Zombies & Shit

Water Purification

Lack of potable water is a serious issue in any crisis. Perhaps we are not emphasizing this point strongly enough. Without a supply of drinkable water YOU WILL FUCKING DIE IN LESS THAN A WEEK. Point made? Good.

How the water stops flowing is irrelevant maybe the balloon just went up, or perhaps simple flooding contaminated the water plant. Regardless of cause, a person must have alternate methods of accessing drinking water in an emergency situation, many of which are presented here.

Table of Contents:
Daily Water Requirements
Storing Water
Chlorine Bleach
Iodine Disinfection
Purification Tablets
UV Purification
Calcium Hypochlorite
Solar Water Disinfection

Daily Water Requirements:

To determine your water usage, take the following into account:
• One gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation.
• Children, nursing mothers and sick people may need more water.
• A medical emergency might require additional water.
• In very hot temperatures, water allotments can double.

Now multiply that out for each member of a family. Storing enough for long term, even with huge tanks is not going to be an option for most people, and is ultimately unsustainable. Therefore, it is imperative one has the ability to purify outside water sources.


Storing Water:

While it's impractical to store enough water to last through the long term, a supply should be kept on hand for immediate emergencies. Flats of storebought bottled water work well they are safe, cheap, clean, and convenient. Another option is to store the water in containers such as plastic soda bottles, or large camping jugs.

Bottled Water:
If purchasing bottled water, please know that the containers are designed to break down over time sunlight will hasten this process. Keep them dark and cool to improve their shelflife. After several years, the water may taste stale aerate it by pouring it back and forth between clean containers to remedy the issue. Bottled water should still be safe one year past it's fresh date. Farther out, and chemicals in the plastic bottle may begin to leech into the liquid.

Other Bottles
Do no use Milk/Juice jugs, glass containers, or paper cartons. The jugs break down even faster than plastic bottles, glass jars are heavy and shatter prone, and paper cartons can never be properly cleaned to remove all of their prior contents. Liter Soda bottles work well.

Thoroughly clean the bottles with dishsoap and water before use, and rinse completely.

Sanitize the bottles by adding a solution of 1 teaspoon of nonscented liquid household chlorine bleach to a quart of water. Mix the sanitizing solution in the bottle so that it touches all surfaces. After sanitizing the bottle, thoroughly rinse out the sanitizing solution with clean water.

Fill the bottle to the top with regular tap water. If it has been commercially treated from a water utility with chlorine, you do not need to add anything more. If the water comes from a well or other source not treated with chlorine, add two drops of nonscented liquid chlorine bleach to the water. Let the water stand for 30 minutes before using or sealing. A slight chlorine odor should be noticeable in the water, if not, add another dose of bleach and allow the water to stand another 30 minutes.

Tightly close the container using the original cap. Be careful not to contaminate the cap by touching the inside of it with your finger. Place a date on the outside of the container so you can know when you filled it. Store in cool, dark place.

PRO: Super cheap, foolproof.
CON: Difficult to store enough water for the middle to long term.



Boiling is among the simplest and safest ways to clean water PROVIDING the user has easy access to heat. Boiling water in one's home for a localized emergency is practical, and easier than mixing chemicals. It becomes more of a hassle if the gas or electricity is out, or if there is a shortage of firefuel in the outdoors.

Before you begin boiling, (if it didn't come from the tap), filter the water using a coffee filter, towel, or clean handkerchief. This will remove some of the sediment and other floaties which can impair the disinfection process.

To kill viruses, bacteria, and microorganisms, bring the water to a boil and keep it rolling for one minute to purify it. At altitudes above one mile, (2,000 meters), increase the rolling time to four minutes.

Please note that boiling will not remove chemical contaminants.

PRO: Effective, easy, cheap.
CON: Reliant on access to a heat source, will not remove chemicals.


Chlorine Bleach:

Chlorine Bleach, is not just for cleaning clothes. It can also purify drinking water. This is a cheap and fairly reliable way to prevent many forms of waterborne illness. However, there are some issues with regards to bleach purification that should be discussed:

1: Bleach does not kill everything Cryptosporidium is not treated for example.
2: Bleach looses potency a few months after opening the container.
3: Some Bleach has nasty additives, these can be poisonous.

First, if the water is not coming from a tap, prefilter it into a clean container using papertowel, cheesecloth, or a cotton ball stuffed in a funnel. This will remove some of the larger sediment.

Use a standard, unscented bleach Clorox or Purex work well. These are typically between five percent and six percent chlorine. Avoid any bleaches that contain perfumes, dyes and other additives. (This will be listed on the label).

Mix the following amounts of bleach per water:

Volume of Water to be Treated Clear/Cloudy Water Cloudy, Very Cold, or Surface Water
1 quart/1 liter 3 drops 5 drops
1/2 gallon/2 quarts/2 liters 5 drops 10 drops
1 gallon 1/8 teaspoon 1/4 teaspoon
5 gallons 1/2 teaspoon 1 teaspoon
10 gallons 1 teaspoon 2 teaspoons

Mix thoroughly and allow to stand for at least 30 minutes before using (120 minutes if the water is cloudy or very cold).

Note: Katadyn Micropure Tablets & powders are Sodium Dichloroisocyanura, (essentially bleach), combined with silver ions, and water treated with them should be handled in the same way as Chlorine Bleach.

PRO: Cheap, easy to store.
CON: Not always effective against Cryptosporidium , will not remove chemicals.



Water filters are a fairly boilerplate method of cleaning water. They not only handle most microorganisms and bacteria, but also remove chemical contaminants. Filters additionally improve the clarity and flavor of water, making them popular options for backpackers and homeowners alike.

Drip filters like the Katadyn Drip Ceradyn and the Big Berkey are capable of cleaning thousands of gallons over their effective lives, and are very easy to use no mixing, no mess, no rotating storage.

Portable filters, like the Katadyn Pocket pack the same quality into a transportable package, with a tradeoff in lifespan and cost.

So what's not to like here? Ultimately, the three biggest issues with water filtration systems are virus protection, sustainability, and cost. Many viruses are too small for even the best filters to stop, which can cause problems. Additionally, a good filter by a reputable company is NOT by any means cheap. Finally, the user is reliant on their stock of filters to keep the water flowing. Once those dwindle, the system is useless. That being said, a good filtration system is still a wonderful option for home and wilderness use.

Pro: Removes a wide range of contaminants, simple to use.
Con: Relies on a supply of filters, limited virus protection, expensive.


Iodine Disinfection:

Iodine is a powerful disinfecting agent, available at most grocery and drug stores. The two primary forms available are small tinctures of liquid iodine and crystallized iodine in packets.

Liquid Iodine:
If using a tincture of 2% iodine solution, add five drops to a Liter or Quart of clear water. If the water is cloudy, add ten drops per Liter or Quart. Let the treated water to stand for 30 minutes before drinking when the water temperature is at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit. For each 10 degrees less than 80, allow the water to sit double the time before drinking it. (I.E. 60 minutes for 70 degree water, 120 minutes for 60, ect).

Crystal Iodine:

Crystallized Iodine is used to make a larger batch of disinfecting agent, which is then added to water as a treatment. It should be noted that Crystallized Iodine in a 48 gram dose is lethal if consumed directly. Let us say that again IF YOU EAT OR DRINK THE DISINFECTING SOLUTION DIRECTLY, YOU WILL DIE.

1: Place 48 grams of crystalline iodine into a 1oz or 2oz container, and fill with water.

2: Shake the container vigorously for 1 minute. Allow fifteen additional minutes for the iodine to maximally dissolve in the available water. Some crystals should always be visible; if they totally dissolve, then more crystals should be added to the container to insure that iodine saturation of the stock solution has been achieved.

3: If the water to be treated is clear, add 13 ml of saturated iodine solution liquid above the crystals, not the crystals themselves per Liter or Quart.
*Note: (5 ml= 1 teaspoon. 13 ml = about 2.5 teaspoons).

4: In cloudy water, add 26 ml of saturated solution per Liter or Quart.

5: Let the treated water to stand for 30 minutes before drinking when the water temperature is at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit. For each 10 degrees less than 80, allow the water to sit double the time before drinking it. (I.E. 60 minutes for 70 degree water, 120 minutes for 60, ect).

Iodine is tricky to use, but inexpensive and versatile. Not only does it purify water, Iodine is also topical disinfecting agent, useful in first aid. Liquid Iodine has a decent shelflife, but Crystallized Iodine can last indefinitely, which is highly desirable from a survivalist or prepper's perspective. Note that Iodine is not effective against Cryptosporidium, and this method does nothing to mitigate chemical contamination.

Pro: Crystallized Iodine Stores indefinitely, cheap.
Con: Bad taste, ineffective v.s. Cryptosporidium and chemicals, potentially poisonous.

Purification Tablets:

Water purification tablets are a reasonable and cost effective way to clean water. Brands such as Potable Aqua use tetraglycine hydroperiodide, (an iodine compound), to kill microbes, viruses, and bacteria.

Tablets store well if unopened, and are reasonably cheap on a per use basis. However, like all things, water purification pills are not perfect. The tablets aren't completely effective on Cryptosporidium, and when water is extremely cold, (near freezing), the tablets are greatly reduced in effectiveness. Additionally, the taste of most tablet treated water is simply horrible although some companies offer a *secondary tablet to neutralize this using vitamin C.

*Note: Caution must be observed with these neutralizing agents the process by which they remove the "flavor" also greatly diminishes the disinfecting properties of the first tablet. This can become a serious issue if the water is very cold, which delays the onsite time of the disinfection.

**Note: Katadyn Micropure Tablets & powders are Sodium Dichloroisocyanura, (essentially bleach), combined with silver ions, and water treated with them should be handled in the same way as Chlorine Bleach.

Pro: Compact, cheap, easy to use.
Con: Less effective in cold water, taste, ineffective v.s. Cryptosporidium and chemicals.


UV Purification:

There are many UV water purification products on the market, some use batteries to generate the light, others use a handcrank. The process by which they clean water is... complicated:

"Ultraviolet (UV) light induces the formation of covalent linkages on DNA and thereby prevents microbes from reproducing. Without reproduction, the microbes become far less dangerous. Germicidal UVC light in the short wavelength range of 100-280 nm acts on thymine, one of the four base nucleotides in DNA. When a germicidal UV photon is absorbed by a thymine molecule that is adjacent to another thymine within the DNA strand, a covalent bond or dimer between the molecules is created. This thymine dimer prevents enzymes from "reading" the DNA and copying it, thus neutering the microbe."
UV Water Purification

That sounds pretty sweet right? No fuss, no muss, just dip the bulb into the water, and irradiate the little bastards! However, there are some considerable limits to this sort of water purification.

For one, if the water is cloudy, the effectiveness is greatly reduced. So a prefiltration step is critical. Secondly, all of the viruses, bacteria, and microbes are still present in the water they have simply had their means of reproduction disabled. If UV treated water is exposed to sunlight, it is possible for the "nasties" floating it it to repair themselves, and become dangerous again. Therefore, it is recommended that "clear" waterbottles be avoided, and the water be drank shortly after the initial purification.

The intent here is not to discount UV purification it's perfectly viable. One simply needs to observe some precautions and safety procedures when applying the method. The units themselves range from fairly fragile to very rugged in the end you get what you pay for spend money accordingly.

Pro: Simple, easy to operate, enormous lifespan.
Con: Dangerous pathogens can reactivate in sunlight, no chemical filtration.


Calcium Hypochlorite:

Calcium LabelPool Shock, or Calcium Hypochlorite, is a tremendous water disinfecting agent. It shares the same virus and bacteria killing prowess as bleach because it essentially IS bleach yet, unlike Clorox, it does not begin loosing potency in as little as three months. Now to the good part for $100.00 one can stock enough Calcium Hypochlorite to last a family of five nearly a decade. That's not a typo.

The best choice for mixing your disinfecting solution, is hightest (78%) granular calcium hypochlorite available online or from a local pool store for as little as $28.00 for several pounds. Some brands mix perfumes and other additives into the product, and these should be avoided.

Making a stock of disinfecting agent with Calcium Hypochlorite:

"Add and dissolve one heaping teaspoon of hightest granular calcium hypochlorite (approximately 1/4th ounce) for each two gallons of water, or 5 milliliters (approximately 7 grams) per 7.5 liters of water. The mixture will produce a stock chlorine solution of approximately 500 milligrams per liter, since the calcium hypochlorite has available chlorine equal to 70 percent of its weight. To disinfect water, add the chlorine solution in the ratio of one part of chlorine solution to each 100 parts of water to be treated. This is roughly equal to adding 1 pint (16 ounces) of stock chlorine to each 12.5 gallons of water or (approximately 1/2 liter to 50 liters of water) to be disinfected. To remove any objectionable chlorine odor, aerate the disinfected water by pouring it back and forth from one clean container to another."
EPA Water Guide

How to Disinfect Water Using Calcium Hypochlorite:

Using granular calcium hypochlorite to disinfect water is a multistage process:

1: To make a stock of chlorine solution, (do not drink this!), dissolve 1 heaping teaspoon (about onequarter of an ounce) of hightest (78%) granular calcium hypochlorite for each two gallons (eight liters) of water.

2: To disinfect water add one part of the chlorine solution to 100 parts water to be treated.

3: Let the mixture sit in an open container for at least one hour before drinking.

4: Be sure to obtain dry granular calcium hypochlorite for storage. Do NOT premix it once it has been made into a liquid solution it will begin to degrade and eventually become useless as a disinfecting agent. Treat drinking water in small batches to cut down on wasted suspension.

Because Calcium Hypochlorite solution is essentially Chlorine bleach, observe all the same handling, decontamination, and storage practices. Additionally, one needs to purchase lab grade Nalgene containers for storing the dry stock. The bags or buckets Calcium Hypochlorite ships in will let air and moisture in, causing the chlorine to gas out. These vented fumes are quite corrosive to anything and everything around them.

Note: The label pictured above and to the right is a link to a downloadable and printable high resolution PDF file, which can be printed out, and affixed to your labgrade container. This combination of chemicals can be very dangerous if mishandled, and should have a warning affixed.

Pro: Effective, cheap, indefinite shelf life.
Con: Corrosive to metal, not effective against Cryptosporidium and chemical contamination.


Solar Water Disinfection:

Exposure to warm conditions and direct sunlight damages the cell structure of many viruses, microbes, and bacteria, making it difficult for them to reproduce. Using this principle, clear plastic bottles placed in a hot location, in bright sunlight and over time, many of the biological waterborne contaminates will be killed or damaged beyond the ability to reproduce.

Solar Water Disinfection Steps:

1: Colourless, transparent PET water or soda pop bottles, (2 litre or smaller in size), with as few surface scratches as possible are selected. The labels are removed and the bottles are washed before use. Be careful to remove as much as the label adhesive as possible.

2: Water from contaminated sources is filled into the bottles. To improve oxygen saturation, bottles can be filled threequarters, shaken for 20 seconds, (with the cap on), then filled completely and recapped. Very cloudy water with a turbidity higher than 30 NTU must be filtered prior to exposure to the sunlight.

3: Filled bottles are then exposed to the sun. Bottles will heat faster and to higher temperatures if they are placed on a sloped sunfacing corrugated metal roof as compared to thatched roofs.

4: The treated water can be consumed directly from the bottle or poured into clean drinking cups. The risk of recontamination is minimized if the water is stored in the bottles. Refilling and storage in other containers increases the risk of contamination.

Treatment Schedule

Weather conditions
Sunny (less than 50% cloud cover)
Cloudy (50-100% cloudy, little to no rain)
Continuous rainfall
Minimum treatment duration
6 hours
2 days
Will not disinfect

This process is not without drawbacks. Cooler temperatures will render the process ineffective, as will overcast conditions. Additionally, the process is not 100% effective, (as many of the microbes remain unharmed), and it is possible for the damaged ones to repair themselves through photoreactivation and become dangerous again. Continuing on, as the plastic bottles age, or become scratched, the effectiveness of the method diminishes rapidly. Finally, Solar Water Disinfection does nothing about chemical contamination.

Pro: Cheap.
Con: Requires warm, bright conditions. Useless on chemical contamination. Slow.



So what works best?

As you can see, nothing is 100% effective which is why the local water treatment plant doubles or even triples up on the disinfection methods. Combining a form of filtration with a chemical or UV treatment will reliably render clean, potable water. A quality water filter forms one possible foundation, removing the larger critters and chemical contaminants, and a follow up of Chemical or Ultraviolet treatment can neutralize most of the smaller microbes and viruses.

With some forethought, sweat, preparation and money, a family scale or manportable water purification system can be established. We hope this document assists our readers in this endeavor.

Be safe.