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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
By far not a full coverage, I figured I'd give everyone a general overview in case your new to the market- but there are bits and pieces in there that even experienced people might not know.

There is a lot of "brand loyalty" among certain filter owners; in this case, I am referring only to portable filters, and not whole home/residential models.(though I will cover them briefly to explain why you shouldn't use them in disaster planning.)

Expertise: A lot of damn research
What you should already know: that you can boil water to make it safe for drinking. You cannot filter salt water and get fresh water (thats a different system called desalination but we won't get into that).

Intro:
By far, the most important thing you can have in your SHTF tool kit is a way to make water safe for consumption. Depending on the particular situation, and the duration, comes the different type of filters. As most LI residents have already done, is have a decent amount of water stored for drinking/cooking for a short period of time. This moves us to the longer term "gathering water" situation, which is very similar to backpacking systems.

There are two main concerns when it comes to wilderness/gathered water. Technical jumbo aside, the key factor is stuff that is alive, and stuff that is dissolved. Alive stuff includes bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc. Stuff that is dissolved, include arsenic, heavy metals, etc.

If you know whats in the water, it makes it simple to decide which level of product you will apply. boiling water will kill the "stuff alive" but will do nothing for dissolved. Likewise, having a "stuff dissolved" only filter, wont help you in the stuff alive category.

Filter types:
There's the "main filter" which physically removes "stuff that is alive" (as well as dirt/sand/etc) and then there is the other material included that "absorb" the "dissolved" stuff. There's some type of media which is inbetween, but we'll discuss that somewhere else.
1. Pleated- Similiar to your oil filter- Good flow qualities, lots of surface area- generally use and discard. Lower filter life than ceramics
2. surface filters- ceramics fall into this category- relatively slow in comparison, but has a very high service life- requires cleaning to obtain the service life.
3. Depth filters- a blend of the two technologies, depth filters flow faster than regular ceramic types, but the depth filters allow more "surface area". Service life is higher than pleated filters, but not as long as traditional ceramics.
4. Tube type- small hollow fiber tubes allow water to get passed through, but not the bad stuff. Water output varies depending on size, and has almost an infinite number of gallons could be processed.

Primarily, the removal of dissolved stuff is done by either charcoal or alumina, bone char,KDF, the list goes on. In short, Charcoal removes most dissolved organics, and improves the flavor, but not the arsenic, or heavy metals. The other types of additives do. Depending on your situation, and the water you might encounter, will dictate your preferred type of filtering. Some filters incorporate all these technologies together for the sake of convenience. Filters filled with charcoal, ceramics and charcoal, etc.

Desktop/home models: Among the "home units" most people are familiar with are Brita, Pur, and Zero Water.

Brita is not a filter- its a "flavor enhancer"- comprised primarily of charcoal, so it reduces the taste of chlorine, and possibly some other things, but not much.
Zero water removes a lot of dissolved particles, but will not remove any "living" stuff. It will remove fluoride, zinc, chromium, aluminum and hydrogen sulfide. It will however not do arsenic.
PUR- They reduce cadmium, cryptosporidium, giardia, lead, mercury, asbestos, copper, zinc, and sediment 96 to 99.99 percent; plus lessen chlorine levels and discoloration. Purs filters are made with activated carbon to reduce chlorine and sediment, and include an ion-exchange resin that helps eliminate lead and copper. will leave fluoride in water.

So as you can see, not any single major desktop model will do it all. And that is when water is of GOOD quality. When making decisions on what to get, Im reminded of water filter purchases in the past, when I lived in an apartment; the water was good, but there was a lot of dissolved mineral in the water- so much so, my filters would clog within 2 weeks. The mineral isnt harmful, but you have to taylor your filtering system to fit your needs.Likewise, none of them will stop viruses.

A side note on a company called "Big Berkey"- I will not go into their stuff- while taking the SHTF market by storm, I will let readers decide on their own what they think about the durability of their products and their customer service. In theory, they should blow all the commercial stuff out of the water, but a rather shoddy reliability record makes me personally shy away. Even before that, their rating system had me question their business. Look around and look for what the EPA calls a "purifier"- and not what these companies call them. Some will call themselves "purifiers"- but in order to qualify, all viruses have to be inactivated or physically removed.

Many companies will sell things as "purifiers"- BE WARNED!!!! In my own research, some will make the claims, but read the details- removing MSA-polio, is relatively easy since it binds to other larger things- look at the absolute filtration rate- only sawyer's .02 micron filter will do it. The rest will remove some types of viruses, but not ALL. The down side is the filter clogs faster, and is slower.Again, taylor the filter to your needs.

Portable systems: Bucket capable!
For a large family, your going to need water, and lots of it. Among the more popular approaches is to let gravity do the work. If you have a base camp setup somewhere, this can easily net you a gallon an hour or more, depending on your setup.

Among the contenders: all ceramic based "candle" type- "inline" types, even some pleated types

Truthfully, they are the same in function as your desktop models, with better filters, and larger capacity.They tend to require less durability, as they are not banged around, or hauled around much. You can spend anywhere from 50 dollars for the setup, or 300 dollars. Sawyer, katadyn, and many other companies all sell bucket conversion filters. The inline filters are more durable, and can be used on the move easier with different systems. Inlines rarely, if any, include charcoal/other media that will reduce dissolved organics or chemicals, and if they do, have a short life span. Can resist freezing when dry.

Portable systems: gravity: these include models such as the katadyn base camp, the sawyer/platypus/MSR/ a few other inline "dirty" and "clean side". Again, it doesn't matter what the filter media is made of- as long as the filtration fits your needs. A note: hollow fiber technology filters have not included charcoal as part of their system, as of their writing. You can easily add inline charcoal filtration inline however. filtrating speed varies depending on the dirtyness of the water, but generally, the speeds listed above still apply here. I've had good luck with the sawyer and the katadyn- the MSR, not as much, but it wasn't terrible. Katadyn includes charcoal in their filter- but that usually will wear out before the filter gets clogged and needs to be replaced. Again, inline charcoal filters can be used.

Portable system: combo units: I've heard the First need XL, a great pump filter in its own right, has its carry bag that doubles as a gravity bag (that doesn't work that speedy).A great all around filter to consider, It uses a carbon matrix material, almost like a ceramic, to filter everything including some viruses (I won't say all), because it doesn't have the pore size needed.

A side note about viruses: It has been found that some viruses like to bind to certain materials - this affinity gives some filters the ability to make "virus" stopping claims, but because it doesn't bond' like glue, nor do you have a way to figure out of the material is fully loaded- seems dangerous to me if your relying on it to stop viruses.

Pump systems: There's probably a dozen good filters out there. Katadyn, MSR, First Need, all make great filters- Some are field cleanable, others are not- so you have to balance purchase price, speed of filtering, and replacement costs, to the level of filtering need you require.

Squeeze systems: comes in bottles, or sippy systems. Their "ok" for on the move requirements, but have relatively short filter lives (20 gallons or less) Some new squeeze tech will let you do a lifetime supply with back flushing. Light weight, but squeezing enough water for your family may be death in of itself.

Straws: Almost a last resort, they have come a long way. Like everything else, the key to survival prep is to have a backup. Again, read the specs- some will not offer the same protection as regular filters do!
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Alternatives to filters: chemical treatment, UV treatment.

In this category you have all sorts, from iodine drops and its related cousins (aqua mira pill form iodine), to chlorine (bleach), to chlorine dioxide (not bleach). Among these only chlorine dioxide is rated to kill all the baddies in the water- and not all are certified. Only the MSR Miox (now discontinued, sadly) and the Micropur MP1 tablets are EPA registered as purifiers. Again, depends on you and your needs. Takes up to 4 hrs for some, some even longer in cold conditions.

In the UV category is the Steripen, and the Camelbak All clear- Kills all the baddies- but you have to remember, it will only purify CLEAR water. If you have particles floating in there, the light cant reach. Unlike chemicals which can keep killing for several hours, UV light stops killing as soon as the light is off. The risk of cross contamination is a bit higher.

Again, none of these will remove dissolved material.

What is highly recommended by most is to use a physical filter, add a chemical treatment, then dissolved material absorber at the very end. This layering method may seem tedious, but can be very useful for a variety of conditions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Current Modifications of my own gear:
I had previously used iodine tablets and vitamin C drops, but hated the taste and the staining. I have since switched to katadyn MP1 for my chemical only water purfication.

I am currently testing the PUR drinking water system- which uses flocking agents which forces even muddy water to be cleaned- where pumping and UV don't work.


Its smaller buddy used by the military is labed under Chlor Floc (small quart size applications instead of 5 gallons at a time). Different production companies however.

Every filter company will tell you the same- filter the cleanest water you can find- sometimes, that is not an option, even in the wild, where the only water you can find, is full of sediment that won't settle. You'd be lucky to get a quart out of ANY filter. You could boil it, but you'd be drinking it. And imagine how that would taste.

Other works in process: I have a Katadyn basecamp, as well as a Pur Hiker (now known as the Katadyn hiker)- they share the same filter media. If you look at most pictures online, it looks different than the one sold- primarily, the one sold in the U.S. uses the fast flowing pleated filter (rated for 200 gallons),

As luck would have it, the Swiss seem to be quite nice about keeping things compatible- the basic filter design has not changed since 1997- and will still fit filters from back then. Subtle improvements have been made, but the availability of parts is ALWAYS important in a survival situation. And the Hiker is the most popular and most sold backpacking filter in america. You can find filters that fit either in almost any store, and there is no shortage of filters online.

Doing some research, it appears that initially the Basecamp was outfitted with their ceramic gravity filter- Called the Siphon, which is rated ad 3000-5000 gallons, and is silver impregnated. Flow rates drop significantly, 1.4 gallons an hr, vs 2.5 in 15 minutes! Ceramics are slower by nature, and in order for them to compete in the same market as these other gravity filters, they swapped out to their hiker filter.

but in a SHTF, you may have a need for water over a long period of time. Hence, swapping out the filter to the ceramic will net a huge gain in filtering life.
 

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Nice info gents. Thanks for taking the time.
 

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Is there any way to use an RO/DI filtration system to filter water from a pond or other standing water in an emergency and if so what would an RO/DI system not filter out if anything? The reason I ask is that I have a 75GPH RO/DI system in my house for my saltwater tank and I have a 500-600 gallon pond in the back yard. I thought that in an emergency I could use both to make fresh water in a bug in situation extended power outage, hurricane, blizzard etc.
 

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A Reverse Osmosis system will purify any water source- though, my familiarity is with Marine Units, made to produce potable water from seawater, and I am not sure about the type used for aquariums.

The biggest issue with RO is that it is TOO good- it produces what is basically distilled water- pure H2O. In an extended survival scenario (or a long passage at sea) you have to take mineral supplements to replace the minerals you'd get drinking 'normal' water.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Its not really in my original scope of things, but assuming that you decide to use the RO/DI system and use the pond water as the feeder, the system will clog really fast. Other than that, I'd drink it, after adding a few drops of bleach just to make sure no viruses got through.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Well, luck would have it that the katadyn basecamp retrofit - doesn't work. apparently, at one point, katadyn *did* sell adapters- however, they stopped production several years ago, and have no more in stock anywhere.
 

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Hello Madmax, good topic on an important subject. Drinkable water and how it gets to your tap are taken for granted but in an emergency situation the know how to make it potable and readily available will be vital. I have some back round in filtration having worked at a well known Long Island filter manufacturer as a field analyst. What I observed at the various filter installations was the combination of pre filtration schemes to get the desired result. This included sand and clay beds , screens, settling tanks flocculant additives and less expensive filters in succession . Some difficult items to remove are chemicals from roofing materials and nitrates in ground water. Hope this helps, good luck.
 
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