Gravity Flow Water Filter

Hi Everybody, Frank here.

Hope everybody is having a wonderful day. Here in southeastern Oklahoma the weather is in the middle 80’s – middle 60’s. If you use your imagination, you can forget that just a few days ago it was 98 degrees with a corresponding humidity. Okay, so much for the weather.

Today we’re going to talk about water filtration. Like guns, radios and cars, there is no perfect water filter, but I’d like to share with you the type of system that we have used for about 20 years. We use a gravity flow filtration device. There are a few different models to choose from, some are plastic, some are stainless steel, and you can also make your own out of a couple of five gallon buckets. Probably the most popular brand is Berkey. They make numerous models and sizes, and they appear to make a quality product. But, Fern and I years ago, went with the Katdyn line of gravity flow filters. At the time, I really can’t tell you why we chose plastic over metal. I know the plastic has worked well for us, and when we lived in Alaska, it worked particularly well when moving from one location to another. You can pack all the parts together inside of itself. I love our United States Postal System, and I really do, but sometimes things can get banged around in the mail. So, we just stayed with the Katadyn Gravidyn, which is plastic.

Okay, the pieces. You have an upper chamber and a lower chamber. The lower chamber has one part, the spigot. The upper chamber is where you pour the water initially, it flows through the filters into the lower chamber, thus completing the gravity flow cycle.

Some of these type filters have holes pre-drilled for two, three or four candle type filters. We use one filter and we fill our top container once every two or three days. It’s about 2 gallons. That would take care of most families of four to six people, if you filled it more often.

But, if you want, you can add two of the candle type filters, or three, but you would need to have a very large family to justify this. The more candles, the more water it will filter, and if you’re the immediate gratification type, then you can have your filtered water much faster.

Like I said, we use one filter, and we fill it every two to three days. It takes eight to ten hours for the water to filter from the top to the bottom, so you could theoretically fill it up two to three times a day. But, in doing so, you have to make sure you drain the filtered water out of the bottom. Otherwise you will have an unscheduled mopping. So, if we get enough water for two people filling it every two days with one filter, then if you filled it twice a day, everyday, you would have enough water for about eight people with one filter. Not to mention if you filled it three times a day. So, if you use two or three filters, you can have a lot of filtered water for a lot of people if you work it.

The cleaner the water you put in to be filtered, the longer your filters will last. I guess you could go out and scoop up muddy water and pour into your nice, pretty, clean top reservoir, but in a short period of time, you’re

going to ruin your filter and clog it up. If you’re in this type of environment, there are ways to pre-filter water. There are lots of ways to do this. You can put water in a barrel and let it sit, and the heavy particulates will settle. Then you can either scoop or siphon it off of the top and have much cleaner water. If you choose, you can filter it through a t-shirt or a pair of pantyhose. You say, “Why would you do this? Isn’t this a gravity flow water filter?” Yes, it is, but it’s intended purpose is to filter microscopic type bacteria, so you need to have the water that you’re going to filter down to a very clean level. Okay, so don’t be pouring muddy water into your filter just to prove it will do it. Because if this is what you’re using to prevent intestinal parasites or diarrhea, then you might want to give thought to putting in pre-filtered water.

The manuals indicate replacing these filters every six months, and there are instructions for how to wash them if they get a little bit dirty. We take ours apart every month or two and give it a good scrubbing. All of the plastic parts you can wash with regular liquid soap and water. The filters themselves can only be washed in warm water, no soap. A word of caution. You should always follow the manufacturers advice, when to replace the filter. We do use ours significantly past the six month date. I can’t address the other manufacturers replacement recommendations, because I have never used their products. 

There are some companies that just sell a filter. You take a five gallon bucket; put it on top of another five gallon bucket with a lid in between the two; drill matching holes into the bottom of the top bucket and into the lid of the bottom one; install your filters between the bottom of the top reservoir and the top of the bottom reservoir; drill a hole near the bottom of the bottom reservoir; install a spigot; and you’re good to go. 

We have used this type of water filter for around 20 years now. We used it all over Alaska where the treated water is sometimes of a questionable nature. Now, we use it to filter our rural water, which is also of a questionable nature. There is some question as to whether or not it will filter fluoride. There is also some question whether it will filter chlorine.

But you don’t need to filter chlorine. Either before or after you filter your water, let it sit in an open pitcher on your counter top, and the vast majority of the chlorine will dissipate into the air. I don’t understand why we continue, or ever started, to put fluoride into our drinking water. If you need fluoride treatment for your teeth, the brush your teeth twice a year with a fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride is horrible for older people. You need to do your own research on fluoride. Good luck on finding a commercially made toothpaste that doesn’t have fluoride. It’s in your toothpaste and it’s in most, but not all, municipal water systems. I can find no good use for fluoride. It is terrible for babies to consume, and it does horrible things to the elderly folks bodies. So much for that.

If you would like to remove microscopic particles from your drinking water, then I can recommend the Katadyn Gravidyn gravity flow filter. Hope this helps.

We’ll talk more later. Frank

P.S. My father was the acting chemist for Dallas County Park Cities Water Control and Improvement District, No. 2 for about 20 years. He is my source of data for flouride. He was adamantly opposed to the introduction of fluoride to the water systems. Shortly thereafter, he left the water treatment business and opened a restaurant. Just thought you might want to know.

Vehicle Emergency Pack

We have had emergency packs in our vehicles for quite some time and it is time to take inventory and update a few things. I have felt the need to get very serious about being prepared away from home.

We learned a lot in Alaska about the need for emergency, survival equipment. The remote villages we lived in required travel by plane, sometimes in a small 207 that would seat six people. During the winter you were not allowed on the plane without adequate gear for warmth – just in case the plane went down. These experiences brought survival gear into the realm of everyday provisions that we wouldn’t think of being without.

My emergency pack is a basic backpack. If I ever need to walk, I want to be able to carry my supplies with me as comfortably as possible. That means on my back, not over my shoulder or in my hand.

The current inventory contains:  
Ziplock bag of old peanuts that need to be replaced

Good pair of tennis shoes (this will give me 2 pairs of shoes with the ones I will be wearing)
2 emergency ponchos
Small package of rope
2 emergency blankets with green on one side and silver on the other
Basic first aid kit that includes: Bandaids, gauze, triple antibiotic ointment, hydrocortizone
Roll of toilet paper in ziplock bag
Partial roll of paper towels
3 carabiners

Inside the car are items that would be added to the backpack if I ever needed to leave it and walk somewhere. These items include: 
Small maglight
Flashing hazard warning light (the kind you would put out on the road to warn on coming traffic)
Jacket with hood (this is my car jacket, it’s in there year round)
Light rain coat with light insulation and hood

I always carry a variety of items in my purse that would be useful in an emergency situation.

Gerber multi purpose tool
Small maglight
Very small first aid kit
Cough drops
Extra charged cell phone battery

I work about 30 miles from home. In the remote possibility that something happens and I could not drive home, or at least part of the way home, we have several contingency plans that we hope would result in my safe arrival. We have studied maps, driven the possible routes and made ourselves as familiar with the terrain as much as possible.

With winter coming on, I have felt the need this year to upgrade the supplies in my pack. I am adding the following supplies:

New bag of mixed nuts
2 freeze dried meals to add water, let soak and eat
Empty peanut butter jar to soak food or filter dirty water before sterilizing
Bandanna and old towels for stage one water filtering and whatever need arises

Steripen for sterilizing water    2 bottles of water (chlorinated from the tap)
Emergency whistle with compass 
Pair of pants
Long-sleeved and short-sleeved t-shirts
2 pairs of socks
All purpose hat

As I went over the contents of my backpack, I realized that since Frank had installed the Alinco VHF/UHF mobile radio in my

vehicle, I no longer had a radio that I could disconnect from the car and take with me if I had to walk. I felt that this was a big oversight on my part. Initially we were using the Wouxun handheld VHF/UHF radios in the vehicles with a battery eliminator. That would allow us to remove the radio, insert a battery pack and antenna that were kept in the vehicle, and we would be good to go. I really like the Alinco for a mobile radio. We are able to communicate clearly for a much farther distance when I go to work. Now I will be adding a handheld radio to my pack for emergency communications if I am on foot.

Communications equipment in my pack will include:
A handheld radio
Extra battery
A short stubby antenna
A 9 inch antenna 
If I am walking with a radio clipped to my belt, the stubby is better; I would be less apt to bend and/or break the antenna. If I am stationary or trying to receive a signal and the stubby is inadequate, I can change to the longer antenna.

Mental preparation is key to survival. We have been preparing for a long time, but that doesn’t mean we think of everything. Like the new radio in the vehicle. It has been there for several months, but it did not occur to me that it would leave me without radio contact if I were on foot. I am grateful that I have been getting this nudge to upgrade my pack, otherwise I don’t know how long it would have been before I realized I needed a handheld radio. It may have been too late. This is one instance I am glad to discover the inadequacy now. There are sometimes that failure is not an option. 

Frank has known for a long time that communications will be a key component in a survival situation. There are some basic, simple steps that can be taken to increase your ability to communicate with your loved ones, as well as listen to what is happening in your area should a disaster or collapse occur. Anyone can broadcast on any

frequency, including ham radio frequencies, in an emergency if there are no other means of communication available. The ability to prepare for and survive some of the situations coming our way may hinge on our ability to hear what is coming. If you have a group of people in your area that can communicate via radio in a grid down, collapse situation, it may save your life. You may be able to know if there is danger heading your way. You may be able to warn someone else if danger is heading their way. It is another layer of preparation that may make all the difference in the world. Radio communications will also bring at least some information, whether it is local, national, or worldwide, in a time when all information is cut off. Not knowing anything about what is happening when we are used to massive amounts of information at the click of a button will be a huge change for all of us, and a difficult one, at best.

I challenge you to give some serious thought to your situation and prepare for a way to get home on foot. The day may never arrive when you need it, and I pray that is the case. But, Frank has a good saying that he has picked up along the way. “I would rather be a prepared fool than an unprepared fool.” It may mean all the difference in the world to those you love.

Until next time – Fern