Yesterday I discussed the growing food shortages and food wars around the world. Growing food shortages
Water filtration devices can be bought at practically any camping or outdoor supply store, but if you live in the city, you probably don’t camp out a lot. You may not have a water filtration device. You may depend upon your city to provide you with filtered water from your tap. A turn of a knob and there you go - drinkable water.
But, in a widespread economic depression, we may be subjected to equipment breakdowns and/or water rationing. In fact, we are often already subjected to water rationing, but so far, it’s only applied to watering lawns. In a critical, short term disaster, the water may be contaminated and undrinkable for a while. How do city folks get drinkable water? If we have advanced warning, we can fill up jugs, pitchers, bottles, sinks, buckets, and bathtubs with water. That’s good for a week or so, and greywater can be used to flush the toilet.
If you have an ornamental pond or wading pool or collect rainwater in barrels from your gutters, that’s a good source of water, too. It can be boiled to make it drinkable. I know a lot of sources say you need to boil your water for anywhere between one and ten minutes, but in my experience, this means you are left with steam and very little water. Bringing the water to a good rolling boil and then cooling it is sufficient to make it drinkable.
Distilling your water yourself is the best way to guarantee it’s drinkable. Most stills are illegal to own, but you can make a water distillation still out of common household items. Well, they used to be common. Maybe they aren’t anymore. What you need is a stockpot, a domed metal lid in which you can drill (or have drilled) a hole at the highest part, plastic tubing (like what you have for the icemaker in your refrigerator), a bowl of cold water and a pot or pitcher in which to catch the purified water.
Fill the stockpot with water - use the pitcher you’ll use to catch the clean water to measure - two pitchers of water in the stockpot. Secure the plastic tubing in the hole and the lid to the stockpot (make a paste of flour and water to seal the edges), make sure the tubing doesn’t come near the heat or the hot stock pot, coil a couple of loops into a bowl of cold water, and hang the end out into the pitcher you use to catch the cleaned water. Make sure the bowl of cold water is lower than the stock pot, and the pitcher is lower than the bowl of cold water. Heat the stockpot of water to a rolling boil. The steam will be captured by the tubing, the cold water in the bowl will convert the steam back to water and the purified water will drip into the pitcher. When the pitcher is full, turn the heat off and the water you collect while it cools as well as what cools in the stockpot can be used for greywater purposes like flushing the toilet. Don’t use the leftover water for any purposes that might make its way into your mouth. While it’s been boiled, theoretically making it safe, it may still contain some chemical contaminants. The distilled portion is safe to drink and cook and wash dishes with.
If you live in the city and have only flood waters available, distill the water you drink. Don’t depend upon boiling to remove contaminants. In the city, the water will come into contact with a wide variety of chemical contaminants that boiling just won’t remove. Be safe, distill your water.
If no water is available, you can collect water with a dew collector. You’ll need some land (a backyard or waste area will do - try to avoid public parks - city officials get cranky if you dig up public parks), a shovel, a large sheet of plastic, some rocks, and a collection cup or pot. For a sophisticated dew collector, you can run tubing from the cup or bowl to the outside edge of the plastic sheet.
To put this together, you need to dig a hole in a sunny spot about 2 feet wide and 10 inches deep. Place your cup or pot in the center of the hole. If you use plastic tubing, put it in the cup and run it along the ground and up and out of the hole. Spread the plastic sheet over the hole and set rocks at the corners to secure it. Put a rock in the center over the collection cup and push it down slightly so the plastic is just above the cup - the point is for condensation to collect under the sheet and run down and drip into the collection cup. Now, add more rocks around the edge of the plastic sheet and cover the edges with dirt so it’s sealed all the way around except for the tubing that’s out. Even in the desert, you’ll be able to collect at least a cup of water a day from this. In more temperate areas, as long as you get some temperature variation between night and day, you’ll get plenty of fresh water. It’ll taste like plastic, but it’ll be safe to drink. Just suck it out through the tubing.
If you want to use it for cooking, you’ll have to carefully remove the dirt and rocks from one side, take the cup out and replace it with a new cup, then reseal the hole.
If you can’t dig a hole, find a sloping area (on a roof top, for example). You’ll need a large clear plastic bag, some non-poisonous green plants, a rock, and a plastic straw or tubing. Flip the bag fully open and fill 3/4 full of green plants - no sticks or sharp objects should be in the greenery. Put a rock near the mouth of the bag and position it so the mouth is on the downside of the slope. Close the bag and tie it securely, inserting your plastic straw or tubing into it Blow into the bag to puff it up. To get your water out (about half a liter to a liter a day), untie the bag, and tip it so the water that collects around the rock drains out, then refresh the greenery and retie the bag for the next day’s water.
One way to prepare for water shortage is to slowly drink less water. In our water bottle society where everyone seems to carry water with them everywhere, we are over-hydrated. If you’re over-hydrated, your urine will be clear. If you suddenly stop drinking so much water, your kidneys will continue to act as if you were still drinking as much and you will quickly dehydrate. By slowly reducing the amount of water you drink, your kidneys will adapt better and when a disaster strikes and your water supply is compromised, you won’t suffer from dehydration or damage your kidneys with the abrupt change. 2 liters of water a day - a mix of drinkables and the water present in our food - is all we need to survive. Your urine will be more concentrated, meaning it will be yellow; but as long as you are producing urine, you aren’t dehydrated.
In the event of a biochemical disaster or a nuclear strike, use decontamination procedures immediately. If your water is in sealed containers, decontaminate the outside before you open it. Obviously, water in sealed containers is your best and safest source. You must protect this water as much as possible. If you didn’t stock up on sealed bottles of water, try to get it from a lcosed source like underground pipes. You may use rainwater or snow but be sure to distill it before using it. Use water from slow-moving streams, if necessary, but always check first for signs of contamination, and always distill it before using. Signs of water source contamination are foreign odors such as garlic, mustard, geranium, or bitter almonds; oily spots on the surface of the water or nearby; and the presence of dead fish or animals. If these signs are present, do not use the water.
To remove radiation contamination from water, fill a bucket or other deep container three-fourths full with contaminated water. Then take dirt from a depth of 10 or more inches below the ground surface and stir it into the water. Use about 1 inch of dirt for every 5 inches of water. Stir the water until you see most dirt particles suspended in the water. Let the mixture settle for at least 6 hours. The settling dirt particles will carry most of the suspended fallout particles to the bottom and cover them. You can then dip out or siphon off the clear water. Distill it before using.
Tomorrow I will tell you something food wise: Very simple, very sustaining, and more nutritious than most realize!