Is it safe to drink water stored in a earthen pot (‘matka’ or ‘Surahi’)?

Yes, provided you take the necessary precautions. For generations, earthen pots or matkas have been used to store water and keep it cool. Water stored in matka or surahi is cooled to about 14 degrees Celsius and is said to have a refreshing flavour. Many find the temperature of the water ideal for drinking – not too warm and not too chilled.

Since the earthen pot has small pores, water flows through those by capillary action to the outside surface of the pot. There, it encounters a relatively dry environment and it is kinetically encouraged to leave the surface of the pot and evaporate. Presumably, while it is on the surface of the pot, it doesn’t/can’t interact much with the atmosphere and so it needs to take the necessary latent heat from the pot. If that happens, it would help keep the earthen pot cool. Since the water evaporates, the reaction equilibrium gets a strong forward push and the water keeps evaporating.

Traditionally, matka water is believed to be gentle on the throat and better than drinking chilled water from the fridge. You may find family members suggesting you only drink water from a matka so that you don’t fall sick. If you are prone to colds and coughs or sore throats, they may feel matka water might be the best option for you.

Some tips to keep in mind:

1. Pour water in it let it inside that matka for whole day and then wash it without letting your hand in it. Repeat this for 3 to 4 days and then use for storing water. This will help get rid of mud taste.

2. It is vital that the stored water be boiled or filtered first. Bring the required water to a rolling boil for one minute. Allow the water to cool naturally. Once it reaches room temperature, you can store it in a clean matka or surahi.

3. Keep your matka or surahi clean and germ-free. Earthen pots can retain water and collect scum quickly. It is best to scrub, clean, and dry the matka after each use before refilling it.

4. Some people prefer storing water in a surahi, an earthen pot with a tall narrow neck. They find it better at cooling than the wider short-necked matka.

5. There are various types of earthen pots available in the market. A small surahi may be easy to handle, whereas a larger matka or ghara may be harder to move around.

6. Many prefer the matka or surahi that are fitted with a little tap on the side as they are easy to use.

7. If you use a matka, keep it covered at all times to prevent insects, dust and other contaminants from falling into it.

8. Place the pot on a sturdy table or stand near a window. The breeze will help keep the water cool. During the hot months, you may want to wrap a clean moist cloth around the matka for quicker cooling.

9. Use a clean, long-handled ladle to spoon out water from a matka. Dipping a glass or touching the water with your hand may contaminate it.

10. Watch out for any cracks and chips and replace your matka if it leaks.

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