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Purifying water

by Nurse Pietro
(Saugerties, NY)

Free Dinner from Bay of Fundy

Free Dinner from Bay of Fundy

Water purification

We've tried a number of purification systems. Most are expensive, bulky, heavy, complicated and output very little. Worthless and, did I mention expensive?

Most of the world, including the US, uses chlorine to purify water. A bottle of bleach is the same stuff (sodium hypochlorite 5-6%). The EPA requires a minimum of 5 PPM of chlorine with a minimum dwell time 5 minutes for clean water with low turbidity.

Chlorine is toxic to humans but, like all things (except espresso coffee), toxicity is dose related. The safety margin is quite high. Four times this dose is harmless, though it tastes like shit. The dose I use is 5cc (5 ml, 1 teaspoon) of plain household bleach (NOT the kind with soap in it) per 10 gallons of water. This gives you 6.7 PPM of free chlorine. Close enough and easy to measure. If you wish to be precise, you can buy, in a drug store, a infant/child dosing syringe but, again, you need not be that precise.

Now, if you do not like the taste of chlorine (we do not), go to Walmart or such and buy a Brita filter pitcher. Walmart or Sam's Club sell the refill filters cheap. No matter what the box says, one filter lasts us about a year. How do you know when the filter needs changing? When you start tasting chlorine, ie. it's saturated and so is longer removing chlorine.

One requirement with chlorine: The water must be free of particulate matter. When dipping from stream or lake, figure out a way to filter it (we use two basins and a piece of nylon cloth). If the "turbidity" of the water is high (it looks cloudy) double the dose.

That's it.

We've been doing what you folks are doing since 1990 when we bought a minivan (Dodge Caravan) and converted it to a camper of sorts. 6 years ago we bought a Lance 815 truck camper (smallest one they make - PLENTY of room for us), put it on a 3/4 ton (could have used a 1/2 ton but marginal) Chev Silverado pickup truck and we've been boondocking, for months at a time, in great comfort, ever since.

Forewarned: You'll be hearing more from us; we've learned a great deal and would love to pass it on.

Peter A. Poccia, RN, CEN

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