HomePosts Tagged "Water"

Water is life. As a prepper, as an outdoors person, and even as a human, this fact has been drilled into our heads over and over. It’s a cornerstone of the “Rule of Threes.” Three days without water and the human body starts to suffer the consequences. Water has a big place in our preparations, and it rightly should.

Water is important not only for drinking, but for cooking, for washing, and especially for hygiene. (And harvesting rainwater is a great way to have it be readily available!) My beautiful wife loves to go camping and has lived out of a backpack for weeks at a time, but the elimination of bodily wastes in the woods is not a favorite activity for her. Or for anybody, I think!

One of the most cost-effective ways to store larger amounts of water is in food-grade barrels. The barrels are strong, compact, and are relatively inexpensive. Aside from their weight when full, the other drawback to storing water in barrels is the inconvenience of getting the water back out of them.

But what if there was a way to use your emergency water storage barrels to run your household in a nearly normal fashion during a grid down event?

Would it make you happy to use your indoor plumbing as usual, without going outdoors to some out-of-the-way spot to defecate or urinate? What if you could do dishes in the sink, almost like normal? Get a glass of drinking water from the kitchen tap? I have developed a system for my home that allows me to do just that.

My inspiration for this emergency water storage system came from a power outage, timed coincidentally with a day when the entirety of my in-laws had descended upon our home. A squirrel had met its end at an electrical substation, causing power outages in the local village, extending into the rural area where we live. Although I owned a small generator at the time, it was nowhere near large enough to run the well pump.

I had water stored in several 55-gallon barrels, and initially thought I had finally found a chance to prove my foresighted genius for my wife and her family. I took a 5-gallon camping water jug (you know, the kind with the spigot?) down to my water barrels, anticipating finally having a payoff for my hard work in preparation for a day like this. I assembled the plastic water hand pump (purchased in 1998 for Y2K), and that’s when my troubles began.

The pump had threads that were different than the threads on my barrel. It wouldn’t screw in, and thus, I had to hold the pump in one hand and pump with the other, while my third handheld the jug to….uh oh: I needed more hands! After I recruited my brother-in-law to hold the jug, I found out the suction hose on the pump was also missing a part, too. The hand pump was out of order. Shaker siphon? Dang. I last saw that on my camping trip a few months ago. In the end, I used a new-in-box drill pump and a battery operated drill. It was an OK ending to the water problem, but not ideal.

What finally evolved from that occurrence and some experimentation is an emergency water storage system that I am pretty happy with. In fact, one problem may be that it is too convenient, not discouraging water use.

emergency water storage

The system is simple and – aside from the battery and pump – inexpensive.

Currently, my indoor emergency water storage consists of two 55 gallon barrels. I have a small 3 gallon per minute RV water pump attached to a couple of valved pickup tubes, and leading to a spigot that I installed in the water line coming into the house from the well pump. The RV water pump is powered by a small 35AH gel cell connected to a float charger, so the battery is always topped off. It can also be recharged by the 50W solar panel and small charge controller I already have.

In the photo, you will notice that there are two spigots, with a valve between them. This was so I could completely isolate the well and pressure tank from the house plumbing: If the foot valve on the well pump went out, and I tried to pump water into the house plumbing, water from my barrels would be pumped back down my well. That’s no good! The valve, hose, and fitting between the pickup tubes in the photo is the inlet where I fill the barrels.

emergency water storage

The clear hose (far right) connected to the upper spigot. Note the isolation valve between the two spigots.

Hooking up the water tanks to the spigot is a snap. I have placed valves in line to allow me to draw from one or the other, or both barrels. With a flick of a switch, the pump is activated. Since it is an RV pump, it has its own pressure sensor, which activates the pump when a faucet is opened. When someone flushes the toilet, the pump kicks on and refills the toilet tank. When someone opens the kitchen tap to wash hands, prepare food, or get a drink, the pump kicks on and delivers the water.

This system also routes the water through our whole-house water filter. also At 3 gallons per minute, it is very nearly the same as having our normal well pump working. The flow is noticeably less, but not by a huge amount. Just for fun, I took a shower with the backup system, and it was very acceptable. My water heater does not use electrical power to heat water, so it was even a hot shower! See what I mean about the system being too convenient? It does not really encourage water conservation.

emergency water storage

The simple PVC pickup tubes. The transparent tube in the center is for filling the barrels.

During one of the “Grid Down Weekend” exercises that our family performs, with no attempt at water conservation, we easily went through more than 60 gallons of water per day. We have a larger, 220V generator now, able to run the well pump. During the Grid Down Weekend, I ran the generator for about two hours a day. We let the refrigerator and freezer run, charged batteries, and ran the well pump for laundry, took showers and refilled the water storage barrels. This actually worked pretty well, letting us use water as “normal” without running the generator. If we were unable to run the generator for some reason, we would definitely want to implement methods to reduce the water usage.

emergency water storage

This 50-watt panel recharges the battery in just a few hours

Materials and cost breakdown for my project:

RV pump: eBay, used, $40 shipped
Clear food-safe tubing: 6 feet @ $1.50/foot
Garden hose “repair end,” female: $3.50
Misc. 1/2″ PVC fittings, valves, tubing: $15
Hose Clamps, stainless steel:  3 @ $1.24/piece
Battery: Used, free. New they are about $55
Float Charger: $20, Amazon
Wire, terminals, switch, etc.: $10

The drawbacks to this emergency water storage system are fairly minimal. As I pointed out, you have to keep an eye on your water use. You also have to make sure that your hose ends are kept clean. You have to make sure your stored water is clean. You may find yourself “stealing” that battery for other needs. Other than those limitations, I think it’s a great system that makes living without grid power a bit easier.

Oh, I did finally get the hand pump repaired and figured out. You know, just in case.

 

Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us

Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns

Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need

4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis

Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps

Water is life. As a prepper, as an outdoors person, and even as a human, this fact has been drilled into our heads over and over. It’s a cornerstone of

The most common substance in this world is water and therefore it is essential that we could say by default it is greatly important! We have learned that only 1% of the Earth’s water is suitable for drinking, 97% of it is ocean or sea and what about the other 2%? It is unusable, it’s frozen. Now, we always wanted what is best and safe for our drinking water. As a matter of fact, Americans drink more than a billion glasses of tap water per day.

Your day has been sluggish and you are dying to drink that glass of water even from the tap just to quench your thirst. But do you really know whether or not it’s secure for your family? Or let me be more direct, do you even bother to know what’s on it? It doesn’t matter if you say that your water is clean by just tasting it or inspecting it with the naked eye, there are things that are in there that we don’t know about.

 

Here are the important things that you didn’t know in your drinking water.

1. Lead

Just like any stubborn bad guy, this colorless, odorless and tasteless metal can leach from lead pipes and plumbing fixtures will definitely go undetected.  Excessive amounts of lead place adults at higher risk for cancer, stroke, kidney disease, memory problems and high blood pressure. At even greater risks are children, whose rapidly growing bodies absorb lead more quickly and efficiently. Just because your home is less than 20 years old doesn’t necessarily mean you’re lead-free.

Big Berkey BK4X2 Countertop Water Filter System with 2 Black Berkey Elements and 2 Fluoride Filters

2. Fluoride

Fluoride develops naturally in water; though rarely at the optimal level to protect teeth. Many assume that consuming fluoride is only an issue that involves your dental health. But according to a 500-page scientific review, fluoride is an endocrine disruptor that can affect your bones, brain, thyroid gland, pineal gland and even your blood sugar levels. More people drink fluoridated water in the US alone than in the rest of the world combined. In Western Europe, for instance, 97% of the population drinks non-fluoridated water. Adding fluoride is definitely a forced medication.

3. Iron and Manganese

Iron and Manganese are non-hazardous elements but can be a nuisance to your drinking water. They are similar metals and can cause similar problems; can root offensive taste, appearance, and staining. When the water is aerated they are oxidized to oxides that are of low solubility and that’s the reason why it creates significant discoloration and turbidity that are concerned for health among the two, iron is frequently found in water supplies. Manganese is often found in water that contains iron.

4. Perchlorate

Perchlorate is a man-made chemical primarily used in the production of rocket fuel, missiles, fireworks, flares, and explosives. It has been found in drinking water and surface waters in the United States (at least 26 states) and Canada. Although it is a strong oxidant, perchlorate is very persistent in the environment. At high concentrations perchlorate can interfere the thyroid hormone production.

5. Bisphenol A

Bisphenol a (BPA) is an important chemical building block and additive in a wide variety of plastics. It is manufactured worldwide for approximately 3.2 million metric tons/year. This can be found in some plastic water bottles and the dangerous part is that it can leach into food and drinks. According to National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, it may acquire health risks, especially to infants and children. One good thing: there are quite a number of BPA-free bottles that are available now. However, you must have to be extra careful still; for the reason that some BPA-free plastics may still leach unwanted chemicals into your water when exposed to sunlight or microwaves or dishwashers, NPR reported.

6. Arsenic

Throughout the 19th century, lurid tales of dresses dyed with the arsenic-infused Paris and Scheele’s Green poisoning people filled magazines and newspapers.

Arsenic is a natural element that is also tasteless and odorless that you wouldn’t be able to distinguish that it’s in your water. It is found widely in the earth’s crust and may be found in some drinking water supplies, including wells. Research shows that exposure to high levels of arsenic can cause health effects, the worst is human cancer.

7. Pathogens

Bacteria are a natural part of life; in fact, there are many forms and functions of bacteria we couldn’t live without. Let’s say Coliform bacteria may not cause disease but can be indicators of pathogenic organisms that cause serious diseases. It can cause intestinal infections, dysentery, hepatitis, typhoid fever, cholera, and other illnesses. Luckily, these pathogens are much better controlled today than they once were. We just have to be practical on having our water tested but definitely the best strategy to get rid of these pathogens.

8. Agricultural chemicals

Agriculture is one big part of the community that is heavily dependent on fertilizers and pesticides that boost crop production. The major contaminant is nitrate and found in fertilizers and in animal waste, is another major pollutant associated with agricultural use. These contaminants can seriously develop in a high concentration in our water resources that can cause health risks. One good example is methemoglobinemia, or blue-baby syndrome, in bottle-fed infants under 3 months of age.

9. Chlorine

Chlorine have had been good in doing as a disinfecting treatment in killing off most microorganisms in the water. As a matter of fact, it is a powerful oxidant added to the water by several municipal water systems to control these microbes.  While learning that the United States has one of the safest water supplies in the world because of this disinfecting agent, it is also appropriate to check it for once in a while. It can be absorbed through physical consumption as well as through your skin while bathing and can severely dry skin and hair and cause irritating effects to your eyes and nose.

10. Mercury

This silvery heavy metal can be found in various natural deposits. Mercury can flow into water supplies from improperly discarded devices containing it, as runoff from landfills & farm land, dumped by factories, or from natural deposits. With this being said, this extremely toxic liquid metal must be precaution in handling or disposing of it. Being exposed to high levels of mercury over time can cause kidney damage.Water can be purified of many contaminants if treatment facilities are available, but supplies must be monitored so that contaminants can be properly identified in the first place.
The safest way to ensure that these toxins do not make it into your body is to have your water tested to determine which contaminants your tap water may contain. Once you have identified the contaminants present, you can select a water filtration solution that is best for you.

The most common substance in this world is water and therefore it is essential that we could say by default it is greatly important! We have learned that only 1%

Water is life. As a prepper, as an outdoors person, and even as a human, this fact has been drilled into our heads over and over. It’s a cornerstone of the “Rule of Threes.” Three days without water and the human body starts to suffer the consequences. Water has a big place in our preparations, and it rightly should.

Water is important not only for drinking, but for cooking, for washing, and especially for hygiene. (And harvesting rainwater is a great way to have it be readily available!) My beautiful wife loves to go camping and has lived out of a backpack for weeks at a time, but the elimination of bodily wastes in the woods is not a favorite activity for her. Or for anybody, I think!

One of the most cost-effective ways to store larger amounts of water is in food-grade barrels. The barrels are strong, compact, and are relatively inexpensive. Aside from their weight when full, the other drawback to storing water in barrels is the inconvenience of getting the water back out of them.

But what if there was a way to use your emergency water storage barrels to run your household in a nearly normal fashion during a grid down event?

Would it make you happy to use your indoor plumbing as usual, without going outdoors to some out-of-the-way spot to defecate or urinate? What if you could do dishes in the sink, almost like normal? Get a glass of drinking water from the kitchen tap? I have developed a system for my home that allows me to do just that.

My inspiration for this emergency water storage system came from a power outage, timed coincidentally with a day when the entirety of my in-laws had descended upon our home. A squirrel had met its end at an electrical substation, causing power outages in the local village, extending into the rural area where we live. Although I owned a small generator at the time, it was nowhere near large enough to run the well pump.

I had water stored in several 55-gallon barrels, and initially thought I had finally found a chance to prove my foresighted genius for my wife and her family. I took a 5-gallon camping water jug (you know, the kind with the spigot?) down to my water barrels, anticipating finally having a payoff for my hard work in preparation for a day like this. I assembled the plastic water hand pump (purchased in 1998 for Y2K), and that’s when my troubles began.

The pump had threads that were different than the threads on my barrel. It wouldn’t screw in, and thus, I had to hold the pump in one hand and pump with the other, while my third handheld the jug to….uh oh: I needed more hands! After I recruited my brother-in-law to hold the jug, I found out the suction hose on the pump was also missing a part, too. The hand pump was out of order. Shaker siphon? Dang. I last saw that on my camping trip a few months ago. In the end, I used a new-in-box drill pump and a battery operated drill. It was an OK ending to the water problem, but not ideal.

What finally evolved from that occurrence and some experimentation is an emergency water storage system that I am pretty happy with. In fact, one problem may be that it is too convenient, not discouraging water use.

emergency water storage

The system is simple and – aside from the battery and pump – inexpensive.

Currently, my indoor emergency water storage consists of two 55 gallon barrels. I have a small 3 gallon per minute RV water pump attached to a couple of valved pickup tubes, and leading to a spigot that I installed in the water line coming into the house from the well pump. The RV water pump is powered by a small 35AH gel cell connected to a float charger, so the battery is always topped off. It can also be recharged by the 50W solar panel and small charge controller I already have.

In the photo, you will notice that there are two spigots, with a valve between them. This was so I could completely isolate the well and pressure tank from the house plumbing: If the foot valve on the well pump went out, and I tried to pump water into the house plumbing, water from my barrels would be pumped back down my well. That’s no good! The valve, hose, and fitting between the pickup tubes in the photo is the inlet where I fill the barrels.

emergency water storage

The clear hose (far right) connected to the upper spigot. Note the isolation valve between the two spigots.

Hooking up the water tanks to the spigot is a snap. I have placed valves in line to allow me to draw from one or the other, or both barrels. With a flick of a switch, the pump is activated. Since it is an RV pump, it has its own pressure sensor, which activates the pump when a faucet is opened. When someone flushes the toilet, the pump kicks on and refills the toilet tank. When someone opens the kitchen tap to wash hands, prepare food, or get a drink, the pump kicks on and delivers the water.

This system also routes the water through our whole-house water filter. also At 3 gallons per minute, it is very nearly the same as having our normal well pump working. The flow is noticeably less, but not by a huge amount. Just for fun, I took a shower with the backup system, and it was very acceptable. My water heater does not use electrical power to heat water, so it was even a hot shower! See what I mean about the system being too convenient? It does not really encourage water conservation.

emergency water storage

The simple PVC pickup tubes. The transparent tube in the center is for filling the barrels.

During one of the “Grid Down Weekend” exercises that our family performs, with no attempt at water conservation, we easily went through more than 60 gallons of water per day. We have a larger, 220V generator now, able to run the well pump. During the Grid Down Weekend, I ran the generator for about two hours a day. We let the refrigerator and freezer run, charged batteries, and ran the well pump for laundry, took showers and refilled the water storage barrels. This actually worked pretty well, letting us use water as “normal” without running the generator. If we were unable to run the generator for some reason, we would definitely want to implement methods to reduce the water usage.

emergency water storage

This 50-watt panel recharges the battery in just a few hours

Materials and cost breakdown for my project:

RV pump: eBay, used, $40 shipped
Clear food-safe tubing: 6 feet @ $1.50/foot
Garden hose “repair end,” female: $3.50
Misc. 1/2″ PVC fittings, valves, tubing: $15
Hose Clamps, stainless steel:  3 @ $1.24/piece
Battery: Used, free. New they are about $55
Float Charger: $20, Amazon
Wire, terminals, switch, etc.: $10

The drawbacks to this emergency water storage system are fairly minimal. As I pointed out, you have to keep an eye on your water use. You also have to make sure that your hose ends are kept clean. You have to make sure your stored water is clean. You may find yourself “stealing” that battery for other needs. Other than those limitations, I think it’s a great system that makes living without grid power a bit easier.

Oh, I did finally get the hand pump repaired and figured out. You know, just in case.

 

Other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

Healthy Soil + Healthy Plants = Healthy You

The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us

Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation

Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns

Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need

4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis

Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps

Water is life. As a prepper, as an outdoors person, and even as a human, this fact has been drilled into our heads over and over. It’s a cornerstone of

When pounded into a tree, a stream of fresh water flows from the tube. The technique used in the movie would only work in early spring or late winter, when the watery sap runs high in the trees. The taps that are placed in maple trees are placed into drilled holes and the resultant fluid is sap, not water.

Sycamore trees (Platanus occidentalis), birches (the genus Betula), and hickories (the genus Carya) can also be tapped for drinking water that can be boiled for syrup. Black birch sap is particularly delicious.

What happens if you find yourself lost in the woods with no potable water?

The clock starts ticking, that’s what. You can only live three days without water, after that you’re buzzard food. Tick. Tock.

Related – Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need

Finding emergency drinking water should be your top priority in that situation, but sometimes you’re not lucky enough to have any groundwater nearby. So, what then?

One primitive survival tactic that you can implement quickly using only the most basic of survival tools is harvesting emergency drinking water from the very trees all around you.

The best part is you don’t have to filter or boil this water, the tree does all the cleaning for you. And this isn’t just regular water either, it contains all the good stuff the tree is using to feed itself – minor nutrients, minerals, vitamins, and sugars.

Related – This book will teach you everything from the soil up

This is a pretty nice video from Rob at Sigma 3 Survival school that illustrates how to fairly easily get water from a tree. This could come in handy in a survival situation but according to the narrator is only effective 2 times a year (early spring and late winter) and works better with certain trees.

Rob also demonstrates how to use a root from the tree to support your canteen while the water flows into it.

WARNING

If your tree is leaking water from the trunk,, there is a good chance your tree has bacterial disease called wetwood, also known as slime flux. This disease enters and seeps out of the trees in a liquid form that looks like water. It’s not usually a little liquid either.

Affected trees may leak copious amounts of liquid out of their trunks or branches, discoloring the bark and dripping onto the surrounding ground. Bacterial wetwood occurs as after bacteria infect the wood of a tree. Bacteria can enter the wood through any wound in a trunk, limb or root.


Here’s some other self-sufficiency and preparedness solutions recommended for you:

The Lost Ways (The vital self-sufficiency lessons our great grand-fathers left us)

Survival MD (Knowledge to survive any medical crisis situation)

Backyard Liberty (Liberal’s hidden agenda: more than just your guns…)

Alive After the Fall (Build yourself the only unlimited water source you’ll ever need)

The Lost ways II (4 Important Forgotten Skills used by our Ancestors that can help you in any crisis)

The Patriot Privacy Kit (Secure your privacy in just 10 simple steps)

The technique used in the movie would only work in early spring or late winter, when the watery sap runs high in the trees.

I can’t remember the first time I heard the word “prepping.” Probably back during those school camping trips when our PE teacher tried to show us how the Native Americans used to whip up a fire, long before matches and lighters were ever invented. Of course, what child was taken far away from home with his friends would have the energy or the attention span of listening to a man rubbing two sticks together?

That’s one of the things I tried showing to my students – if someone shows you a trick, even a small one like I don’t know, turning a poncho into a rainwater collector, pay attention and learn. You’ll never know when that stuff will come in handy.

Anyway, on to the topic du jour – what is prepping and when should we start, well, doing it, I suppose? This isn’t Merriam-Webster, nor the “P” volume of Encyclopedia Britannica. Don’t know any fancy definitions and never needed one, for that matter. For me, prepping is like knowing you will receive a slap for somebody and doing things in order to prevent it to the best of your powers. Something like that, I suppose.

Come to the prepping side! We have MREs

We don’t prep because we’re members of the tinfoil brigade or strongly believe that the world’s coming to an end and survival of the strongest and all that BS. We do it because it makes sense. I remember reading in a magazine (yes, I’m that old!) that prepping is like having your own crystal ball and being able to see into possible futures.

Leaving the mystical mumbo-jumbo aside, this sentence does raise a very good point – being able to predict something and act in accordance. For instance, if your car’s bulbs would burn out while you’re on the road, the most sensible thing to do would be to go to the nearest auto shop and get them replaced.

However, a good prepper would have the hindsight of carrying a box of extra in his glove box or vehicular emergency kit. A seasoned one would, however, get his car a good going-over before hitting the road, in addition to making sure that he has everything he needs to deal with this sort of emergencies.

This is just one example. There are countless more out there, and neither one spells out crazy or paranoia. Do you consider yourself “having bats in your belfry” just because you have a stockpile of canned food around the house or an extra pack of bottled water? No, you’re not, my friend. It’s, in fact, the other way around – it would be foolish not to have those around the house. All it takes is something as ‘harmless’ as a blackout to realize just how much you would have needed those stuff.

I tend to get this question a lot: when do you start prepping? Well, let me put it to you this way. This is not the sort of thing you only do when it’s convenient or fits into your agenda. You just start doing it and never stop. Still, anything has to start somewhere, and a good starting step would be the news. Have you tried reading them lately? One thing you’ll realize is that no matter where you live, there’s always something happening – a blackout, earthquakes, tsunamis, snow blizzards, rioting, active shooter.

The world’s littered with danger, and you can’t always rely on the authorities to keep you safe. Remember the Christchurch mosque shooting, the event that ended with the death of over 50 people? Well, as it happens, New Zealand was and is still considered one of the safest countries in the world, even though it has the same gun regulations as the United States.

The last event of this magnitude occurred in the early 50s, and even then, the country was still considered a safe one. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that you live in this glass menagerie, where everything is pink, fluffy, and happy. Shit happens, and when it does, it brings along all its friends.

Congrats! You have just taken the first step of your prepping journey. It’s called risk assessment and, in my opinion, the most important aspect. Knowing the name of the demon gives you power over it, the guy from The Exorcist used to say. The same goes for natural and man-made disasters.

The next steps are fairly easy, and all of them have, more or less, to do with your little incursion in the realm of danger. As a future master prepper, you will have to focus on the following areas: food, water, shelter, and security. Let’s take this one step at a time.

Water

Fact: the human body needs water for, well, everything. You need water to digest the food, and your brain needs water to keep the lights on. Remember the rule of threes? You may go for three weeks without food, but no more than three days without water. That’s how important water is. And no, chugging energy drinks, soft beverages, coffee or booze does not replenish your body’s water supply. In any survival-type situation, find a source of water is crucial.

More than that, you will need to know how to make water drinkable and maybe palatable. For instance, in heavily wooded areas, there are plenty of ways to get water: springs, tree holes, puddles, rivers. Some of that water’s safe to drink, but, in most cases, you will need some sort of filtration like water purification tablets. Even tap water can sometimes become unsafe to drink, especially in the aftermath of a disaster. Water purification is an essential skill, one that you will need to master.

Food

Food for the belly, food for thought, and food for the soul. No matter your choice, you should also have a well-stocked pantry at home. This includes emergency rations such as canned or easy-to-prepare food, MREs, and cured meats. If you get lost, you may need to replenish your food stocks by hunting small game or fishing. Apart from that, knowing with that do with it is as vital as getting it. Venison can be easily turned into beef jerky with salt, wind, and a little sun. The same goes for fish or plants like seaweed. No matter where you are, you must always remember to have a 72-hour food supply.

Shelter

Shelter comes in all shapes and sizes – makeshift ones like those constructed from scavenged materials or retrofitted rooms as in those used to hunker in during a natural disaster. Remember that a shelter’s role is to protect you against the elements and any threats that may be in your area. Anything can be a shelter as long as it protects your body and keeps you warm.

Security

I kid you not when I say that entire books have been written on the topic of defense and security. To make a long story short, security refers to two things: how you keep your property safe and defend yourself in case of an attack. Security bars, alarms, motion-triggered sensors, VoIP cameras are all great security measures for your house. As for yourself, try to squeeze some self-defense classes into your schedule or learn how to take down opponents using non-lethal weapons such as tasers, pepper sprays or security batons. The choice is entirely up to you.

If prepping was as art, which it is, then it would definitely be the art of teaching yourself how to listen to your instincts. In some cases, it may be the defense you have. Logic may be great, but nothing beats a tad of hindsight.

If someone shows you a trick, even a small one like I don’t know, turning a poncho into a rainwater collector, pay attention and learn. You’ll never know when that

In Part 1, we discussed the conundrum of water; how it was necessary, but safe water is not always available.  We listed what could contaminate water, and mentioned the six practical ways to fix this.  Then we investigated the first two of these methods.  Here is the investigation into the other four methods.

Boiling

Boiling is a very simple concept; bring water to a boil for a few minutes and anything biological is killed.  This process does not do anything for any particulates, salt or chemicals, and requires a source of heat to get and keep the water at 212 degrees F (at sea level; the temperature goes down as the altitude goes up).  A useful item to always have in your water bottle or canteen pouch is a stainless steel cup into which the bottle nests.  Not only can you boil water to kill organisms, but can melt ice or snow to get the water, and cook in it.

Bring water to a boil for a few minutes and anything biological is killed.

Chemical Treatment

As an alternate to boiling contaminated water to kill the organics, you can poison them.  Fortunately, they are more sensitive that we are, and the amount of poison needed for them is not enough to bother us.  It can taste bad, though.  The common choices are Chlorine or Iodine based.  Chlorine can be cheap (think standard bleach), but is unstable (has a short life span), leaves a bad taste, and the residue left behind is suspected of causing some cancers.  Iodine deteriorates on exposure to sunlight.  It also leaves a bad taste and is dangerous for people with some thyroid conditions.  The iodine taste can be alleviated with Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) after it has completed its work.  Although you can use the liquid forms of these chemicals directly, they are subject to deterioration and the potential to leak all over everything, and need care to avoid overdosing.  A tablet purification system is more practical.  The “best” treatment seems to be Katadyn MicroPur tablets, which uses Chorine Dioxide.  This formulation increases the effectiveness and durability, and keeps the chlorine taste to a minimum.  Aquamira is generally considered the number two tablet, also Chlorine Dioxide based, and the number three rated tablet is often considered to be Potable Aqua, which is iodine based (they now also have a Chlorine Dioxide product which has not been evaluated yet).

Cryptosporidium cysts have a high resistance to poisoning; Chlorine Dioxide will do it, but it can take as long as four hours.  Iodine is not reliable against Cryptosporidium.

For something completely different from tablets or liquid, there is the Potable Aqua PURE device.  Solar powered, it takes a salt and water brine mixture and produces a Chlorine and Peroxide purification liquid.

Distillation

Each chemical has a temperature at which it transforms to its gaseous form (boiling point); this temperature varies inversely with the surrounding pressure.  For water, of course, this is 212 degrees Fahrenheit at sea level (1 Atmosphere of pressure).  If you capture the gaseous form of water and cool it, it turns back to liquid water.  This process is called “distillation” and the apparatus is often called a “distiller” or “still”.  If the liquid (contaminated water) is a mixture of compounds, then some of the chemicals may “boil” (transform to gas) at lower temperatures than water (alcohol is one such chemical), and some at higher temperatures.  Thus, in order for this to be effective at purifying water, you must NOT capture, or contaminate your cooling apparatus with, any vapors prior to the water boiling AND keep the temperature below the boiling point of water until all (or at least most) of the low boiling point contaminants are gone.

And this can take a while, since some of these chemicals (like alcohol) REALLY like being mixed with water.  And you have to remove the cooling apparatus before the water has all boiled away AND keep the temperature from rising above the boiling point of water so no other contaminant is boiled off.  Theoretically, with care, you could get perfectly pure water using this methodology.  In practice, that is often not the case, but the results can be adequate.  Most often, this apparatus consists of  a tank which can be filled with contaminated water, situated over a fire or other heat source, and a way to capture only the steam from water and run it through tubing, which uses open air or a liquid bath to cool and “condense” the steam back into water.

If you capture the gaseous form of water and cool it, it turns back to liquid water.

Many of the commercially available distillers are “one piece”, so should not be relied on if there is much chance of low boiling point contaminants.  Most of the rest seem to be “screwed together”, so it might not be practical to keep the collection and condensing parts free of low boiling point contaminants.  The WaterWise WW1600 seems like it might allow you to just add-on the collection part when the water is boiling, but it looks freaky, the reviews are not very good and the price is too high for me.  There is another option, the Prime Water distiller, which appears to allow placing the collector/condenser after the water is boiling (make sure you have a way to avoid getting burned by the steam), and it is quite low-priced.  They appear to be low producing though; the models they list are specified as only putting out two or four quarts of distilled water PER DAY, and I’m not sure how easy it would be to avoid re-contaminating the output, since it is a bowl which floats in the contaminated liquid.  Then there is the Gravi-Stil from SHTFandGo, which can be set up either as a distiller or a filter, and the non-auto-fill version looks like it could be made to do the job.  Or if you already have or can get two large pots, they have the D-Stil light which looks like it would be fairly easy to use in our desired manner, and the price is not too bad.

Distillation takes a lot of fuel, and does waste some water; some might escape as vapor and as the remaining contaminants in the liquid increase, production of water will decrease, eventually resulting in having to discard it.  You might lose as much as four gallons of water for each one gallon purified, but with good temperature control and care, should be able to get the losses down significantly.

This works, but often you spend more water (as sweat) building the still than you get back from the still.

There is also the concept of the “solar still” which uses solar energy to cause evaporation (the other way a liquid can be transformed into a gas) which is then condensed back to pure water.  This can be a hole in the ground covered with an appropriate plastic film.  This works, but often you spend more water (as sweat) building the still than you get back from the still.  Nowadays, there are “one piece” solar stills.  These are essentially “balls” or “bags” which enclose contaminated water, and uses the sun to evaporate the water and condense it back into a clean container or area.  Note that you don’t want to use this system with any water with contaminants which “boils” at a temperature less than water, such as from a car radiator.  An example of this is the Aqua Mate solar still similar to those included in lifeboat survival kits to purify sea water.  A variation on this is a “transpiration” still, which captures the water given off by a living plant during photosynthesis.  Since the plant draws water from the ground, this can produce small amounts of water continuously.  If a living plant is not available, this methodology will also work on plant clippings which contain moisture, but only as long as moisture remains.  The Hydro Kit from Survival Metrics is an example of this.

UV/Solar

Ultraviolet (UV) radiation is effective against organisms, and highly portable units such as the SteriPen are available.  I don’t trust them because they require batteries or other sources of power which may or may not be available, they are electronics which are subject to failure or an EMP, and if there are any particulates in the water, it is possible some organisms will be “shaded” from the UV and survive to wreak havoc.

The SODIS method is very easy to apply: A transparent PET bottle is cleaned with soap. Then, the bottle is filled with water and placed in full sunlight for at least 6 hours. The water has then been disinfected and can be drunk.

Solar disinfection (often called SODIS) adds heat and sometimes other techniques to UV, only needs sunshine and would seem to be a more reliable methodology, although it takes a lot longer.  It is sometimes done with special containers, but can be approximated with standard PET/PETE (clear plastic, recyclable mark “1”, somewhat flexible) bottles with all labels removed.  PVC bottles should be avoided, as chemicals from the container can be added to the water.  Clear glass bottles will work as well.  An interesting option is the Puralytics SolarBag, which not only is an effective SODIS container, but contains a mesh which is designed to treat organic contaminants and heavy metals.

Choosing a Water Treatment Methodology

Unfortunately, there is not really a universal solution.  You need to evaluate what is likely to be in the water and go from there.  Here is a summary of the common methods and what they can usually handle:

  Filter Purifier Reverse Osmosis Boiling Chemical Treatment UV SODIS Distillation Activated Carbon
Particulate YES YES YES NO NO NO NO YES MAYBE
Bacteria YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES NO
Cryptosporidium YES YES YES YES MAYBE YES YES YES NO
Virus NO YES YES YES YES YES YES YES NO
Salt NO NO YES NO NO NO NO YES NO
Chlorine NO NO YES NO NO NO NO YES YES
Heavy Metal NO NO YES NO NO NO MAYBE YES SOME
Volatile Organic Compound NO NO YES NO NO NO MAYBE YES YES
Inorganic Chemical NO NO YES NO NO NO NO YES MAYBE
(Taste) NO NO MAYBE NO WORSE NO MAYBE MAYBE YES

As you can see, for a fixed location with a regular water supply, a distillation or RO system can be a good choice, or if fuel will be a problem or water is limited, a large Purifier with an Activated Carbon stage.  For portable use, a small purifier with an activated charcoal stage would seem the best bet, but this could be a bit hard to find at a reasonable price, with the possible exception of the water bottle based Sport Berkey.  As an alternative, multiple methods might serve.  Boiling, Chlorine Dioxide tablets, UV or SODIS, followed by a filter with an activated charcoal stage would seem to cover everything practical.  Alternatively, a filter followed by an enhanced SODIS like the SolarBag would seem to be about the same.  For salt water, distillation or RO seem the only practical options.

Finally, don’t get a water treatment methodology and assume you are good.  Some of these things have been known to break or fail or get used up; water is not only a requirement for life, but an immediate requirement.  Always have backups; either duplicates or alternate methods.  For instance, have distillation or RO AND a Big Berkey or equivalent at a fixed location, and coffee filters, a metal cup and MicroPur tablets, a portable purifier with Activated Carbon or Sport Berkey, and possibly a SolarBag or Hydro Kit in a bug out bag or other mobile methodology.  It is a good idea to test your systems where practical.  For instance, I ran my tap water through a Sport Berkey, and there was no change to the TDS reading, although I expected at least the Chloramines to be removed.  I talked with a dealer, but she has not responded yet, so I guess I’ll have to go to the company.

Note that in addition to being able to purify your water, you should have ways to collect it for purification, and store or transport it after purification.  If you are going to be using chemical treatment, make sure your container is appropriately sized for the chemical used.  I like 1L water bottles since my chemical tablets are designed for that volume, but they are a bit hard to find, and don’t fit into some of the carriers.  Stainless steel is my favorite, but there is nothing wrong with some plastic bottles as long as you have that stainless cup it nestles into.  In small kits, I use 1L sample bags.  Whenever possible, I like to also have a hydration bladder; it might not be optimal for purification, but it is hard to beat for transport and continual hydration.  A length of surgical tubing can help you get access to water you might not otherwise be able to get to, and has other uses as well.  A clean cloth or “Survival Sponge” can help you collect water from dew or condensation.

In Part 1, we discussed the conundrum of water; how it was necessary, but safe water is not always available.  We listed what could contaminate water, and mentioned the six

Water is a critical component of life.  Go without any for three days, and your chances of being dead are very high.  We are used to water being available at every tap, water fountain and purveyor of beverages.  The only problem is, this continuous availability of water depends on a lot of infrastructure, and if some or all of that collapses, water is going to “dry up” quickly.  And if you head out into the wilderness, taps, fountains and retail sellers are few and far between.  You should always be keeping an eye out to make sure you have “enough” water and/or a way to get water.

Different Types of Water

Water is water, but not all water is the same.  There is pure water, just combinations of two Hydrogen atoms and one Oxygen atom (H2O).  Generally the closest you can get to this is distilled water.  This is useful and fairly harmless, although it is hypotonic (has a lower solute concentration than do human cells) and can cause hemolysis (rupturing of red blood cells); this is usually not a major concern even if this is all that is available to drink.  Using it on wounds may delay healing a bit; and it might be a problem for people with ulcers (bleeding in the stomach).  But this is still way better than no water.  On the other end of the scale are various degrees of contaminated water, polluted with chemicals and/or biological organisms, which can make you very sick and even kill you.  Salt water can be considered in this latter class as well, even if there is nothing else in it besides the salt.  In between are various types of water, all of which are potable (suitable for drinking without major harmful effects).

Determining what water is potable and what is not can be quite a challenge.  If it is in a sealed container and properly labeled, then it MIGHT be OK.  Labels have been known to be inaccurate (accidentally and even deliberately).  If it comes from a municipal tap, then it MIGHT be OK.  Just ask the people of Flint, Michigan about that.  If it is from a known well, it MIGHT be OK.  My dad’s well was found to contain arsenic.  And if the water is from an open source, such as a stream or pond, there is a chance it might be OK, but the odds are very high that it is contaminated.

Market failure.

Even if some water does not have anything seriously harmful in it, there might be particulates (sand, silt, plant or insect parts and the like) which would make the water unpleasant and/or things which might be only relatively harmless.

During “normal” times, pre-packaged or professionally provided water is usually tolerable, but if the water infrastructure breaks down for any reason, all water is not to be trusted as is.  Open water should always be viewed with suspicion regardless of the state of the surroundings.

Contaminants in Water

There is a tremendous variety of contaminants.  Some are “natural”, such a minerals in water drawn from a well, or silt from the bed of a river.  Some are man-made, and leaked into surface water accidentally or even deliberately; some eventually work their way into the water table.  Some are added accidentally or even deliberately by water distribution networks or packaging.  For convenience, let us group contaminates into particulates, organisms, organic chemicals (contain carbon), inorganic chemicals and salt (a special case of inorganic chemical).

Determining some specific contaminates can be done with a “pocket-sized” kit, but many require chemical tests which may be a challenge for people without lab access.  But you can get a compact “TDS” meter cheap which will tell you the “Total Dissolved Solids” in your water.  As an example, fish tank water gave a reading of 448, tap water read 229, and reverse osmosis water read 17.  We don’t know WHAT contaminants are there, but we have an idea of HOW MUCH.  Some of these meters also measure “EC” (Electrical Conductivity); pure water is an insulator and it is the ions added to it which makes it conductive, so TDS and EC are closely related.

 

This weird device will do just that – SAVE YOUR LIFE in a crisis.

Because requires no electricity, it is ideal for home use, on or off-grid.

Purifying Water

There are six common, practical philosophies of treating contaminated or suspected water.  Each has its strengths and weaknesses.

  1. Chemical reaction changes harmful chemicals (usually inorganic) to harmless ones (such as ion exchange), or adsorb (attract to the surface and “grab onto”) some chemicals (usually organic).
  2. Filtration removes particulates and bigger organisms; most filters allow some organisms (particularly viruses) and all chemicals through.  Salt water cannot be purified by filtration and can damage the filter.
  3. Boiling kills all organisms; it is useless against particulates, salt and chemicals
  4. Chemical treatment has pretty much the same effect as boiling, without the cost in fuel, but often adding an unpleasant taste (you are adding chemicals).
  5. Distillation is an extension to boiling which, if done correctly, should be able to deal with biological, particulate and most chemical contamination, as well as salt.
  6. UV radiation kills organisms exposed to it as long as the water is pretty clear; it is useless against particulates, salt and chemicals

There may be other methodologies which I am not familiar with, particularly large-scale, but these six would seem to be those of most interest for survival purposes.

Since no method is perfect, often two or more methods are used together.

Chemical Reaction

The most common form of this is “activated charcoal”.  This is carbon (charcoal) media which has been treated with Oxygen to create a myriad of tiny pores between the atoms, resulting in a massive surface area of potential chemical bonds.  The carbon attracts some chemicals, particularly organic ones, and they bond to the surface (adsorption).  These usually cannot be cleaned, so clog up and must be replaced fairly quickly.  Also, if the carbon media is granular, some dust sneaks out, requiring a pre-flush of the filter before normal use.  Because the intention is for the contaminants to bond with the carbon, we want the contaminants to be in contact with the carbon for a “long time”.  Thus, the better ones of these have a slow production rate, and arguably the “best” of these uses “carbon block” technology where the media is fused together into a mildly porous solid.

You have probably heard of one common Ion Exchange device, the ubiquitous water softener.  It exchanges two sodium (salt) ions for each calcium or magnesium ion.  This is for non-drinking reasons, because calcium and magnesium are often better for you than salt, and tastes better too.  For water purification, the process has two different beads which exchange inorganic ions to produce Hydrogen ions and Hydroxyl (OH) ions, which combine to form H2O (pure water) to replace the chemicals.  Of course, the ions are used up rapidly, they are for a specific list of chemicals, and the beads need to be regenerated.  And of course, this method has no effect on organisms or particulates.  These are fairly rare; an example would be the MB series filters from CustomPure.com which also include carbon filtration for some of the things Ion Exchange won’t handle. They claim it can remove “sodium” which is salt, but I doubt it would be able to handle the amount of salt in salt water.

Water Filtration

Filtration is very simple in concept.  You pass the contaminated water through a medium with holes smaller than what you want to take out.   As such, a key specification for any filter is what size the “holes” are.  This is usually specified in “microns”, or “micrometers”.  That is, one millionth of a meter.  Some claim this measurement (micron) is obsolete, but it still seems to be the measurement of choice for filters.  Some recent purifiers specify their size in “nanometers”, where 1 nanometer is .001 micron.  Keeping with the “metric” measurements, filter capacity (how much water can be processed before replacement) is often specified in Liters (L); for a rough estimate, a Liter is approximately the same volume as a quart, so four Liters is approximately a gallon.

When comparing filters, the one with the smaller holes would seem to be the better choice.  The problem is that some companies have varying sizes of holes, and claim the size of the smallest hole in their filter rather than the biggest.  Since it is easier for the water to get through a bigger hole and much of it does, this can be a seriously misleading rating.  In your final analysis, try to find out the actual percentage of contaminants removed.  This is the most accurate way of determining filter effectiveness.  Another term which can sometimes be used in a misleading manner is water “purifier”.  The correct use of this term is for a unit which removes the much smaller viruses.  Units which remove particulates and organisms as small as bacteria are simply to be called “filters”.

Some filters become “plugged up” quickly and are rated for a specified number of gallons (or liters), while others can be cleaned and restored to service or even are self-cleaning.  Reverse osmosis (RO) is a prime example of purification and self-cleaning.  It forces the water through a semi-permeable membrane and continuously washes any contaminates off of the source side of the membrane.  This is a very effective system (see the TDS meter example above), but requires the water to be pressurized, and worse, the wash water now has an even higher level of contamination than it had at the beginning.  In many systems, you “throw away” as much as four gallons of water for each gallon purified.  I’ve heard of one household system where the wash water is fed into the hot water line rather than the drain, but I’m not seeing how the pressure in that line is overcome.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter – $20

Other filters run the gamut from several layers of cloth or a coffee filter, suitable only for large particulates, to 0.01 micron (or less) water purifiers; from pocket-sized to counter-top and bigger.  Since the smaller the holes, the slower the filtration and the more likely it is to clog up, often filter systems have multiple filters, starting with a pre-filter for “chunks”, course filters for large particulates, possibly some medium-sized filters and ending up with the finest filter.  Smaller holes require more “energy” to force the water through the holes; this can be from gravity, or more effectively, a pump or suction.

In filters (i.e., won’t remove viruses), perhaps the most compact and simplest to use is the “Lifestraw“.  This is rated at 0.2 micron, with a 264 gallon capacity.  It is light, easy to carry and reasonably priced.  To use it, stick the input end into contaminated water and suck the water from the other end just like from a straw.  It takes a few seconds of sucking to start delivering water.  There also seems to be a Lifestraw Steel model, which adds a metal body and an activated carbon filter to remove some chemicals.  This latter part is replaceable, which is good because its capacity is 26 gallons, only a tenth of the main filter capability.  Another popular compact option is the Sawyer Mini system.  This is rated at 0.1 micron, and can be cleaned to provide up to 100,000 gallons of filtered water.  It can be pressurized by squeezing a pouch of contaminated water, or used inline with a hydration pack, from a standard soda bottle, or used as a straw from an open source.

As for portable purification, an example is the pump powered MSR Guardian, rated at .02 microns and with about a 2500 gallon capacity.  Another, bigger option is the Lifestraw Family, rated at .02 microns and with a 2600 gallon capacity.  I found a particularly compact suction powered (straw) system which sounds promising; the Etekcity 1500L rated at .01 microns with a 396 gallon capacity, but don’t know anything about the company.  They have a wide range of products, so it’s not like they specialize in water purification.

 

This weird device will do just that – SAVE YOUR LIFE in a crisis.

Because requires no electricity, it is ideal for home use, on or off-grid.

 

A countertop system is an option at a fixed location.  An example of this is the gravity powered Big Berkey (actually, the whole Berkey family).  This company doesn’t provide a micron rating since it can be misleading as mentioned above; they stand on their contamination removal percentages.  Their filter cartridges have a capacity of 3000 gallons per filter element, with two to four elements installed in the system.  More elements don’t filter any better, just faster.  Not only is it very effective against virus (and bigger things), but many chemicals as well.  And you can get an add on filter for each element which takes out Fluoride, Arsenic and a couple of other additional chemicals, with a capacity of 500 gallons per add-on filter.

Tune in for Part 2, which investigates the other four purification methods.

Water is a critical component of life.  Go without any for three days, and your chances of being dead are very high.  We are used to water being available at

Throughout history, settlements form near water. The largest and most successful settle with plentiful water. There are a number of reasons for that. One, water really is life. We require water for drinking. We also use it for cleaning and laundry. As the human species advanced, we needed additional water for livestock. Then we became stationary, mastered various forms of irrigation, and bred our crops to become more and more dependent on water. Doing so allowed us to reap larger yields of sweeter and more mild crops, but it also tied us inexorably to water systems.

Historically we were further tied to water systems for faster and easier travel and trade, and we eventually turned to it for some of our labor. First with direct-labor systems such as grinding mills, then for the generation of power that could be sent across distances, water made life easier as well as sustaining it.

We are no less tied to water now than the caveman, Viking or European colonist. We just don’t always notice. And because most of North America enjoys easy, low-cost water, we aren’t great about conserving it.

Test Your Water Use

Want to see just how influential water is, and how much we use? Easy enough. Turn off the water at the main for a day. Remember to also tape or turn off faucets so you don’t empty any hot water heaters and end up with problems.

If you’re on a well, use your backup pump system. If you don’t have a backup system, one immune to fire and earthquake and the prepper-minded EMPs, you don’t actually have a water system. Turn it off.

Do it on a standard day. A day you’re not off backpacking, not working on your three-day bare-minimum drill doing a dry camp in the living room or backyard. Really ideally, do it in summer or autumn on the day(s) you’d be watering if you irrigate gardens, and on a day you’re hunting or harvesting some doves, chickens and rabbits.

For less-immersive comparison, just monitor the water gauge. For livestock on a non-metered system, fill containers that can have checks and tally lines added quickly.

Don’t let yourself become complacent or say, “well, that’s just because” to justify the amount of water used. Yes, our grooming standards can go down and change, and we can adopt some laundry methods and clothing treatment from the past that limit our uses more. Eventually, though, hygiene suffers.

If water’s out, something else is regularly going on, from “small” family-sized crises to storms and other disasters that affect the area and region. Roads and doctors may not be available if someone does become ill.

If anything, a crisis is a time to focus more on proper hygiene.

Handwashing, especially, can make a major impact on fecal-oral route infections, which tend to be the root of most of the illnesses laymen call “food poisoning”.

If your hygiene is dependent on wipes, run that test as long as you can to get the best possible average for how many you run through per day. Whatever your backup toilet system is, use that.

Use the data to create a baseline. How much do you use? How long will your stored water last? What seasons can you reasonably count on resupply?

From there, we look for ways to increase our sources and our efficiency in harvesting and using the water we can access.

A Double-Edged Sword

Water is one of the few things we can’t do without, and a functioning stream, river or lake system or even just a marsh can make a huge positive impact on our preparedness. They aren’t without hazards, however.

Flooding is a primary risk, although healthy marsh systems can actually mitigate and minimize floods. Still, the levee systems in the U.S. are aging and Midwest floods aren’t uncommon. Colorado and Tennessee have both had major, devastating disasters due to river- or creek-originated floods.

In a protracted crisis, the hydro dams put in by the Tennessee Valley Authority and in the Northwest are likely to suffer failures, on top of the failures we see washing out roads and creating mudslides and large floods right now.

In addition to those failures, there are mines and factories along our waterways these days. We’ve seen in just the last year what can happen as they fail and toxins leak out. Nuclear plants are routinely along waterways.

Failures combined with flooding can wash those contaminants into our farmlands, cities and suburbs, affecting creeks and wildlife long before and long after we can see the effects.

EPA Accidentally Turns Colorado River Orange With Pollution, Putting Drinking Water At Risk

Livestock are also a contamination risk to both well intakes and streams, just like human waste can already be right here in the U.S. Those risks are even more prevalent in some of the third-world nations that live without our level of basic services. Disease is rampant after earthquakes, hurricanes, and floods due to fecal wastes, and can be expected to go up after a major disaster.

Mosquitoes and the spread of ever increasing and previously “dead” diseases by insects are another risk.

Many of those risks can be limited with site selection and sculpting the land a little, by planting a few things that can help create buffers, predators, and sinks for water and its diseases and pests. An interruption in “easy” water after we’ve become accustomed to it is still the bigger and more likely threat for most of us.

While a gravity-driven well with a pressure-driven cistern would be ideal, not everybody is there. Not every well can either reach or hit the amounts needed for livestock and crop irrigation.

 

Pairing the unprecedented, super-filtration power of an all-new gravity block core with a hybrid ceramic shell, it removes 99.9999 percent of impurities, including bacteria, cysts, disinfectants, volatile organic contaminants (VOAs) and heavy metals.

Because requires no electricity, it is ideal for home use, on or off-grid.

 

Self-Sufficiency through Streams

A moving channel is a fantastic element to site. One aspect to watch for with small systems is that they don’t dry out in summer. Ideally, they won’t even dry up in the 25- and 50-year drought cycles.

Through much of history, moving water has helped us either with direct labor, such as the old mills we can still find here and there, or later by producing power for us to then use however we like.

Running streams, creeks and rivers can also turn water wheels that help us by lifting water into aqueduct systems or into cisterns that will produce enough gravity from water weight to push water further away from the source.

With even a small amount of motion, there are sling pumps capable of moving water for us. Even if a sling pump won’t reach all the way to gardens and livestock, saving us the bend-lift labor of filling buckets and being able to fill a cistern while we move the first load can make an enormous difference.

With greater rates of movement, we can create hydro re-directs to lessen some of our labors and in some cases produce small amounts of energy. We can dam small waterways to increase pressure or create channel- or pipe-based systems to generate power.

In some cases it’s not going to be a lot of electricity, but even the ability to slowly charge electric tools, appliances, and our music and photo devices can be a huge boost.

Slow it, Sink it, Spread it, Store it

In permaculture, there are several “S’s” promoted in regards to water. They simplify the desires to:

  • Catch water for future use
  • Prevent flooding even on the “daily” and seasonal scales, and by doing so prevent erosion and soil hardening via water (runoff, soil compaction)
  • Allow water to infiltrate so roots can access it, and to lift the water table for springs and swale systems
  • Keep chemicals and waste from running across landscapes and polluting our waters or gardens

Catchments are one way we capture water – storing it for later and preventing it from running wasted over the surface of the soil.

Water catchment on a huge scale was and still is used in Australia, with systems similar to water towers and large roof-to-cistern systems both above ground and below ground.

Sheep and cattle stations and small farmers also create nearly lock-style channels to store water for the three- to six-month dry seasons. Those systems can be duplicated in North America depending on local laws.

In places where regulations prohibit such large scale water harvesting or hoarding, it may be possible to obtain permits to put in lakes or ephemeral or permanent pond systems, which can function similarly and have added benefits for homesteads.

On a small scale, water can be stored using systems as complex as we like, or we can go simple and create pyramids or triangles of trickle-over buckets and barrels with no plumbing and just mesh or permeable cloth to prevent mosquito infestations.


Small, shallow swales sequester less, but can prevent damage from rains over years. Larger swales can hold more water, allowing that water a greater amount of time to infiltrate. That water then creates a “lens” beneath the surface of the soil and allows plants a longer period of time to access it.

The slope of the land and the soil type and structure play the biggest roles in the types and sizes of swale systems we put in.

Preexisting vegetation and the type of vegetation we want to put in, if we plan to move livestock through the swale systems and what type of livestock also affects what type of swale system will work best for us.

Reducing Reliance On Systems

We have to have some water, and ideally a constant source. However, even with the best of planning and siting, sometimes we run into droughts or damaged systems. One way to build resiliency to those is to lessen our overall dependence.

Silvopasture over turf can provide forage and fodder even in drought years, and lessen dependence on irrigated grains and delicate pasture and hay. Some silvopasture is coppiced, but most will be either pollarded or selective-drop of large limbs from each tree.

The type and number of livestock and the amount of labor desired affects what style of silvopasture is effective.

Our livestock selection can also lessen dependence.

Ducks tend to be wasteful of water, while with drip waterers, chickens can be highly efficient. Pigs really need a lot of water to gain weight efficiently, and they need regular access to it. Comparatively, dairy and meat goats need a little less access and less total water per pound of produce.

If we veer a little further away from the American norm, camels need less yet, and have traditionally been used for milk, meat and hides and in some cases angora just like llamas.

We can also look into more water efficient breeds from typically dry regions of the world. They may be more expensive as an initial investment and have less-efficient feed-milk-meat ratios, but in a survival situation, the fact that they do survive with little water may make them invaluable.

If we have a fair bit of property, we can also tailor habitat for hunting small game, and focus our water labors on egg and dairy producers.

Hugelkultur beds are another way to limit use and dependence on rainfall and irrigation. Once established, a properly sized and layered hugel bed requires almost no assistance at all. It retains and essentially generates moisture from within.

When we do use water, we can use it as many times as humanly possible instead of letting it run and flow past our fingers.

Gray water systems, using cooled cooking water in gardens or for livestock, and reclaiming runoff from sprouts and sprouted fodder for livestock or re-watering can all help decrease our total draw.

Then there are little things like using a cup of water to rinse while brushing teeth, and having catch basins for washing hands or rinsing produce that then gets used for laundry or put back into the garden systems – at least once, and in some cases, several times.

Water Is Life

We have always been dependent on water as a species, and civilization and modern post-industrial life has made us more so. However, we can look back at history and to some of the underdeveloped nations to find ways that we can harvest and store water against need, and in some cases, use water wheels and even small creeks or lake properties to help us move water or generate a little bit of power.

Pairing the unprecedented, super-filtration power of an all-new gravity block core with a hybrid ceramic shell, it removes 99.9999 percent of impurities, including bacteria, cysts, disinfectants, volatile organic contaminants (VOAs) and heavy metals.

Because requires no electricity, it is ideal for home use, on or off-grid.

 

There are a few tips here. The article about gardening in droughts has additional lessons from fairly recent history that can be applied to reduce water uses for human and livestock food production, large scale or small, urban or rural.

When we’re ready to delve into long-term disaster planning, water needs to be a focus. Without water, and a backup plan for water, all the rest of our preparations become null and void in a large-scale emergency.

Water can also be dangerous. It’s worth researching the local flood patterns, especially pre-levee system, and looking up the diseases, symptoms and cures common to waterways in third world nations and after disasters.

Throughout history, settlements form near water. The largest and most successful settle with plentiful water. There are a number of reasons for that. One, water really is life. We require

 

In this day and age, we have plumbing and faucets. We have our own water bills and water heaters. We also have our own water pipelines which connects with the cities or counties pipeline. We drink our water from our faucets. We may have water filters so that we may stay away from unwanted bacteria and particles. But what happens if an earthquake or a natural disaster occurs and it destroys the pipelines? You have no more water!!!

Well that is a problem considering the fact that we humans can only live 3 days without water! How then can you get water when your water’s pipeline is destroyed? You may begin to worry, for that is okay. However, let me put your fears behind you, for you can survive! Sure it may not be easy or even fun, but even the most urban human being can collect water without a pipeline. Nevertheless, if you have a fresh body of water nearby, you’re probably going to be okay! You just need to boil all water that you collect from the wild. Now, if you have several plastic water bottles you may survive a little longer. But all your supplies may run out! So why not be a prepper and prepare your home with the prepper’s solar still kit.

You will need:

  • A bucket such as a 5 gallon bucket
  • A house-hold trash bag
  • A couple very small rocks
  • An empty 12 oz. cup or a small empty container
  • Some green vegetation such as grass or leaves
  • Duct Tape or 4 feet of semi-strong string

Making your kit:

  1. Gather all your required supplies. You do not need any vegetation for your kit.
  1. Take your bucket and place all your supplies within. You can make more than one kit which is ideal for a survival situation.
  1. I would personally make more than one kit. I would have at least two kits in your home and one in each of your vehicles.

Making the Prepper’s Solar Still:

  1. Take out all the supplies in your solar still kit.
  1. Find some nearby vegetation. Leaves, grass, branches with leaves, or any other plants. All vegetation must be green and alive at the time of obtaining.
  1. Once you have all your vegetation, which should be a fair amount, you can place it in your bucket.
  1. Then place your container or 12 oz. cup in the middle of the bucket.
  1. Take your trash bag and put it over the bucket. Then use your small rocks and put it in the middle of the trash bag which will push the bag down a bit. Use the duct tape or string and wrap or tie it around the bag to keep it in place. You can rip off any extra length of the trash bag if you want.
  1. Take your bucket outside and find a sunny spot to leave it in. If it is not a sunny day, place it in a non-shady area.
  1. Leave the bucket there for at least a day, if not more. If it is a sunny day it will work faster. After time, go check your bucket. Take the bag off and see if there is any water in the cup. There should be a fair amount of water. Be sure to filter and/or boil any water collect from the wild. You may want to have set more than one solar still at a time.

How the Prepper’s Solar Still works:

The vegetation has water within its system. Once it is plucked from the ground or a tree it dies. When you put it in the bucket and you seal it, the heat of the sun or day beats on the vegetation. Since it is inside the bucket it will get very warm, causing the water to evaporate from the plants. The water goes up unto the air and it then hits the trash bag. It then turns unto drops of water. The water begins to slide down the bag. It goes down to where the small rocks are weighing down the bag at. It then drops off the bag and falls unto the cup. The cup then begins to fill up.

  In this day and age, we have plumbing and faucets. We have our own water bills and water heaters. We also have our own water pipelines which connects with the

I wanted to start a new series on the Final Prepper called “Back to Basics”. I know many of the readers of this blog are already well along their own journey of preparedness so some of the content might be remedial. It has certainly been covered on our site before, but there are new readers every day. Millions of people visited the pages of our site last year and one of the most frequent questions I continue to receive is along the lines of “How do I start prepping”?.

For me this Back to Basics series is a way to revisit the subjects that I believe are core to your personal survival. I plan to cover a lot of familiar territory, but I hope to also bring new ideas, perspective and hopefully motivation to preppers out there whether you are just starting or have your underground bunker fully stocked and you are just waiting for the balloon to go up.

Prepping in its most basic form to me is about proactively taking steps to ensure you and those around you are ready with skills, supplies and a plan to react to emergencies or disasters in a way that promotes your survival. The core of short-term survival I would argue is something that many of us take for granted and that is water.

Why do you need to store water for emergencies?

The simple answer to that question is one that you probably already know. We all need water to survive and if you go without it for a while your health deteriorates. You can get headaches, become lethargic and weak. Go with water for more than a couple of days and you die. Water or lack of sufficient, clean drinking water, more than almost anything else (I will go into the other things later) will kill you.

That much is pretty simple. Usually everyone can accept that premise without even blinking an eye. What they frequently have problems with is this idea that you could ever find yourself without clean drinking water. We in virtually all of the developed world have water treatment facilities, plumbing and systems that bring clean water inside the house or our offices and you would be hard pressed to walk anywhere in even the smallest cities without quickly finding nice clear, plastic bottles of water for sale. But what if the water in the tap was tainted? What if the tap no longer put forth clean, shiny water? What if the stores with all of those bags and bags of bottled water were empty? This is where prepping begins.

To prepare, you have to do something proactively.

It isn’t wise to sit back and say things like “that would never happen” or my own personal favorite, “the government will take care of us if that happened”. In any large emergency, you will be reliant upon yourself as evidenced in almost every case in recent history. Yes, disaster relief organizations and government assistance will usually mobilize, but do you want to wait for that to happen? Even the government tells you to prepare on its website, ready.gov. If they are saying not to wait for them, what does that tell you?

fema-sandy-closed

I don’t know why anyone would count on the government. Maybe they will do something right, but I wouldn’t bet my life on them saving me.

How much water do you need to survive?

So we agree that everyone needs to stockpile water, but the next obvious question is how much? The amount of water you need vary greatly depending on a few different factors. A general rule of thumb is that you need one gallon of water per person per day. This assumes hydration needs and hygiene. You won’t necessarily drink a gallon of water, but you might need it for reconstituting freeze-dried food, cleaning cooking implements or washing your body. On some days you might not even need a gallon of water. Other days you could end up needing much more than one gallon if you are exerting yourself physically or the temperatures are elevated and you are losing fluids to perspiration.

In my opinion, water is one of the easiest preps to cross off your list and since it is so vital, it made the cut as the first in this series. To calculate how much water you need, just multiply the number of people you are prepping for by the number of days you want to be stocked up for. In my family, I have those who live with me (4) as well as extended family who I plan will come to our location (another 4 potentially) as well as some friends (add 4 to that) so I am looking at potentially needing to supply water for 12 people. 12 people for one month is 12 X 30 = 360 gallons of water.

Where is the best place to store water?

That is only for one month. What if the emergency lasts longer than one month? What if the town’s water supply is still not safe for drinking at that point? 360 gallons takes up a lot of room no matter how you look at it. If you have 55 gallon barrels in your basement that is still 6 barrels and again that assumes everyone is staying at or under their one gallon a day limit.

I have a few different ways to store water. The first is stored in heavy-duty plastic containers that hold 7 gallons each. These are great because they are more portable, they stack and I can get some storage in smaller spaces, like the shelves of a pantry. I can also easily transport a few of these to my Bug Out Vehicle if necessary. This storage only lasts a week.

If you have the space, larger water storage containers work best.

After that I have rain barrels that hold 50 gallons a piece. The great thing about rain barrels is that they can be refilled by Mother Nature without you having to do anything except make sure the water is disinfected. But, this requires an outside location and not everyone has a home on land where they can back up a barrel under the gutter. People who live in apartments have different space limitations.

For apartment dwellers, I would recommend using the stack-able storage, but diversify that around your apartment so you don’t have weight all in one space. Usually any apartments are built on concrete substrates so even several hundred pounds of water in a closet wouldn’t risk compromising the floor. You can also try storage facilities if necessary.

What do you do when the water runs out?

But no matter how much water you have stored up, it could still run out in the worse emergencies so it is important to have an alternate plan to acquire good water afterward. Actually, I think it is more important to plan to procure water than it is to stockpile it in the long run.

Platypus GravityWorks Filter System, 4-Liters of water in minutes.

Water borne bacteria and viruses are not something you want to encounter in a disaster situation. Stomach bugs, even minor can put you down and give you diarrhea. Who wants to worry about getting sick when the world ends much less crapping yourself all the time when the toilet paper is in short supply anyway? A simple and reliable method of making your water safe to drink is also very important.

Boiling water is a sure-fire way to kill all bacteria and viruses. The drawback to this approach for me is that you have to start a fire and use a container. The fire could alert people to your location and that might not be what you want. Also, you have to wait for the water to cool before you can drink it and boiling isn’t going to get out any sediment, it will just make your water safer to drink.

I prefer gravity filters for their ease of use, compactness and filtration ability. With a filter like the Platypus Gravityworks, you can quickly filter 4 liters of water just by filling up a bag and it’s ready to drink in minutes. Literally, I filtered 2 liters in less than 2 minutes.

There is also using bleach to disinfect ,water purification tablets and even iodine, but these aren’t without their drawbacks too and do require you to wait for the chemicals to work. Your choice, but there are options.

Make sure you have plans to supply the water needs of your own survival group at the initial point of any emergencies and long after by crafting your water preparedness plan now.

I wanted to start a new series on the Final Prepper called “Back to Basics”. I know many of the readers of this blog are already well along their own journey

Access to clean water means the difference between life and death in any part of the world. In order to disinfect water preppers usually recommend bleach as part of a broader strategy of stored water, filtration and boiling. Household bleach as long as it isn’t scented is a great method to disinfect water to make is safe for drinking so some people stock up on bleach for just this reason. There is a problem with bleach though in that it has a relatively short shelf life. Bleach will start to lose its potency before a year and that amount of time can be hastened in high heat or freezing conditions.

When asked the question if bleach has a shelf life of one year, the Clorox website states:

The overall answer is yes, but there are a couple of possible caveats. The active ingredient in liquid bleach, sodium hypochlorite, is very sensitive to high heat and freezing, but under normal home storage conditions, it should still perform well for nine to twelve months. So if your storage conditions were either of these, then you will have irreversibly created salt and water.

Calcium Hypochlorite can be used to make your own bleach. When mixed together though you have this shelf life and that is never good when we are thinking of long term prepping plans. There is a simple alternative though and that it to purchase Calcium Hypochlorite and make bleach as you need it. Calcium Hypochlorite has a shelf life of 10 years if stored in a cool dry place.

Calcium Hypochlorite comes as a stand-alone powder or you can purchase bags of pool shock. One thing to be aware of is the main ingredient. Some pool shock says Chlorine-free and uses other chemicals. You don’t want that. Also, you don’t want any other ingredients like antifungals or algaecide so read the label carefully. Alternately, you could just purchase the Calcium Hypochlorite powder and eliminate this possibility. A one-pound bag of pool shock that is 68% Calcium Hypochlorite can make 10,000 gallons of disinfected water.

Along with the capacity to create bleach that can be used as a long term stable source of treating your water,  bleach is also very effective at killing viruses. We use this to kill viruses in our water and it is just as effective at killing Ebola so a plan for storing Calcium Hypochlorite is wise on two counts.

Ebola and Bleach

A reader Matt sent this link to a Public Health Agency of Canada article on Ebola and in the section under Section IV Stability and Viability it mentions the following:

SUSCEPTIBILITY TO DISINFECTANTS: Ebolavirus is susceptible to 3% acetic acid, 1% glutaraldehyde, alcohol-based products, and dilutions (1:10-1:100 for ≥10 minutes) of 5.25% household bleach (sodium hypochlorite), and calcium hypochlorite (bleach powder). The WHO recommendations for cleaning up spills of blood or body fluids suggest flooding the area with a 1:10 dilutions of 5.25% household bleach for 10 minutes for surfaces that can tolerate stronger bleach solutions (e.g., cement, metal) . For surfaces that may corrode or discolor, they recommend careful cleaning to remove visible stains followed by contact with a 1:100 dilution of 5.25% household bleach for more than 10 minutes.”

Essentially bleach kills Ebola and if you need to clean up any spills or body fluids a higher concentration of bleach should be used. Prepping for virus outbreaks might have seemed crazy just a few weeks ago but now the information in the news makes this more possible and if you are already prepared to make your own bleach by having a stable supply of Calcium Hypochlorite, you will additionally be prepared to disinfect Ebola and potentially save lives. I am not going to suggest having bleach will save anyone, but it can help.

pic

A worker disinfects a deceased Ebola patient.

How to make bleach

The Calcium Hypochlorite powder is used in two strengths according to what you need to disinfect. The 1:10 bleach solution is a strong solution used to disinfect bodies and fluids. A lighter mixture of 1 to 100 is used to disinfect water or to clean surfaces, medical equipment, bedding, protective equipment like gloves and clothing.

You use the 1:10 solution to make the 1:100 solutions. The 1:10 bleach is very caustic so you want to be very careful about handling this.

In terms of Ebola disinfection, a publication from the World Health Organization says that Bleach solutions must be prepared daily because they lose their strength after 24 hours.

To prepare the bleach solution you would use one heaping tablespoon of Calcium Hypochlorite for every two gallons of water. This will give you bleach essentially and would be your 1:10 mixture for hardcore disinfection. DO NOT DRINK THIS

To dilute this to your 1:100 mixture you could add your gallon of bleach (1:10) above to 100 gallons of water, but this isn’t practical usually.

To disinfect water you would add eight drops of your 1:10 bleach solution to one gallon of water. Let this sit for 30 minutes. If the water is still cloudy you can run this through a coffee filter (should have done this first) or add more bleach a couple of drops at a time and let it sit for 30 more minutes.

Access to clean water means the difference between life and death in any part of the world. In order to disinfect water preppers usually recommend bleach as part of a