Every week, Jon sanitizes water for us since it’s unsafe to drink the water out of the well. This is usually a Sunday task for him as it involves many trips to our well and the time to sanitize the water. I hate carrying buckets of water because for every 3/4 of a bucket I can manage to carry, Jon can carry two full buckets. Also, he really enjoys doing the charcoal grill. Although, both water carrying and charcoal grill usage is traditionally a woman’s job in Tanzania, Jon doesn’t mind doing either and I do other things instead.
The first step after bringing the water from the well is to bring it to a boil over our charcoal stove. It should boil for 3-5 minutes to kill anything that is living in the water.
After bringing it to a boil, we allow it to cool for about an hour. Then, we bring it to our water sanitizing station. It requires two buckets, two lids to the buckets, one water filter (provided by Peace Corps), and a water spicket that can be purchased at the market. We placed our contraption on top of another bucket simply to raise it higher for ease of getting water since Jon is so tall.
Then, once the water is cooled, you place the hot water in the top bucket. Inside of the top bucket is a “candle” filter which is simply a long, circular ceramic piece that the water filters through. This filter catches any larger things that could be in our water, such as dirt or small bacterium that is naked to the eye. We clean our candle filter every 6 weeks otherwise it becomes too dirty to filter the water. You can tell when it needs cleaning because the filter and the bucket become slimy. The filter is cleaned simply by boiling it.
Once you place the water into the top bucket with the filter, it takes at least 24 hours for it to slowly filter and drip into the second bucket which is under it. You can hear the slow drips throughout the day so you know it is filtering properly.
Finally, when it is finished filtering through into the second bucket, you can turn the spicket and have a clean, tasty glass of water! Jon and I go through just about one bucket of sanitized water per week. But, that is because there are two of us. I am sure most people who are living on their own in Peace Corps only go through half of what we do. We know some volunteers who simply buy bottled water for everything, but this method is far cheaper.