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    This actually has a basis in fact, based on research done in India. Researchers were trying to figure out why some people would get sick from drinking river water while others didn't. They discovered that when the water was filtered through four layers of a cotton sari, the result was virtually pathogen-free. If you take a CLEAN piece of 100% cotton material (i.e., T-shirt), fold it into four layers, and pour the water through that, 99.9% of the pathogens (worms, bacteria, etc.) are filtered out. This works on fresh water only and will NOT remove pollutants. To do that you'll need to filter the water through some kind of charcoal -- NOT the stuff you use at cookouts, because they have binders and other chemicals in it. Also, you can only use the cotton filter ONCE. After each use, it needs to be washed, boiled in water for at least 30 minutes, then air-dried in the sun before using again.

    2 replies

    I'm doing a science fair project on water distillation and i am wondering if you could direct me to this website/article on the researcher's information? (i'm not very sure if you will still be active after 6 years, but it would mean a lot to me if you could).

    Apologies. I didn't get a notice that you had replied, and only by chance checked my account now. I don't know if it's too late for your project, but if you do a Google search on "water filter cotton sari" you'll find quite a few articles on the subject. I've also got some articles on making your own clay and sawdust water filters.

    is there a way i can delete this instructable?!!? I alreaady entered it in a contest before, and it is over. Now i want to delete this instructable

    1 reply

    bacteria = not at all
    salt = maybe but i doubt

    my question would it be possible to still the salt out using the same idea as a liquer still but using salt water


    10 years ago

    Let's see... it won't remove any salt, nor any pathogenic bacteria, but it will effectively filter out small rocks, crabs, minnows, and some insects.

    So, it's not completely useless... but overall, this instructable is wrong, and misinforms the reader.

    I find it hard to believe that your shirt (or cloth) will be germ free. Also, germs / bacteria are smaller than the pores in cloth, so I can't see them being filtered out. Yes, you will catch larger particles like dirt and rocks, but I wouldn't feel safe drinking that water. If I were to use a cloth like material for filtering water for drinking purposes, I would want to make sure that it was sterile first. A better idea would be to put your water inside a clear container, and have it sit in the sun for several hours, and let the UV from the sun kill the bacteria / germs in the water.

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    I was intrigued by this "UV decontamination" procedure, and worried because *I* know that many plastics and glass absorb UV light, especially in the shorter wavelengths that are usually considered "germicidal." But apparently it DOES really work, with PET soda bottles being the "ideal" container.
    Here's the link. Keyword "Solar water disinfection."
    Still doesn't do anything for salt, though.

    While this will remove large particulate, as you note, this will not produce "safe" drinking water. Viruses, bacteria, and harmful chemicals (including salt) won't be removed this way. This method is actually not "better than nothing" at sea, as you will die if you use this method as a source of drinking water for any extended period of time. There are other great ways to use a t-shirt of water in a survival situation (where bacteria is less of a concern than dehydration),i.e. you can absorb dew with a t-shirt, wring it out and drink it or you might be able to absorb steam from boiling water.... But suggesting the pour through approach to filter salt water is dangerous.

    3 replies

    Three words: Tainted Water Enema. A family actually survived a few weeks (If I recall correctly) by getting daily or bi-daily tainted water enemas. No chit.

    Yeah, that story actually sounds familiar.....

    I like the method with a water canister, a piece of clear plastic a rock and a cup. You might not have these while stuck on a three hour tour. But if that happens just be sure to travel with The Professor.

    I know! This will only take the salt, but not the bacteria. Read the second paragraph in the intro

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    Im not sure that it would even take out the salt to be honest. The easiest way i could think of doing that would be to let it evaporate and catch the run-off water.

    "Here is the scenario, you have no clean water and all you have is the sea, what do you do?" Unfortunately it will NOT remove the salt from sea water. While you can mix a little salt water with fresh water and extend you water supply, you should never be drinking straight saltwater (or simple filtered saltwater). It will dehydrate your body, causing diarrhea, vomiting and a host of other issues. Now for a relatively clear freshwater source this is better than nothing if you are in desperate need of water. If you can't boil the water then you might as well filter out what you can with a piece of cloth.

    Anyone know what micron rating a cotton T-Shirt will have? LOL.

    Guys stop berating this kid. If you had to drink some sort of water, and this was your only option, it is better than nothing.

    I should take this to the plant nursery where I work. I hate it when I am thirsty, and hose water is the only water I can drink. I can literally taste the minerals in it.