Tuesday, August 25, 2015

water filters

I have concerns about drinking water;  concerns about what may be lurking in it, concerns about containers it is stored in, concerns about what may be leaching into it, and concerns about disposing of empty plastic bottles by the hundreds. Over the years I've searched for ways to deal with water. I hate plastic, and the idea of buying plastic bottles and using them once then dumping them is abhorrent to me. So I bought stainless steel water bottles. This was a big improvement for portable water, but what about for cooking, and what do I fill the stainless bottles with? Buy gallon jugs of water? Yes, fewer bottles to dispose of, but still plastic. I needed a filter. Brita really doesn't do anything as far as I could see, and Berkeys are quite expensive.

Enter my local (in TN) used restaurant supply store. I LOVE this place, and roam through it fairly often. Lots of wonderful old stainless steel that was actually made in the US. And commercial quality so you know it's built to last. I started collecting bits and pieces that I thought I could use to make my own Berkey type system.

The first one was nothing much to look at, but it has performed perfectly in the house in TN for almost 5 years, filtering all the drinking and cooking water. It is based on a 3 gallon iced tea dispenser, with another stainless container on top. The top container is slightly smaller and will slip down into the dispenser so there is a stainless lid with a lip between them to keep the top above the bottom. I've since made a second one that is a bit easier on the eyes, and today made a third that I will be giving to my daughter and son-in-law when I get to Utah. I think this latest one looks the best, now that I've figured out what I'm doing, sort of. lol

The starting components are a tea dispenser, this time a new one, an aluminum lid to cover it and support the top, and a tall stainless steel steam table insert or container with a lid. The plastic lid that came on the dispenser will be tossed.

The handle on the aluminum lid needed to be removed so that the top container will sit down in it, and two holes drilled in it for the stems of the ceramic Doulton filter candles. Then two holes needed to be drilled in the stainless container that matched up with the ones in the lid. This went off without a hitch. The the trouble started.  lol

It turns out the top container did NOT fit into the recess on the aluminum lid like I thought it would once the handle was removed. So two holes were drilled in the stainless lid. Turns out that lid doesn't sit down into the top of the dispenser. Ooops! Should have checked that before drilling.

Now what? Turns out, if there's a will, there's a way, especially if you have a large enough hammer. The container was forced into the recess on the aluminum lid, which now fits VERY snugly on the top of the dispenser. The kids will have to pick up a new stainless lid for the very top that doesn't have holes in it, but those are pretty inexpensive. Here's the finished product.

It sits taller than a Berkey due to the base on the dispenser, but for a total cash outlay of about $45 plus the filter candles I think they can live with the extra height. Here's a shot of the interior of the top section with one candle installed.

This project went so well I figured I'd play with a small version for in the camper instead of the big 3 gallon size. At the restaurant equipment place I had found the insulated holding tank section of a coffee brewer complete with a sight glass. A small steam table insert with lid is just a tiny bit smaller than the coffee holder. The only issue was the odd funnel top on the base.

A quick trip to the local welder and I had 3 short stainless steel legs tacked on the underside of the top to hold it up high enough to clear the funnel-shaped top and to keep the top from rocking. The stem from the single filter candle fits down into the funnel top, and this should work great in the camper, especially as the entire top and lid nest in the base and take up much less space when I'm traveling. 
I've long ago ditched the stainless water bottles because of the plastic lids (did I mention that I dislike plastic?)  and now use glass swing top or grolsch bottles with ceramic caps and a rubber gasket. In an emergency situation I also have  Sawyer .02 filter that removes more than the Berkey does, and also runs much faster, but for day-to-day use my Berkey look-alike works great.

In other news, my daughter has a video gaming friend who lives in India. He is reporting that upwards of 3 million people are protesting and rioting in India today, over issues with the government. Lots of police brutality, even news reporters are being beaten in the streets, and so far I have not been able to find anything online about it. I'll try and get some more info from her and post it if I do.

Monday, August 24, 2015


Well, it's been a while since I've posted anything. There has certainly been quite a bit I could have posted about, but for some reason I just haven't gotten around to it. I finally got out of the south and made it to the farm in MN about a month ago. I had hauled the camper up here earlier in the summer for my youngest daughter to stay in while she was planning her wedding. She has been living in my house in TN for the past 4 or 5 years but she and her man both grew up in this area, and they were married in Sioux Falls the beginning of August. After a honeymoon in Cancun they returned here to pick up their dog that I was babysitting, and they headed to Utah where he has been living. I have all her belongings loaded up in the cargo trailer and will be taking it out to her later this week.

Last week I stopped to check out a secondhand store I hadn't been to before, and found a vintage Craftsman 100' tape in the original box for a dollar. I was pretty happy about that, since my old one disappeared several years ago. This one doesn't look like it has been used, very clean, no rust anywhere on the tape.

This morning I took the truck to Sioux Falls today to have the windshield replaced, I had a rock chip that started to run when the weather got warm this spring and it was getting pretty bad. On the way home I drove through a small town and saw that the Sears store was closing, "huge discounts/ liquidation sale" the sign proclaimed. Of course I had to check it out. Today was the last day they were going to be open, and most of the store had been cleaned out but I managed to score some hand tools along with oil, fuel filter and air filter for the mower, a box of water filters, and a case of WD-40. Not bad for $160. The larger set of ratcheting wrenches are normally $129 alone.

Of course tools weren't on my "Buy It Soon" list, but I figured for the price I would go ahead and get them. It's all things I will use, and it will be really nice to have the right size wrench or socket when I need it. Seems whatever size I need, that's the one that's missing. I swear these things have legs.