We’ve known for a couple of centuries now that contaminated water is deadly, but is there a way to filter it if you don’t have access to charcoal or other traditional means? After all, charcoal may not be quite readily available in a post SHTF scenario and it’s a bit pricey even now, especially if you want to filter large quantities of water. Coal is an option, but it’s not environmentally friendly or readily available to everybody either.
So what’s a natural, available alternative? Banana peels can filter water for survival, of course!
How Banana Peels Filter Water
Banana peels are full of acids and other purifying molecules that aren’t harmful to people. After all, we eat the bananas that are inside, right? One of the biggest sources of water contamination is heavy metals.
Mercury, lead, copper, iron, and other naturally occurring metals find their way into our water sources by both natural and man-made means such as agricultural and industrial waste and runoff. They are lethal to us and the unfortunate part is that they build up in our bodies slowly over time. Lead and mercury in particular build up and can damage the nervous system and, specifically, your brain. Not good.
Typically, engineers use aluminum oxide, silica, cellulose or other means to extract heavy metals but these are expensive and not readily available to John Q. Public. They also have side effects of their own. Charcoal filters out impurities but basically it can only get bigger pieces, so it’s not even that effective.
Banana peels, which are now being studied extensively for use as a water filter, contain atoms of sulfur and nitrogen, along with carboxylic acid and other compounds. Now, we’re going to get a little scientific but I promise to keep it brief. Think magnets, sort of.
The carboxylic acid ions become negatively charged and the heavy metals in water tend to be
negatively positively charged. See where I’m going here? The metals dissolved (or floating) in the water are attracted to the acids, which are bound to the banana peels. They stick to the peels and can be removed when you take the peels out of the water. You may not get them all, but you will get a significant amount of them.
Supplies Needed to Make Banana Peel Water Filters
This doesn’t have to be complicated. You need banana peels. Oh, and water. Typically, for a scientific process I would also recommend a book or a board game because they take so long.
However, in this instance, results are seen immediately, and if you’re willing to wait 10 minutes, you’ll see about a 60% reduction in heavy metals. If you’d like to measure your progress, you can always get some heavy metals and some water test strips, available online.
How to Filter Your Water with Banana Peels
There are a couple of different methods that you can use, but it seems that the peels work better when they’ve been dried a bit. Here are your options after drying the peels for a few hours:
- Cut the peels into small chunks
- Place the peels in the food processor and make a dust or meal out of them
Now, on to the actual process. You may place the peels or powder in a coffee filter or cheesecloth and pour the water through them. You also have to option of tossing the peels directly into the water letting it sit. Using the sieve method extracts a significant amount of the metals but letting the chunks or powder sit in the water for about 10 minutes extracts even more.
Studies show that you’ve achieved maximum results at ten minutes so there really isn’t any reason to let it sit any longer. After they’ve sat, simply use a clean fish net (if using powder) or a slotted spoon (if using chunks) to remove the peels. You can also just pour the water through a strainer or coffee filter to remove the peels or powder if you’re doing small quantities.
A surprising point that was discovered during research: the banana peels can be used as water filters up to 8 times and still be effective, so you’re getting some serious bang for your buck there.
The conclusion here is that banana peels can be used to filter water for survival. They are more effective than most other methods for removing heavy metals from water. This doesn’t mean, however, that they’re useful for killing bacteria, so you still need to use your water purification tabs.
We recommend using both methods if you’re drinking from a water source that you’re not sure about. Banana peels get the metals but not the disease; purification tabs get the disease but not the metals.
Give this a try at home and see what you think, then let us know how it worked for you in the comments section below!
This article has been written by Theresa Crouse for Survivopedia.