Living Sustainably

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Archive for February, 2014

The DIY Berkefeld (Berkey) Water Purifier Is Back!

diyberkeyAfter many issues with a supplier, and their quality control, we are re-introducing The DIY Berkefeld (Berkey) Water Purifier with the original white ceramic / carbon / silver impregnated purifier cartridges. Ceramic cartridges have been proven in third world countries for over 100 years. We are also including our eBook package on rain water harvesting, water purification and solar water heating. Get the details (and construction video) at

The Sterasyl grade ceramic is designed to remove suspended solids and pathogenic bacteria (>99.99%). The filter elements are produced using the latest ceramic techniques to provide a hollow porous ceramic, which is fired at a temperature in excess of 1,000ยบ C. They are designed to operate with water flow going from the outside to the inside of the element. The ceramic shell exhibits a strictly controlled pore structure, so as to provide efficient sub-micron filtration, a proven defense against hard-shelled parasites such as Cryptosporidium as well as pathogenic bacteria. The ceramic also removes other less harmful, but equally unpleasant particulate debris such as rust and dirt. Composition of the SterasylTM ceramic contains pure silver. This silver is a material designed to significantly inhibit bacteriological mitosis or grow through. The result is that bacterial growth is inhibited from occurring within the SterasylTM ceramic element (which is possible with the other ceramic filter elements). This silver content insures that filtered water contains levels well below those required by international standards. Because of the silver, SterasylTM filter elements do not require sterilization after cleaning. Additionally, the bore of the ceramic shell is filled with granular activated carbon, which enables the filter to reduce chlorine and organic chemicals while improving the color, taste, and odor of the source water. The re-cleanable Super SterasylTM filter elements remove suspended solids, parasites, cysts and pathogenic bacteria (>99.99%) and reduce organic chemicals, pesticides, herbicides, organic solvents, trihalomethanes, SOCs, VOCs and foul tastes and odors. The top of the Super SterasylTM element is closed with a unique ceramic dome. This prevents the possibility of breeching (leakage), which can occur with filtration elements that are closed with a plastic cap.


Wood Fired Emergency Heat and Cooking

vogelzangThe recent ice storm, and power outage, reminded me how we used to heat our home and cook with wood back home in NY. The EPA has been making noise about banning or restricting the sales of woodstoves, and quality stoves are expensive. In the past I’ve heated with barrel stoves, and they are cheap to make, and replace, as used barrels are plentiful. Broken limbs from the ice storm means a plentiful wood supply, and scrap wood from construction and pallets are also plentiful. Vogelzang makes a inexpensive kit that makes it easy to turn a 30 or 55 gallon steel drum into a workable heater and cookstove. The basic kit adds cast iron legs, door, and chimney collar. Addons include a cook plate, grate, and even a double barrel kit for increased heat output. Check out for more details.


32 Hours Without Power, Ice Storm 2014

mrheaterWe just got power back here in SC last night, after being out for 32 hours. Trees and branches down, power lines down, power poles snapped, It’s a real mess out there. About 32 degrees out for the last few days with heavy rains turning to ice on contact. As we pride ourselves on be prepared, how did we score?

  • Food: Plenty of non perishable food, and perishables were stored outside in the cold.
  • Water: Had stocked bottled water for drinking, and filled buckets etc. from the well after firing up a generator once just for that purpose about 70 gallons).
  • Toilets: Had a Joe Jenkins Bucket Toilet set up for us and guests (6 at one point) who had no power or heat.
  • Heat: Two portable propane heaters, and extra 20lb cylinders as well as 1lb cylinders.
  • Cooking: I had installed a propane range a while back, connected to a 20lb cylinder.
  • Light: Candles and LED flashlights. No issues.
  • Hygiene: Heated water on stove for washing up / hobo bath.
  • Communications: replaced cordless phone with wired phone. cell phone backup. used vehicle to charge cell phones and kindle.
  • Entertainment: played games, read books, talked (what a concept)
  • Vehicles had plenty of fuel

No stores open, the whole community was powered down (and much still is).

What would I do differently for next time?

  • Install a small woodstove.
  • 12v battery powered pump on the rain barrel for pressurized water for showering, etc.
  • more card games.
  • bigger ham radio that does not require a local repeater (coming very soon).
  • More rechargeable batteries in a larger variety of sizes (charger has a 12v vehicle adapter).