It’s really becoming apparent that water is a concern in all parts of the world.  Either there is drought or there is flooding.  In the US alone there are the extremes of both occurring and the US is supposed to be one of the better places to be climate-wise.  In the West there is drought and on the opposite side and Mid-West, there is flooding.  In either case, there is going to be a need to purify water.  Many argue that the time to purify the water is now and it would be even more urgent to have a way to do it in a disaster or emergency.

Some people are storing water in huge barrels.  And though I can see why they would do it if they have space, I really feel that water will always be around in some quantity but the need to purify it will be much more important not just in emergencies but in daily life over time.

What is in the Water?

Today most trust the water that is ‘treated’ by the city or municipality but don’t realize that just because the water doesn’t give you diarrhea it is safe.  There are many more toxins in the water today than when the procedures for water treatment were first put into place.  We don’t just have bacteria and organic pathogens anymore.  We’ve all heard the reports of various other elements in the water now.  Fish getting hormone imbalance from all the pharmaceuticals being flushed down the toilets.   Aging pipes in cities like Detroit where children are suffering from lead poisoning.  And then there is the general pollution.  The thing that most don’t realize is that the water treatment plants don’t filter that stuff out!

At best there is a settling pond and then they ADD chemicals to the water to sterilize it and make it look clear.  But there are other elements both known and unknown in the water we drink now.  Even as it falls from the sky it isn’t as pure as it once was due to air pollution.  But I know you know about all of that just as well as I do.  The question is what do we do about it as individuals if we can’t get the world to stop poisoning the water?

As I’ve said before.  We get involved in the protest by lobbying government and corporations, acting with people toward a common cause.  But in the meantime, we have to take precautions for ourselves.

How Water Should Be Purified: The Basics

The thing about purifying water is that the basic concepts have to be understood in a survival situation just as it is understood at home in everyday life.  There are a few basic categories of toxin that has to be taken out of the water and each of these involves certain processes.

  • Biological contaminants.  These are things like bacteria, viruses, and parasites.  And in the age of 911 there is the danger of genetically modified biological weapons in the water.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds also called VOCs.  These are largely made up of the things put into the water to make them ‘safe’ to drink like Chlorine.
  • Heavy metals and other toxic particles as well other stuff you can literally see floating around.

Biological contaminants need to be killed.  Often people will boil the water as there will be ‘boil water advisories’ issued.  Around where I live they happen so often we hardly ever hear about them on the news.  They are usually issued on some obscure city website you never check.  When camping or hiking and especially in a survival situation, it’s really important to treat the water by boiling it or adding Chlorine or even beach to the water to kill any critters that are in there.

A lot of VOC’s can also be boiled out since they will often evaporate at a lower temperature than water.  Chlorine is one of these.  And yet the best way to remove these toxins is going to be with a carbon filter.  Running water through charcoal will do much the same thing (since it is pretty much the same thing).  Some VOC’s that some water treatment plants add to the water, however, need specialized filters to get them out.

But today the biggest concern in the water, to my mind, is the presence of heavy metals.  I mentioned lead earlier there can be lead from old pipes, and in other posts have talked about high levels of aluminium in the water AND the air.  And these are just two of many that are present in our modern environment.

The Best Way To Purify Your Water

The most well-known and effective way of purifying water is with a Reverse Osmosis filter system.  When it is coupled with a good carbon filter to get rid of VOC’s that it will not filter, it really is among the best choices for home filtration.  I thought it was the best choice for many years and it will get rid of even the smallest particles.

The Limits of Reverse Osmosis

But there were a few of things that bothered me about Reverse Osmosis and they were:

  1. That it took a lot of water to make a small amount of RO purified water.  It takes about 4 gallons of water to make a gallon of RO purified water.  So the system will waste or flush out a lot to make your water.  In a drought situation, it’s going to hard to justify 4 gallons for every one gallon you drink.
  2. The effectiveness of the filter goes down gradually with use and it is impossible to tell exactly when the filter stops being effective altogether.  The only thing you can do is replace filters based on the manufacturers general estimates.  This true for all filters I’ve seen though there may be some with fancy monitors….that would be nice.
  3. The filters do need to be replaced regularly and that can be expensive and wasteful of resources.  In a survival situation, new replacement filters may not be available at all.

The Limits of Carbon Filters

A lot of people think that filters like the Brita that come in a jug are fine.  They make the water taste better and that is good enough.  But what they are is just a carbon filter that is only going to get rid of VOC’s that make the water taste like chemicals.  Other contaminants like biological or heavy metal particulates are going to pass right through.  These days, taste is not a good enough standard for the water.  To be sure every purification system should have a carbon filter, but a carbon filter alone is not nearly enough.

What I Discovered About Water Purification

The first thing I’ve discovered is it doesn’t need to be as complicated and high-tech as a lot of manufacturers would have you believe.  In fact, the most effective method of purification is the oldest process in the world.  A combination of charcoal filtration and evaporation or what is more commonly known as distillation.

Mother Nature’s Solution

It used to be that Mother Nature would cause water in the oceans mostly to evaporate into the air then the water in a gaseous state would rise up and make clouds.  Those clouds would condense and then rain back to earth making pure fresh water.

Today the same process occurs but the water condenses on little particles of pollution among other things.  those particles mixed into each raindrop falls to the earth and then settles into the ground that may or may not be polluted itself.  Then as it flows down the mountains it settles into reservoirs where it can be collected by us.  All along the way, there are going to be pollutants in the waterways and the pipes the water travels through.

Since the hydrological cycle has been so corrupted the only way to recapture that original effect is to make your own rainwater and that is what water distillation does.

How Water Distillation Works

All a water distiller has are three components and as such creates it’s own hydrological cycle:

  1. a boiler tank
  2. a condenser coil (basically a coiled pipe)
  3. a collection tank

First, the dirty water is placed in the boiler where it gets boiled and the steam rises into the condenser coil.  The coil, being cooler than the water causes the steam to condense or form droplets of liquid water on it’s walls.  That water is pure.  The water then travels down the coil and falls right into a sealed collection tank.

That’s it!  That’s the process of distillation.

Now because of today’s chemical additives called VOC’s there will need to be a charcoal or carbon filtration process before or after the distillation process or both.  This is because VOCs will evaporate before water does and so will also rise up into the condenser coils and into the collection tank.  However, EVERYTHING else will be left behind.

Why I Like Distilled Over Filtered Water

Distillation is a 100% purification process.  The only thing that might match it that is available to the general public in purity is a new Reverse Osmosis filter.  Also, distillation takes care of a lot of the concerns I had about Reverse Osmosis.

  • The wastewater or the water that is left behind in the boiler tank is very very small compared to what an RO device requires.  I can run my Distiller for a few weeks and only have to drain out a quart of water.  That after it has made 3-4 gallons a day for that whole time.  Now I should be flushing the tank every day or at least weekly, but it doesn’t matter how dirty the boiler water gets, the distilled water is always going to be of the same purity.
  • A distiller has the same consistent quality of water ALL the time and over time.  The carbon filter or charcoal will need regular replacing or recharging but the distillation process itself will have a consistent quality.
  • Aside from charcoal replacement or carbon filters, the distiller itself will not need constant replacement.

In fact, Water distillers being such simple devices, tend to last for decades.  My distiller which I bought used (cheap) is over 40 years old.  And that is the biggest positive I can think of about water distillation: that water distillers can be readily purchased used for a fraction of the cost of a new one and the design of them has not changed in decades.

Mine cost $300 and make 4 gallons a day.  And it is what they call an “auto fill”  which means with a little tap into a pipe I did myself I can pipe water to the distiller which fills and runs automatically when it gets to a certain level of empty.  That means I don’t have to lug around bottles of water and put them in coolers.  It is just there all the time making water when I need it.  Dependable, simple and consistent are the main characteristics of distilled water that appeal to me over fancy expensive filters any day.

Go to Craigs List or eBay or local buy and sell and I’m sure you can pick up a deal one that is even better and cheaper than what I paid for mine.

Off Grid Moonshine

Now for me, the first thing that came to my mind when I heard the term ‘distilled water’ was the image of the old Moonshine runners of the prohibition era and massive distiller explosions.  I wondered how safe that would be.  But that was a misnomer for sure since water and alcohol are different things.  Right?

Well, I guess the only similarity between the distillation of water and the distillation of alcohol is in the VOCs that evaporate BEFORE the water does.  Alcohol work in exactly the same way.  Alcohol will evaporate into the condenser coils and collect where the pure water goes before water does.  That is how you make ‘pure’ alcohol.  Instead of pure water, pure alcohol goes into the condenser coils!

So having said that, there a Prepper here in Canada aptly named, “Canadian Prepper” who advocates carrying a certain amount of hard liquor when bugging out.  That is because he feels it could be a way to calm nerves and possibly kill some pain.  But mostly because if the grid goes down and supply lines shut down there will be a massive number of alcoholics wandering around willing to trade anything for a drink.  The line of reasoning goes that alcohol will be a choice item for trade.

Can you see where I’m going with this?

Now, I’m not condoning this and I know it’s not legal in a lot of places.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it’s illegal where you are but it is possible to make alcohol in a water distiller.

Again, I don’t know much about this so you will have to do your own research like on youtube where there are people who do how to’s…..but it’s something to keep in mind should the grid go down.  Just keep in mind the dangers when distilling alcohol and make sure you only do it if it comes down to survival.  One example of a danger I know of is that the first part of what gets distilled from alcohol is going to be deathly poisonous.  Remember the old thing about people going blind or something from bad Moonshine?  I think that is because before the alcohol evaporates up, just like with the VOCs in water, something like methanol comes up out of alcohol before the alcohol does and that stuff is bad news to drink.  So make sure you know what you are doing.

But how would you power an off-grid distiller (water or otherwise) in the event of an emergency like this?  Right now I am working on some comparisons of off-grid water distillers so keep tuned and me bookmarked as I do not have a fancy mailer just yet.

Dispelling The Myth

Now there is one myth that a lot of people subscribe to and I used to for a long time also and that is the idea that distilled water will leech minerals from your body and make bones weak among other things.

There is the counter-argument that the only thing that distilled water will leech are unhealthy “inorganic” minerals from the body like heavy metals.  And that it will leave alone any “organic’ mineral that your body actually needs and uses from foods you eat.  In other words, the only minerals you need are the ones you get from food (organic minerals).  Distilled water won’t touch those.  So that the net result of drinking distilled water is in effect a kind of cleansing process the way Mother Nature intended.

But to my mind, setting aside all the debate, there are so many toxins in the water that I know of that I’m willing to go without minerals and supplement in other ways just in case the myth is true.  And really I should be doing that anyway.

But if you don’t, believe me, you can look up what some renowned doctors did themselves.  Who are some of they?  Well, I can think of a few off the top of my head and will add more later.  Dr. Mayo of the Mayo Clinic fame felt that all illness came from water and drank only distilled himself.  Dr. Braggs the health guru of Bragg’s Apple Cider Vinegar (‘with the mother’) fame only drank distilled water.  And Dr. Weil health guru from the PBS shows…all of them drank or do only drink distilled water.

The one big drawback of distilled water, however, is that it takes quite a bit of energy to boil all that water.  and the question is if the grid went down how would you make distilled water?  If you are out how can you get distiller into a bug out bag that will work without electricity?  The solution isn’t going to be easy, distillers are pretty heavy and in an emergency, you may have to rely on lightweight portable filters and purification tablets in your bug out bag until you can get to a more settled place.

One Last Thing About “Halogens”

Distillation will get rid of a number of chemical additives to the water.  In fact when combined with carbon filters will get rid of all of them including down to the smallest particles.  Now, I know there is a lot of controversy about the subject of Flouride and it can get quite heated.  There are those who feel that Flouride is an attempt to keep people dumb, to lower IQs and in more esoteric circles, to coat the Pineal gland preventing higher level spiritual awareness.

If you subscribe to that then rest assured that distillation will get rid of 100% of Flouride.  But there is more to the Flouride story than most know and I’ll let you in on it right now

The Fluorine – Chlorine- – Iodine – Bromine Connection 

Within the table of elements there are four that are closely connected.  As you might have guessed they are Fllourine (fluoride), Chlorine, Bromine, and Iodine.  Together they are called halogens.  All are so similar in composition that the body will mistake one for the other.  However, only one of these is good for the body and the other three are toxic.  Can you guess which is the healthy one?

I’ll give you a hint.  It’s Iodine.  Right now there is an Iodine deficiency in most of the population just as it was in the days when the deficiency was so bad in the population, that it was decided Iodine would be added to salt.

But since then, the other three halogens have been widely introduced into the food and water supply.  We know Flouride and Chlorine are added to the water but in the US Bromine is added to the wheat or bread.  In places like Canada and the EU Bromine is banned in food.

Now I suspect it is true for the other halogens but there are a number of studies that have found that in the absence of Iodine, the body will take in and try to use Flouride instead.  And that is mighty unhealthy.  But in the presence of a sufficient amount of Iodine in the body, the body will start to cleanse Flouride.

I think the best move is to ensure you are not taking in any Flouride or Bromine or Chlorine, but supplement with a good brand of Iodine.  You can’t get it from the food anymore.  The soils 100 years ago had lots of Iodine to give to plants and food but, not it’s pretty much barren of Iodine.

In addition, Iodine can help prevent the negative effects of radiation exposure.  And this is another reason why I recommend Iodine supplements on a regular basis AND Iodine in a bug out bag.

Oh ya, one more thing, Distillers will purify out radioactive particles but will concentrate radioactivity in the boiler so caution cleaning the boiler must be taken if you are purifying water you suspect contains radioactive material.  On the other hand, if you find yourself having to purify radioactive water it may be time to bug out of the area if you can!