Water West Virginia Style
The crisis in West Virginia’s water supply did a couple things. One, it raised awareness that prepping isn’t only for crazy people who think Zombies are going to attack or the Russians are going to parachute into middle America. And two, it gave me the opportunity to learn something new.
Stockpiling supplies and rations is for situations just like this. It shows that an accident or a natural disaster can happen at any time in any part of the country. Having a safety net for your family isn’t something you should shy away from, you need to take an active role and make it happen now because later will be too late.
This episode in West Virginia raised an issue even I hadn’t thought about. How to filter a chemical out of a water supply. In the back of my mind I had alway known water filters and purification systems had in their tiny writing disclaimers about filtering chemicals but it just never hit home till now.
There are several ways to deal with water to make it clean to drink. Chemical, Heat & Filtration. Chemically treating water with things like iodine will only kill certain types of biological critters and will do nothing to take out chemicals. Heat -and here is the part I never realized, will only work if the chemical has a higher boiling point than the water. For this to work you would need to have a still to create a distillation process. Heat the water to steam, allow the vapor to travel down a tube (usually copper) and as it cools it condenses back into a liquid and collects in a separate vessel allowing you to drink it.
But if the chemical has a boiling point the same as water or lower the chemical will also turn to vapor and be transferred through this process to your vessel which has collected the water, not doing any purifying at all. So you must know the chemical compound and exactly what it’s characteristics are.
With filtration you would also need to know if the filtration method will extract the chemical. Within this method umbrella there is activated charcoal which allows the water to flow through tiny pores in the charcoal and traps the chemical – for this to work you have to know if the chemical has a molecule structure larger or smaller than H2O. More math, and just a little too risky for a disaster situation. In addition the charcoal will eventually become expended and won’t work any more. How long? Well that’s pretty much a guess depending on water quality and what the chemical is.
All in all, I think it’s too risky to try to purify any water coming from the tap in the event of a disaster such as this. You’d be better off collecting rainwater or using water you have stored to drink. For this to work of course you would have needed to think of this in advance and have the tools ready to do the steps I spoke of.
Berkey water filters is the only filtration company who publicly commented on the situation in WV. Here is what they said, I got it off the Survival Doctor’s website:
Berkey Filter’s Response:
The Black Berkey Purification Elements are able to filter out a large number of chemical contaminants, but they have not been specifically tested against 4-methylcyclohexane methanol. The reason is that this chemical was not listed by the EPA as a chemical to test water filters for. We have placed a link on our site to a PDF file that lists all of the volatile organic chemicals the filters have been tested against. You can find that link here: http://www.berkeyfilters.com/berkey-answers/performance/filtration-specifications/. It is in the section of Volatile Organic Compounds near the bottom of the page.
In general terms our filters are designed to be used in emergency situations and are actually classified as water purification elements as opposed to water filters. One of the strategies that can be used in a situation like that in West Virginia, where the element’s performance against an untested chemical is not known, is to use the filters to purify water from a source that is known not to be contaminated with that chemical. Examples would be rain water or water from a lake that is not connected to the contaminated river system. The filters will remove the biological contaminants and sediment from that water and provide a safe alternate source of drinking water. The only type of water we do not recommend using in the filters is seawater as the salt will greatly reduce their lifespan.
Through my research Berkey water filters are the best on the market, not going to go into detail, I just think they’re the best. They are the filters the UN uses when they go into foreign countries. They pretty much filter any critter who would want to harm you. They however aren’t sold in California. Why? Well let’s just say Cali is pretty messed up. They’re so good I’m just going to copy and paste this from their website, I have no affiliation with their product, I just believe in them:
The Black Berkey filters used in all of our systems takes water filtration to a new level. During testing conducted by independent EPA approved laboratories, the Black Berkey® reduced a long list of water contaminants with never before seen results, and significantly raised the standard for the water filter industry.
Black Berkey® purifier elements are far more powerful compared to competitors’ water filters. We tested the filters with more than 10,000 times the concentration of harmful pathogens per liter of water than is required by industry standard test protocols. This concentration of pathogens is so high that the water exiting the filters should be expected to contain 100,000 or more of pathogens per liter (99.99% reduction – the requirement in order to be classified for pathogenic removal). Incredibly, Berkey water filter elements removed 100% of the pathogens. Absolutely no pathogens were found in the effluent or were able to be detected. This set a new standard, allowing us to classify all systems containing the Black Berkey® filters as purifiers. The revolutionary Berkey purifier elements are so powerful they can remove food coloring from the water without removing any of the beneficial minerals your body needs.
The Black Berkey® filter element had extensive testing at State & EPA accredited laboratories and far exceed EPA & ANSI/NSF (Std. 53) protocol. The Black Berkey® filters have been Tested by the University of Phoenix, Spectrum Labs and the Department of Toxicology and Environmental Science Louisiana University.
Because the versatile Black Berkey Filters fit most other manufacturer’s gravity water filters, off brand gravity filtration systems can be upgraded to a purifier, with little effort. This high quality replacement filter vastly improves other brand’s housings ability to remove unwanted water contaminants.
Each Berkey filter element has a life of 3000 gallons. An incredible 6000 gallons for a 2 filter system (less than 2 cents per gallon of water). This is possible because of the filters unique ability to be cleaned up to 100 times using a 3M Scotch Brite Pad.
– See more at: berkey.com
Wow, great post regarding chemicals in water. I have been eyeing the Berkey Water Filters for some time. The whole WV situation was scary.
And now, here in good ol’ NJ we have another storm coming with the warning it will be heavy, wet snow and to be ready for power loss. At least we have the generator. Good times.
I’m glad I know you, you’re the Pope of safety – I need to make a bag finally! At least can you get me started with the absolute basics!?!?!??