During the dry season or periods of drought water can become quite precious for people. Fortunately, there are some old-time methods that you can use to filter rainwater. Rain barrels, cisterns and hand pumps are just a few of those methods that we can relearn in order to adapt to the new circumstances. Many people shared memories of the old-time methods, mostly from their grandparents’ farm or countryside house. Even though we thought we will never need them again, climate change has taught us that we have to be resilient and learn to resort to unconventional methods.
A 1909 book, initially purchased with $8 in a thrift store, shows us how to make homemade water filters. All the instructions in the book “Household Discoveries and Mrs. Curtis’s Cookbook ” (in the next page) are easy to understand and apply, since almost everyone had a rain barrel during that time and supposedly knew how to clean the water with it. After so many years we should be glad the authors were wise enough to share their experience with us. They managed to realize even back then that collecting rainwater from the roof in barrels can become a necessity in various dry geographical areas. The water can be use for laundry, plants and “often more wholesome for drinking purposes than hard water.”
You should keep the water unfiltered for gardening. However, for your household it is advisable to use the vintage book we talked about earlier and follow the instructions regarding cheap and easy ways to design your own water filter.
“Take a new vinegar barrel or an oak tub that has never been used, either a full cask or half size. Stand it on end raised on brick or stone from the ground. Insert a faucet near the bottom. Make a tight false bottom 3 or 4 inches from the bottom of the cask. Perforate this with small gimlet holes, and cover it with a piece of clean white canvas.
Place on this false bottom a layer of clean pebbles 3 or 4 inches in thickness; next, a layer of clean washed sand and gravel; then coarsely granulated charcoal about the size of small peas. Charcoal made from hard maple is the best.
After putting in a half bushel or so, pound it down firmly. Then put in more until the tub is filled within 1 foot of the top. Add a 3-inch layer of pebbles ; and throw over the top a piece of canvas as a strainer. This canvas strainer can be removed and washed occasionally and the cask can be dumped out, pebbles cleansed and charcoal renewed every spring and fall, or once a year may be sufficient.
This filter may be set in the cellar and used only for drinking water. Or it may be used in time of drought for filtering stagnant water, which would otherwise be unpalatable, for the use of stock. This also makes a good cider filter for the purpose of making vinegar. The cider should first be passed through cheese cloth to remove all coarser particles.
Or a small cheap filter may be made from a flower pot. A fine sponge may be inserted in the hole and the pot filled about as directed for the above filter. It may be placed in the top of a jar, which will receive the filtered water.”
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