Water Purification

Hi all,

I've been looking into water purification techniques and thus far have found that a rapid boil for a minimum of ten minutes seems to be the best method. However that would not remove all contaminates, so I was thinking that straining the water thru coffee filters (real cheap) would help. I decided to stay away from the marketed water filters as I don't feel those are an absolute necessity. What will you do when the sytem you purchased needs the filter replaced?

Got any ideas? Maybe there is a product out there. I have not seen it. Any other methods of water purification?


Iodine is a good way to purify water (I know it doesn't taste good), but it also does not "filter out" all contaminants. I read an article in which the author states he uses activated charcoal (available at any pet shop)to purify water. Activated charcoal can also be used to combat the effects of exposure to anthrax, but I won't get into that, lest it ignite another flurrie of nay-saying from all the resident experts.

BTW, I got my iodine chrystals from Christopher Nyerges at the School of Self-Reliance. You can ask for their little catalog, or ask anything about edible/medicinal wild plants by e-mail. He also has a web page with a lot of good info (and links).

Jim N.

As for iodine tablets, I buy them by the carton each year for work. No restrictions. I have found that it is cheaper and more effective to have a pharmacist make up a 7% tincture, however. As an aside, folks might want to know that ascorbic acid (vitamin C) when mixed with iodine treated water, will remove the iodine taste and color. Just be sure to do this _after_ you have waited the 20 minutes for the iodine to do its thing...I use a 100mg tablet per liter or water.

[Ben Jorgensen]

Several methods of decontamination can be used, first several coffee filters will rid you of most of the suspended mater, about 12 inches of crushed activated charcoal will rid you of the chemicals, iodine will weaken or kill 95 to 98% of the tougher bacteria, however to be MOST careful pressure boil this treated water for ten full minutes boiling time, this will get anthrax and most real nasties since many of these are self contained in a microscopic shell like manner. Heck I forgot what the tech term is.... oh well.

About recapturing steam... not to dispute it's value, but certain contaminants like petroleum products (naptha, distillates, and the alcohols) have a low boiling point, thus would or could transfer right along with the water, some of this junk has no smell, no taste, just food for thought. Some of desalinization units use the membrane method of seperation, water from salt... reverse osmosis??? These clog real bad I've heard if not prefiltered.... but I cannot confirm this.

[D. Lewis]

Howdy all, Fernie here, hold on there TripBear, before you blow yourself up, let me give you some help. First thing to do is go the salvation army, garage sales, whatever and find yourself a old pressure cooker, the gauge doesn't have to work, so using that as a negative, you might be able to get the cooker even cheaper. The bigger the better, I have three, a 20, a 16, and a 8 quart cooker. That's one:, sometimes a hard thing to find, it's best to shop around early fall when everyone is getting ready to do some canning and don't trust the old one they have. Two: go to any hardware store, the cheaper the better and buy 20 foot of 1/4 inch copper tubing, you can get by on 10-12 feet but I'll explain later why you might want the longer one. When you buy the tubing, get a fitting that slips just over the outside of the tubing, and has a flare to the inside of it, (ask for assistance if you don't know what I mean, the store person will) then get a nut that threads over the fitting. That's it, FRN's, local hardware store, your set. Three:, once home, or where ever, if the tubing is coiled in a rather large series if loops, you want to make them a little smaller. Starting with the end you have the threaded flare peice and nut on, pull out a foot or so, then find anything that's anywhere from 8 inches to a foot in diameter and carefully wrap the tubing around it. Lots of variables here, but you should end up with at least 3-4 coils of tubing, with one end sticking out a foot or so, with a threaded flaired end and nut. Four: now here's where you have to be a rocket scienctist, take the pressure gauge off the pressure cooker, it's usually screwed on, so you might need a wrench, don't worry about being gentle, your throwing the gauge away. Now comes the rocket part, drill a hole in the hole the gauge was in the size your threaded flaired fitting is. Good, by God, NASA is looking for you. Now stick the threaded flair fitting through the hole in the lid where the pressure gauge use to be, and put the nut on it as it sticks through the hole.

Congraduations your a natural mooner. Ok, some simple things to look for, most pressure cookers have a rubber seal in the lid, you'll see it in a groove in the lid. Some use a gasget, regardless, there is some sort of rubber something that goes between the lid and the pot. This is a rather importain item, but it's not a life and death item, anything can be used to act as a seal between the two, cloth, it doesn't matter, in both my big 20 and 16 qts. there is a thin rubber ring in the lid, you can take the rubber ring out of any plastic bucket and use it just fine. Your almost home free here TripBear.

Fill your new pressure cooker to within an inch of the top with the ugliest water you want, but the cleaner it is, the less your going to have to scrub the second batch. So take the twigs, bugs, etc... out, filter it through any cloth. Panty hose work really good if you put one leg inside the other, their fast. Put your lid on carefully, tighten down the holders with equal pressure all around then slowly twist them a half turn or so at a time till they all feel snug. On my 8 quart, I just twist the lid into slotted tapered clogs on both lid and pot, same deal. Now your really getting ready to cook. Heat source: Wood, gas, electric, C4, if it burns, gets hot, and can maintain heat, you can use it. Wet wood smokes and blacken the outside of you pot, not big deal but that black is going to end up everywhere, on everything, and still be on the pot. Depending on the size of the cooker you got, depends on the time your going to be cooking, but figure a couple hours for 16 quarts, it varies of course.

So now you have you pot sitting on heat and it's going to get warm, soon it's going to get hot, your going to take a liquid substance and turn it into a gas, to get it back into a liquid your going to have to do something, or it's like a tea kettle on a stove, it's just going to blow steam like most politician, till it runs out of liquid. So, take the last coil of tubing and place it in a pan of water, ice, anything that's not 212 degrees. ( I think that's boiling point, can't remember) on the end of your tubing that's bent upwards some, but still has a slight bend downwards, place your container you wish to collect, pure, germ free H20. This water is good enough to use to debris deep wounds in the body, drink, whatever you wish to do with it,it's pure.

Some comments here that you might feel concerned about.

1. Will the pot blow up on me?

Yep, but it's not to likely, if your just a little bit careful. See that funny looking thing on the top of the lid that wasn't a gauge? That's a pressure release valve, it has a little ring through it so you can at any time pull it up and feel the hot steam burn you fingers, it's a warning whistle that your really putting out the steam, but not fast enough to handle the heat you using. So cut down on your heat some. Since your just distilling water, your pretty safe if she blows, but dumping hot boiling water on yourself isn't real fun either. So just control you heat, once you start cooking ( getting steam) you can really turn down the heat quite a bit.

2. What else can I do with my pressure cooker, turned still?

Now that's the million dollar question. I'll bet most of you weekend warriors think you figuared this one out by now. This is where you'd wished you'd gotten 20-30 feet of tubing. You can make a brim that once fermented, can be distilled just like the water, and you can make alcohol, a good batch the first quart will be about 80 proof + a little give or take. Your not going to be a real moonshiner, it takes a whole lot more work to get a good batch. What I built all my stills for wasn't just pure water, nor was it for drinking my own stuff. I got a 4 banger jeep with a single barrel carb, drilling the injecter hole 1/16 over, I can run the bugger on 80% alcohol till the cows come home. She's a bit stubburn starting on a cold morning, but once fired up, she hums right along. I cheat, I use gas to get her going and then switch over. Hey, when you got it use it.

I also don't get into the fancy drinking kind of fermenting, I got a saw mill down the road a bit that's got at least a million yards of rotting sawdust, a little yeast, a cup of sugar, honey, doesn't matter, anything to get the yeast started, and your off and running. You can batch up in a 55 gallon barrel, plastic, or metal. Run three barrels at a time, cause you can just take a gallon off the ready batch and pour it into the green batch and it's already to start making a whole new batch. With this small pressure cooker unit I gave you above, you can run your still all day and night and not use up the aprox 33 gallons of fermented liquid you'll get from each 55 gallon batch. Your not going to get 100 proof on each cooking, as you draw off the barrel, you going to loose more and more alcohol percent. Time you get to the last batch, your lucky to get 20%. There are all sorts of places you can get instruments to see how much percent you have. But save it all. Now, when your sitting around with nothing better to do, take all your new alcohol and mix the first batch with the last, etc... till you have half as many containers as before. Now start cooking it all over again. Each time you cook off a batch your going to get a higher percent of proof. Your also going to have more water waste to throw into you food pot, whatever you want to do with pure tainted water with alcohol. Wood alcohol is poison, they same thing your mom and dad told you would happen if you played with yourself is what will happen to you if you drink this stuff. And worse.

This stuff is just for fuel for combustable engines, not the human body. You need at least 80% proof to run an engine well, and still have some power.

Ok gang, there you go. If someone has some extras they might have come up with, you might throw in you 3 cents worth. Depending on where you live, they is always some sort of waste, that can be turned into a fermented brew. Hell, if I had the bucks, you wouldn't believe the little unit I found in a stainless metal scrap yard. I'd open my own gas station. You can go as big as you want, but ask yourself, where do I want to go, under these conditions? Papers please!!!!!! Hope this helps all you pilgrams out there, just use a little common sense, in everything you do.

PS. you might have to change the coolent in the pan the last coil is in after a bit, as steam warms up whatever your using to cool it.

I might add, that it doesn't hurt to have a few gallon milk jugs filled with water, with a few drops of Clorox poured in it, stuff kills just about anything and it isn't going to kill you.

Happy drinking