Tag Archives: water storage

  • How to Desalinate Water

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    How to Desalinate Water

    Water is a dynamic resource. It depends on the season, the location, the temperature, and a host of other factors. But one thing you can always count on is that at any given time about 97% of the world’s water is tied up in the ocean. The other 3% is found in streams, lakes, groundwater, and ice. Looking at the numbers, it’s obvious that tapping into the ocean’s reserves opens a world of possibilities, especially when it comes to an emergency.

    Using ocean water in an emergency is an obvious possibility for people living in coastal or island areas. When one considers the number of vacation destinations in these areas, the application becomes much wider. Natural disasters, especially, have the ability to interrupt or cripple fresh water supplies in these areas.

    However, people cannot safely drink ocean water.  The reason for this lies in the kidneys.  As the kidneys process salt, they are only capable of producing urine that is less salty than ocean water.  This means it requires more water than that which is available in ocean water to rid the body of excess salt. So as a person drinks ocean water they become increasingly dehydrated, rather than rehydrated. This makes desalinating ocean water an appealing option.

    If removing salt from ocean water is part of your emergency preparedness plan, it will generally take a bit more effort and/or equipment than other water purification processes.  Describing the desalination process at some length emphasizes the fact that the key word here is preparedness. For desalination to be useable at home, some foresight will go a long way.

     

    Desalination: How does it Work?

    Desalination or Desalting is the process of removing salt from ocean water to produce fresh water. Desalinated water can be used for drinking water, or for agriculture, or industrial use.

    Desalination is an inherently energy intensive process. There is a reason why wells are drilled, treatment plants are used, and conservation efforts are exhausted before agencies, governments, and authorities consider using desalination. That reason is money. In many cases ocean water must be treated and/or filtered before the desalination process can take place. This means that aside from consuming a great deal of energy, it also requires equipment, facilities, and manpower. Ultimately, this results in expensive water.

    Despite the cost, removing salt from ocean water is still a useful process that is in use in many areas. Expensive water is much better than no water, and as technology advances, renewable energy sources such as wind or solar power make desalination more viable and affordable.

     

    Types of Desalination

    There are different ways that this process can take place. The two most common are distillation and reverse osmosis.

    • Distillation is the process of boiling ocean water and collecting the condensate which has left salt and other minerals behind.
    • Reverse osmosis uses pressure and a semi-permeable membrane to accomplish the same thing. Osmosis is a naturally occurring process in which a solvent (water) and a solution (salt water) equalize across a semi-permeable membrane. This occurs as the solvent flows from less concentrated to more concentrated water until equilibrium is achieved. Reverse osmosis, as the name implies, pushes the process the other way. Pressure is applied to the salt water side pushing water molecules to the less concentrated side producing clean, salt-free water.

    Ways to Desalinate Water in an Emergency

    There are several different techniques you can use to desalinate water during an emergency.

    • Home distillation is a possibility. It requires a lot of fuel, however. In an extended emergency this could become a problem. Fuels (propane, etc.) may not last and wood collection could become too labor intensive to be worthwhile.
    • Solar distillation may be used as well, but production from a solar still is generally small. If solar power is going to be used, preparedness will be the key. It would be a great idea to invest in something like a solar oven to make the process more efficient.
    • Reverse osmosis is a viable option in an emergency as well. It will, however, require some investment and planning.
    •  Purchase a Desalinator. For someone who lives in an area where using salt water in an emergency is their best option, there are some good products out there. There are a couple common types.
    1. Powered Desalinators: Battery or generator operated. Powered desalinators are capable of supplying a decent volume of water, but they will require ongoing maintenance of batteries, solar panels, or generators to be sure everything will function in an emergency. They’re also relatively expensive. A common model is the Katadyn PowerSurvivor 40E. It retails for around $4000.00. It runs on 12 volts and puts out 1.5 gallons per hour. There are other models as well, but this one is fairly typical of price and output. They go up or down in price based on options.
    2. Manual Deslinators: The Katadyn Survivor 06 is a good example of a manual desalinator. They are generally operated by pumping to supply pressure to force water through the membrane. These again highlight the large amount of energy needed for desalination. The Katadyn Survivor requires 40 pumps per minute to produce 0.89 liters per hour. That is 2400 pumps for less than one liter of water!  In an emergency you’ll be glad to have the water, but a small manual desalinator will only provide enough water for one or two people and it will take a lot of work to get it.

    There are many scenarios where desalination may be your best option for an emergency water supply. If this is the case, it’s critical that you do some planning. You may need to learn specific techniques and decide how to best accomplish the task. In some cases it requires a significant amount of equipment. More so than with almost any other emergency water supply plan, desalination requires planning and forethought in order to be prepared.

     

    Is a desalinator not in your price range for emergency supplies? For a step-by-step tutorial on how to distill your own water at home, check back for our upcoming article on home distillation.

    Also, check out some of our other water filters and purifiers, such as the Katadyn® Expedition. These filters and purifiers are a great way to clean water found in fresh water sources.

     

    -Joe

    Author Bio: Joe Huish has worked for the Central Utah Water Conservancy District’s drinking water treatment sector for 10 years.  He studied Geology at Utah State University where he earned a bachelor’s degree. He’s an avid outdoorsman and is a bit of a gear nut. He enjoys fishing, hunting, jeeping, and camping.

    Posted In: Insight, Uncategorized, Water Storage Tagged With: distillation, desalination, water storage, water

  • 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? 

    --Angela

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

  • The Rain Barrel: SoCal's Hot New Backyard Accessory?

    The Rain Barrel: SoCal's Hot New Accessory

    If California’s (no) water situation seems to be taking up a lot of our attention, it’s because certain circumstances, while unfortunate, provide us opportunities to talk about good preparedness practices that may otherwise slip off our radar.

    Here’s a pretty cool example. In response to record low precipitation levels, some Southern California cities have implemented what they’re calling “no-brainer, low-hanging fruit solution[s]” for water independence—policies and projects geared to reclaiming and recycling local water.

    An ABC News story from earlier this month describes the rainwater collection system that waters the Santa Monica city library’s extensive gardens, as well as the water recycling plant near the famous pier that supplies irrigation to several local parks and schools.

    And individuals are catching on. The same article calls resident Josephine Miller’s 205 gallon rain barrel “fashionable,” as neighborhoods dive in to take advantage of local government rebates for home water conservation. While your city hall may not pay you for your efforts, rainwater storage makes efficient use of one of the few free resources at our disposal. Just make sure it’s legal to do so in your city or state, first.

    So, if you’re interested in harnessing some May showers for yourself, here are a handful of tips, tutorials, and helpful products.

    • Heard worrisome things about using roof-collected rainwater on edible plants? Educate yourself on the real and not-so-real risks, courtesy Rutgers’ cooperative extension.

     

    Here’s wishing you a happy and drippy spring!

    --Stacey

    Photo Courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens

    Posted In: Uncategorized Tagged With: drought, water storage

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