The Survival Buzz #160: Maintaining Black Berkey Filters

Gaye LevyGaye Levy | Jul 4, 2019

Another week has rolled around and it is once again time for this week’s Survival Buzz.  As always, I want to start off with my preps.

Since the beginning of the year, I have tried to focus on checking one major task off the to-do list each week.  This week’s task was something I have been procrastinating about for a couple of months, namely performing a red-dye test on my Black Berkey filters.  The rule of thumb recommendation is that this should be done every three to six months.  That may be overkill but for us, it had been over a year.  It was time.

Maintaining Black Berkey Filters - Backdoor Survival

For those of you unfamiliar with the Berkey, the red dye test is done to ensure that your black Berkey filters are doing their job.  Here are instructions from BDS Sponsor, LPC Survival:

The easiest way to determine that the Black Berkey® Elements are still working properly is to add 1/4 to 1/2 tablespoon of RED food coloring (only red will work) in the top chamber and make sure the water collecting in the bottom chamber is clear and free of the food coloring.

It is best to place a glass under each Black Element in the empty bottom chamber so as to differentiate if one/more Black Berkeys are still working properly.

Anyway, my filters passed the test but then I had to remove them to scrub clean and perform a back flush.  This removes the red flood coloring from the filter membranes.  I delegated this job to Shelly who was anxious to try out our Black Berkey Primer, a gizmo that lets you prime your filters without the use of running water or faucet to provide adequate pressure.  Instead, all you need is a bucket or pot of water.

Maintaining Black Berkey Filters - Backdoor Survival

How did it work?  Shelly’s words:

This was soooooo easy.  It only took a few minutes and I did not need three hands to get it right!

So there you have it.  You can pick up the Black Berkey Primer that will work when there is no running water!  Seems like a good prep to me.  You can pick one up from the LPC Survival Store or directly from the LPC Survival website.

Other preps?  Not much else since I was mostly working this week so let’s move on to tips and announcements.

Update on the AeroGarden

Here is a picture from my AeroGarden, week 3.

AeroGarden Herbs Week 3 - Backdoor Survival

All of the herb seeds have sprouted, but some are still snuggled under their dome  Now I need to wait until they are big enough to prune which will encourage them to become bushy rather than tall.

Backdoor Survival Mail Bag and Tips

Andrea, a reader in Italy, needs your help:

I’ve read your article “6 Prepping Tips for the Mobility Challenged“.

As a wheelchair user I really appreciate it.  I live in Italy and I’m actually designing, whit the help of a University in the US, a robotic wheelchair, based on a patent that I have written, to aid and sustain disable people and veterans in overcoming the difficulties that they face during their everyday life.

So I’d be happy to know which are, in your opinion, the most important features for a prepper’s wheelchair. That information could be an interesting inspiration for my project.

For example, I use a power wheelchair. I fear power shortages or black outs. Which could be a portable and easy way to recharge a wheelchair off the grid? I looked at solar panels but there aren’t portable devices powerful enough to recharge a wheelchair in short times.

I’d be glad to read from you soon. Prepper’s ideas can be very useful.

I know that some of you have successfully resolved some of your physical challenges.  Do you have advice that I can pass on to Andrea?

Here is an excellent water barrel tip that just came in from Mark:

I built a small pallet for each water barrel, then put caster wheels on the bottom. Though it is heavy, I can move my water barrels around when I need to, and they are off the cement.

Karen has her own version of the letter to family and friends who indicate they will come mooch with you if the SHFT:

Dear Friend or Family Member,

You recently expressed an interest in joining my family if a disaster occurs.

Please know that you are welcome if you have a skill we need. Please let me know what your skills are. However, I am not planning on including you in my food storage prep, so if you would like to join us, please let me know, and I will email you the list of things you will need to accumulate to feed and clothe and protect yourself.

Bring these items with you in event of an emergency, and you will be welcome. If you choose not to help yourselves, or help us by collecting your own food, I will turn you away, whether I love you or not.

Sorry to be so mean about this, but I am concerned about my own family’s survival first and foremost. If you need help getting started, I will be happy to email you a list of reputable sites with helpful articles and how to suggestions.

Thank you.

She continues:

This has shut up everyone I know, and even started a few towards prepping themselves.

At first I felt really bad about being mean, but the jokes were starting to get to me, and some people were trying very hard to make me feel stupid for my preps, so I got mean. The few who took me seriously and started prepping on their own have started to become my community, and I am teaching them what I learned, and some of them have taught me stuff I didn’t know. The haters have stopped teasing me, and now I rarely have to break out the letter.

Sorry for the long comment, and this might not work for everybody, but the people I sent this to all know me pretty well, and know what I’m like, so very few were actually offended.

As always, I will continue to pull gems from the comments so that everyone can learn from them!

Current Giveaways

The following two giveaways are currently accepting entries.

I am looking at my inbox and right now, I oh my gosh, I have so many questions to answer from the following giveaway that it may take weeks!  I just KNEW that a 55 Gallon Water Barrel Kit would be high on everyone’s bucket list!

Ultimate 55 Gallon Water Barrel - Backdoor Survival

Friday Review and Giveaway Blast! Win a 55 Gallon Water Barrel

This second giveaway is for a wonderful book about gun safety; I sure would like to see more entries!

Prepper Pete's Gun of a Son - Backdoor Survival

BDS Book Festival 7: Prepper Pete’s Gun of a Son + Giveaway

Remember, the deadline for all giveaway entries is 6:00 PM Pacific on Tuesdays.

In addition, all winners are notified by email and have 48 hours to claim their prize or an alternate will be selected.  Once selected, the names of winners are also displayed in the Rafflecopter on the original giveaway article.  This usually happens on the Friday following the end of the giveaway.

A Word About Rafflecopter

If the Rafflecopter is not working for you but is working for everyone else, there is very little I can do about it.  The culprit is usually your device, your operating system (outdated) or a company firewall or other restrictive security feature.  My suggestion is that you try a different computer.

I do not want to be a pill about it but please do not send me an email telling me I should dump Rafflecopter.  Before using this tool (which, by the way, I pay for), it would take me up to an hour to select a giveaway winner.  I would have to download the comments, put them in a spreadsheet, go to a random number generator, count the comments out, then verify the entry.  With Rafflecopter, it takes about 3 minutes flat.

And that is all I am going to say about that.

Other Announcements

I have been participating in the WonderMill Grain Mill Challenge and completed my third and final blog post on Friday.  As a huge fan of easy peasy one-bowl breads, this week I posted my recipe for Buttermilk Quick Bread.

Buttermilk Cheese Bread - Backdoor Survival

I happen to like making it with lots of cheddar cheese added.  Although the recipe does not say so, I did use freeze dried cheddar which is really good stuff!

The Final Word

Some of the newer members of the Backdoor Survival reader community may not know that in addition to the blog, I still work as a specialized accountant in what is commonly called a “day job”.  I have been trying to wind that down but with 20-year clients, that is not so easy.

This time of year, time becomes very precious, as you can imagine.  That said, I want to get to some of those questions you are asking – there are some good ones.  But for now, today I am going to take the day off because it is Shelly’s birthday.  Three quarters of a century! Can you imagine?  Love him to pieces!!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider voting for me daily at Top Prepper Websites!  In addition, SUBSCRIBE to email updates and receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

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Spotlight Item:

Okay, that is my name for it.  This device makes back-flushing a Black Berkey Filter a cinch. Following a disaster, when you are depending on your filters for clean water, you may not have running water.  If you have a Berkey, you are going to want one of these inexpensive devices.

We have not heard much about Ebola lately but you can bet that the risk is still out there, not only for Ebola but for other deadly pathogens.  Here are some sick room supplies to have on hand as a preventative measure in the event things get serious.  Note that I am including a couple of amusements as well.  See the article: Seven Facts You Should Know About Ebola.

3M N95 Particulate & Respirator Mask: This is an inexpensive mask that can be used in a variety of emergency situations. They come in a box of 20 and are NIOSH-certified. The molded cone design is fluid and splash resistant and will greatly reduces your exposure to airborne particles.

Moldex 2730 N100 Respirator Mask:  Do not confuse P100 masks with the N100s.  N100 is what you want since the P100’s are used to filter particulate only and not gasses and vapors.  Note that if you are on the small side, you will need to order the smaller version which is the Moldex 2731.

Disposable Protective Coveralls: There are plenty to choose from.  I purchased these DuPont White Tyvek Disposable Coveralls With Hood in a medium and it fit me okay with a bit of excess room left over.  Shelly needs a large, definitely.

3M TEKK Protection Chemical Splash/Impact Goggle:  I read a ton of reviews before settling on these.  I was so impressed with both the fit and comfort that I ordered another pair to use as a spare.  These are great and the price is right.

Spark Naturals Essential Oils:  It is no secret that I prefer essential oils from Spark Naturals.  They are well priced and of the highest therapeutic quality.  You enjoy an additional 10% off all items, including sale items, when using code BACKDOORSURVIVAL at checkout.  In addition, SN announces a discounted “Item of the Week” every Monday, and yes, the extra 10% discount will apply.

Shield Protective Blend:  Here is a direct link to one my most diffused essential oils.  If you can only afford a few oils, I would suggest Shield, Lavender and Melaleuca (Tea Tree).

Ticket To Ride: This my favorite board game, bar none.  Family friendly, you will spend hours in front of the fireplace playing Ticket to Ride with your favorite people.  This is worth the splurge.

Help support Backdoor Survival. Purchases earn a small commission and for that I thank you!


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13 Responses to “The Survival Buzz #160: Maintaining Black Berkey Filters”

  1. Happy birthday prepper husband!!

  2. Thank you for all you do with BACKDOORSURVIVAL. You do a great job and your thoroughness has really launched me into serious prepping.
    Enjoy your day with your husband!

  3. RE: wheelchairs. This may not help, but it’s the thought that came to me as I read the blog. The Winter cold here finally gave way to some warmer Spring-like temperatures which caused many people to go for a walk outside and do things outside for probably the first time in months, other than for shoveling snow or scooting quickly into a car. I went for a long walk, too. I found myself doubling back via the side of some very busy roadways, most were without sidewalks, or there were big gaping sections between sidewalk stretches where the ground had softened up quite a bit and the mud made it difficult to walk at times. I thought briefly about the “new” bicycle tires some mountain bikes have these days, they are really fat, knobby tires, probably the same as dirt/enduro motorcycles have? I’m guessing they are fat so they can float a bit above snow or mud and to maintain traction.
    Would it be a good idea to have a wheelchair that can mount tires like that? There might already be some for all I know. It just seems to me that if a person in a wheelchair wanted to get around outside for whatever reason during a SHTF episode, having some fat tires to get through the gaps might be useful? There was No Way my regular bicycle tires would get through the mud I walked through. It’s wasn’t real deep or anything, just typical softened roadside that’s normally hard as a rock.

    I’m also thinking that a clutch of some type might be useful. To save power, to conserve brake pads. In my truck I pop the clutch out of gear and coast a lot to conserve fuel.
    Heh, maybe hook a stun gun up to an exoskeleton on the wheel chair in order to stop others from stealing control? Add some back-up sensors, like they have on cars, to warn you of people approaching from behind?

    Anyway, this week I made my first ever bone broth, and then made my first ever soup with it. Is that a worthwhile semi-skill? It sure was better than any canned soup I ever had. Next time, I’m thinking about adding a pebble or two to the soup to see what it’s like. I got that idea from a story Dolly Parton told to Johnny Carson about how her family did that to survive being poor and without when she was young. But I think she only had a rock and some water. I may try that too, afterall, I did just read an article which said to eat more dirt, it’s good for you. Here’s the title if you’re interested in reading it: ‘Got Allergies? Here’s How Dishwashers Can Hurt You and Peanuts Can Help You’ By Joseph Mercola, March 12, 2015.

    • helot,
      “this week I made my first ever bone broth, and then made my first ever soup with it. Is that a worthwhile semi-skill?” very very worthwhile.

  4. this past week I went through my GHB and BOB and INCHB and swapped out the meds and water and a few other things that have been in there since last fall’s time change. Now all is fresh again and cold weather clothes have been traded out for warmer ones (in a size larger for those still growing). Now that the cow has freshened I have some new batches of cheese made, waxed, and aging. Chickens are laying like crazy now, Yeah! Spent some happy time out in the yard cleaning up. And because i’m kind of crazy about numbers and data, I calculated exactly how many calories I have stored. I don’t like how some companies tout number of servings, that means nada to me. Gaye, try not to get upset about the rafflecopter complaints. I seriously don’t get what people have the right to complain about. Um, you are doing US a huge favor by offering this stuff for giveaway. Anyway, enjoy your day with birthday boy.

  5. Happy Birthday to Shelly, Happy Birthday to you!! I hope you have a great birthday. Gaye,Thank you for your site and the great give aways.

  6. happy birthday, Shelly! Hope its a good one. Gaye, thanks for using my comment! And don’t give up on the rafflecopter. It’s easy to use, for most of us! I really enjoy the giveaways. I always add the items to my want list, even if I don’t win. It’s a pretty long list now, but slowly whittling it down. My preps this week were not much, but I did have to send a letter to the mom of a friend of my kids. She called me up and seriously asked me if I knew how much it would cost for all the stuff. She wants to get it all and join us! I said go slowly and start with water and canned goods and directed her here! Hope it sticks. She would make a great addition to our little community. We are going camping next week, even if its cold, because we need to test some of our newer gear, and it’s getting nicer out all the time.

  7. To answer about the wheelchair ideas. Gaye, feel free to send my email addy to her. There are so many variables in just the users of such a chair. This I know about, I just don’t have the engineering aptitude for that side of creating such a chair. I look forward to seeing what can be done. I own a power chair, but it’s frustrating for me to use because it doesn’t have the power nor the wheels which can handle the terrain I want it to. An all terrain chair runs as much as a brand new car, so for many those aren’t an option. Even for manual chairs, which I choose to use more, there aren’t many options especially when planning for a disaster. Most manual chairs can’t handle all terrain and/or switch to normal use. Tires for a manual chair which could handle rough terrain, as helot mentioned cost in the neighborhood of > $2500. For those interested, there is a manual which is being done in developing countries for a cost of $2-300 but bringing it the US increased the price due to accommodating that if breakdown to fit into a small car and other needs that most people want, here it will cost about $3000. Once you add the term ‘medical’ the price increases enormously. I’m including this link for those who know someone who, like me, doesn’t stay along the smooth surfaces. 😉 //
    I’m going to work at saving up because this concept has great potential in a survival situation by virtue of the parts being replaceable with bike parts.

    This week I learned how to make a water repellent compound which can be applied to clothes and tents, mostly by foraging for the ingredients. With the rain this weekend, we’ll see. I’ve a trip to make to the store, buying some clear hose and making a couple of them to adapt to our water taps so I can capture the cold water which runs out when we turn the hot water on. this will be used for storage and as needed, for watering my precious garden if the drought happens as it appears will happen. I have also acquired additional tent poles and repair kits for our tents. Yes, that’s plural since each is kept in separate places. 😉

  8. Happy Birthday Shelly, thanks for being Gaye’s test subject, we appreciate
    the great info.
    My preps this week were to stock up on Dollar Store buys, finish survival
    braclets, and start homemade yeast starter.
    I will make a trip this week to my favorite thrift stores and see what I can
    scavenge and stock up on some bulk foods at a Mennonite food store.
    Happy prepping everyone!

  9. Happy birthday, Shelly!
    A comment about Rafflecopter: at first, it worked for me, then it didn’t (several give-aways in a row). I tried using Chrome instead of AOL, and that seems to have done the trick for me.

  10. Happy Birthday Shelly! And Gaye, try to take a breather from time to time in this busy season!

  11. Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts and comments about the wheelchair. All the ideas are interesting and useful. New ideas and comments are welcome.

    Gaye, send my email address who is interested in contact me to talk about the wheelchair.

    Ps: just a quick revision, Andrea in Italy is a man’s name 🙂

    • Typing mistake:
      **Gaye, feel send to my email address to whom is interested in contact me to talk about the wheelchair.**
      Italian T9 while trying to write in English 😉

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