Water Conservation: A Prepper’s MUST DO

Conserving water makes sense on many levels. It saves money, it is better for the environment and it helps people become more self reliant and better prepared for emergencies. The less water you use the less we take from the environment, the less we need for day to day use, the less we need in an emergency, the less we need to have stored or our stores will last longer and finally the less water we have to pay for (pumping, treatment, water bill).

There are many suggestions on how to use less water, I will not come anywhere close to a complete list. The first step to water conservation is being aware of how much water we are using and then searching for ways to use less. The two general types of changes people can make to conserve water are behavioral changes and changes from investing in new equipment/technology.

Behavioral changes all stem from a consciouses of the volume of water used at the time of use. Having a thirty minute shower uses more water than a twenty-five or twenty minute shower, cutting down the time will save significantly the amount of water we consume each year. The simplest thing to do is to minimize the time your faucets are on and the water just goes down the drain, this water is completely wasted. Eliminating the water that goes straight to waste is simple and we don’t have to sacrifice anything, all we do is small things like open the faucet into a cup, and shutting the faucet when the cup is full. This philosophy applies to all our faucet use, brushing our teeth, shaving, cleaning and even bathing. You may even notice an energy saving on your hot water use as you will also use less hot water.

During an emergency, using less water is paramount. Continue reading

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How to Make a Solar Water Distiller

Distillation is sometimes the only possible for of treatment to purify water. After disasters and during emergencies there are times when there isn’t enough fuel for boiling, or there isn’t a suitable container available to place over an open flame.  In a true end of organized society situation or even just disruptions to the supply chains, replacement water filters will not be available and new supplies of disinfection chemicals will disappear.  Even backup sources of water need to be disinfected.  This is something everyone with have to deal with and a small solar distiller can be built by anyone.  Solar water distillers can be created using household items. What you need is a clear glass pot or bowl. As long as it is oven safe. A cup, also glass and tin foil. The tin foil could be better served with something clear, like the lid to your glass pot. Plastic wrap can work if it is thick enough to withstand the heat generated in the device.

The construction is simple:
1) Place the cup in the bowl.
2) Fill bowl with water. Do not go over the height of the cup. Less water will distill faster.
3) Cover the bowl. With the lid/tin foil/plastic wrap.
4) Place the still out in an area that receives a lot of sun.

Solar Water Distiller (Image Source: http://www.teachscienceandmath.com)

This is a solar still at it’s simplest, All you have to do is set it up in a sunny area and come back an hour later.  The main drawback is the volume of water treated, in this example you only get a cup of water every few hours.  There are additional things you can do to increase the effectiveness and the efficiency.  The first thing you can do is add another cup, or two to collect more of the distillate.  If your bowl has a lid with a handle in the centre, place the lid on the distiller upside down with the handle pointing into the cup.  This should look like a funnel (of sorts) and it will direct more distillate into the cup.

Keeping the water shallow will heat it up faster, using a wider bowl or tray will help with this. There is a balance however to be kept to ensure the water condenses into the cup, which is favored by a narrow bowl.

Placing the still on a black piece of metal will also greatly assist in the heating of the water. You could also place something black and metal in the water or paint the bottom of the bowl. The point is, black surfaces heat up faster.

There are specifically designed lab glassware for distillation. If you can buy these, I suggest you do as they will be your most efficient, and can be placed over a flame if you buy the right ones. The piece that is most useful is the condenser tube. The collection of the distilled water is much more efficient with a condenser tube.  Collecting the distilled water in another container allows for faster distillation due to a rapid drop in temperature from the heated vessel to the cooling vessel.

Laboratory Distillation Setup (Image Source: http://kids.britannica.com)

There is only one type of contaminant not removed by distillation, those are volatile chemicals with a boiling point less than water.  Volatile chemicals are usually dissolved gasses in the water, they aren’t removed by distillation because these chemicals follow the water through the phase change to a gas and back again into a liquid.

Distillation has another big problem in my opinion.  Distilled water tastes bad.  You may have different tastes than I do, if you do then go ahead and drink distilled water.  Now taste is a luxury in a survival situation and drinking bad tasting clean water is better than contaminated water.  As I say at the end of all my emergency water treatment articles, always drink the safest water possible.  This is another water disinfection tool you can use when you really need it.

Water Quality Myths

There is a lot of misinformation available about water quality.  If taken as true in the wrong situation they could be very costly, they might even cost you your life.

The first myth I want to mention is the belief that ground water is pure. See my article on why I dislike the term “purify” when it concerns water.  I have heard this over and over again, “if we were all drinking ground water we wouldn’t need all these chemicals and we would all be healthier”.  This simply isn’t true.  Ground water does contain bacteria, it is usually free from pathogenic organisms, but that is not guaranteed, and if your system isn’t used to the specific bacteria in the ground water they may still make you a little sick.

The second myth I want to squash is the idea that sunlight, specifically the ultraviolet radiation will kill bacteria.  Let’s think about this for a second.  Using a lack of common sense, sunlight disinfection appears to be true.  UV kills bacteria and the sun emits UV radiation sounds like a win-win scenario.  However with a lot more common sense and some education behind it, it becomes apparent that all the lakes and rivers on the surface of the earth are exposed to sunlight.  If UV from the sun disinfected water, there would be no microscopic life in our water and because this is the bottom of the ecosystem, there would be no ecosystem at all.   Continue reading

Quite Possibly The Simplest Prep Ever

This week has been really hard for me to be motivated to complete journal entries for The Omega Man Journal.  I mean I could have squeezed out SOMETHING, but it wouldn’t have been very good and not many people will have wanted to read it.  I personally prefer to have/read good material over filler material.  You know; quality over quantity.  So yesterday there was no new journal entry, thanks to writers block.

At some point yesterday I tweeted “I need some inspiration, Got any to spare?” and I got some very useful ideas from a few people who I met through the #preppertalk hashtag on Twitter.  One response from @Prepper_Jeff however threw me for a loop.  He responded “Here you go… One bucket enough?”.  Now the way my brain was working at the time I failed to see what he was referring to and my subsequent misinterpretation is what started my brain working again.  He was just offering me some inspiration, not an idea or topic suggestion.  I was a little surprised that it worked.  Prepper_Jeff however wasn’t surprised, he said that he keep a lot around for just such an occasion.

And that is in my opinion the simplest preparation every single on of us can do.   Continue reading

Critical Thinking: The Natural History Of Nonsense

When something is capable of changing the way I see the world I pay attention.  I have to, things that affect me on that level are rare and they contain a special power, the power of persuasion.  This time it was a book (link below to a free pdf).  In this book the author takes common misconceptions that many people have and shows how that idea is obviously wrong.  In other words it is an entertaining way to learn about critical thinking, skepticism and the scientific method.  This may not appear to be survival, self-reliant or preparedness related, but try to think about it this way.  How useful is to be able to spot the B.S. for what it is and throw it away and focus one truly effective ideas?  That sounds like a self-reliant corner stone to me.  Have a read and let me know if you agree.  The book was written in 1946, and you may be shocked at how relevant it is today.

The Natural History of Nonsense

Change of Plans: Evaluating Emergencies in the Momment

Preparedness is by definition a lot of planning. There is tons of action in there as well, but even the actions taken to prepare as based on plans of some kind. I have plans for disaster readiness, my bug out plan, my get home plan and I have more day to day plans, my financial plan comes to mind. A self-reliant lifestyle also needs planning, failing to predict what will be necessary leads to being caught off guard, being caught off guard leads to dependence.

Today I made a lot of plans. I had my whole day planned out. I knew what order I was going to do everything and it was going to work out great. Then one of Murphy’s Laws kicked in, Continue reading

The Decline Is Happening Now

There is always something to worry about looming on the horizon. Many disasters are easy to see the start and end points of. Natural disasters like hurricanes and earthquakes or man made disasters like wars, all have clear start and end points. These things are easily dealt with the predict, prepare, respond, repair/rebuild model of disaster management.

Not all disasters are so clear cut. Some disasters build up so slowly that we fail to notice them in time. It is human nature to become accustomed to a norm. If the norm changes slowly enough we won’t ever notice. Continue reading