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Posted: 9/15/2010 5:22:14 AM EDT
I have a water well on my property.
Water is decent but untreated and only 50 feet down and I suspect a high TDS count.
I know if you wash your car with our well water and it dries, it leaves big white stains.

I was thinking that in a pinch, I could use my generator to run my electric water pump and get water to the surface and then i would have to clean it for drinking.
I wanted to think ahead about just making a simple process to distill it for purification.

Any ideas or suggestions?

Link Posted: 9/15/2010 5:32:28 AM EDT
You could distill it but I would use a wood fire rather than gasoline in a genny. It would be a fairly simple build. A container that was closed up except for the hose fitting. A hose going to a cooling "worm" and a catch container. If your dirty water tank had a gauge you could stop at half way to elimate deposits of the minerals on it. Use a five gallon pot load and stop when you get three gallons out.

Google liquor still and just build on that.
Link Posted: 9/15/2010 5:39:43 AM EDT
You may consider researching solar stills.

They are slow in operation but are affordable and they should handle the high total dissolved salt problem your water probably has.

I would still test the water you have to verify a few key issues. What is the VOC content? Any concerns about arsenic or other metals?

A solar still will probably drop the VOC content down enough to make the water safe.

Here is a few links for you:
Basic Solar Still:
http://www.thefarm.org/charities/i4at/surv/sstill.htm

Solar still efficiency in removing VOCs:
http://aiche.confex.com/aiche/2006/techprogram/P78638.HTM
Link Posted: 9/15/2010 6:20:25 AM EDT

Originally Posted By DanishM1Garand:
You could distill it but I would use a wood fire rather than gasoline in a genny. It would be a fairly simple build. A container that was closed up except for the hose fitting. A hose going to a cooling "worm" and a catch container. If your dirty water tank had a gauge you could stop at half way to elimate deposits of the minerals on it. Use a five gallon pot load and stop when you get three gallons out.

Google liquor still and just build on that.

for the distillery I planned on a wood or propane fire.
The reason I mentioned the generator was to run the electric water pump to get the water out of the ground.

Link Posted: 9/15/2010 8:01:48 AM EDT


Basic continuous addition still.... you'll need a good vessel that can withstand the fire.... you can probably use copper for the rest of it, but you may need to insulate the distillation head...

(The temperature monitoring is essential if you want purity, more or less than 100ºC with correction for atmospheric pressure, and you should discard the distillate)


(of course I'm used to glass distillation setups, but this can work)
Link Posted: 9/15/2010 11:01:54 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Cheesebeast:
You may consider researching solar stills.

They are slow in operation but are affordable and they should handle the high total dissolved salt problem your water probably has.

I would still test the water you have to verify a few key issues. What is the VOC content? Any concerns about arsenic or other metals?

A solar still will probably drop the VOC content down enough to make the water safe.

Here is a few links for you:
Basic Solar Still:
http://www.thefarm.org/charities/i4at/surv/sstill.htm

Solar still efficiency in removing VOCs:
http://aiche.confex.com/aiche/2006/techprogram/P78638.HTM

I called our local city Enviro Lab and they said for $55 they will do a full chemical analysis on my water.
Is that a good deal?
they said I had to come to them and get the sample bottles, which I understand why.
Also for an additional $15 they will do a bacteria test.
But I figure if my plan is to distill or just filter, a 1/4 cup of chlorine per 50 gallons should be sufficient to sanitize in a SHTF deal
Link Posted: 9/15/2010 11:29:06 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/15/2010 11:29:45 AM EDT by mattfoley]
A bacterial culture test is a must.


And when they say "full chemical analysis," ask them to specify what that means, and what instrumentation they use.

(It will likely be a lot of abbreviations, but post them and I can decode them)
Link Posted: 9/15/2010 11:32:04 AM EDT
Originally Posted By skunk-ape:
I called our local city Enviro Lab and they said for $55 they will do a full chemical analysis on my water.
Is that a good deal?
they said I had to come to them and get the sample bottles, which I understand why.
Also for an additional $15 they will do a bacteria test.
But I figure if my plan is to distill or just filter, a 1/4 cup of chlorine per 50 gallons should be sufficient to sanitize in a SHTF deal

I would jump on that deal. You may find that the water isn't as bad as you think, and only requires a simple, cheap bucket filter to make potable.
Link Posted: 9/15/2010 11:55:50 AM EDT
It has been several years since I had my water tested, but the cost seems to be in line to me.

I am of the "better to know for sure" type of mentality when it comes to water. If you discover the well needs minimal treatment then you have added to the value of your property. Water is nothing to take for granted in this day and age.

The bacterial count could be critical if you have a lot of close neighbors (leaking septic systems) or your own septic system is pretty close. There are some real nasties that can live in water for decades- cholera, etc.

If you are close to A&M I recall they did a lot of water testing. Here is a link to their form for requesting water sampling:
http://soiltesting.tamu.edu/files/waterweb1.pdf

Note they don't do bacteria counts and what they are testing for is probably more limited than the commercial firm you listed.
Link Posted: 9/15/2010 12:44:03 PM EDT
would the copper tube coming off of my boiling pot need to be coiled?
Link Posted: 9/15/2010 12:54:21 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/15/2010 12:54:52 PM EDT by skunk-ape]

Originally Posted By mattfoley:
A bacterial culture test is a must.


And when they say "full chemical analysis," ask them to specify what that means, and what instrumentation they use.

(It will likely be a lot of abbreviations, but post them and I can decode them)

The lab at A & M that was suggested by Cheesebeast might be a better deal

here is what they do

1. Routine Analysis (R) $20 per sample
(Conductivity, pH, Na, Ca, Mg, K, CO3
2-, HCO3
-,
SO4
2-, Cl-, B, Nitrate-N. Hardness, and SAR)



2. R + Metals $30 per sample
In addition to Routine Analysis includes:
(Zn, Fe, Cu, Mn and total P)



Link Posted: 9/15/2010 1:56:40 PM EDT
Tag. This thread is cool.
Link Posted: 9/15/2010 2:13:11 PM EDT
Originally Posted By skunk-ape:
I called our local city Enviro Lab and they said for $55 they will do a full chemical analysis on my water.
Is that a good deal?
they said I had to come to them and get the sample bottles, which I understand why.
Also for an additional $15 they will do a bacteria test.
But I figure if my plan is to distill or just filter, a 1/4 cup of chlorine per 50 gallons should be sufficient to sanitize in a SHTF deal


That price is typical. I support the suggestions about having it tested. At least that way, you will know how to treat it.

I also agree that making a still is a great idea. Not only will you have pure water, but you will also have the means to distill some alcohol. Very useful!

Link Posted: 9/15/2010 2:15:46 PM EDT
just don't use lead solder
Link Posted: 9/15/2010 2:40:27 PM EDT
Originally Posted By skunk-ape:
would the copper tube coming off of my boiling pot need to be coiled?


Well that is how you use enough copper tubing to cool it in a small area.


Link Posted: 9/15/2010 4:54:01 PM EDT
Originally Posted By DanishM1Garand:
Originally Posted By skunk-ape:
would the copper tube coming off of my boiling pot need to be coiled?


Well that is how you use enough copper tubing to cool it in a small area.




Especially if you are doing air cooling rather than using the feed water for cooling like in the nifty "paint" drawing above.

If the feed water is being used for cooling you will want it wrapped around the distillate tube where the coldest water comes in farthest down the tube (closest to where you are collecting the clean water). This way you have counter-current flow and normally very effective heat transfer. I think of many other ways to do this, but you just have to figure out what works best for you.

Personally I also think that having to rely on an electric generator to withdraw water from the well is a less than ideal solution.
Link Posted: 9/15/2010 7:32:02 PM EDT

Originally Posted By soncorn:
Originally Posted By DanishM1Garand:
Originally Posted By skunk-ape:
would the copper tube coming off of my boiling pot need to be coiled?


Well that is how you use enough copper tubing to cool it in a small area.




Especially if you are doing air cooling rather than using the feed water for cooling like in the nifty "paint" drawing above.

If the feed water is being used for cooling you will want it wrapped around the distillate tube where the coldest water comes in farthest down the tube (closest to where you are collecting the clean water). This way you have counter-current flow and normally very effective heat transfer. I think of many other ways to do this, but you just have to figure out what works best for you.

Personally I also think that having to rely on an electric generator to withdraw water from the well is a less than ideal solution.

I have a second water well that is capped off and I might be able to rig up a hand pump on that one

What I have planned is that if the signs point to an event with no electricity I will fill up about 100 gallons of well water in these plastic containers I have and distill it for drinking.
I will use that in addition to my house stored emergency water.
The third stage for me is two fair sized lakes within 10 miles of my home, I can get water from.

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