Improved Hot Water For Survival
Why hot water? There are a number of reasons you will need hot water in survival situations. Here are just a few of many. Hygiene! Sure you can take a bath in cold or lukewarm water but you certainly won't do as good a job cleaning if you are dreading the cold and forcing yourself to go through with the washing.
Another reason is for sanity. Sure you might think you are stable but the truth is in stressful long term survival situations people change... you can and will change. And often not for the better. Nothing makes you feel refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to take on the hard living in front of you like a relaxing hot bath or shower.
Of course, food hardware, food and sometime medical attention requires hot water.
This article is called IMPROVED Hot Water because... sure you can build a fire under a pot to heat water. But for long term survival when you are carving a home out of the landscape bringing improvements to the way thing are done is inevitable. Although this isn't REQUIRED for immediate survival. This website is about more than just surviving for a couple of months.
Things you will need.
Old Hot Water Heater.
Various fitting and elbows.
Check valve to only allow water to flow one direction.
Valves to shut off the flow of water to the heater and drain.
First you run tubing from the hot water heater to a T. This allows you to open up one or both sides of the T so that you can drain water from the tank or send it through the heater which will be outside the salvaged hot water heater.
After the water leaves the T to go to the heater it must also pass through a check valve. From the check valve the tubing then goes through the heater. To do this, you will need the tubing to form a coil. It is important that the coil spirals up ward and then exits higher than it enters. The more linear foot of coil you have in the heater will to some degree determine how fast you can heat up your water. But you will eventually reach a point where to much tubing increases resistance to water movement and is counter productive.
The size of the fire and all the components determine this so I can't really give you a blanket number of feet that is ideal.
How It Works:
You may have noticed there are no pumps in the system. You can certainly add one if you have one available, however; it isn't mandatory because the design uses good old physics to move the water. We all know hot air rises and this works the same way. The water is drawn from the bottom of the tank. This is where the water is coolest. It might be 150 degrees, but as long as it is cooler than the top of the tank then it will still work. And just like hot air, water stratifies also to insure the proper temperature gradient in the hot water heater.
As the coldest water reaches the coil it is heated up and turned to steam or close to it and is forced up by that same old heat rises concept where it will eventually exit the heater and enter your water tank at the top. All without any pumps.
Now the heater itself (Not the hot water heater you salvaged) is really pretty simple. It is basically just a pipe. Ideally bigger at the bottom and smaller at the top like any typical fireplace. Although probably smaller than a typical fireplace unless it will have other purposes besides just making hot water.
The copper tubing enters through the pipe just above the fire and coils upwards and then exists through a small hole drilled in the pipe. The tubing then runs into the top of the salvaged hot water heater.
Wallah! That is it! Pretty simple and easy to make. Just scavenging the parts will be the only real hurdle to building this. And you can avoid that hurdle by building it now!
An alternative way to build this is to have the copper tubing outside of the actual fire stack. Wrapped around the pipe and insulated. This is a little less efficient but it is easy enough to just beef up the heater with larger diameter tubing or more tubing and a bigger fire or just more time. By separating the tubing from direct contact with the fire it will last longer and beefing up the tubing helps with that also.