate to our lives? This activity should get people thinking about the water they drink in their own households. Transition into a discussion about the various germs, fecal particles, amoebas, worms, and other illness-causing substances that exist in seemingly clean water.

This lesson plan is an activity from the Environmental Activities for Youth Clubs and Camps, a resource developed by the Peace Corps Office of Overseas Programming and Training (OPATS). It was contributed by Peace Corps/Cameroon.

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