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Thread: Water desalination or purification

  1. #1

    Default Water desalination or purification

    My biggest concern when going on any physically challenging trip for an extended duration is running out of water.

    I am wondering if anyone has tried solar distillation of saltwater? If so, what were you results? I've researched several papers and the most scientific paper i've found lists 2liters/m2 in temperate regions under normal conditions (some wind, occassional cloud, etc). Obviously the numbers will vary widely but this solution isn't really meant for winter climate anyway.

    I've researched reverse osmosis but those systems seem energy intensive and they foul. Not to mention, what happens when something breaks??

    In my experience, there's never enough wood to distill or boil water either. Or everything is too wet and humid to even start a fire.

    I want to find a solution for any of the following areas, here's what i've come up with thus far:

    Hot areas:
    Salt: solar still
    Fresh: solar still or sand filter + charcoal or chemical treatment

    Cold (or cloudy) areas:
    Salt: forward osmosis with sugar, you'd have to bring a membrane with you though, Or maybe skin an animal?
    Fresh: sand filter + charcoal or chemical treatment


  2. #2
    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Hunter63, saying Hey and Welcome......


    There is an introduction section.....
    http://www.wilderness-survival.net/f...-Introductions

    Not much salt water in Wisconsin, so I just use a carrry along a water fiter.....or boil it,...we do have plenty of wood.
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    Thanks for the warm welcome.

    What do you do when it rains? It rains a lot down south.

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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LittleOrange View Post
    Thanks for the warm welcome.

    What do you do when it rains? It rains a lot down south.
    Well, see, we wouldn't know that you were from "the south" unless you let us know......

    If it rains and water is a concern....collect the water.

    Fire in the rain isn't a big deal if you carry something to get it started with, and remember God put bark on wood to keep the inside dry.
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    Alaska, The Madness! 1stimestar's Avatar
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    What the hunters do up here on the northern coastline is to cut big rectangular blocks of ice. Stand them on end. Let them stand. As they stand, the salt in them migrates towards the bottom of the block. Then you can cut off the ice at the top and melt it. I've heard it taste a bit stale but at least it's salt free. They've been doing this for thousands of years.
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    Senior Member hunter63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1stimestar View Post
    What the hunters do up here on the northern coastline is to cut big rectangular blocks of ice. Stand them on end. Let them stand. As they stand, the salt in them migrates towards the bottom of the block. Then you can cut off the ice at the top and melt it. I've heard it taste a bit stale but at least it's salt free. They've been doing this for thousands of years.
    That's a real cool idea....I have heard of this.....never seen it done or tasted it.
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    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1stimestar View Post
    What the hunters do up here on the northern coastline is to cut big rectangular blocks of ice. Stand them on end. Let them stand. As they stand, the salt in them migrates towards the bottom of the block. Then you can cut off the ice at the top and melt it. I've heard it taste a bit stale but at least it's salt free. They've been doing this for thousands of years.
    Quote Originally Posted by hunter63 View Post
    That's a real cool idea....I have heard of this.....never seen it done or tasted it.

    that is very interesting. Is it true that the upper part of a iceberg is salt free? I have heard this and it makes sense.

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    Alaska, The Madness! 1stimestar's Avatar
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    I would assume so Randy. Let me see if I can find more info on it.
    Why do I live in Alaska? Because I can.

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    Super Moderater RangerXanatos's Avatar
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    Your sand + charcoal filter will not remove bacteria and viruses. It's meant for particulate and taste.

    Quote Originally Posted by 1stimestar View Post
    As they stand, the salt in them migrates towards the bottom of the block.
    About how long do they let the blocks stand? Hours? Days? Weeks? I imagine it's a very slow process?
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    Alaska, The Madness! 1stimestar's Avatar
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    Funny. Seems we have talked about this before.

    http://www.wilderness-survival.net/f...drinking-water
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    Alaska, The Madness! 1stimestar's Avatar
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    In arctic waters, use old sea ice for water. This ice is bluish, has rounded comers and splinters easily. It is nearly free of salt. New ice is gray, milky, hard and salty. Water from icebergs is fresh but icebergs are dangerous to approach. Use them as a source of water only in emergencies.
    http://news.discovery.com/adventure/...ded-at-sea.htm
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    Alaska, The Madness! 1stimestar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RangerXanatos View Post
    Your sand + charcoal filter will not remove bacteria and viruses. It's meant for particulate and taste.


    About how long do they let the blocks stand? Hours? Days? Weeks? I imagine it's a very slow process?
    I really don't know. I'm looking for a blog post that I read once that talks about it, written by a whale hunter.
    Why do I live in Alaska? Because I can.

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    Senior Member randyt's Avatar
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    thanks for the info.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1stimestar View Post
    What the hunters do up here on the northern coastline is to cut big rectangular blocks of ice. Stand them on end. Let them stand. As they stand, the salt in them migrates towards the bottom of the block. Then you can cut off the ice at the top and melt it. I've heard it taste a bit stale but at least it's salt free. They've been doing this for thousands of years.
    Just watch out for yellow ice and snow !!!!!!!

  15. #15
    cold leftovers Psalm25's Avatar
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    If I use a fresh water spring I will drink from the source without worry. But if I need to drink other water such as creek, river or lake water for example I just boil it. I use campden tablets for making homemade wine and beer, I believe they could purify water for drinking but I would look into it to make sure. I have also heard of using a drop of iodine but again I would look into it.
    For salt water 1stimestar has a good idea there. Never really thought about salt water because there is plenty of fresh water around where I am.
    "If you're seeking to survive in the wilderness then good gear will get you to the last 10%. Training and practice are needed for the 90%."

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    Resident Wildman Wildthang's Avatar
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    I can't see it being hard to design a small portable distillation unit that could be packed in a portable fashion. A stainless steel quart sized pot with a lid and a piece of tubing will distill some water into fresh drinkable liquid, even sea water! And it will work winter or in the summer as long as you have a fire.

  17. #17
    reclinite automaton canid's Avatar
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    Solar distillation is slooooow, ssssslllllloooooowwww, slow.

    It goes pretty quick though with a wood fired pot still, or as I've done it, a very simply modified pressure cooker.
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  18. #18

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    Glen Simmons was a life long Gladesman. Growing up in the Everglades hunting and trapping. They used a pot still for desalination. The area that had good drinking water last trip or even yesterday might be brackish the next because the water sheet and tidal influences change often. They would taste the water and if it tasted to salty they ran it through the still.

    He doesn't mention anything at all about purifying the fresh water before drinking it.

    There is no index to find the story in the book. But, Glen's wife was refilling the still pot and the still was suddenly jerked out of her hand. When Glen retrieved it from the water the pot was severely dented in and not usable. His guess was that the pot was too hot and when it was submerged the cooler swamp water caused it to contract rapidly and destroyed the still.

    There were times where they did not think they would need a still and so didn't have one with them and they got into a tight spot when they kept moving inland toward the north and didn't find fresh water for a couple of days. They made camp and that night heard what sounded like chopping and found some folks they knew who had a moonshine still in a hammock and they were able to get fresh water there. Probably had a solution hole in the middle of that hammock. Often tree islands form in the glades around solution holes.

  19. #19
    Resident Wildman Wildthang's Avatar
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    Here is a portable still! In the plastic pan, there is an automatic transmission fluid cooler that condenses the steam back into liquid, and a fan or cool water can be used to cool the radiator / cooler coil!

    http://voices.yahoo.com/image/265849/index.html?cat=7

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Psalm25 View Post
    ... I have also heard of using a drop of iodine but again I would look into it.
    the iodine seems to work, but you're gonna want to filter the particulate out first or else you get clean but sandy water. I'd also recommend bringing something to flavor your water if you're using iodine, it doesn't taste that great.

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