Friday, May 22, 2009

Water Purification - Distillation Made Easy

I'd like to thank RW for allowing me to do yet another guest post. I’m sure he enjoys the break and it gives me a great chance to share my 2 cents with everyone!

I've noticed several sites addressing the collection of rainwater. Aside from digging or drilling a well, this is the easiest way to conserve water, but many have mentioned the possibility of leached roofing chemicals, bird poop and just plain garbage contaminating the rainwater. Some of the big stuff can easily be filtered with a screen, cheesecloth or a sand tank filter. Granted they’re all great ideas. You could just as easily put a large funnel on a food grade tank and skip a lot of the steps. Use the roof drain for the garden or animals and save the funnel tank for drinking. The only drawback is, unless the tank is sealed, it will go bad (growing algae, etc.). If your storage exceeds demand and you don’t use the water quickly, you will eventually need to purify it one way or another to use it for cooking or drinking.

Depending on how you collect the water and how much you need, will determine how pure the water needs to be. If it's for the garden, use as is and there’s no problem. If you plan on using it for drinking or cooking, you need do a little more work. You can filter it, treat it with chemicals, such as a few drops of bleach per gallon of water, or boil it. What happens if you run out of bleach? Bleach loses its potency once opened. Boiling only kills the bugs, but doesn’t remove the minerals, chemical residues or heavy metals. Here in Arizona, we have pretty bad water. It has lots of minerals and metals, not to mention the leached chemicals from years of illegal dumping. I actually got a $1000 check from a company dumping benzene in the sewer for 20 years!

So what's the best way to save/preserve/purify water? The latest thing here for swimming pools is to change them to salt water. The salt kills the algae. This means no expensive chemicals and harmful things to store. I converted my Jacuzzi a few month's ago and a bag of salt is dirt cheap compared to the chemicals. Less scum equals less mess. It's not strong enough to hurt plants should I need to water them with it.

For drinking water, I think distilling is the best way to do it. It only involves boiling water, but not as simple as a pot on the fire. If you recall the TV show "MASH", they had a still in the tent. Simply use the same concept! A pot with a tight fitting lid full of water at boiling and a vent (the curly pipe on top) will collect and condense the steam and drip into pretty much pure clean safe distilled water!

How to make one? You could do it like the moonshiners did or as I have with a handy pressure cooker! My pressure cooker uses a weight for a vent. It simply fits over a nipple fitting; it pops open if the pressure gets too high. I can remove the weight, slip on a piece of plastic tubing, and vent the steam into another pot to collect the water. Keep a close eye on the water level in your pot and be careful because the steam can burn you! If you keep it to a low boil, the heavy metals, minerals and such will stay behind and the bugs will be cooked too! No chemicals or filter system. No muss and fuss!

Simply use your pressure cooker to process your water, as well as your canned goods!

Thank you RW!

Dean in AZ


Anonymous said...

How do you convert a pool to salt water?

Anonymous said...

Great post Dean. Rainwater is a great source for gardens and filtering for drinking. The pressure cooker is a great idea. And the salt water pools and Jacuzzi is an interesting concept...

Kentucky Preppers Network

Wretha said...

Great ideas!

riverwalker said...

To: anonymous 9:02

Here is a link for you. are several additional links on this site to tell you how to do it. This is not a new thing except here in the US. They've been doing it in other countries for a long time. Hope this helps you. Thanks.


P.S. Sorry for taking so long to answer your comment. Was a little busy.

riverwalker said...

To: Wretha

Using your pressure cooker to distil water is a neat idea, especially if you wind up with some form of chemical or heavy metal water contamination that normal types of water purification won't work. Thanks.


riverwalker said...

To: matthiasj

Catching rainwater isn't really a new concept. People that practice bushcraft do it all the time!

Thanks my friend!


Anonymous said...

When we practice our bugin & bugout scenarios, we distill screened seawater for drinking, cooking and cleaning. We then run the cooled water through a ceramic filter for purification, since distilling alone is not adequate. My family uses about four gallons per day, so our distiller is running 16 hours a day.

David N. Olson said...

Your post is very helpful, thank you. Water is essential for survival, especially if you’re far away from civilization. Studies have shown that the body can only survive for about three days without water, and finding fresh sources on your own can be troublesome. See more

James Terrier said...

Thanks for the great tip. I never thought of using pressure cooker for processing my water and am looking for videos on how to do it. You're right, the quality of collected rain water counts so make sure you take great care in getting your supply. I've also read some great articles on how to purify salt water and this is quite easy and useful, too. Here's what I've learned in this site

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