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close this bookEnvironmentally Sound Technologies for Women in Agriculture (IIRR, 1996, 213 p.)
close this folderWater management for farm and home
View the documentSafe drinking water
View the documentMaintenance of community water sources
View the documentManagement of drinking water for the household
View the documentSome simple ways to purify drinking water
View the documentUse of indigenous plants for cleaning water
View the documentSoakage pit for proper disposal of waste water
View the documentEfficient use of irrigation water

Use of indigenous plants for cleaning water

Farm women in India possess a wealth of indigenous knowledge. Women in some parts of India, for instance, use various plants to make muddy water clear.

Moringa oleifera drumstick, sainjana, sahjana
Moringa oleifera can make muddy water clear in 1-2 hours.


Use about 30 seeds in 40 litres of water. Use more seeds to clear very muddy water. Dosage can also depend upon the condition of the water source and the season. ( 1 1/2 seeds per litre of water for very muddy water and 1/4 of a seed in one litre of water for less turbid water.)

Method of preparation

1 Remove the wing and coat of the seed.

2 Crush the white kernel in a mortar.

3 Mix the powdered kernel with a small amount of potable water in a glass and stir vigorously for 5 minutes.

4 Pour this suspension through a tea strainer or muslin cloth into turbid water.

5 Keep stirring the water slowly for about 10 minutes.

Strychnos potatorum nirmall The ripened seeds of Strychnos potatorum can be used to make a natural flocculent for cleaning muddy water-dirt particles flock together, creating larger clumps which can be easily removed.

Use about 1.5 mg of seed extract per litre of muddy water.


1 Crush ripened seeds into a thick paste using clean water.

2 Add the paste to muddy water and stir.

3 Let it stand.

4 Strain through muslin or pour off the clear water into a clean vessel. Be careful not to disturb the sediment.

(The same results can be achieved by rubbing the seed on the inner surface of an earthen water vessel before filling.)

Semecarpus anacardium bhela, bhilawa

This seed is used in Central India as a substitute for Strychnos potatorum. Rub the seeds on a stone and make a thick paste. Mix it with muddy water. Follow the same procedure as for Strychnos potatorum.

Vetieria zizanoides khus, vetiver grass

Take a clay jar with a few tiny holes in the bottom. Lay wiry roots of the rhizome at the bottom of the jar. Water filtered through this layer of roots is not only cleaner but also has a pleasant smell. (Practiced in South Kerala.)

Tylophora indica jangli-pikvan

The dry roots of this plant improve the quality of drinking water. The roots can be placed directly in water or powdered and stirred in.

Limnanthemum cristatum This herb is grown in rainwater harvesting tanks in some parts of Rajasthan for cleaner water and pleasant taste.

Vetiveria zizanoides

Source: Consortium for Rural Technologies (CORT)