Until now, I’ve been using my collected rainwater for pretty much everything, except for consumption. For showering, washing, doing the dishes and washing my hands. The filter in my water tank works well enough for removing the worst contamination from the roof, but at that point it’s not yet pure enough to drink. For drinking and cooking I filled up jerry cans at my neighbors. Since it’s just me, that wasn’t a problem. But I prefer to be completely self-sufficient and I wanted to rely on nature for drinking water.
Off-grid water filtering
When I was researching Tiny House installations in the preparation period for the build of my Tiny House, I came across several pictures of Tiny Houses in America with a Berkey filter on the kitchen counter. They’re really beautiful, these Berkeys, and the reviews are very positive as well. I had been considering buying one for a long time, but I kept postponing the decision. I tried an ‘inline’ ceramic filter at first, but unfortunately it clogged up very fast. This type of filter is placed between the pipe and the faucet, but it needs high water pressure to function properly. My DIY water filter wasn’t effective enough either as it leaked too much ‘dirt’. In earlier days I hadn’t yet built a casket around my water tank – a necessary item to prevent algae growth. Anyway, I had been going back and forth with my jerry cans for a while when Rob Greenfield came to visit. He recommended a Berkey water filter. And if he says it’s good, it must be good!
I got in touch with the people from Berkey Europe and asked for advice concerning my living situation. They recommended the Travel Berkey, which has been sitting on my kitchen counter for several weeks now. The Travel Berkey has a 5.7 liter capacity, enough to provide for a 1-2 person household. She really is a beauty! The installation was a piece of cake. My Berkey has a holder that makes it easy to pour water out of the tap. You pour water in the top compartment, which has two filters. After filtering, the clean water seeps into the bottom compartment. For the first two weeks I used tap water. I didn’t have enough rainwater and I still needed to test the filter.
The colouring agent test
The manual contained an instruction for testing the Berkey with a coloring agent. Since you have to install the Berkey yourself, you’ll want to make sure you do it the right way. After all, clean drinking water is vital for your health. For this test you’ll need a red coloring agent that doesn’t contain glucose, sugars or thickening agents. I found a bottle of this in an Indian supermarket in Haarlem for only one Euro. It’s actually really simple. You fill the top compartment with (clean) water and pour in a quarter of a teaspoon of coloring agent. Then you wait a few minutes for the bottom compartment to fill with enough water to pour a glass of water. Amazing, the water was super clean! I told a friend, who’s a microbiologist, about this test, because he was wondering if the filter would be able to filter all the coloring agent out of the water. He said it would be very impressive. And it is! The ‘Black Berkey’ water filters can last for over 10 years; they’re the most powerful gravity filters on the market.
The 6 pictures above I took myself; the other stunning photos are made by Pictorista.
After this test, I was reassured that I could safely pour my pre-filtered rain water into the Berkey. My first glass of filtered rainwater was pure heaven! It felt really bad ass, now I’m truly self-sufficient. when it comes to water! As long as it rains, that is. Luckily we’ve had plenty of rain the past week and by the end of the week I almost had a full tank. So now some sunny weather is really welcome, for myself but also for all of you ;)????