Look to the Past to Prepare for the Future, (Part 4)

If you keep a portable water filtration device with you at all times, you’ll never have to use a DIY method to purify your water for drinking, cleaning and bathing.

But wouldn’t it be nice – not to mention potentially life-saving – if you knew how to do it? Let’s take a look at some ways you can learn to do exactly that.

Treating Water in a Pinch 

Here are some fun water purification projects to learn and tackle with your children to teach them the importance of being able to improvise and be resourceful when our regular water treatment equipment is not available.

The best way to ensure you have clean water for drinking is to boil it or use chemicals to disinfect the water. That said, there are times when we may not have our normal water treatment equipment around and will need to improvise.

To avoid water-related illnesses, it is imperative to learn how to filter your water using materials available to you. Here are three ways of purifying water for drinking:

Homemade Water Filter

This exercise illustrates the four steps of filtration when treating water from lakes or rivers.

  1. Coagulation: removes dirt, metals and other particles suspended in water. Chemicals like Alum are added to the water that form sticky particles called “floc,” which attract the dirt particles.
  2. Sedimentation: the combined weight of the sediment and fused chemicals sinks to the bottom.
  3. Filtration: smaller particles are removed as water passes through a series of filters made of sand, gravel and charcoal.
  4. Disinfection: A small amount of chlorine is added to kill bacteria or microorganisms found in the water.

You will need:

* 1-liter soda bottles cut in half

* Napkins, cheesecloth or paper towels

* Gravel

* Sand

* Activated filter carbon (found in pet stores)

* Large water container for dirty water (pitchers or gallon jugs)

* Dirty water (made by adding dirt, twigs, leaves, etc.)

* Large waste container (plastic container, thick garbage bag, etc.)

* Potable aqua chlorine dioxide water purification drops or tablets

* Two clean pitchers for filtered water

  1. Cut bottles in half and insert the top upside down into the bottom to fashion a funnel. In the top half, we will build a filter and the bottom half will collect the filtered water.
  2. Add napkin, cheesecloth or paper towel at the neck of the inverted bottle.
  3. Layer filtration materials in this sequence:
  4. 1 inch of charcoal
  5. 2 inches sand
  6. 1 inch gravel
  7. 2 inches sand
  8. 1 inch gravel

Add unfiltered water and allow it to seep through the filter. For added measure, chemically treat filtered water to kill off pathogens that were not filtered.

Homemade Water Distiller

You will need:

* Dish soap

* Stove

* Drill and drill bit

* Stainless steel feed-through fitting that has a barbed end and an inner diameter of 3/8 inches

* 3-foot long plastic hose that has an inner diameter that matches the stainless steel feed-through fitting

* Large glass jug

* 1-gallon metal pot with a tight lid

  1. Drill a hole in the pot lid and insert the stainless steel feed-through fitting, taking care to keep the fitting’s barbed end outside of the metal pot.
  2. Thoroughly wash with warm water and dish washing soap the pot, lid, glass jug and plastic hose. Allow time to air dry.
  3. Fill the metal pot three-fourths to the top with water to distill, then heat the pot on the stove to about 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Let steam escape from the stainless steel feed-through fitting for about five minutes.
  4. Slowly attach one end of the plastic hose to the stainless steel feed-through fitting, thus venting away any remaining contaminants and preventing them from being condensed into the freshly distilled water. Place the other end of the plastic hose into your jug. Steam that is being condensed will slowly drip into the glass jug in the form of pure water. After the dripping slows down or stops, take the metal pot off the stove and let cool before cleaning the pot and hose.

Solar Powered Water Distiller

You will need:

* 2-liter soda bottle

* Utility knife

* Lighter

* Black rag

  1. Cut an empty bottle in half with the utility knife.
  2. Using the top half of the bottle (the part with the lid), fold the bottom edges of the cut bottle inward, making a 1-inch or 2-inch lip back into the inside of the bottle (this is the trough). If needed, use the lighter to heat the bottle in order to help it easily bend back in.
  3. Thoroughly soak a black rag with the dirty water and set it inside the plastic bottle in full sun for four hours or more. The water will evaporate and condense on the inside of the bottle and find its way down into the trough.
  4. When enough water has collected in the trough, carefully remove the bottle from the nasty black rag and flip it over quickly. The water now flows the other way and ends up in the cap.
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