Archive for the ‘water’ Category

I am looking forward to the weekend.  I had to work last Saturday, which made the last two weeks go long.  I have not been able to do many experiments in the last couple of weeks, so I spent more time doing internet research.    This weekend’s plans include the following:

  • Turn Brittlebush leaves into medicine.   A couple of weekends ago I went for a hike and saw the desert has a ton of brittlebush right now.   I gathered some leaves and have dried them out, so now I think I am supposed to mash them up or something.  While doing research I learned the sap from brittlebush can be used as incense and/or gum, which I think is pretty cool, so next time out I might see how much sap I can gather.

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Brittlebush in AZ Desert Botanical Garden

  • Build a solar still, which will involve digging a wide hole.  One is supposed to dig in a place that would have water in the soil, but as I am doing this in my backyard, I am going to supplement the water still but putting in weeds and sucking the water out of the plants. 
  • Use shadow of stick to figure out which way is west.

    • Prep for the no grid water for the weekend experiment.
    • Gather water bottles.
    • Gather pine needles for composting toilet.
    • Begin gathering some Creosote Bush stems.  According to Survivorman, one can burn the stems in a fire and the smoke can be used to clean (or rather disinfect) oneself.  The plant makes its own chemicals that make animals and insects not want to eat it, and these same chemicals can be used to disinfect oneself if you don’t have any water.  It is also one of the few desert plants that can be used for toilet paper in a pinch (bad pun intended).     One a side note, the plant is a virtual medicine cabinet for many other uses as well.   Maybe make some tea out of it?  Creosote is so good at repelling harmful stuff, I wonder if it would work on Zombies?

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    Creosote in AZ Desert Botanical Garden


    Insert Irony Here.

    Posted: February 4, 2011 in plan, research, water
    Tags: , ,

    So in all of my preparations for the end times, I somehow overlooked paying my water bill for 4 months in a row. So the city shut off my water last night, today I got it turned back on.  I have no excuse for not paying my bill.  I find it funny that I spent so much time researching and experimenting on how to survive when the grid fails that I forgot to pay the bill and the grid, therefore, failed me.

    I had to go to work without taking a shower, I suspect people noticed. I did have a 2.5 gallon plastic container of water that I had bought recently. I have been buying them to avoid drinking non-city water and also planned on using the empty containers for prepping seeds. So I had water to drink and rinse that night’s dishes, but it got me thinking how I bet it would have only lasted me two, maybe three days if I stretched it. If there had been no easy way to gather new water I would have been screwed.

    So I think a good experiment would be to see how I would survive a weekend without any grid water. I am going to prep a little for the experiment. I am going to gather containers for water, first.

    In a couple of weekends, the plan is a Friday afternoon after work, I am going to pretend that I would know the water was going to go out, so I will have two hours to gather as much water from the faucet as I can.  After that I turn the meter off and for the rest of the weekend I will only wash, clean, drink, or cook with water I gathered. I am curious to see how much water I will need. I am also curious to see how much more cleaning and cooking will be a pain in the ass without grid water.

    I can tell you in my one night without water, I found cleaning dishes a surprising pain in the ass, and as I mentioned, earlier I had to go to work without taking a shower, and I think people noticed.  Awkward.

    Two weeks ago I gathered water from the mountain, built a water purification system, and drank some water that went through it. I did not get sick, but I suspect that was more because of dumb luck rather than my engineering skills.

    I used the World Wildlife Foundation’s instructions on how to build a water filter as my general guide. I used their’s because it was the best one I could find in terms of clarity along with the most post-apocalyptic scenario. Most sites I found for water purification are using modern toys that won’t necessarily be available after the camping stores and hardware stores get raided.

    There where were many lessons learned that did not make it into the video because of editing concerns. Those lessons learned were the following.

    Flush the system. Flush the system some more. And then flush the system. I am not sure how one would flush the system with water if your issue was lack of water. Maybe have the system built and then wait for a rain? Not good if you need the water for immediate survival.

    Clean the sand, let it dry. Clean it again. The water came out dirtier than when it first went in. Reading about things later, I learned that wet sand can hold more nasty tiny lifeforms than water. If I had to use the sand immediately, I might even skip the sand step.

    Don’t wait until the last moment to build your system. The whole system took 14 hours to make, and it should have taken longer. Best way to not run out of water is to plan ahead. This system should be built over time, before you need the water immediately to survive. If the grid goes down, and you don’t have a way to clean water, then make this a first priority after taking care of other immediate survival needs. According to the author of a good low-cost way to clean water is pool shock tablets that only contain calcium chlorite.

    Place multiple charcoal levels. Perhaps pre-treat water with charcoal first. Charcoal doesn’t taste that bad as tea. A fire does not produce as much charcoal as you might think. If I had to have a little water now, and not later. I would just filter the water as best as I could, put some charcoal into the bottle and shake it around. I read somewhere that is would work for immediate  and last resort water concerns. I suspect it would, but I am not inclined to try that until I have to in order to survive for real.

    And on youtube

    So doing research on how to get garden ready, as Phoenix has two grow seasons, the first one starting in Mid – February, which is just around the corner.  A friend turned me on to a Phoenix specific planting and harvesting calendar, which led to a discovery of all other sorts of useful info, such as a nice video on how to build a raised garden.
    I am planning on growing primarily crops that Native Americans grew, because I figure those would work best based on my sourroundings. Those plants are squash, pinto beans, corn.

    Also debating growing tomatillo (because urban farm says it is easy), tomato (because I love a fresh tomato) and eggplant (because there is an expression in Arabic that says “A Woman who asks her husband what he wants for dinner during eggplant season is asking for a divorce.”)

    I need to start the seeds indoor now for the tomatillo,

    Reading about the history of Native American farming in the southwest, the most improtant thing was the harvesting of water. (Well, no duh). So I suppose I should be working on the harvesting of rain water at the same time.

    So anybody got any seeds they want to spare?


    Posted: December 29, 2010 in Phoenix, water
    Tags: ,

    It is raining today in Phoenix. There is snow if Flagstaff. To see how much water I could grasp I have placed a small cooler (measurements later) at the largest spill off my roof. I wonder how long it will take to fill, I placed it outside after a long but soft rain at 3:12.

    I am not sure what I am going to do with this data once I compile it.

    Update: I was able to fill a large trash can within 30 minutes from rain run-off.     How long could I survive on one large trash can of water?  Obviously I could have collected much more water from one rain storm that I could have stored.  How would one build a water storage unit in a post-apolcyptic world?  How long could one store water safely?

    Goal this weekend is too build a walter filter, collect some water from the desert, clean it, drink it, and see if I get sick.

    I am going to use the World Wildlife Foundation’s instructions on how to build a water filter, because it was the best one I could find in terms of clarity, and the most post-apocalyptic scenario descrption. Most sites I found for water purification are using modern toys that won’t neccesarilly be availible after the camping stores and hardware stores get raided.

    I will need containers to hold the water, charchoal from a fire, a large gathering of small peebles and clean sand.

    It does not rain much in the desert. Water in Phoenix is a not-so-secret achilles hell. I stood in the rain and wondered how much I could have gathered at the last moment.  I know some people build roofs that gather the water and then they collect it.  I wonder how much I could gather in a pinch.  I suppose I should have measured the amount and then forecasted how long that would have lasted.

    To do:

    Next rain, fill the pots, to see how much I could gather in a pinch, and know how to filter the water.  Apparently sand matters.  But what constitutes sand?    Where could one gather it if not by the beach? And I will need to get my hands on some Alum, where they hell do I get that?