What Do You Know About Water?

Water really is the stuff of life. From washing to drinking and from the rain lashing against winter windows to the waves crashing against summer-holiday shores, it affects everything we do, and that’s before we even begin to consider how important it is to the rest of the planet. In Britain, of course, we’re all a bit spoiled when it comes to water; turn on the tap and there it is – but it isn’t quite as simple for many of the rest of the world’s population and around the globe, getting access to clean water is a major struggle for many people.

So how much do you know about the magical substance that plays such a big part in all our lives? Here’s our quick quiz to let you test your knowledge of the wet stuff and find out!

The answers are at the bottom and there are even a couple of bonus points for any brainy water experts to pick up along the way; good luck and have fun!

1. Roughly how much of the Earth’s surface is covered in water?

  • a) 17%
  • b) 57%
  • c) 70%

2. How much of world’s freshwater is permanently frozen?

  • a) One third
  • b) Half
  • c) Two thirds

3. What is the boiling point of water?

  • a) 100ºC
  • b) 4ºC
  • c) 0ºC

4. Why does ice float?

  • a) Because it’s full of air.
  • b) Because ice is lighter than cold water.
  • c) Because ice crystals are magnetic.

5. What is soft water?

  • a) Water containing little dissolved calcium.
  • b) Purified water containing no dissolved minerals.
  • c) Thawed ice.

6. Roughly how much water does the average person in Britain use daily?

  • a) 40 litres
  • b) 140 litres
  • c) 240 litres

7. Which of the following plays NO part in the natural water cycle?

  • a) Saponification
  • b) Precipitation
  • c) Transpiration

8. How many people in the world do NOT have a supply of clean water?

  • a) 1 in every 600
  • b) 1 in every 60
  • c) 1 in every 6

9. How much of the illness and death in the developing world comes from water-borne disease?

  • a) 80%
  • b) 50%
  • c) 20%

10. Water is made up of just two chemical elements – but which two?

  • a) Hydrogen and carbon
  • b) Hydrogen and oxygen
  • c) Carbon and oxygen


1. c – around 70% (or five-sevenths) of the Earth’s surface is covered in water; no wonder the planet looks so blue from space!

2. c – around two thirds of the world’s freshwater is locked up as permanent ice.

3. a – water boils at 100ºC – and it freezes at 0 degrees.

4. b – ice is densest (heaviest) at 4ºC, which means that ice is less dense (lighter) than cold water and so it floats.

5. a – soft water contains low levels of dissolved calcium; water with a high calcium level is called “hard” and can cause scaling in kettles and water pipes. Rainwater is naturally soft but it may become hard as it picks up minerals from the soils and rocks it runs over.

6. b – we use around 140 litres of water a day in the UK; according to DEFRA, in 2009 the average consumption in unmetered households was 150 litres per person per day, and 127 litres in homes with a metered water supply.

7. a – saponification is the process which makes soap – and have a bonus point if you knew that; precipitation is the fall of rain, snow and hail and plants return water to the atmosphere by transpiration.

8. c – according to the charity Water Aid, one out of every six people in the world has no regular access to clean water – that’s a total of about 884 million – and around 2.5 billion don’t have proper toilets or sewers either.

9. a – a staggering 80% of the developing world’s illness and disease results from water-borne disease; according to UN research, at any one time half of the world’s hospital beds are occupied by people suffering from water-borne diseases of one kind or another.

10. b – hydrogen and oxygen; the chemical formula for water is H2O – and if you knew that give yourself another bonus point!

So – how did you do?

  • All 12 points – Deep blue sea!
  • 7 to11 points – Mighty river!
  • 3 to 6 points – Tumbling stream!
  • 0 to 2 points – Small pond!