Need Ideas on Small Scale Water Purification

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Schattentarn

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I am starting over and where I am now we have a private water company. They are idiots. In a SHTF setting not only will they stop purifying but they may even stop pumping the water. The standard advice to boil drinking water will not work if there is no water. This would leave us to get water from the lake or the river. Both of these are sewers in my mind. So, I am in the market for something like a portable reverse osmosis unit that can process enough water in a few minutes for a day or two.

In the 1980s I had such a unit. It was a backpacking unit and it worked great. But now I cannot find anything on the internet which I like. What I really would like is used military gear. Any ideas?
 

Amish Heart

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I use a Berkey in our kitchen. It's the big family sized one. It sits on a stand. Very convenient and easy to use. Husband also had an RO system put in, and the spicket to that is on the kitchen sink. That one requires the house to have running water. The Berkey, though, you put any water in it, and it purifies it.
 

Schattentarn

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I use a Berkey in our kitchen. It's the big family sized one. It sits on a stand. Very convenient and easy to use. Husband also had an RO system put in, and the spicket to that is on the kitchen sink. That one requires the house to have running water. The Berkey, though, you put any water in it, and it purifies it.
My wife would love this.


Which one do you have Amish Heart? Here are all of them.
 

Amish Heart

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We have the Crown in the kitchen on a stand. I have an Imperial as a back up, and 4 boxes of filters as a back up. The filters will last a very, very long time, but the bases of them do have to be scrubbed every few months if filtering gets slow, depending on what water you're putting through. There's a ton of youtubes on it. In our kitchen set up, we have the Berkey on a floor stand (a decorative metal white stand I found in the garden dept at a store), a small ice machine next to that, and a 5 gallon cold and hot bottled water dispenser next to that. So I also filter water from the Berkey to fill up my empty 5 gallon jug that goes on the dispenser. Easy for the kids to get filtered hot or cold water. Don't know why husband wanted the RO system at the sink, except that we were having massive plumbing renovation in the farmhouse a few months ago, so it was a good time to do it. We are on our own well, and the water is fine. But you can filter any water in the Berkey. And you can be particular as to what kind of filters you would want to add according to the water you run through it.
 

MOS0231

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Off the top of my head, if you want a DIY filter, I have read sand filters work.
Large water tight box with two bung connections. The in flow is near or at the bottom, the out flow near or at the top.
First layer is course gravel. Then fine gravel. Then course sand, and then finally fine sand.
Box fills up from the bottom, passes through the layers filtering the water.
The out flow goes to another box, same bung setup, with crushed limestone for pH. Some say put crushed oyster shell for calcium, do not know how true that is.
Then for the final stage pass through either a biological filter, some kind of water tolerant plants that will uptake the last of impurities or activated charcoal.
You can find instructions for the activated charcoal on line.
 

MNwr786

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Ive done electro-coagulation on my lake water before. Goes in brown with stuff swimming in it to so clear you can hardly tell its in the bucket. All you need is one 3 feet of 6" PVC pipe, one end cap, one bag silica sand from the lumber store, one flour/drying towel, a couple 5 gallon bucket, two bars (3/4" works well), one aluminum and one steel (NOT galvanized) that are just long enough to stick out of the bucket , a pair of jumper cables, 2 hose clamps, some rope, a car battery and preferably some pH strips.

With a temporary 3/4 inch spacer of your choosing between the aluminum and steel rods, wrap rope around each end then between going around the wraps such that the rope rigidly holds both rods parallel, about half inch apart, with the spacer removed. Cut off and strip one end of the jumper cables so that the wires can be hose clamped to the rods (+ on aluminum, - on steel). Don't just clip them to the rods as they will be close enough to touch each other.

Cap one end of the pipe and drill 1/4" holes in the cap. fold the drying towel into a square about 1' x 1' and place sand in the middle. Lift up by the corners and slide this into the pvc pipe so the weight of the sand seals the cloth against the pipe walls, then fill the pipe up about 6" from the top with more sand. Fix this to something such that a clean bucket can be placed under it to catch the filtered water and low enough so the bucket feeding it can be siphon fed. A three tiered system essentially.

Fill the 5 gallon bucket with lake water filtered through a t-shirt to remove large particles. Place rod assembly into water bucket and attach leads to battery. This will take roughly half hour to an hour. There will come a point where all the suspended crud is either floating or sunk to the bottom, try to stop right at that point and not too much after. Disconnect and remove rods from the bucket and let the mixture settle for a few minutes. Using a plastic cup, slowly remove as much of the floating suspension as you can (as it will plug the very top layer of sand quickly) and decant the remaining clear middle layer into another bucket.

This bucket is then set up top and a siphon is started that feeds the sand tube. The siphon diameter (or pinching the hose) can be used to regulate the flow so the filter isn't overwhelmed. The rate at which the filter will take water will gradually slow and sometimes the top of the sand needs to be disturbed with a rod to allow more water past the aluminum flocculant. Adjusting the final pH to 8 before filtering results in the softest water with the least dissolved aluminum.
 

Schattentarn

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I really need a biologic filter. This river/lake is used for recreation and about 60 miles for a moderately populated city. These people camp along the water's edge (against the law), pee and poop into the river and along the shore of the lake. Dirty diapers float down the river on big holiday weekends. The USFS who administers this area will not admit they have completely lost control but they have. This lake serves as drinking water for that city 60 miles away. If they only knew, they would never drink that water.

An RO would be ideal. The Berkey may work. Here are those issues. An RO (reverse osmosis) unit needs 9 pounds of pressure to force the water through that membrane. This is usually OK with the under-the-sink mounting and operation as home water pressure is usually more than 9 pounds. But, if the water company, goes belly up or the well's pump stops working because of lack of electricity, the RO fails. This is one reason why the Berkey is attractive. The other reason is I can use it right now, using tap water which is so highly mineralized nobody can drink it.
 

Amish Heart

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Alot of people I know use it to filter their city tap water. Because city water tastes funny. And every once in a while, city water tells residents to boil their water because it's been contaminated. So why take a chance?
That being said, I still drink out of the hose if I'm thirsty and I'm outside.
 

AmmoCan88

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Why not just collect rainwater?

I assume you can shower/bathe in rainwater as is, and water any crops (duh). For drinking I'd simply buy a LifeStraw or similar. Then the remainder is larger bodies of water for cooking etc., then I'd buy this or this, depending on the rate of purifying you want and for how long. Maybe I'm missing something here in your post, but I don't see the reason to make it more complicated than this. Personally I'd prefer buy stuff like this incl. spare parts and so on, instead of relying on building all kinds of machinations with dirt, gravel and oyster shells, but that's just me. :)
 

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I really need a biologic filter. This river/lake is used for recreation and about 60 miles for a moderately populated city. These people camp along the water's edge (against the law), pee and poop into the river and along the shore of the lake. Dirty diapers float down the river on big holiday weekends. The USFS who administers this area will not admit they have completely lost control but they have. This lake serves as drinking water for that city 60 miles away. If they only knew, they would never drink that water.

An RO would be ideal. The Berkey may work. Here are those issues. An RO (reverse osmosis) unit needs 9 pounds of pressure to force the water through that membrane. This is usually OK with the under-the-sink mounting and operation as home water pressure is usually more than 9 pounds. But, if the water company, goes belly up or the well's pump stops working because of lack of electricity, the RO fails. This is one reason why the Berkey is attractive. The other reason is I can use it right now, using tap water which is so highly mineralized nobody can drink it.
Treat your water with Chlorine Dioxide. Then filter it.
 

MOS0231

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I think he is looking for a more okay, the SHTF, access to all the modern stuff is gone, and at some point, some of those things listed will no longer filter.

That is how I read it, but I could be wrong.
 

AmmoCan88

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I think he is looking for a more okay, the SHTF, access to all the modern stuff is gone, and at some point, some of those things listed will no longer filter.

That is how I read it, but I could be wrong.
If he buys the equipment now, the only way it'll be gone is if it got stolen. In cataclysmic SHTF scenarios, production of stuff like this will grind to a halt, obviously, but one doesn't really need to concern oneself about that if you already bought what you needed and had it delivered. Then of course, it's always good to know how to make stuff like water purification installations out of common materials, granted, but I would personally prefer not wasting my time on DIY if I have an relatively inexpensive option right in front of me, which is guaranteed to work and be safe. These filters/cartridges hold for a very long time, the one with the bag lasts for about 2 years for a family of four/five, for only 55 USD. For 1-2000 USD, you have clean water for your family for 50+ years. If the purpose is hobby DIY, then of course we're talking about something else.
 

Dracos

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We have the Crown in the kitchen on a stand. I have an Imperial as a back up, and 4 boxes of filters as a back up. The filters will last a very, very long time, but the bases of them do have to be scrubbed every few months if filtering gets slow, depending on what water you're putting through. There's a ton of youtubes on it. In our kitchen set up, we have the Berkey on a floor stand (a decorative metal white stand I found in the garden dept at a store), a small ice machine next to that, and a 5 gallon cold and hot bottled water dispenser next to that. So I also filter water from the Berkey to fill up my empty 5 gallon jug that goes on the dispenser. Easy for the kids to get filtered hot or cold water. Don't know why husband wanted the RO system at the sink, except that we were having massive plumbing renovation in the farmhouse a few months ago, so it was a good time to do it. We are on our own well, and the water is fine. But you can filter any water in the Berkey. And you can be particular as to what kind of filters you would want to add according to the water you run through it.
Athena, how is it on radiation?
 

Schattentarn

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I emailed Berkey and asked about emergency uses of their filters for rivers and lakes. Here is what I got:



The Berkey water filter system is so powerful it is classified as a purifier. This classification shows that we far exceed the abilities of the standard water filter. The portable Berkey can be used to filter non-potable or unhealthy water in situations where electricity and pressure are not available. Everyday water from your faucet or for challenging environments like wells, rivers, and lakes, Berkey is the most flexible and adaptable filtering system available. Berkey water costs about 2 cents per gallon to produce. The cleanable Black Berkey replacement filters provide an economical, reliable and powerful long-term solution to poor water quality issues that cannot be equaled. Our most popular model, the Big Berkey has a long-standing reputation for quality and service. This reputation is the reason we are trusted around the world by numerous international relief organizations to provide clean emergency drinking water to workers and citizens during times of crisis or natural disaster.

So it looks like their filters will rectify my really hard tap water (which is a big bonus and cheaper than bottled water) as well as work in a SHTF.
 

Schattentarn

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Why not just collect rainwater?

I assume you can shower/bathe in rainwater as is, and water any crops (duh). For drinking I'd simply buy a LifeStraw or similar. Then the remainder is larger bodies of water for cooking etc., then I'd buy this or this, depending on the rate of purifying you want and for how long. Maybe I'm missing something here in your post, but I don't see the reason to make it more complicated than this. Personally I'd prefer buy stuff like this incl. spare parts and so on, instead of relying on building all kinds of machinations with dirt, gravel and oyster shells, but that's just me. :)
My grandparents did exactly this in Oklahoma. They also heated with a wood burning stove. They collected rain water, pumped it up to a cistern with a windmill pump and lived happily ever after.

The problem for me is I live in California. This year it is a desert. My grandparents used their roof as a collection area but I would have to use much, much more surface area which I don't have.

The Lifestraw thing is a little too small for me. I have to purify water for the dogs too. Also, this is going to take a trip to the river or lake in a SHTF and it would be nice to carry back a supply. The Berkey filter would work better for me because I could carry gallon bottles, fill them up with water at the source, and purify it at home.
 

Schattentarn

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Athena, how is it on radiation?
Radiation is something I missed, thanks for the reminder. Those radioactive atoms we are all concerned about, uranium, plutonium, thorium, are big atoms and would probably combine with oxygen to form really big, big molecules. An RO device will remove this but I do not know about the Berkey.
 

MNwr786

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When i first saw this in bargain books (for dirt cheap), i thought it would be a waste, i was wrong. Its amazing. It even covers removing radioactive fallout from water (pages 71 to 74). I also built the aluminum foil cup radiation detector and it worked well! Bookshelf worthy material...
IMG_20210513_184505872.jpg
 

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