Any prepper worth their salt knows that clean drinking water is the backbone of any survival stockpile.
A growing concern is how to purify water in the event of nuclear fallout.
It’s frightening to think about, but thankfully, there are ways of removing radioactive pollutants from water. Below we’ll discuss the top three methods.
It’s worth noting that even without a full-scale nuclear disaster, radioactive contaminants like uranium, beryllium, and radium are commonly found in small amounts in public drinking water.
Radioactive Tap Water
In fact, an alarming analysis conducted by the Environmental Working Group detected radioactive contaminants in water serving 165 million people across the U.S.
While this “radioactive” tap water generally contains only trace amounts, even low levels can be harmful over time. It is always best to filter your family’s drinking water.
The following three purification methods can be used to remove radioactive contaminants from drinking water.
Reverse osmosis is a purification process that forces water at high pressure through membranes with very tiny pores that prevent passage of various toxic substances – including radioactive ones.
It can also be referred to as “nanofiltration” because these pores are so tiny – as tiny as .0001 microns.
Almost nothing but water escapes to the other side.
One drawback of reverse osmosis is that it cannot capture radioactive gases (like radon and iodine-131).
That is why many reverse osmosis systems will have activated carbon pre filters or post filters.
You can find reverse osmosis systems available as whole-home water filtration systems, as under-sink systems, and countertop systems.
Activated Carbon works to filter water through a process known as “adsorption.” During this process, contaminants are attracted to the surface of the adsorbent material – which in this case is carbon – and attach there while water passes through. This makes activated carbon effective at removing a wide range of radioactive contaminants from water, including gases, liquids, and dissolved solids.
There are a number of high-quality activated carbon water filtration systems.
The downside of activated carbon filters is eventually the carbon will be at capacity and unable to bind and remove more contaminants.
If you have an activated carbon water filtration system, have an ample supply of back up filters. Generally, these filters last a long time. That said, the more contaminated the water, the more frequently you’ll want to change the filters.
Activated zeolite filters can also be used.
Ion exchange is another water filtration method effective at removing radioactive materials. With this method, water is passed through resins that contain harmless exchangeable ions. The stronger boding ions are exchanged with the weaker radioactive ones, which then stay in the resin. For instance, positively charged sodium ions, which are harmless, will readily exchange with radioactive radium, which is also positively charged.
While each of these methods is powerful on their own, if possible, adopt a three-pronged approach. Using all three of these methods will grant you the purest possible water. Doubling down and combining two of these methods together is also beneficial for removing the most radiation possible.
While it is not among the top three acknowledged ways for purifying water with nuclear contaminants, distilling water is another process to remove impurities, including some radioactive particles.
The moral of the story is: prepare ahead of time. First of all, store as much water as you can in your survival stockpile. This is important for any emergency. Bottles, gallons, 50-gallon drums, underground tanks – keep as much survival water at your disposal as possible.
Secondly, secure one (or two) of the water filtration methods noted above. You’ll be best served by these filtration methods if you already have one or more in place before a nuclear disaster.
Not only is it much safer indoors in the event of nuclear fallout (you do NOT want to be in a situation where you’re driving around hunting for water filters), but the bottom line is you should be filtering your tap water anyway.
If you have a public water utility and want to see how your water stacks up, enter your zip code into the Environmental Working Group’s Tap Water Database.