Yes, I had intended to talk politics a bit in this post, but after Trump fired the FBI Director yesterday, in an incredibly ugly fashion, to say nothing of the bad timing and horrible optics–well, that’s really only the latest in the over three-month-long shitshow since the inauguration. I’m not certain it’s the worst so far, but it’s certainly not a good thing (and it’s absolutely one more step down that slippery slope towards any of the negative -isms you’d care to name: Totalitarianism, Fascism, what-have-you). Overall, yeah… I’ve got nothing. My bar was set low to begin with–I applauded his congratulatory tweet to Macron–but somehow, with each passing day, he digs his hole a little deeper. I worry that when Trump’s karma catches up to him, we’ll all be caught in the blast…
So, instead, I’ll focus on something else: Water. Specifically, how to purify it.
I’ll admit that this is an area my own preps are weak in. I’ve mentioned that we’re on a well, and it’s clean and pure, and quite securely located. My main concern is power to the pump–but we have backup means of retrieving the water. And, should worse come to worst, we’re a few scant miles from a river. The problem with river water is that it flows through farmland, and there is abundant wildlife–that water’s nowhere near as clean as my well.
So, how to clean it? Well, to make the water potable, there are (ultimately) two procedures: clarifying, and sterilizing. Clarifying is removing particulate matter–in the vernacular, “getting out the chunky bits.” Sterilizing is killing off and/or removing any microbial growths, bacterial, viral, or amebic. Can crystal clear water be dangerous? Well, yes–even the most sparkling-looking clear water can house teeming pathogens…
Clarifying can be as simple as a very basic mechanical filtration. Pouring the water through several layers of (clean!) cloth is a pretty good coarse filtration. There are any number of filtering devices out there for finer filtration–some of them fine enough to act as sanitizers! I don’t have a personal preference as to the filter manufacturers; the biggest names include Berkey, AquaRain, Katadyn, Sawyer, and MSR. The thing to look at is the micron rating of the filter; a 1-micron “absolute” will filter out 99.9% of bacteria; going down to .5-micron or smaller will catch even more. For more portable systems, I’m still a big fan of the LifeStraw, which has individual and family sized versions.
Even if you lack any of the above, letting the water stand for a while, so any sediment can settle, will certainly help. (If your sediment isn’t settling–well, you’ll need to figure out some sort of a mechanical filter, or find some new water…)
Once your water is clear, you need to sterilize it. Here again, there are lots of options. Pasteurization is one of the simplest–heat the water to 160 degrees F for 30 minutes, or 185 degrees F for 3 minutes, or (at sea level) a full 212-degree boil for just a short while. A solar oven for this is handy, as it will save on your fuel usage. Alternately, you can go the UV route: put the water in clear PET or clear glass bottles, and put them in bright sunlight for 6 hours, or longer if you’ve got clouds (2 days, if you’ve got 50% sun). A mechanical version of the same basic concept is the Steripen. Bear in mind with the Steripen, though, it won’t work on murky water–thus the need to clarify first.
Then there’s the chemical sterilization option. Plain, unscented bleach is a good, inexpensive, simple start. Two drops per quart is plenty–and let the water stand for a half hour before drinking, if possible. Other options include chlorine dioxide tablets (follow the instructions), any of a number of liquid treatments (Aquamira, Katadyn, Portable Aqua), or even iodine tablets (again, follow the directions and warnings!).
Again, this is just a quick overview, and hardly in-depth at all; a search on “water purification” will turn up reading material to last you for ages… (And a quick shout-out to the Family Survival Planning folks for their handbook, which I used as a template, is in order…)
Next time, one of my favorite topics: Food!