Letter: SHTF Water-Related Questions


I keep hundreds of coffee filters at my house and quite a few in the BOB to extend the life of the Katadyn ceramic water filter when it comes down to that. Could a reusable gold-screen coffee filter basket be deployed to pre-filter water in a survival situation (with possibly other applications I’m not thinking of yet)? I have one I no longer use but nothing goes in the BOB unless it will serve well.

My wife tolerates a giant stash of coffee filters because I use them every day, but she is less tolerant of salt accumulation, whether it’s table salt in a tubular cardboard box or a large saltlick from the farm supply store. However, she never begrudges me having plenty of 40-pound bags of salt to prevent an interruption of water softening capabilities. Is there water softener salt unadulterated enough to be safely used for all of salt’s post SHTF applications?

How far south in Idaho should one consider living to ensure that pre- or post- SHTF drought will not compromise grid down self-sustainable living?

Can I store fire arms in a closet that houses a gas-powered water heater (with a forced air exhaust system)? I’d keep them on a rack, high above the flames that are near the floor. This closet is a lockable closet inside a closet “dead space” and hidden by hanging clothes and known only to me and my plumber. I want to hide some firearms from my kids, thieves, feds, and possibly even Golden Horde visitors. I’m not ready to go PVC pipe in ground, but I don’t want to subject the arms or my family to potential hazards I’ve not discerned. Thanks, – J.S.

HJL Replies: While paper filters will work quite well as a disposable pre-filter for hand pumped water filters, the typical metal screen filter does not. I myself use one of the gold filters regularly for my coffee, but it makes what I term a “dirty cup” with significant amounts of coffee sediment still in the cup. I still prefer that, though, because the paper filters will absorb the oils that contain much of the coffee flavor. In addition, the metal filters, especially the gold-plated variety, are very fragile. The only benefit to the gold is that it doesn’t add to the flavor of the coffee. Stainless steel would be the preferred material, IF they could filter fine enough.

The pure water softener salt can work just fine as a salt source; however, you have to be careful, as some contain cleaning chemicals. In any case it is non-iodized. Depending on your outlook, this may be a plus or a negative. If you live in an area where people would suffer from iodine deficiency, you will need a source of iodine. While iodine is naturally present in the food supply in some areas, like sea coasts, it can be quite rare in other areas. Iodine deficiency causes thyroid gland problems, including endemic goiter, and is the leading preventable cause of intellectual and developmental disabilities, according to Wikipedia.

Storing firearms in a closet with a natural gas flame can be problematic, due to the moisture level in the gas itself. As the gas is burned, the moisture can cause the humidity level of the closet to rise, if it is not properly ventilated. You may also notice a “sticky-residue” that tends to coat things and to which dust readily adheres. All of these problems are alleviated if the closet is properly ventilated though, making it an okay place to store your firearms. Growing up, we kept a shotgun hidden behind the water heater for years with no adverse affects. It was simply leaned in the corner, up against the wall about 4” from the water heater.

If you are looking at drought conditions, I would suggest that you look at conditions in the area during the “Dust Bowl” (from 1934 – 1940) and compare them to now. This should give you a pretty good idea of drought conditions that can exist in the area. I’ve heard that Fremont county has recently seen some ground erosion situations similar to the great plains dust bowl conditions, whereas areas on the other side of the state, near Boise, have not.