Thursday, January 8, 2009

Emergency Water Filtration – The Capillary Siphon

The principle of capillary action is that water moves on its own up a porous medium by the action of surface tension. There is a way to move water from one bucket into another of the same height via a capillary siphon. Being able to make and use a capillary siphon will allow you an effective and simple way to treat turbid or cloudy water before disinfecting.

One of the most practical uses for a capillary siphon is to filter cloudy water before disinfecting it. By simply using a couple of containers or buckets, along with a towel, bandana or other piece of cloth rolled up into a tube you can very effectively filter cloudy or turbid water. This can be very effective if safe water sources become contaminated or the quality of your water is unknown.


This method can also be used for “wick irrigation”. By placing some cotton string or cord dipped into a reservoir or bottle filled with water and then burying the string down in the dirt of a potted plant, the resulting capillary action will transfer the water to the soil via the string and keep your plants soil moist.

The principle of the capillary siphon is also used in many forms of clothing to “wick” or siphon moisture away from your body.

You can view a simple capillary siphon here (Figure 5): Capillary Siphon (Figure 5)

Using a capillary siphon doesn’t require any special knowledge or tools to make it work. The items that are required to make a capillary siphon are readily available in most emergency situations. The combination of these two factors make a capillary siphon an ideal survival tool.

Staying above the water line!



Anonymous said...

Good to know - drinking water is going to be a major pita if system goes down, and you are reliant on it.

You probably already know this, but there is a ceramic pot water purifier filter that is easy to make - here's a link to the Rabbit Filter.

Might be of some use to folks reading this - Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Interesting and informative article. Seems to be one instance where one should maybe be "below the water line".

Wretha said...

In reference to the Rabbit Water Filter, there is more to it than they discuss on that site (good link BTW), I have found more info on HOW to make the ceramic pot that goes into making the Rabbit Water Filter, you can't use a terracotta pot from a store, it is not porous enough. Read what I found here:


There are 3 articles to be read there, in reverse chronological order.


Anonymous said...

Not to get too far off the subject,but here in Arizona,we have fall storm's called monsoon's. High wind's,a few drod's of rain,mostly dust.We had one this year with over 100 mph wind.Tree's down,power pole's,all that.I alway's keep bleach bottle's,milk jug's and such full of water in the freezer's,just in case the power goe's out for a long term. Another trick,if your planning on being gone a while,freeze a water bottle,upright.. When you leave,lay it sideway's. If you come home to the air bubble is on the side,you know the power was out for a long time,clear the stuff out!

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous #1

Thanks for the link!.


riverwalker said...

To: anonymous #2

You caught me "below the water line"! Thanks.


riverwalker said...

To: Wretha

Thanks for the additional info and links.


riverwalker said...

To: Dean

Great tip there! A power loss indicator for your freezer....

This is a good thing!


The Scavenger said...

Very infomative post and thanks for the links too. Good information, I'm gonna print if for future use. Thank you very much. Good job RW !!


Mayberry said...

RW, you are a freakin' survival encyclopedia.... Glad to call you friend!

riverwalker said...

To: Chris

It's a simple way to filter water with minimal tools. Thanks.


riverwalker said...

To: Mayberry

You give this old "useless eater" way too much credit. Thanks.


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