December 20, 2014

The Storage, Filtration And Purification Of Water.

The Storage, Filtration And Purification Of Water

Aside from oxygen, water is the one thing we cannot live without for very long. In fact the rule of three’s states the average human can only go three days without water, but don’t kid yourself, those last two wouldn’t be pleasant. I think that water filtration/purification and storage should be near the top of most preparedness plans.

How much water a person uses per day varies based on the climate, level of activity and other factors. According to The Mayo Clinic The average person should drink 8 – 8 ounce glasses of water a day (64 ounces of water is ½ gallon). If temperatures are warm, or activity is high water intake will be higher.

In an emergency situation clean water may not be available. Look at the problems with Cholera in Haiti going on right now, or what happened in India after the Tsunami. There are two ways to mitigate this, one is by having water stored ahead of time and the second is by having a means to treat the water after.

In a survival situation the research I have done shows that an average person will use around two gallons of water per day, this includes drinking, for food preparation, and hygiene. I have seen recommendations that say from one liter to one gallon are enough. Here is a great place for “I would rather have it and not need it, then need it and not have it”.
 
 
Storage:

As mentioned above, store two gallons of water per person per day. I recommend having a minimum of at least one week worth of water stored for each person and pet in your family. This can be done with cases of water bottles, individual gallons or with multiple gallon containers like a 5, 15 or 55-gallon drum. For animals the amount of water needed is going to depend on the size, I would think a liter or so a day would be more then enough for most.

Water in bottles or single gallon containers will most likely have an expiration date. It’s not that the water goes bad, but the plastic can leech into it. For this reason, all water stored in plastic containers of any size, should be rotated every six months. If you want to just empty the container and refill that, I would think that should be just fine as any leeched chemicals will go out with the old water.

As I mentioned, water stored for any length if time won’t go bad (aside from leeching), but it could taste “flat”. To remedy this you can aerate the water by pouring it from one container into another and back a few times.

If you want to use recycled containers such as milk jugs, 2-liter or 5 gallon to55 gallon barrels, here are a few things to keep in mind. If the container is recycled then I would suggest first making sure the recycled container was food grade, look for recycle triangle (usually found on the bottom). Here is a website that explains what the different numbers inside of the triangle mean, anything with a 1 or 2 is good.

Be aware that the water can retain the smell and taste of what was originally stored in it. If you cannot tell what was stored in it, it might be best to buy new. It might cost a bit more, but at least your water won’t smell like pickles or something worse.

This is a barrel very similar to mine, but a bit cheaper. At the time I am posting this Amazon has a shipping option that is free, I do not know if this expires after Christmas or not. If it does not expire, then this is a very good price.

For the barrel to be usable, you will also need a bung wrench and a pump. The first pump listed is the one I have, I’m most likely going to upgrade to the second one, because the quality is just much higher.

If you choose a 55-gallon barrel keep in mind the weight when full. Answers.com says that “A gallon of water weighs approximately 8.34 pounds, 55 gallons weigh 55 x 8.34 = 458.7 pounds”

If you want to be able to move the barrel, then you’ll need to use a dolly. There are some made to fit a 55 gallon drum, like the first dolly listed. Or you can do what I did and save $30 and buy a furniture dolly with a high weight limit, either will support the weight of a full 55 gallon barrel.


 
 
Water Collection

Unless there is access to a well, no one can store enough water to last them indefinitely. As a result, water collection is something you should give some thought now. What natural or man-made bodies of water are near you? Lakes, rivers streams, ponds, swamps, swimming pools, hot tub, hot water heaters have depending on size, 40 gallons, the tank on the back of a toilet is another source. Not all of this water is fit to drink, but it could be used for other things such as hygiene, watering plants or a garden.

Another source of water, if you have the system in place ahead of time is rain catchment. Believe it or not, for every inch of rain that falls on a catchment area of 1,000 square feet, you can expect to collect approximately 600 gallons of rainwater. Ten inches of rain falling on a 1,000 square foot catchment area will generate about 6,000 gallons of rainwater! The supplies consist of a barrel, gutters a downspout and possibly an attachment for the downspout.

How much rain water can you collect in a storm?

Here are rain barrels similar to the ones that I use. The reason that I like these is that near the top there is an overflow opening that you can attach a hose to and connect it to another barrel. I paid less then half the price for mine, which I purchased at a farmers market. If you want to be able to have more then one barrel connected to the same down spout, then I recommend looking for one with a similar design. Here also is the rain diverter that I have.


 
 
Water Treatment

Purify and filter; are two terms that are often used interchangeably, but there is a difference. Both will remove bacteria (Campylobacter Jejuni) and protozoan cysts (Giardia Lamblia, Cryptosporidium) from contaminated water. Only a purifier will remove viruses (hepatitis A, meningitis) from contaminated water.
 
 
Filtration:
There are many types of water filters from personal bottle filtration units to large family size, multiple filter units. As mentioned above a filter will not kill viruses, after filtering water, it can be boiled to kill viruses.

You can also find instructions on how to make your own. I would only recommend this if you do not have any filtration system in a survival situation, you should also boil the water to kill any virus that it may contain. Here are instructions to make a home made filter.
 
 
Purification:

Boiling:
According to the Wilderness Medical Society, water temperatures above 160° F (70° C) kill all pathogens within 30 minutes and above 185° F (85° C) within a few minutes. So in the time it takes for the water to reach the boiling point (212° F or 100° C) from 160° F (70° C), all pathogens will be killed, even at high altitude.

Bleach:
Use bleach that has no added scent. Here are guidelines from the CDC on using bleach to make water safe.

If tap water is clear:
1. Use bleach that does not have an added scent (like lemon).
2. Add 1/8 teaspoon (8 drops or about 0.75 milliliters) of household liquid bleach to 1 gallon (16 cups) of water.
3. Mix well and wait 30 minutes or more before drinking.

If tap water is cloudy:
1. Use bleach that does not have an added scent (like lemon).
2. Add 1/4 teaspoon (16 drops or 1.5 milliliters) of household liquid bleach to 1 gallon (16 cups) of water.
3. Mix well and wait 30 minutes or more before drinking.

If you store water that you are adding water to the container from the tap. If you add the recommended amount of bleach for clear water, it will kill any pathogens that might sneak in, this is more of a concern if you have a well.

Iodine:
Iodine tablets are effective at killing many things except Cryptosporidium. Some people are allergic to iodine and cannot use it for water purification. Iodine tablets will also leave a chemical after taste and should be a short-term solution. With the drawbacks of iodine tablets, they’re not my first pick; if it’s a good fit for you then they might be a good addition to your BOB.

Chlorine:
Chlorine is one of the most common ways that water is purified, this is done by many municipalities. Chloramine or chlorine dioxides are some of the compounds that are used in water purification tablets.

Water purification tablets:
The active ingredient is often chlorine dioxide these are effective against bacteria, viruses and cysts, such as Cryptosporidium. Depending on brand, one or two tablets treat one quart of water, these also leave no after taste. These should be a short-term solution; this would be a good addition to a BOB.

Here are the Military Water Purification Tablets that I have.


 
 
Water Filters/Purifiers
There are a large number of products to treat your water, they range from sport water bottles with built in filters to large home systems.

Here is a water filter comparison chart . This shows a comparison of cost, cost of replacement filter, things that are filtered, price per gallon.

I don’t know what will work the best for you; all I can tell you is what I found in my research and what I chose to do.

We have a Berkey system at home, the gallons filtered per hour, the price per gallon and the fact that Berkey products are a purifier and not just a filter, make this an easy decision for me.

For our BOB’s I chose water purification tablets and the Berkey sport, but Katadyn has some nice filters to fit this need. The reason I went with Berkey is that it acts as a container and a purifier, not just a purifier.

SteriPEN is a technology that is new to me, here is what the manufacturer claims about it “SteriPEN products use ultraviolet (UV) light technology to purify water, destroying more than 99.9 percent of bacteria, viruses and protozoan cysts such as giardia and cryptosporidia.” I might look into getting one of these as well, it would be nice when needing to purify a lot of water quickly.
 
 
Random water information:

Well water:
Many people have a well as their primary source of drinking water. Well water is not necessarily safe, and should be filtered. Here is a good page from the CDC that explores wells and the concerns associated with them.

City water:
Here is an explanation on how many cities treat their water.
However, just because your water comes from the city, it does not mean it is always safe. There are many people that believe that fluoride is a poison in large amounts and that it should not be added to the water. I’ll let you do your own research, but I will say that Berkey makes a filter that will remove it if you want it out of your water.

Here is a recent report that shows that test’s in New York City recently showed elevated lead levels

City Officials: Tap Water Shows Elevated Lead Levels

Recycling water:
Water can often be recycled and used again.

Greywater is water that can be recycled from activities like bathing, laundry or food preparation and can be used for things like watering the garden.

Blackwater is water containing human waste. Even if there are ways out there to treat it, I’ll pass.

Here are some links that have a lot of miscellaneous information relating to water.

Preventing Travelers’ Diarrhea: How to Make Drinking Water Safe.

Water-Related Emergencies and Outbreaks

This page has a lot of links with random subjects relating to water .  It has everything from how to build a rain catchment system to building a fountain to a well drilling tutorial.

 
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Comments

  1. I have come across another solution that I plan to try for bug out situations (or at home). I’m not a big fan of high-priced steriPen, or MSR purifiers that require special batteries. They’re very portable, but what happens when batteries die and you can’t replace them from a store? Iodine crystals, like purifiers, have the benefit of eliminating bacteria, cysts AND viruses, giving them an advantage over portable filters. Unlike iodine tablets, there is no shelf life (once you open one of those small bottles, the tablets will break down rather quickly). With proper storage, iodine crystals will last for decades – or until God’s judgement on the Earth – which ever comes first!

    Iodine crystals used to be available from a company called Polar Pure and sold at places like REI. Unfortunately, the government shut them down because it was discovered that the product could be used in illegal drug manufacturing. However, you can still buy their bottles, which you’ll need for proper storage and portion instructions.
    http://www.polarequipment.com/purchase.htm

    I have found a site with instructions on DIY iodine crystals. I figure it can’t be too much more complex than the chemistry set I had as a kid! I’ve recently purchased all the inexpensive ingredients (easily found at home or in nearby stores), but have yet to try the instructions. They can be found at:
    http://www.sci-spot.com/Chemistry/iodine.htm.

    I’ll re-post to let you know how it goes. So for less than the cost of a SteriPEN, I’ll have a more sustainable portable solution!

    Oh, one last suggestion. If Berkey is outta your price range (like me), you could buy/make one of these inexpensive gravity filters for home to use. If you’re concerned about viruses, as well, you could use this in conjunction with the crystals or boil it, as Ray mentioned above.

    http://www.monolithic.com/stories/a-practical-life-sustaining-water-filter

    • Chris Ray says:

      For sure let me know how it goes. While it might kill bacteria and viruses, it wouldn’t take out any harmful chemicals, but the same can be said for Steri pen and others.

  2. Hi, I am using resin to purify my water through a pump, which I fill up into a similar to a gas bottle for reach n wash window cleaning. My water is coming out a muddy colour. Can I mix the resin straight into my 400 litre tank, would it come out clear, muddy or cloudy free ready for usage, Do u think I should add bleach or iodine tablets, do I require a filter. What is the best and easy solution as I have to tell my customers it sometimes takes 3 goes to become clear. Many thanks Kenny

    • Chris Ray says:

      Kenny I’m not sure what you mean by resin, so I’m not sure how to answer you. Let me know and I’ll give it some thought.

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