A disaster water filter kit

We live on top of the Cascadia Fault, so it is just a matter of time until The Big One hits. In case the odds are not in our favour we have a few different earthquake kits, which include water purification tablets. 

In the event of a real big one it may be a long time before there is running water again, and so we bought a set of Berkey water filter elements.Berkey water filters are kind of prepper porn. I actually bought these seven years ago, and was just relying on being able to find buckets and use a pocketknife to build a filter system if disaster strikes. 

But the last time we got take-out from Big Wheel BurgerBig Wheel is what fast food should strive for. Check them out. I scored a stack of five gallon mayonnaise buckets from their recycling area, so I put together a filter kit. 

First, buy a filter or two, and a spigot. Filters are now selling for CAD$168, but a Berkey Filter costs nearly $400 so this is a big savings.

Source two buckets, ideally of the same size and style. 

Drill a hole near the bottom of one bucket, sized for the spigot shank. Step drills are an underappreciated tool that are excellent for safely drilling thin stock, including sheet metal. The downside, though, is that they can quickly make a hole too large.

Put the lid on that bucket, then stack another bucket on top. 

Drill a hole or two through both the bucket and the lid below it, sized for the filter shank.

Nest the buckets, pack the filter in lots of newspaper or bubble wrap, snap a lid on, then duct tape the other lid on, and tape the two buckets together so you can carry them by one handle. 

I also packed a surplus square of polyester sheer fabric in the kit, which was leftover from our cider press. This is useful for pre-filtering water to take out leaves or other debris. 

Now store your kit somewhere accessible in case of disaster. In an earthquake our old house will probably fall down, so the kit is in a garden shed. 


  1. My daughter, son, mother and associated families live in Portland, Oregon, which is also subject to “the big one”. The filter is a good idea and I will propose it to them.

    In the meantime, they all have multiple buckets of vacuum packed rice and a plastic 55 gallon drum of drinking water available for support in the first days and weeks after a quake.

    It also helps to have some fuel on hand to cook with since gas and electricity will probably be out for a long time. They plan to use camp stoves and either alcohol or propane. As a last resort they can use firewood and three rocks.

    • Rice and fuel are both great ideas. Sharon Astyk, back in the day, used to often say how important comfort food was in hard times—and if you can’t have that, white rice. It stores a long time, and is easily palatable by people whose digestion is shot due to overwhelm. She pointed out how hunger could be caused not by lack of food, but lack of appetite. She is full of great challenges to assumptions.

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