Dealing With Silt - Mountain Buzz
 



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Old 10-28-2010   #1
 
The Mogur's Avatar
 
Oregon City, Oregon
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Dealing With Silt

Over the years, I've heard several different ways that people deal with silt when rafting Grand Canyon. I'm not talking about drinking water. On my Grand Canyon trip, we were able to get clear water from springs and side streams to run through our filter for drinking. The issue is dishwashing and bathing.

Before our trip, the best (and not very good) idea was to scoop as many buckets as you had full of water and wait for the silt to settle out. We were also told that adding some alum to the water would make the silt settle faster. We used this technique for the first couple of days, never coming close to getting the water clear. We boiled it for sanitation, but it still wasn't pretty.



Here is what we found that worked really well. The green bag is a filter from a central vacuum system. I've used it as a camp shower for years, hanging it from the tripod and pouring warm water into it. That would produce a nice, steady flow that you could stand under and shower.

Well, we noticed that the shower water was clear, even though the water we were heating up was cloudy, even after hours of settling. So we hung the filter down low and poured some water straight from the river into it. What came out the bottom was almost perfectly clear! For the rest of our trip, we had clear dishwater.



This really works, and it's cheap. Any vacuum cleaner store will have these cloth filter bags. Give it a try!

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Old 10-28-2010   #2
 
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Flagstaff, Arizona
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Alum does work well. However it is important that buckets are filled immediatly upon getting to camp. I mean lots of buckets. Then, table spoon of alum and wait 20 min to decant into other buckets, dish, handwash, filtering water, etc. I think your idea ROCKS! lots less buckets! On commercial trips I do we have a stack of buckets 6.5' tall! Great idea! Thanks!
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Old 10-29-2010   #3
 
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We have also tried Alum with so-so results. We did try something similar to your vacuum bag set-up. We had a chemical engineer on the trip who brought a giant pre-filter bag. We nicknamed it the "giant condom." It helped a lot with the silt on a San Juan trip, but our water didn't come out exactly "clear" as you've described. It was also a slow process, as our filter was a bit more dense than what you're using with a slower flow.
Might have to try the vacuum bag / tripod idea on Deso next year. Thanks for the pictures & info.
KJ
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Old 10-29-2010   #4
 
Albuquerque, New Mexico
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Alum

Alum can work great. You have a put a good amount in there and stir it really well (a good strong stir is the key!) than wait 20 minutes and its almost always clear.
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Old 10-29-2010   #5
 
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cool idea.

gotta love the turbidity of the rio colorado!!
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Old 10-29-2010   #6
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cataraftgirl View Post
We have also tried Alum with so-so results. We did try something similar to your vacuum bag set-up. We had a chemical engineer on the trip who brought a giant pre-filter bag. We nicknamed it the "giant condom." It helped a lot with the silt on a San Juan trip, but our water didn't come out exactly "clear" as you've described. It was also a slow process, as our filter was a bit more dense than what you're using with a slower flow.
Might have to try the vacuum bag / tripod idea on Deso next year. Thanks for the pictures & info.
KJ
One thing we found was that the first fill of the filter bag was a throw-away. It came through fast and somewhat cloudy. Once the filter accumulated a layer of silt inside, the silt itself contributed to the filtration and the water came through clear. We could get two or three 5-gallon buckets of clear water before the flow slowed so much that we had to rinse out the strainer and start over.
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Old 06-13-2011   #7
 
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I've recently had PM inquiries about this filter, so I thought I'd bring the thread back. In a thread about Flocculants, the filter topic came up again and was resolved as follows:

The Mogur Said: It turns out that the newer types of filter bags are pretty expensive. I suspect that the hepa filter bags are too restrictive for this and would plug up too quickly. Mine is simple cloth, probably dacron or some other synthetic (I say that because in the 35 years I've had it, it hasn't rotted). It is a heavier material than a typical shirt, but not as heavy as Levi 501s. Maybe you can work with a vacuum dealer with that description and find something that works. Or maybe you'll have to make your own out of a pair of synthetic blue jeans. Of everything I found on line, this looks the most like what I have (and it is also the cheapest). Cloth Bag for Star Power Hi-Performance Systems [FI909] - $29.99 : Central Vacuum Factory It's quite a bit larger than what I have, but I've always heard that size doesn't matter. And you'll have to attach your own strap to it.

lmaciag Said: I ordered this one, Cloth Bag for Star Power Hi-Performance Systems [FI909] - $29.99 : Central Vacuum Factory, and received it yesterday. I had tried to find one locally after reading another thread before going on The Grand this winter, but that ended up being more difficult that anticipated. Not a lot of central vac people in Colorado and the one I found didn't have a store/office.

The one I received is not red as pictured on the website. More of a natural cotton color. The material is canvas like. The hoop is flexible, likely plastic not metal. Look forward to trying it out on the next trip. Hoping for no more sandy dishes! Will report back then if nobody else has.

Peterholcombe Said: I just returned from the Sand (San) Juan and borrowed lmaciag's new vacuum filter "the amazing filter bucket" on our trip. It worked great! using the oars as a tripod really helped as it does take 10-20 minutes to run a bucket of water through. The filter I used has a stiff ring sewn into the opening and was made of thick canvas. This ring worked great for keeping the bag open but I had to rig up a holder with a cam strap. I'd love to see a handle or at least some tabs to be able to hang the bag level as ours was just hitched under the stiff opening and hung crooked. Not a big deal but this would be a nice addition. It did significantly clean the water. We only noticed the finest of silt and nothing was sandy. This is a good tip and I'll have to get myself one before my next raft trip.
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