Sunday, December 9, 2012

Water Purification Techniques for Survival

When it comes to water purification, there's four main ways of achieving it which includes using heat, filtration, chemicals, and ultraviolet light. Personally, I think it's a good idea to use two methods when using water that's found in the wilderness. I prefer to first filter my water to remove impurities from the water, and also treat it with either heat, chemicals, or UV light to ensure that all any biological contaminates are eliminated.

There are a lot of water filters available that are designed to be carried with you for backpacking and similar adventures. It would be a good idea to have on of these in your bugout bag, or survival supplies. When choosing a filter it is best to have one that filter at least at a 2 micron level so that it protects against Giardia and Cryptosporidium. A really cheap filter that I've used before and does the job is Coghlan's Water Filter. It is rather cheaply made in my opinion, but if it's all you can afford it's better than nothing. If you can afford it, I would recommend upgrading to the MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter or the Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter. Both filter anything bigger than 0.2 microns, are light enough to carry in your backpack. The main difference between the two is that the MSR MiniWorks EX Microfilter uses a combination ceramic and carbon filter while the Katadyn Pocket Water Microfilter uses a silver-impregnated ceramic filter.

Heat is a good option for killing most biological contaminates. If you can get a heat source to bring your water to a hard boil for at least 5 minutes, this may be a good option. If you are mobile however, this probably won't always be an option. A few other things to consider are that you can't throw your plastic water bottle in a fire to boil water, you will need a metal camp pan of some sort, and you will want to let your water cool before you put it in a plastic container or Camelbak.

UV light is an easy to use option, they make light models like the SteriPEN Adventurer Opti that will carry easily in a bugout bag. This water purifier pen zaps viruses, bacteria and protozoa such as giardia and cryptosporidium with ultra-violet light. To use it, you just press the button, dip the lamp into your drink, and wait 90 seconds to purify. If you are preparing for the end of the world however, there probably won't be a lot of stores where you can stop in to pick up more batteries.

There are a couple of different chemicals that can be used to sterilize water. Iodine is a popular chemical for water sterilization, and you can get it in tablet or crystal form which makes it easy to carry and use. I like the crystals because they can be used over and over again to sterilize thousands of gallons of water. I have however heard of studies which show various health issues caused by long term consumption of iodine, so I don't know if it is the best option or not.

Chlorine is another chemical option. If you are digging in at a survival location, you can stock pile some regular unscented household bleach for this purpose. It's cheap and typically only takes 4 drops per quart of water to sterilize it (based on average 5.25% chlorine content). You will need to double if the water is really dirty or extremely cold. Just stir it in good and let it sit for 30 minutes. They do sell Potable Aqua Chlorine Dioxide Tablets which make it easy to carry as well.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Food Preservation for Survival Scenarios

What would you do if the grocery store you count on suddenly didn't have anymore food? What if they were all boarded up and you had no idea when they open again? In any survival scenario, having food available is an obvious necessity. The problem is that in a large scale survival scenario grocery stores will sell out of supplies very quickly, and if they weren't able to restock their shelves or reopen for an extended period of time a lot of people would starve. It's always a good idea to stock up on canned foods or emergency survival foods, but learning a method that you can use to preserve food even after a disaster happens would definitely be beneficial for any prepper.

Food preservation techniques are used to store food for extended periods of time without the need for refrigeration. There are a lot of ways to preserve foods for storage, depending on what kinds of food they are.

There's a good book available with detailed information specific to preserving meats, for example, which is called A Guide to Canning, Freezing, Curing & Smoking Meat, Fish & Game. Freezing probably isn't the best method of meat preservation for survival prepping, because if there isn't electricity all of your meat will thaw out and then begin to rot. However, some of the other methods in this book are good options.

Another great book that focuses on traditional food preservation techniques is Preserving Food without Freezing or Canning: Traditional Techniques Using Salt, Oil, Sugar, Alcohol, Vinegar, Drying, Cold Storage, and Lactic Fermentation. This book walks you through things like sun drying fruits, constructing and root cellar, and many other natural preservation techniques.

Sun drying foods is a great method, especially after the power goes out. However, many people find it more appealing to use electric food dehydrators, at least to dry foods in advance of a disaster. Even without a disaster or survival scenario, dried foods are great for snacking on, bringing backpacking, camping, and so on.

Finally, when it comes to food preservation, canning is probably one of the most popular methods that doesn't require refrigeration or freezing. Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving is the highest rated book on canning that I could find, with tons of recipes and information on how to can. If canning is a method you want to pursue, you will need a pressure cooker as well. If you are looking for a good quality pressure cooker that's big enough to do some big batches of canning, then you want to check out the All-American 41-1/2-Quart Pressure Cooker/Canner.

What method you use to preserve food is up to you. I don't know that there is one method that is better than the others. Personally though, I think it is a good idea to use multiple methods so that you can have a variety of fruits, vegetables, and meats available, even if we are in a long-term survival situation.