ATTENTION!!! ***I’ve updated the title of this post to say “Filtering” rather than “Purifying.” Please note that the charcoal does not purify the water, it simply filters it. If you’re camping or you need to purify your water, this will not purify it. You will need to find something else that can purify the water, like tablets. April 1, 2016***
This post is inspired because of the water crisis that is going on in Flint, Michigan and all the lead poisoning that has happened there. You can Google it and/or read this POST about it here.
They’ve brought in all this bottled water to help and while I can hear the screams at me now – “SEE? This is why BOTTLED water is so important! This is the very reason why WE NEED WATER IN PLASTIC BOTTLES!!!”
I can’t help but think:
1) Ah. I thought that same way once.
2) So we pay for water which is a life necessity, urban pollution fucks it all up for us, then we have to bring in water that is stored in plastic which was really just the city water put in plastic bottles in the first place? And now everyone including the environment suffers?
Why is the one thing that is so vital to human existence not treated as sacred?
Just in case you didn’t know… we will die without water people.
Anyway, so all this to say, I will tell you what I use to purify my water so we can move on.
Look, I’m planning for the collapse of the economy (and zombies) so I want to be self-sufficient and mindful of the environment at the same time. While I do purchase this now, at some point I’d love to figure out how to make this myself, if that is even possible. I also would want to order them wholesale and stock up on them so I reduce the footprint that it takes to ship and truck these. This is where a shared economy is great because you get a bunch of people to split on an order and save shipping costs.
And.. this would be great for a future Zero Waste (online and maybe physical) dream store in Ottawa. There I said it out loud.
Universe, help me make it happen. (psst. It will happen).
Ok this is what I use: a Binchotan Charcoal Filter.
I order it from Life Without Plastic or you can go to Kishu Charcoal’s site where you can find out a bit more on it.
Why do I use it?
I’m paranoid of the chemicals they pour into our city water. I don’t brush my teeth with fluoride so why do I want to drink it? P.S. No one ever asked me if I wanted to drink fluoride in the first place.
How do I use it?
I stick in my jar, let it sit to filter my water (here’s more info that says 6-8 hours in your jar: http://www.reactual.com/home-and-garden/kitchen-products-2/binchotan.html) and then pour the filtered water into my water bottle. Alternatively, I can order the one that is water bottle size which is perfect for travelling because I don’t have to carry anything extra or worry about the state of water anywhere.
How long does it last?
4 Months. You have to boil it at the end of every month until you hit your 4 months. Then you buy a new one.
What do you do with it after?
You compost it.
Uh, there’s a plastic looking wrapper around it?
It’s a wood pulp packaging that is compostable. I cut mine up really small and stick it in the compost. After 2-3 months it’s gone.
How does the water taste?
Like a million free and clean, purified dollars.
Also – another alternative is The Life Straw. But… I choose to be plastic free and this straw is well.. plastic. So that’s your call. Either way, remember the zombies.
10 thoughts on “Filtering water without plastic”
Lovely. I am going to order some of these. Thank you for the tip!
You’re welcome 🙂 let me know how it works for you!
Thanks for the tip. I was wondering about disposing of the charcoal filter itself due to contaminants, Pb (lead), Hg (Mercury), Cl (chlorine), Cu (copper), and Cd (cadmium). I would suggest the nearest hazardous waste facility. Everyone talks about the lead in the water in Flint but nobody talks about it going down the drain to the sewage treatment facility there. The contaminated water has to go somewhere.
Hi Gary, your post had me stumped for a while and I’ve done so much reading and research on it but haven’t found much. I have now gone directly to the source and e-mailed them about whether or not this is true so I will wait their reply. On Kishu’s website, the company I get it from, it states that the toxins do not leach back into the water as it has bonded at the molecular form. If you are concerned with it being put in the ground, you can also use it in your fridge as a deodorizer. But everywhere I’ve read, you can just simple break it down into biochar and put it back into your garden.
Sorry for the confusion. I really condensed two comments into one.
First was that if you try to recycle the charcoal filter into the ground and grow vegetables from it, the chemicals could be leached back into the soil to be absorbed by the plants. Please dispose the filter at a hazardous waste facility instead of tossing it in the trash can or composting it.
Second was, noone, meaning the media, is not saying a thing about where the contaminated water goes to once it is down the drain. To the minds of people, it is “gone forever” once down the drain. The water should be treated at the sewage plants or it can re-enter the ecosystem. Maybe they do treat it at the sewage plant but it is not covered by the media but we never know due to budget cuts.
Good afternoon. Congratulations on your amazing year! You have set the bar the bar high and proven it can be achieved, and I have redoubled my efforts to reduce and reuse. I trust you’ll continue with your project/lifestyle and keep us posted on your progress and any new ways to reduce – if only everybody emulated you!
I’m also writing to comment on your use of Kishu charcoal to treat your drinking water, and while I’m not trying to influence you or anybody else, I have some expertise in the subject and I’d like to provide a little more information.
I’ve pored over the company info, science, and FAQ’s and I’m not overly impressed – here’s why:
It is a fairly well-known fact that activated carbon will absorb impurities and toxins but it works mostly on metals and is not as effective on other substances. The science section claims that it can remove lead, copper, cadmium, mercury and chlorine, but if you read carefully you’ll discover that after dosing 1 Ppm (1 mg/L) of chlorine into a sample the filter was only able to remove about 42% of the chlorine after 5 minutes, and even the control sample dropped 12% in concentration without charcoal over the same time period. The charcoal therefore only removed 30%. They are also using what’s called free chlorine, which is chemically unstable as demonstrated by the control sample. In other words, simply waiting longer would allow the free chlorine to dissipate as well as be consumed by any remaining organics in the test water, the quantity of which is unknown without seeing an analysis of the test water, conveniently not provided. The City of Ottawa uses what’s called primary chlorination, only dosing after organics removal and minimizing disinfection by-products. The water leaving the plants is not chlorinated but chloraminated, a combination of chlorine and ammonia, very stable and taste and odour free, and there is nothing on the Kishu site relating to it’s removal by their filters. Lead removal was quite good, 89% after 24 hours and undetectable after 144 hours, so it really depends on how long you wait before consuming the water, and if you live in a home or building in Ottawa constructed before 1960 you may still have a lead service line. This should be a concern for everybody, especially young children of which you have one. That being said, according to the latest test results posted online from 2014, Ottawa tap water already has lead levels below detectable measurement, lead service lines notwithstanding, and any further treatment is unnecessary. Mercury removal was not great, only 28% after 48 hours. They claim further reduction is possible over time but offer no proof. In 2014, City water mercury levels were below detectability and require no further treatment. Copper removal was good at 50% after 48 hours, but City water only contains 0.0007 mg/L, a truly negligible amount, and again it takes a long time to achieve 50% removal. Cadmium removal wasn’t great, only 30% after 48 hours of contact time, but City water results show an undetectable concentration for 2014. As far as fluoride goes, there is no claim or data on the website as far as it’s removal by contact with their filter – perhaps you have additional info? The City averaged 0.67 mg/L in 2014, though they did not dose this amount as there is small naturally-occurring concentration in the Ottawa river. I don’t know its toxicity concentration, but many studies have shown its effect on reducing tooth decay. The filter also imparts calcium and magnesium, but City water already contains 8.0 mg/L and 2.1 mg/L respectively. I’m curious about the company’s carbon footprint – exactly what are they using to heat the kilns to 1000 degrees? I’ll be contacting them soon to ask about this as well as fluoride and chloramine removal.
I apologize if I’ve sounded too negative, but I’m naturally sceptical and I really believe we have excellent drinking water from our taps. I would urge anyone and everyone to check the data on the City of Ottawa website and on the Ministry of the Environment and Climate Change website and then decide what and if you want/need further treatment. For anybody out there who consumes bottled water, check the data and please, please STOP.
Jeff, thank you! I e-mailed you back. Let’s chat more 🙂
interesting point of view……can you please leave a note later, regarding to the fluoride and chloramine issue. Its always nice to have information from someone who is an expert. Thanks a lot for your post, very helpfull
Hi does it absorbs estrogens? I can’t find any information to say whether it does or doesn’t.
Hi Sue, I’m not sure. I’d contact the company directly: https://kishucharcoal.com