Water Storage - Part II

It would be quite a task to review the various means of treating and storing water, so I won’t do that here. Your personal situation will dictate to you what your treatment and storage particulars should be. However you attack the issue, though, keep in mind that the water that goes into your body needs to be as pure as possible, especially in times of high stress, when impurities of all kinds will have an easier time of killing you.

Your purification efforts should be aimed at removing biological organisms, viruses, chemicals and odors. Some of the better ceramic filters will get most of the bacteria and viruses out, but not the other items. I’ve found that a combination of methods works with a high degree of certainty. The first and best place to start is with the actual water source. Moving water from high altitude is best, as it is filtered through stone and sand on its way down the mountain. Most people, though, will be stuck with flowing water from a river or stream coursing through their area. To defeat the impurities in your water, try to source it in this order:

  • flowing streams from high in the hills
  • streams and rivers free from agricultural run off
  • natural springs
  • streams and rivers near you
  • lakes with running water into and out of them
  • smaller bodies of water

The worst of supplies are generally:

  • standing water (gutters, evaporating pools, swimming pools, watering troughs)
  • ag runoff
  • treatment plants
  • factory cooling ponds
  • swamps (many living organism present there)
  • any water with active algal communities growing in it

Treatment is done in stages. The first is mechanical filtration. Whatever method is used, it needs to remove as much visible material as possible. Methods include pouring water through multiple layers of tee shirt material, cheese cloth, light sponge, pea gravel and sand beds…. information on this is everywhere, and might make it into another post. Charcoal, or activated carbon fit for human use also works, but is best used after some sort of rough mechanical filtering as it will plug up quickly otherwise.

The second stage is a ceramic filter of some sort. When shopping, try to find testing data that details what the filter can do. I’m a fan of Berkeys for a few reasons, one of them being reports such as this one. Another rating to look for is the size of particles removed. The smaller the micron size that the filter can capture, the better. Balancing the micron size, say .1, with the percentage of removal, say 99.98%, will tell you a lot about the filter’s abilities. I like that the Berkeys filter to such a degree that the company feels safe calling them “purifiers”, and not just filters. Of the larger filter setups, I prefer the gravity-fed systems. They require no power or attention. Fill and forget. Draw your water later, as needed.

In the absence of these kinds of filters, you can still treat the water. Boiling is a very effective means of killing micro organisms. Most will perish in the heat. The low end of boiling time is about 5 minutes. I do not feel safe boiling for less than 15 or 20. If you have the fuel and time, shoot for 20 – 25 minutes. You can boil water in a pot over a campfire, a rocket stove, in a solar oven, or with more traditional means.

There are also chemical treatments for battling biologicals. Micropur, from Katadyn (who also makes great mechanical filters) is available in a few forms, and is among the best. Iodine solution treatments are effective, but can cause issues for sensitive people, or people with thyroid problems. It is best to be checked out by a doctor before settling on iodine treatment for periods of more than a few weeks. Cryptosporidium (an organism that will cause diarrhea)  is not killed by iodine treatment. As a two pronged approach, though, using products such as MicroPur or Polar Pure prior to filtration in ceramic type filters will do double duty. The better filters will also negate some of the iodine effects. If no other filtration is present, a Vitamin C tablet will get rid of the iodine taste. One nice side effect of iodine treatment is that it will reduce the uptake of radioactive iodine to only 2% of what it would normally be. This can be a handy way to treat water after a nuclear event.




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