Keeping it Clean, Keeping it Pure, Keeping it Drinkable
What Can You Do to Protect and Preserve Your Personal Water Supply?
Pure drinking water is essential to life. But as our planet becomes more populated and less ecologically responsible, it is not as plentiful or readily available as it once was. Back in the day, Lewis and Clark had merely to let the silt settle out of the Missouri River before drinking it. If you tried that today, you`d most likely become seriously ill.
Advances in technology mean that we can purify water in massive quantities, but even that source is not incorruptible. Natural disasters, power outages and other events that are out of your control can find you in need of pure water.
Fortunately, there are several ways to purify water at home without fancy equipment and with some methods, without a power source more modern than fire. Not all methods work on all contaminants, so your first step is to familiarize yourself with the water in your area so you have some idea of exactly which impurities you will need to remove or correct.
Boiling is the most basic form of water purification. Place slightly more water than you need into a clean pot. Bring the water to a full, rolling boil. That means bubbles forming on the bottom and rising to the top with such force that the entire surface of the water is moving. A few small bubbles rising is not a boil, meaning the water has probably not reached 212 F, which is how hot it must be to kill bacteria. Let the water boil for a minimum of 60 seconds. Let the water cool and pour it from the pot into a clean glass container. Pour the water back and forth between two clean glass containers to aerate it so that it doesn`t taste flat, if you prefer.
Bleach will kill many types of bacteria. Use unscented household bleach in a concentration of at least 5.25 to 6 percent sodium hypochlorite. Add 1/8 teaspoon of bleach to every gallon of water. Swirl the solution to mix it and let the bleach sit for at least 30 minutes before drinking it.
Distilling is another form of boiling, but instead of simply heating the water, you allow it to evaporate and collect the purified vapor. The simplest way to do this is to hang a wide-mouthed cup or bowl from the inside of a pot lid. A tall pot like a pasta pot or deep Dutch oven works best. Put enough water in the pot to cover the bottom but not reach the underside of the cup or bowl. Bring the water to a full boil and put the lid on the pot. As the water boils, condensation forms on the underside of the lid and will drip down into the cup or bowl. Distilled water tastes very flat, but this method will remove contaminants that boiling or bleach may not affect, such as heavy metals and other pollutants.
Ceramic filters are a simple and relatively inexpensive way to purify water. They work in the same way that any filter does. You pour the water through the filter, which traps the impurities and lets the clean water run through. Many ceramic filters include a charcoal filter to clean your water of both bacteria and chemical pollutants.
Ultraviolet light is one of the newer forms of at-home water purification. Large waste water purification plants have been using large-scale, ultraviolet light systems for decades, but recently, smaller kits for use at home have become available. Most kits consist of a small ultraviolet light source fitted inside a bottle. Exposing water to UV light destroys most microbes but will not affect metals or chemicals.
The emergency preparedness experts at Store It Foods recommend keeping a pure water source such as a home water cooler with several extra bottles in a safe place to ensure that you have a safe and delicious source of water to keep you going in the first hours and days after disaster strikes.