Tag Archives: water purification

  • DIY Solar Still

    |4 COMMENT(S)

    If you were lost in the wild without any clean water to drink, making your own solar still could be a great way to get clean water until you can get back to civilization.

    But what is a solar still?

    A Solar still is a method of distilling (cleaning) water, using the heat of the sun to evaporate water from soil. Functionally, you’re turning the water from the soil into vapor, and then you collect the condensation to drink. Solar stills can range solar ovens to using a simple tarp over a hole in the ground.

    DIY Solar Still

    Distillation does a good job of removing many contaminants and pathogens.  It removes dirt, bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. It also removes metals such as lead, copper, and sodium. Distilling removes many things you are likely to find in the water, but not all.

    If something vaporizes at a lower temperature than water e.g. alcohol or gasoline, it will come out in the distillate. This means that distillation is not going to be useful for chemical contamination, especially in a do it yourself situation.

    DIY Solar Still Instructions

    Here’s what I did and what I learned when I made my own solar still. I decided to try a couple techniques for making a solar still that could apply in two different situations. Both techniques use the same materials.


    The Sun

    Bowl (about 12 inches in diameter, preferably larger)

    Mug or Plastic container (think Tupperware)

    Plastic Wrap or Sheeting

    A Weight (a rock, brick, box—anything heavy you can find to hold down the plastic wrap down)

    Shovel (or a tool or rock that can dig a hole)

    Plant Material (shrubs, grass, leaves, etc.)


    Solar Still #1: Coffee-Mug Still

    For the first one, I assumed a situation such as an earthquake or flood that leaves you in your home (sheltering in place), but causes a disruption in utilities. While normally you would have safe drinking water stored, in the event that you don’t—or it somehow became contaminated, you may need to make a simple solar still.  

    What I did:

    1. I put salt water in a bowl that is about 12 inches in diameter. I then put a coffee mug in the center of the bowl.  I placed the bowl on a table, directly in the sunlight.
    2. I covered the bowl in plastic wrap and put a weight on the center above the mug to direct the condensation toward the mug.  All that was left was to put it in the sun and wait.
    3. The contaminated water went into the bowl, then the condensation on the plastic wrap drips into an empty mug in the center, filling it with clean water.

    This method worked, but there were a couple major shortcomings.  The first time I tried it, the sky clouded up and I was rewarded with only a few drops of water for a whole day of waiting. The next try was better, but a day of sunlight still only yielded about one quarter cup fresh water. This would require a lot of bowls if you were relying on it for drinking water. I think an increase in surface area would make a big difference in how much water is produced.


    Solar Still #2: Pit-Style Solar Still

    The second method I used was more of a survival technique. You might use this type of solar still if you have to evacuate your home in an emergency and live off the land.

    What I did:

    1. I dug a shallow hole in my garden about 3 feet in diameter.
    2. I then filled the hole with plant material and placed a water collection cup in the center.
    3. Similar to the set-up described above, I once again covered the collection cup in a plastic sheet.
    4. I then placed a rock in the center to cause the condensate to run to the middle and drip into my collector cup.


    DIY Solar Still

    I did this on a hot sunny day, for the entire day, and collected around one third of a cup of water.

    DIY Solar Still

    What I learned

    The second method is energy intensive, both in terms of physical labor and in terms of the energy required to vaporize the water.  If you’re in a survival situation, you may want to weigh the outcome: the work required may not be worth the water produced. If you’re on the brink of dehydration, any amount of water could help you, so making a pit-style solar still could be well-worth it to you then.

    The Solar Still is a little tricky to get right, as well.  The clouds completely ruined my first attempt. On my second attempt I managed to get water, but it was disappointingly full of dirt from the plants I was putting in the pit.

    Given the right situation, however, I can imagine this process being fairly useful.  In a beach, swamp, or marshy area, the pit-style still would continually recharge with water from the soil. It would work passively and could be fairly productive.

    Since there’s so little water produced from the solar still, it’s important to use more than one method of water collection to make sure you have enough water to keep yourself hydrated. Check out the post “Finding Water in the Wild” for more water collection techniques to try out.

    --Joe and Angela

    Posted In: Insight, Skills, Uncategorized Tagged With: water purification, DIY

  • Portland Issues a City-Wide Boil Order

    |6 COMMENT(S)

    Portland Issues a City-Wide Boil Order

    On Friday, May 23, the Portland, Oregon Water Bureau issued a city-wide boil order after E. coli was detected in the water. According to ABC News, this 24-hour boil order was the largest in the city’s history, affecting 670,000 people in the city and several outlying suburbs.

    Coffee shops, restaurants, and bars were forced to close during this period, impacting their weekend sales. But grocery stores saw a spike in sales as people purchased water jugs, bottled water, and soda cans in excess.

    Although the boil order ended on Saturday, May 24th, the city still hasn’t figured out the source of the contamination. But it’s assumed that an animal spread fecal matter through the city’s water system. The city drained and cleaned two reservoirs, but is telling residents to continue to take caution and to run their taps for two minutes to eliminate any contaminated water.

    Even though the boil order only lasted a day, drinking contaminated water can have serious effects and can cause illness. One way to prepare for a boil order and to avoid depleting grocery shelves is to store water and to have a water filter like the Katadyn Hiker and a method of water purification like Micropur tablets on hand that can remove or kill bacteria and protozoa in the water.


    To learn more about the Portland boil order, check out these articles:

    “Portland Issues Boil Order . . .” from the Oregonian

    “Looking Back on Portland’s largest Boil Order Alert . . .” from the Oregonian

    “Portland lifts City-Wide Boil Order” from ABC News


    To learn more about water storage, and filtration and purification, check out these articles:

    Water Restrictions Making you Blue?

    Discover the Best Water Treatment System for You


    What are your tips for surviving a boil order? 


    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: water filter, water purification, water storage

  • Discover the Best Water Treatment System for You

    |11 COMMENT(S)

    Finding the right water filtration system will help meet your needs during an outdoor adventure and emergency

    Whether you’re on the go, having an outdoor adventure, or in an emergency, make sure you stay hydrated with refreshing, clean water. But remember that water isn’t always just water. Often times, if you find your water source in the outdoors while camping, hiking, or if you’re lost, the water may be home to bacteria, protozoa, and even viruses that can harm you or your pets. That’s why it’s important to have a reliable filtration system on hand to neutralize these harmful microorganisms. But what type of filtration/purification method is right for you?

    Water Filter vs. Water Purifier

    There are three ways you can treat your water: you can filter it, purify it, or both (which is what we recommend). Filtering your water with a good microfilter eliminates sediment, protozoa, and bacteria.

    Purifying your water typically means that you are killing the microorganisms. Although microfilters remove most of the microorganisms, sediment, and particles that cloud water, using a purifier in addition to the microfilter will make sure to neutralize all the microorganisms (including viruses).

    To learn more about water contaminants and the difference between purifying and filtering water, check out our Insight article, “Water Filtration and Purification”.

    Depending on your activity, your water source, and how clean you want the treated water to be, you may only need a microfilter or you may desperately need a purifier.

    Which water filtration system is right for you?


    When choosing a water microfilter/purifier make sure you understand your needs.

    • Is your microfilter/purifier just for yourself, or will you use it to clean water for an entire family or group?
    • Will you be using the microfilter/purifier frequently for campouts and backpacking trips, or only at home or in an emergency?
    • Do you just need something to toss into your emergency kit?
    • Do you have easy access to a lake or stream?
    • Does the water need to be filtered/purified immediately or do you have some time to wait?

    Knowing what your needs are will help you when choosing a filter and/or purifier. Let’s look at some options to see which one is the best fit for you.


    So you’ve heard that it’s important to add a microfilter and/or purifier to your emergency kit, but you’re not quite sure where to begin. Cleaning your water can actually be really easy. Several treatment systems only require you to drop in some tablets or to simply place a light into the water source. The following filters and purifiers are some of the easiest to use.


    The Katadyn Micropur Purification Tablets are a great way to purify your water using a chemical treatment that leaves behind no chemical taste. See more about how these tablets work under the BACKPACKERS OR CAMPERS section of this post.


    The Frontier Emergency Water Filter System is our most basic filtration system that filters out only sediment and large microorganisms from water. Simply insert the straw into your water source and drink. The water is filtered as it travels through the straw. The Frontier fits in to a pocket, a fanny pack, daypack, or emergency kit. For safety, use the Frontier with chemical treatments.


    The Hydropack is a simple and powerful micro-filtration pack. Simply drop a pack into any fresh water source and in about 10 hours, get approximately 12 fl. Oz. of purified, electrolyte drink. The Hydropack eliminates bacteria, protozoa, and viruses.

    STERIPEN $49.95 - $99.95

    The SteriPen is a great way to purify water on the go. Using ultra-violet light, the SteriPen neutralizes 99.9% of disease-causing microorganisms (including bacteria, protozoa, and viruses) in as little as 48 seconds. Its tapered neck allows water to be purified directly in narrow-mouth drinking bottles or other containers. The SteriPen works great to purify smaller amounts of water at a time. However, in order for the UV light to work, you need mostly clear water. The Steripen fits-all-filter is an inexpensive, wise investment to make cloudy water clear.


    The MyBottle Microfilter is a lightweight, portable microfilter that removes particles, dirt, bacteria, and pathogenic cysts (such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium) from water to give you a clean, fresh taste. Simply drink from the bottle—microorganisms and sediment will be filtered out as you drink. Includes a Carbon filter to reduce chemicals, eliminate odors, and improve the taste of water. The MyBottle Microfilter is great for on-the-go activities, outdoor adventures, or emergencies.


    The MyBottle Purifier removes bacteria, protozoa, and viruses from your water. You get the compact, lightweight form of a water bottle with the confidence to drink from almost any water source. This is an extremely simple way to get clean, fresh-tasting water. Simply fill the bottle with water, drop in the purification and filtration straw, and drink.


    Often times we aren’t just carrying a means to filter water for ourselves, but for our families or for a group of people. Although any good filter/purifier will do its job of treating the water, there are a few that are ideal for a greater output capacity.


    The Reliance Fold-N-Filter combines water storage with water treatment so you can effectively filter, purify, and store up to 5 gallons (19 liters) at a time. Simply fill the collapsible jug with water and then press down on the container to quickly dispense clean, filtered water. The Reliance Fold-N-Filter is great to take camping, to use at home, or in an emergency. When not in use, the Fold-N-Filter rolls up and can store in a small space.


    The Katadyn Base Camp Gravity Filter is a great microfilter to use for groups, families, or at a basecamp. This pump-free water filtration method can provide 2 gallons of water in just 15 minutes (and up to 200 gallons of water before its element needs replacing). Simply fill the water bag and hang for a convenient, easy way to treat a large amount of water.


    The Katadyn Combi is a perfect fit for high capacity needs in outdoor use and for preparedness. See more under the BACKPACKERS OR CAMPERS section


    The Gravidyn is a great way to filter your water with its 3 two-stage cartridges. It removes bacteria and protozoa while reducing chemicals for a clean, fresh taste with Carbon. The Gravidyn is ideal for groups of people. It has a 2.5 gallon water container and is used by international relief organizations as group equipment to prepare drinking water. There’s no need to pump or stir with the Gravidyn—gravity does all of the work.


    The Expedition Water Filter is a nearly indestructible microfilter built for times you need high volumes of water—and fast. It filters up to 26,000 gallons of water in its lifetime, filtering 2 liters in roughly 30 seconds (or about a gallon a minute). This is a great microfilter to use for groups such as extended families, neighborhoods, church or civic groups, and schools.


    For camping enthusiasts, and especially for those who love backpacking and hiking, having a filter or purifier that is compact, lightweight, and easy to use on the go is crucial. Anything heavy or bulky takes up precious space in your pack and adds more weight to your load. The following microfilters/purifiers will clean your water without adding much extra weight.


    This chemical treatment is a great way to purify water while hiking, camping, or in an emergency without having to deal with the chemical taste. The Micropur tablets are lightweight, compact, and easy to use. One tablet will treat one quart (1 liter) of water. The pack comes with 20 tablets that are effective against bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. These are the only EPA-registered tablets on the market. These tablets are great to have on hand for a variety of situations to help purify water or to use in tandem with a filter.

    Note:  Treatment time is 4 hours

    $49.95 - $99.95

    The SteriPen is a great addition to backpacks or camping gear because it’s lightweight and small enough to pack in a crevice of your pack. See more under the BEGINNERS/INDIVIDUAL section.


    The Katadyn MyBottle Microfilter is a great microfilter to take on backpacking expeditions or while camping. It’s used for one person, and you can drink straight from the microfilter itself, which gives you more room to pack other gear since you don’t have to pack a microfilter and bottle separately. See more under the BEGINNERS/INDIVIDUAL section.


    Like the MyBottle Microfilter, the MyBottle Purifier fits easily into a backpack for outdoor adventures allowing you to drink straight from the bottle you purify your water in. See more under the BEGINNERS/INDIVIDUAL section.


    The Katadyn Hiker filters out protozoa and bacteria from water and prevents early clogging. Ideally it’s used for emergency kits, camping supplies, or to take while hiking where a lightweight, portable microfilter best fits your needs. The Hiker can filter up to one quart per minute. Simply place the pre-filter in a water source and pump.


    The Vario Microfilter is a premium drinking water system that filters bacteria and protozoa from water. The Vario is easy to use and great for a variety of conditions. This microfilter offers you the option to have a high water output when the water is clear. When water is murky, you can adjust the microfilter to activate and extra layer of filtration for longer life. Like the Hiker Pro, the Vario features carbon filtration to keep water tasting fresh and clean.


    The Katadyn Combi’s ceramic cartridge makes it perfect for high capacity needs in outdoor use and for preparedness. It eliminates disease-causing agents such as bacteria, protozoa cysts, algae, spores, and sediment. It can provide up to 13,000 gallons of filtered water. This is a microfilter that will last. The Combi includes a carbon cartridge to reduce chemicals and bad taste and comes with a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty.

    This microfilter works both outdoors and indoors. With the optional Faucet Adaptor (WP F455), you can connect the microfilter to your faucet for clean water in a camper, cottage, or boat.


    The Pocket Water Filter is the most rugged, longest-lasting microfilter available. This microfilter is ideal for long backpacking trips or campouts. With its lifetime warranty, the Pocket Water Filter removes harmful microorganisms and sediment providing up to 13,000 gallons of treated water over its lifetime. Simply place the intake hose and pre-filter into the untreated water source, connect the output hose to your water container, and pump.

    The Pocket Water Filter performs in the most challenging conditions and is easy to clean. It can be cleaned over and over again which is why it lasts so long. This is the best choice if you are looking for a microfilter for life.


    Looking for something a little more suited to your expertise? Need an upgrade that will last you a bit longer than a basic water filter/purifier? These microfilters are built provide the best protection with the highest durability.


    This purifier is a fantastic upgrade to the Katadyn MyBottle Microfilter. With the MyBottle Purifier you eliminate bacteria, protozoa, and viruses. See more under the BEGINNERS/INDIVIDUAL section.


    The Hiker Pro is a high performance version of the Hiker. It’s an all-conditions microfilter that removes bacteria and protozoa from water. It’s efficient, lightweight, and reliable making it ideal to take camping, hiking, or to use in an emergency. Simply place the pre-filter in a water source and pump.

    The Hiker Pro comes with a hydration pack adaptor, allowing you to filter water directly from the safe water hose into a hydration pack without having to remove the bladder! It also comes with a filter protector to extend the life of the cartridge in challenging conditions, and with a Carbon cartridge to help improve the taste of your filtered water. This is a great microfilter to pump and clean a larger supply of water on the trail or during emergencies.


    If you’re looking for the ultimate microfilter, and one that you’ll keep for life, the Pocket Water Filter is for you. It is the most rugged, longest-lasting microfilter available. See more under the BACKPACKERS OR CAMPERS section.

    With the variety of water filters and purifiers, you can find the one that’ll fit your needs the best.

    Do you prefer any of these filters/purifiers over the others? Leave a comment and let us know!

    Posted In: Insight, Planning, Uncategorized, Water Storage Tagged With: water filter, water purification, emergency preparedness, Survival, water, preparedness

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