Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Life Sustaining Water

Obtaining good-tasting, contamination-free water is ordinarily not a problem. But in times of emergency, on outdoor trips, or when traveling in under developed areas, having access to a source of drinkable water is a matter of first priority.
The bacteria, viruses, and parasites in contaminated water can create many kinds of health problems. When the purity of water is questionable, use the following steps to make it safe to drink:

Pickup some 5-gallon (paint) elastic strainer bags from the local home center to help filter out chucks that may be in the water.

Boiling: -Bring water to a rolling boil and maintain for a minimum of 10 minutes. For every 1,000 feet above sea level, add one minute of boiling to the initial 10 minutes. If the water pot is covered, it will shorten the time to reach a boil. This method is recognized as the safest treatment. 

Boiling is the most certain way of killing all microorganisms, according to the Wilderness Medical Society, to improve the taste of boiled water, add charcoal from a wood fire during boiling and filter out the charcoal before drinking. You may also add a pinch of salt to the water to make it taste better.

Liquid Chlorine Bleach: Any brand - 5.25% or 6% sodium hypochlorite (chlorine) (like Ultra Clorox) that contains NO soap, fragrance or phosphates. Do not use scented bleach.

Amount of water Clear water Cloudy water
2 quarts 4 drops 1/8 teaspoon
1 gallon 1/8 teaspoon 1/4 teaspoon
5 gallons 1/2 teaspoon 1 teaspoon
Let the water stand for 30 minutes. The water should have a slight chlorine odor. If it does not, add the same amount of bleach again and let the water stand for 15 more minutes.

Remember Chlorine Bleach is toxic so, you don’t want to make this a habit.

Hydrogen Peroxide: Peroxide is a perfectly acceptable disinfectant for water, as it oxidizes, as does chlorine. There are a couple of things with peroxide that make it differ from chlorine as a disinfectant. Peroxide degrades even more rapidly than chlorine and potency may be an issue if it is to be stored. The other thing that makes peroxide more difficult to use is that testing for peroxide residual levels is difficult compared to testing for chlorine residuals. Residuals need to be measured to ensure disinfection is complete. 

Iodine Methods: Iodine has been used to disinfect water since the early 1900's. In order to destroy Giardia cysts, the drinking water must be at least 68° F, the water can be warmed in the sun before treating or hot water can be added. Iodine should be limited to a short-term disinfectant. Iodine Crystals can be purchased through Nitro-Pac Heber City, Ut. WWW.Nitro-pac.com or 800.866.4876 - Allergy to iodine? Do not use it! The  amount of iodine or chlorine necessary to kill giardia depends on water temperature, pH, turbidity, and contact time between the chemical and the parasite.

1) Tincture of Iodine: Common household iodine from the medicine chest or first aid kit may be used to disinfect water. Add five drops of 2 percent United States Pharmacopoeia (U.S.P.) tincture of iodine to each quart of clear water. For cloudy water add ten drops and let the solution stand for at least 30 minutes.

2) Iodine Tablets: Commercially prepared iodine tablets containing the necessary dosage and can be purchased at drug and sporting goods stores. Many people object to the iodine taste, which is stronger than that left by an active-iodine pump purifier. Some brands of iodine tablets come with an iodine neutralizer tablet, which you use after the iodine has had time to work. This treatment removes the iodine taste completely. Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) is the active ingredient, which means that you can use powdered fruit drink mixes like Kool-Aid or Tang to help disguise any off-tastes in water. This old desert hiker's trick not only eliminates the iodine taste, but also masks the alkaline taste common to desert water.

Keep solid iodine away from children. Do not touch the crystals! Solid iodine is very irritating to the skin and will stain most things it touches, although alcohol will dissolve it readily. The violet vapors are very corrosive! The iodine crystal method of water purification is inexpensive, and actually more effective than chlorination. As solid iodine has an indefinite shelf life, one bottle should last a lifetime for emergency use.

Sodium dichloro-s-triazinetrione: 99% and 1% inert ingredients powdered bleach as suggested by Tim Woolf and may be purchased at the Pool Store - 1428 Haretford Ave. Johnson, RI 02919 - 401-432-7711

A 2 lb container of sodium dichloro-s-triazinetrione costs $15 including shipping and will clean up to 160,000 gallons of water, enough for your family and you will have sufficient to share with extended family, friends and neighbors.

Its advantages, only 1/4 teaspoon is used to treat a 55 gallon drum of water and the shelf life of a container of this concentrate is 15 to 25 years if kept dry and stored in a cool location. 
2 oz treats 10,000 gallons 
Dissolves instantly with no residue 
Clears up water fast and keeps it clear

Instructions for use: Add 1/4 teaspoon of the chlorinating concentrate to your 50 or 55-gallon drum. Place the cap on the container and seal it, and allow the water to sit for 24 hours. After 24 hours, remove the lid and test for the presence of free chlorine in the water. This can be done by smelling, or by using test strips for free chlorine, available at pool and spa stores. These test strips cost about $10.00 for 50 strips. If the chlorine can be detected after 24 hours, then the water has been purified. At that point, remove the lid from the water container and allow it to sit open for another 24 hours. The free chlorine will come out of the water, and the water is then fit for drinking. If no chlorine is present after the first 24 hours with the container closed, repeat the process, as organic matter (bacteria, cysts, etc.) are still present. Until free chlorine can be detected after 24 hours, there are probably organisms still present.
One of the things that affects the taste of water is it "going flat". That occurs because of the oxidation that takes place as it sits. You can improve the taste by pouring the water back and forth between containers to aerate it. 

Winston Churchill: It is better to deal with problems before they arrive.There are no emergencies for those who are truly prepared

Water Storage Barrels
If at all possible - purchase new heavy-duty blue barrels, if the price is a concern - consider buying used barrels.

Cleaning Vanilla and Coke or Pepsi barrels
During the hot summer is the perfect time of year to make this process work.

Treat your Pickle, Vanilla and Pepsi barrels in the following method:

- Set the barrel in a sunny location.
- As you fill the barrel with water, add 4 cups of baking soda and 1/4 cup of bleach.
- Stir the mixture and completely fill the barrels to capacity and seal.
- Allow the barrels to cook in the sun 4 to 7 days. 
- Remove the water and smell the barrel. 
- The odor of the cold  product should be gone and a slight chorine smell should remain.
- If the cola odor remains fill the barrel with fresh water again and duplicate the process.
- Completely drain the barrel.
- Then rinse the inside/outside of the barrels 2 or 3 times, removing all of the baking soda and drain.
-  Place the barrel in its final resting spot on top of a piece of OSB or plywood.
- Fill the barrel with tap water and allow 3.25 inches of headspace for possible freezing.
- Add a capful of bleach and seal.
- Cover the barrels with 6 mil black plastic on all sides and top to help shield the water barrels from any light and possible  algae growth, tie the plastic down with cord.
- Store them in areas where leakage will not cause damage to the home.
- Store your water containers on wooden palates or boards above your cement floors, and away from gasoline or other volatile substances, to avoid those interesting flavors in your drinking water. It is best to change your water at least once a year.

Various Water Storage Containers
Good water storage containers are airtight, resistant to breakage, and heavy enough to hold water. They should have a lining that will not rust or affect the flavor of the water. The following containers are commonly used:

- Plastic Juice or Soda Bottles Use clear plastic containers made of PETE plastic. Used containers should be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed.
- Heavy Plastic Buckets or Drums These should be food grade.
- Water Heaters Close the inlet valve immediately after the water supply is disrupted.
- Water Beds A double waterbed holds about 200 gallons of water. This water contains an algaecide. Do not drink it. Store this water for non-food uses only, such as washing clothes and general cleaning.
- Bleach Bottles Also for non-food usage only.

The only thing tougher than planning for emergencies - is explaining why you did not!!

What is the difference between water filters and purifiers?

Filters strain out particles as water is forced through the filter and Purifiers chemically kill the particulates. Only Filters can treat for protozoa not by purifiers. They are approximately 2 microns in size. The Giardia parasite can cause an intestinal diarrhea illness. Interestingly, protozoa are immune to chemical purification treatments because of their hard, protective shell. This is one reason that many purifier manufacturers choose to also have some sort of filter element on their purifiers.
Filters and Purifiers can treat for most Bacteria. Salmonella and E. Coli for examples. They are approximately 0.2 microns and larger in size, meaning that filters will be able to catch them as long as the filter pores are at least as small as 0.2 microns. Purifiers can also kill bacteria. Without catching bacteria a person will be in danger of getting Cholera and Typhoid Fever.

Only Purifiers can eliminate viruses. Viruses are so small (0.004 microns) that filters can't reliably catch them. Some examples of viruses are Hepatitis A, Polio, and the Norwalk Virus. They can be killed by purification, chemical disinfecting, and boiling. If you plan to do a lot of international traveling where you need to treat water before drinking you should get a water purifier. Viruses are more common outside the United States.

Other Considerations: Filters clog and need to be replaced. Another negative aspect of filters is that sometimes you can filter faster than the filtering element can clean. Filters work by pumping a handle manually. Impatient, forceful pumping can shove particles through the filter and into your drinking water. Purifiers have equally significant downfalls. Because the active ingredient for treating water in a purifier is iodine, some people should not drink water from a purifier. It is recommended that pregnant women or people with thyroid problems do not drink from iodine-treated water. Also, iodine can add a foul taste. After prolonged use of iodine, some people develop thyroid problems, so be aware of this potential side effect. 

Water is relatively inexpensive to store and certainly not difficult to do, the time to store is now. Water that we take for granted when things are normal, in an emergency becomes absolutely critical. After earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. have struck; water typically is sold for $5 a gallon, if you can get any. 

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