Two Letters Re: Toledo Water Crisis


The WHO article you mentioned says there’s another way to purify water tainted with microcystins, and it’s one of my favorite water purification methods because it can also be used as a wound cleanse, an antiseptic solution, an anti-fungal treatment for the hands and feet, a cholera disinfectant, a treatment for canker sores, a fire starter, and even a snow marker for an emergency signal. On top of all that, it’s less expensive per pound than calcium hypochlorite.

What is this wonder chemical? Potassium Permanganate (KMNO4) 98% 1lbPotassium Permanganate, also called “permanganate of potash” or “Condy’s crystals.” Read more about its survival uses here.

Some disadvantages: Calcium hypochlorite will purify about 100 times as many gallons. So you’re best buying lots of hypochlorite for most of your bulk needs and a little bit of permanganate for special cases, like mitocystins or bug-out bags. Permanganate is good for a bug-out bag, due to its multiples of uses, though you will want to mind the storage recommendations and warnings, such as flammability, so use a proper container.

More disadvantages: A little bit can quickly stain almost anything, and it seems like permanganate is more oxidizing/reactive/flammable than hypochlorite. However, I’m no chemist; do your research.

I’ve contemplated placing a few crystals in a coffee straw then sealing it with a lighter, then placing the straw inside one of those Altoids Smalls tins re-purposed as an EDC survival kit. Provided it meets the storage recommendations, I just might do it. – CDV

HJL Adds: If you are going to contemplate storing Potassium Permanganate, make sure you read the MSDS sheet. Pay particular attention to Section 10, “Stability and Reactivity”, and do not use a storage container that can potentially become shrapnel, such as glass. KMnO4 is such a strong oxidizer that if the right conditions exist, it can produce gas fast enough to simulate an explosive property.

o o o

Good morning, Hugh,

You posted today about water filtration and purification regarding the Toledo, Ohio water crisis, and pointed out that calcium hypochlorite is effective against mytocystin in the water.

Two questions: First, is there a good way to store calcium hypochlorite to prevent its degradation? I buy the 1-pound plastic packages, rather than 5 or 10 gallon buckets, because it’s easier to use, and if something happens to one package I’ve lost one pound, not five or ten. The container (a plastic box with lid) in which I store them reeks of chlorine because the plastic bags HCH comes in are slightly porous. My concern is corrosive fumes leaking/escaping from the plastic tub and causing problems with other stored items.

Second, you mentioned sand filters. I’m hoping you share your research on them with us. Sand filters sound like a possible simple and inexpensive means of initial water purification. Thanks – N.O.

HJL Responds: The only practical storage container is chemically resistant plastic, as CaOCl2 is highly corrosive to zinc (galvanized metal), corrosive to most metals, and mildly corrosive to glass. For long-term storage, you need better containers than what the product is usually sold in. The thin, standard food-grade, plastic buckets are still somewhat permeable to the chemical. Polyethylene will give you the best performance with thicker walls being better.