Reverse Osmosis (RO) water systems make water safe to drink. But, many do not opt for this solution as the filtration system can remove vital minerals from the water, cause excessive wastage of water during the filtration process, and consume too much electricity.
MV Ramachandrudu, a 54-year-old resident of Hyderabad, is one such person who does not depend on technology for drinking water.
In his home, Ram, his 26-year-old son, and his wife consume water that is purified through three earthen pots filled with natural purifying elements such as coarse sand, gravel, and charcoal. Which is a system that may work for many who wish a safe system.
Natural water purification
Since childhood Ram was accustomed to drinking municipal water provided by the government.
But 12 years ago, when he moved to Nagole, he was forced to purchase canned water from convenience stores as there was no proper supply of municipal water. Apart from that, the municipal water was also contaminated as there were faults in the supply pipes.
He says, “During that time, I came across stories about there being sewage leaks in those pipes, and some being dirty without maintenance. While thinking about alternative solutions to get access to potable water, I decided to tap into the most effective but least used method – sand filtration.”
With the help of his son (who was in the Class 9 at that time, and is now an engineer), Ram made a three-pot sand-based water filtration system.
“In that system, we feed in rainwater collected from the terrace or tap water, and have pure drinking water within 20 minutes.”
How does it work?
The three-pot filtration system has two pots filled with sand, gravel, and charcoal to purify the water. Ram says the mixture of sand and gravel helps fight against pathogens or harmful bacteria present in impure water. The charcoal in the pot helps to remove any bad odour from the water.
The system is easy to make and you can try making one at home too –
Here’s what you will need
- 3 earthen pots of the same size. One attached with a tap (available readymade)
- Coarse sand (Same as the one used for construction)
The quantity required for each depends on the size of the earthen pots purchased.
How to make the filtration system
Prepare the earthen pots
Step 1 – Wash the pots thoroughly
Step 2 – Fill two pots with 2 cups of water and let it sit for 15 mins
Step 3 – Drain the water and use a sharp nail to pierce a hole at the bottom
Remember – Do not use a hammer or a drill to do this, the pot may break
Prepare the materials for filtration
Step 4: The sand, gravel, and charcoal must be washed thoroughly at least 3 – 4 times
Step 5: Allow these elements to dry in sunlight for one day
You can repeat this process for 3 days to ensure that the elements are clean
Arrange the filtration materials into the pots
Step 6: In the uppermost pot fill gravel and sand in equal quantities, respectively.
Step 7: Place charcoal pieces evenly over this
Remember – Ensure that the pot is filled to half its quantity or less. This is the first filtration point and allows water to seep through quickly.
Step 8: In the second pot fill sand and gravel in equal quantities.
Step 9: Place more charcoal pieces over the gravel in an even manner.
In the second pot, add more sand and gravel compared to the first one. You can fill it to half or cover two-thirds of the pot.
Step 10: Place the pots over a stand. Pour the required quantity of water into the uppermost pot and wait until it reaches the last one.
Now, it is safe for consumption.
Cleaning tip: Ram says that the earthen pots must be cleaned or replaced every 6 months to one year. The materials inside also must be discarded and changed at this time.
Ram is a civil engineer and environmentalist. He has volunteered with Wassan, an NGO focusing on water resource management, for 20 years. During his time with them, he was part of many studies on understanding how RO water and canned water are purified.
He says, “Purification of drinking water is about removing harmful bacteria and not removing essential minerals. While RO water may remove these harmful bacteria and pathogens, it can also strip vital minerals present in water. Canned water is sometimes purified recklessly or irresponsibly that does not remove any impurities.”
If you have any questions you can reach out to Ramachandrudu over email at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Edited by Vinayak Hegde)