Our water filter system
According to the WHO there are estimated 842,000 diarrheal disease deaths per year. Although we do not fear the worst, the tap water along our route will contain bacteria, our sissy Western European digestive tracts have never seen before. So why not use bottled water, you might ask. We simply do not want to leave a 50,000 kilometer long trace of plastic bottles behind. Especially, since there are easy and affordable ways of water filtration and purification widely available.
Our Landcruiser was already equipped with a 40 l water tank behind the seats. Under normal conditions we assume a demand of 5 liters per person and day. This consists of 3 liters for drinking and 2 liters for cooking and personal hygiene. Hence, our water tank gives us a good self-sufficiency of four days.
In deserts, however, the demand for drinking water can go up to 5 liters per day and person. Digging in sand for several hours after getting stuck is exhausting! More storage capacity was the only solution. We bought a 30 liter canister. This extra canister makes filling the main tank way easier, as well. Many taps are within buildings. We can easily take the canister out of the car to the hose or sink. No need to get the car itself close to a tap. Those extra 30 liters give us the peace of mind of an extra two days of self-sufficiency even under hot conditions. The first canister we bought came with a tap – very handy, we thought. But after the first filling the tap was leaking. Therefore we ordered a sturdy, German made canister by Hünersdorff that has no tap but a wide-neck.
A Shurflo Trailking 30psi 10.6L/min 12volt water pump was also built in when we bought the Landcruiser. So was the sink on the right side of the interior. We renewed all the tubing and added a connector for an outdoor shower at the back door. Why not enjoy a nice shower in regions with good water supply?
Water filtration and purification
We searched the internet, contacted members of the Buschtaxi Forum and talked to others during the Buschtaxi-Meeting in September 2015, looking for the best way of expedition vehicle water filtration. Useful information on that topic was hard to find. There are many kinds of filters and, of course, there are some well known and highly rated water filter systems available for overlanders. Worth mentioning are the systems by Katadyn and Seagull. But did you take a look at their price tags? Those systems were far above our budget.
Finally, we built a four filter system. The first filter is a 10 µm filter bag that we use to keep the worst dirt out of our system, even before we fill it into our 30 l canister. The next stage is the Shurflo coarse filter right before the pump. This little guy protects the pump from damage by larger objects. The fine filtration is based on some purway products. First, a carbon filter filters chlorine and other flavors. The final stage is ceramic filter that should hold back most bacteria, parasites and viruses. The filters are stored in special holders and mounted to the wall behind the passenger seat.
The experiences we had during this work lead to some advice:
- There are a few but different ceramic filters on the market. First, we ordered a filter from purway. After some nerve-wrecking trials to center it inside the holder, we noticed that the design of the filter is faulty. The sealing washer’s diameter is too small. This way, it does not fit under the ring inside the holder. Under pressure, the sealing washer moves to the side and the seal is leaking. Non-filtered water can enter the outlet right away – having this is as good as having no filter at all. We ordered another filter. And this time, the sealing washer was around 2 mm larger in diameter and perfectly matches the ring inside the holder. You still have to be careful to center the filter correctly inside the holder.
- At our first attempt to install all the filters, we nearly ruined the ceramic filter. Please keep in mind to install the carbon filter first, let the system run for around five minutes and install the ceramic filter in the second step (rinse it for another five minutes). Otherwise the ceramic filter will be black from carbon in the first second.
To be as safe as possible, we use Micropur forte for water purification in high risk areas and for conservation to prevent the development of biofilm. Even in obviously clean water algea love warm and wet enviroment. A container of 100 g Micropur forte is good for 10,000 liters. We carry two containers, which is more than enough for our trip.
Summary of components of our expedition vehicle water filtration system:
- water canister (30 l)
- water tank (40 l)
- filter bag (coarse cleaning)
- pump pre-filter
- water pump (Shurflo Trailking 30psi 10.6L/min 12volt)
- carbon filter (chlorine and other flavors)
- ceramic filter (main bacterias, parasites and viruses with size up to 0,3 µm)
We hope we will stay healthy with this system. Nevertheless, we will take enough medication with us. Anna is a doctor, so we probably carry more medication than most hospitals along our route call their own. We will keep you updated how our digestive tracts perform on the back road!
Which water filter system do you use? Do you think we will stay healthy with this? Just leave a comment and discuss with us!
This is the fifth step of our Overland Vehicle Preparation Series. You can read all steps here.