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#152651 - 10/21/08 01:08 PM Making Sea water drinkable
texasboots Offline

Registered: 01/25/06
Posts: 34

I live next to the ocean at the moment so water would not be in short supply in an emergency, however how do I take this Sea water and make it drinkable? Is there a filter I can purchase that would remove salt along with everything else? Should I make some type of homemade distiller that can run on solar energy? (Sunlight, not a panel)

I'm assuming we have a power outage and want to outlast my emergency supplies. I keep 60 gallons on hand at all times rotated of course.

I have small kids so feel a strong desire to know what to do in case of emergency, and don't want to rely on agency's during a disaster.


#152665 - 10/21/08 02:14 PM Re: Making Sea water drinkable [Re: texasboots]
bws48 Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 08/18/07
Posts: 830
Loc: Anne Arundel County, Maryland
Yes, there are "reverse osmosis" pumps that will remove the salt and filter sea water to make it potable. Usually found on life rafts and for use in life boats, they come in small portable sizes up to large industrial units.
"Better is the enemy of good enough."

#152680 - 10/21/08 03:15 PM Re: Making Sea water drinkable [Re: bws48]
texasboots Offline

Registered: 01/25/06
Posts: 34
Thanks bws48, any idea were I could get such a thing?

Maybe a boat shop?

#152682 - 10/21/08 03:31 PM Re: Making Sea water drinkable [Re: texasboots]
RainHiker Offline

Registered: 10/20/08
Posts: 16
Mr. Ritter did a whole article on this subject, search the main webpage and find it. He recommends and I agree on the PUR Survivor with a leg strap. There are bigger ones if weight/space are not an issue.

You can find these on Ebay very cheap considering the retail at about $800 +/-. Just search PUR reverse osmosis.

If push comes to shove boiling the water and collecting the steam or just leaving it in the sun, will produce drinkable water and edible salt. The sky is the limit and the imagination could run wild with ideas on how to collect the fresh water. I know a desert survival trick is to put a tarp over a hole with a pebble in the middle (making and upside down cone) and putting a container under the point of this cone, something like this could be done over a container/puddle of seawater with the fresh water catcher floating on the surface of the seawater.

#152687 - 10/21/08 03:54 PM Re: Making Sea water drinkable [Re: ]
RainHiker Offline

Registered: 10/20/08
Posts: 16
I have a pressure cooker I could pull out the safety release plug put in a flared copper tubing used in plumbing, then coil the tube as a condenser and let it drip into another container. This is my standard idea if a "nuclear event happens as well, but then I would also filter it through my Big Berkey filter too. Everyone has an old pressure cooker laying around somewhere or can stop by the thriftstore and find one thats not good for anything else.

#152689 - 10/21/08 03:57 PM Re: Making Sea water drinkable [Re: texasboots]
Arney Offline

Registered: 09/15/05
Posts: 2485
Loc: California
People have hit on the main two methods you could use--reverse osmosis and distillation. Both methods are energy intensive and don't produce that much water quickly.

Depending on your storage space and how long you want to be prepared for, then IMHO simply storing more water probably makes the most sense rather than trying to desalinate seawater. Sixty gallons is an admirable amount of stored water. Far more than most people. If you can swing that much, then perhaps another 60 is doable for you.

#152696 - 10/21/08 04:29 PM Re: Making Sea water drinkable [Re: texasboots]
nursemike Offline
Old Hand

Registered: 11/09/06
Posts: 817
Loc: wellington, fl
Originally Posted By: texasboots
Thanks bws48, any idea were I could get such a thing?

Maybe a boat shop?

Military surplus stores, of course- lifeboat desal filter

Sadly, the replacement part is more expensive that the unit. Back in the '60's, surplus stores used to carry a variety of life boat supplies, including shark repellent (which makes a mess in a swimming pool, and has been effective for decades in keeping the sharks out), and deslainization chemical blocks, about 3/4" by 1" by 3". These dissolved in the water and formed a black sludge at the bottom, and turned clear sea water into sludgy brackish water. Not sure of the chemistry, but it looked and tasted like charcoal was involved.
Dance like you have never been hurt, work like no one is watching,love like you don't need the money.

#152703 - 10/21/08 04:41 PM Re: Making Sea water drinkable [Re: Arney]
texasboots Offline

Registered: 01/25/06
Posts: 34
Thanks for the ideas all.... I will look for that Article Doug wrote as well. upping my stored water is easy enough, a family of 5 goes through water quickly. You never realize how much we depend on the store until you purchase a "few months" supplies and quickly run out! When I bought the water I thought wow that will last forever, well it goes quick.

#152925 - 10/23/08 08:03 AM Re: Making Sea water drinkable [Re: texasboots]
adam2 Offline

Registered: 05/23/08
Posts: 444
Loc: Somerset UK
I would agree that storeing more water might be better than removing the salt from sea water.
Reverse osmosis is a well established technology but requires considerable human effort (in the case of lifeboat type units) or electricity in the case of larger units.
Futhermore anything mechanical is liable to failure, therefore a spare would be sensible which adds to the already substantial cost.
I believe that coastal seawater can be too dirty for optimum use in reverse osmosis plant, many yachts are fitted with such, and the advice is generally only to use it well out at sea, not in port or near a coast.

If you have a garden that requires watering, consider installing a large tank, kept filled from the mains water supply by use of a float valve.
Use water from this tank to water your garden by means of a small pump, this will ensure that the tank only contains fresh water, that can be used for household purposes.
Your existing 60 gallons would last a long time if reserved only for drinking, use the tank water for washing, cooking and laundry.

#153125 - 10/24/08 10:34 PM Re: Making Sea water drinkable [Re: ]
Brangdon Offline

Registered: 12/12/04
Posts: 1201
Loc: Nottingham, UK
Originally Posted By: IzzyJG99
Boil the seawater. Once it begins to a boil you make a cover that collects the steam. The cover needs to have a hole in it that you put surgical tubing into. The steam comes up and travels through the tube and into another pot. The steam condenses back into water in the second pot and is pure water. I've done it before as a test and it works really well.
Hmmm. Ray Mears did something like that in his recent Australian series, and it didn't work too well. The problem was cooling. He got some water out of it at first, but then the steam heated up the tubing and everything else it touched, and started escaping to the air before it condensed. He ran it for several hours without getting much water. And it used a lot of fuel.

A third pot might help, full of (sea) water that you can run the tube through, to cool it.

Presumably we are aiming to produce between two and four litres of water a day. I imagine even with half-decent cooling, much of the source water would be lost as steam, so you'd have to put more water in than you got out. How long does it take to boil 8 litres of water dry? Is this really practical?
Quality is addictive.

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