Design, Components, and Assembly of an Emergency Portable Water Purifier

in #life4 years ago (edited)

Everyone loves a pretty woman drinking water

In a comment in @rusticus's post Going Off-Grid: 12 Volt Power, Building Codes, and "Anarchic Electricity" I was requested to make an article about my personal portable water maker system. So here it is! When I get home I'll add some pics of my actual setup as it sits.

Water for Survival

Drinking Water

You can survive up to three weeks without food, but only three days without water! Having a source of clean drinking water is a major issue worldwide and particularly in difficult times such as after a natural disaster, when away from civilization, or during civil unrest.

According to FEMA:

Water is an essential element to survival and a necessary item in an emergency supplies kit. Following a disaster, clean drinking water may not be available. Your regular water source could be cut-off or compromised through contamination.

A normally active person needs about three quarters of a gallon of fluid daily, from water and other beverages. However, individual needs vary, depending on age, health, physical condition, activity, diet and climate.

To determine your water needs, take the following into account:

  • One gallon of water per person per day, for drinking and sanitation.
  • Children, nursing mothers and sick people may need more water.
  • A medical emergency might require additional water.
  • If you live in a warm weather climate more water may be necessary. In very hot temperatures, water needs can double.
  • Keep at least a three-day supply of water per person.

The Main Components

Here are the main components, links to them on Amazon, and prices. They are in order of their connections starting with the water inlet. Source and use the appropriate size and type of fittings and tubing/hosing/piping for your particular usage and setup.

WhatWhat it doesLooks LikeQuantityTotal Cost
SHURFLO Swivel Nut Water StrainerProvides coarse filtering of inlet water to prevent particulate from damaging the$10.50
SHURflo 4008-101-E65 3.0 Revolution Water PumpPumps the water and provides the pressure needed for the RO/DI$59.99
SHURflo Pre-Pressurized Accumulator TankProvides temporary storage of the pressurized water from the pump to minimize pressure fluctuations and pump$41.04
Pentek 158117 1/4" #10 Slim Line Clear Filter HousingTwo 10" filteration housings to provide preliminary mechanical and carbon filtration for the RO/DI$26.24
iSpring 1 micron 10"x2.5" Universal Sediment Filter Cartridges (2-pack)Disposable cartridge filter for removal of sediment 1 micron in size or$11.99
Pentek CBC-10 Carbon Block Filter Cartridge, 0.5 MicronDisposable carbon filter cartridge to remove fine sediment, chlorine taste and odor, and protozoan cysts 0.5 micron in size or$11.25
Portable Reverse Osmosis SystemProvides Reverse Osmosis / Deionization. Removes 99% of all Sodium, aluminum, lead, copper, arsenic, mercury, calcium, phosphate, iron, magnesium, zinc, chloride, nitrate, silicate, cyanide, sulphide, nickel, silver, bicarbonate, manganese, ammonium, barium, chromium and$63.00

Putting it together

This depends on your particular installation. I store mine in a large pelican case for portability and protection of the components. Some good guidelines to follow include:

  • Put ball valves before, between, and after all filters. This allows you to temporarily close the system without turning it off in order to change filters, make adjustments, etc.
  • The RO/DI system will have two output lines. One is waste water from the RO/DI process, the other is clean, pharmaceutical grade water... pure as the driven snow... disco shit. Use different color lines so you don't mix them up.


There are infinite options you could add depending on your personal desire, level or reliability required, and how much you wish to spend. Some options you may want to incorporate:

  • A variety of inlet hoses and connectors for different water sources such as faucet threading, hose threading, pond strainer, etc.
  • 12v onboard battery power
  • 12v cigarrette style plug
  • 12v AC adapter.
  • 12v Alligator clamps for direct temporary deep-cycle battery connections
  • 12v Portable Solar Power
  • Water Bladder and sufficient tubing (100ft), paracord (200ft), and pulley for gravity fed 43psi operation.
  • Incorporation of a manual hand-operated pressure pump.
  • Fusing to the pump for electrical protection
  • Pressure gauge before and after the filters and before the RO/DI system.
  • Pump On/Off switch
  • Pressurized accumulator tank for RO/DI water
  • Automatic Shut-Off Valve for the RO/DI system

My next addition to my system

I'm currently designing a portable and functional way to source reasonably clean water for the system sourced from saltwater which is plentiful in my area. Ideas include:

  • Distillation using external heat (fire)
  • Rainwater/Dew collection
  • Solar still
    Solar Still

Stay safe out there and happy travels!

I hope you enjoyed this article! If you liked it give it an upvote. If you loved it follow me @hunterisgreat. If you hated it, provide me some constructive feedback! Thanks and Steem On!

Thanks so much for writing this, man. A valuable resource for off-gridders everywhere.