How Bleach Kills Germs

Created in the 1800’s

French Chemist and pharmacist, Antoine-Germain Labarraque, is credited with formulating a solution of sodium hypochlorite (commonly called bleach) widely used as a disinfectant and deodorizer. In 1824, he was called to the death bed of King Louis XVIII, who suffered from extensive gangrene. The body emitted a foul odor long before death, which the chemist was able to remove by covering the body with a sheet soaked in chlorinated water. Long before the germ theory of infection, his solutions of sodium and calcium hypochlorite were used to disinfect and deodorize latrines, sewers, slaughter houses and morgues.1 The first recorded use of chlorine bleach as a medical disinfectant was recorded at the Vienna (Austria) General Hospital when staff began using it to keep “childbed fever,” a severe infection that killed countless women after they gave birth, from spreading throughout the maternity ward.2 During World War I, a diluted solution was used for open wound irrigation and is still in use today as an effective treatment against multiple antibiotic resistant bacteria. It is also used to disinfect dialysis equipment, some surgical equipment, surfaces in hospitals and medical labs, and even some medical waste.

Explanation Discovered in 2008

The effectiveness of bleach as a broad spectrum disinfectant has been known for nearly 200 years. In 2008, Ursula Jakob led a research team that discovered why. It seems that hypochlorous acid, the active ingredient in bleach attacks proteins in bacteria, causing them to clump up much like a boiled egg. The researchers were studying a bacterial protein called heat shock protein 33. This protein becomes active when cells are in distress, similar to that of a high fever. When the researchers exposed the bacteria to bleach, the heat shock protein became active in an attempt to protect other proteins in the bacteria from losing their chemical structure. Many of these proteins are essential for bacterial growth. Inactivating them will likely kill the bacteria. Further, they discovered that in response to infection, the human immune system produces a strong oxidizer, hypochlorous acid, generated by white blood cells, which helps destroy bacteria. The same chemical hypochlorous acid, is in Bleach.3 In addition to disinfecting surfaces, bleach is often stored to be used to disinfect water in a disaster situation. The problem is that bleach degrades quickly. Clorox Bleach representatives recommend storage for about 6 months at temperatures between 50 and 70º F. After this time, it begins to degrade at the rate of 20% each year and could end up as salt water.4 Instead of storing  liquid bleach, store calcium hypochlorite in granular form. Pure calcium hypochlorite, is one of the best chemical disinfectants for water. It destroys yeast, other fungi,and viruses as well as bacteria. A 1-pound bag will treat up to 10,000 gallons of drinking water.5                  References


Billie Nicholson, Editor
March 2015

March Newsletter Articles:

Add Sprouting Seeds to Your Supplies

How Bleach Kills Germs

Salt – Fact or Fiction

Onions More Benefits Than You Know

Veggie Balls for Pasta from the Solar Chef

Every Day Uses for WD-40

Sun Ovens Teach Solar Energy Concepts

Starting Seeds and Caring for Seedlings

6 Steps to Drinkable Water

Purify drinking water

Water purification in Indonesia, wikipedia

Need drinking water and have no SUN OVEN® or water filter? Remember these six steps to more   drinkable water.

  1. Locate a clear plastic beverage bottle.
  2. Look for the recycle symbol with the number 1 inside it, marked PET. This type bottle can be used for water purification.
  3. Collect clear water with low sediment, pour into the plastic bottle.
  4. Cap the bottle and shake it well.
  5. Leave the bottle in direct sunlight for at least six hours; longer if weather is overcast or water is cloudy.
  6. After six hours in sunlight, you will have bacteria free water – UV rays kill all harmful bacteria. Depending on your water source, this water should be drinkable.

Remember that this method of water filtering doesn’t remove chemicals or viruses, but in many cases those aren’t the top concern in an emergency water situation.


Billie Nicholson, editor
March 2013

Super-Size Your Rain Barrel for Water Storage

Super size water storageIt’s nice to have a supply of rainwater for gardening purposes and, with that in mind, we put a rain barrel to collect water from off the roof of our shop. The usual rain barrel system has a single plastic drum placed under the downspout on the corner of a building. About 30,000 gallons of rainwater falls on the roof of the average home per year. So there is plenty of water to go around. Excess water overflows the barrel and is absorbed into the ground.

We do not want to use valuable stored drinking water for cleaning, washing and hygiene if we lose access to our regular water supply. We decided to expand the amount of rainwater storage by adding two additional water barrels next to our existing one. We used sturdy plastic trashcans we had on hand.

When installing any water catchment system it is necessary to make sure that each barrel is on a sturdy base and is level. As a base we used cinder blocks and 2×4 pressure treated lumber.

Super size water storage

We drilled holes into the trash-can lids and installed garden hoses from one barrel to the next. To keep the hose ends from floating we placed a weight on the hose end. Before inserting the hose fully in place we charged each hose with water so that there would be a siphon-effect between the barrels.

When the water is used from one barrel the other barrels drain too. They also fill up the same way through the siphon-effect. As a final touch we placed a screen barrier at each hole so the mosquitos would not breed in the stored water. We treated the water by adding non-scented, not detergent bleach in the amount of 12 ounces per 50 gallon barrel. This prevents algae from growing in the water. We now have 150 gallons of rainwater storage capacity.

Super Size water storage


Robert Nicholson
November 2014

This month’s article includes:

Thanksgiving Day – An American Tradition  a change of economic systems led to this holiday for expressing gratitude

A Winter “To Do” List  Don’t let cold weather catch you unprepared.

Use household items to make your own Gel packs for sprains and swollen joints.

Inviting pests to leave your home this winter, naturally.

Commit these ground to air emergency codes to memory. You may need them this winter.

Squash Chips – an alternate way to preserve summer squash without freezing.

French style Stew


The Cloudy Day Cube Stove

An Inexpensive Back Up For Your Sun OvenIMG_8271

We are often asked for suggestions about preparedness cooking on overcast days and would like to introduce you to the Cloudy Day Cube Stove, a simple, low-cost-solution. The Cloudy Day Cube Stove can cook your food with a wide variety of different fuels and weighs less than one pound.

Sun Ovens International has made a bulk purchase of the last of the American made Cube Stoves.  They are now available at a reduced cost as a backup for your SUN OVEN®.

On days when rain or overcast weather hide the sun, the Cloudy Day Cube Stove is a great solution. The stove is designed for quick, convenient setup and use, and in addition to preparedness cooking, is ideal for camping or hiking. It has been engineered to maximize burning an assortment of different fuels including twigs sticks or wood, charcoal briquettes, Sterno cans, alcohol, solid fuel tablets or QuickStove Fuel Disks.

The Cloudy Day Cube Stove is made of durable aluminized steel. It can be used in 7 different positions to accommodate different needs, such as cooking fast or slow, or cooking in a large pot or small cup.

A Cloudy Day Cube Stove can be used in conjunction with your SUN OVEN®.  A meal can be started on the Cube Stove and when it is half way through cooking, put into your SUN OVEN® to complete the cooking process as it would in a Wonder Box or retained heat cooker.

For a limited time, while supplies last, you can purchase a Cloudy Day Cube Stove Kit with two QuickStove Fuel Disks for less than $30.

To learn more:Cube Stove


Rotating Stored Water

rotating stored water

There is a limit to how much water we can store. In addition to the small containers in our bug-out bags and car, we also set up a 55 gallon drum. At 8.3 lb. per gallon that 457 lb. container will be in place until it’s emptied. We recently rotated a water container that was set up seven years ago. When opened the water tasted sweet with a hint of chlorine, and was clear and sediment free. To empty the drum, we created a syphon by pulling a vacuum on a hose with our Shop Vac to start the flow.  Once emptied, we washed the 55 gal. drum, then placed it on untreated wooden 2x4s to keep any chemicals in the cement floor from

rotating stored water

leaching through the food-grade plastic container. Keep in mind that bleach now comes in two strengths, 5% and 8% sodium hypochlorite. We have 8%, so we added 12 oz. into the drum before filling it with water. Once filled to the top, we sealed and labeled the container “water” and included the date. To further protect the barrel, we placed a piece of finished wood on top to serve as a flat surface for storage.

rotating stored water


Billie Nicholson, Editor
June 2014

What is a Multi-Fuel WAPI?

WAPIThat’s a water pasteurization indicator.

It is a simple thermometer designed as a transparent tube containing wax. It will float in a pot of water and melt when the water has reached 150º F (65ºC) for 6 minutes. This is the time required to destroy all microorganisms and dangerous pathogens that cause diseases from drinking contaminated water. At most altitudes, water boils at 212º F. It takes as much energy to bring water from 200º F to 212º F as it does to bring the water from the ambient temperature to 200º F. Pasteurizing water uses considerably less energy than boiling it and less than half the amount of time. Using the Sun Oven® to pasteurize water allows alternative fuel to be saved for other uses.

Many people keep a piece of cheese cloth with their emergency preparedness supplies. Pouring water through the cheesecloth will filter out solid impurities before it is pasteurized.

For many years we offered WAPIs which were attached to a nylon cord for use in the Sun Oven®. If you needed to pasteurize water and there was no sunshine, using this design with other forms of fuel often resulted in a melted nylon string. The Multi-Fuel WAPI design can be used successfully in a Sun Oven® or on a campfire, with charcoal, propane, or any other type of fuel.

 WAPIs are resilient

It has a high temperature molded polypropylene case which serves as a carrying case for storage and as a float to enable the WAPI to be submerged in the water to be pasteurized. To use, remove the tube from the storage case and snap it into the hole provided in the bottom, with the wax end up. Place it into the pan or jar of water to be treated. When the wax has dropped to the bottom of the tube, the water, when cool, is safe to drink. The WAPI can be reused hundreds of times. Keep it with your emergency supplies. Our WAPIs are Made in the USA.

Water Storage and Purification Vital to Emergency Preparedness

Water StorageStoring Water is Essential

In an emergency, public water supplies may become disrupted or polluted, making it unsafe to drink. Since water is more essential to sustaining life than food, properly storing or purifying water will prove vital to getting your family through the effects of an emergency.

The general guideline for the amount of water to store is at least one gallon of water per person, per day – two quarts for drinking and two quarts for food preparation and sanitation. It hotter weather, everyone may require more water than this.

Another recommendation is to have a minimum two-week supply for your home. Three day’s worth of water should be included in your 72-hour kit.

Water should be stored in plastic, food grade containers such as water and beverage bottles. Glass and cartons should be avoided, as one can break and the other decomposes easily. If you have a water bed, that water should only be used for sanitation purposes. It is also important to remember to NEVER store water in old bottles of chlorine bleach or milk cartons, regardless of how well you cleaned them out.

Multiple ways to purify water for drinking:

1. Boil water vigorously for 3-5 minutes. However, a WAter Pasteurization Indicator (or WAPI) can help you use less fuel and energy to heat the water to a temperature that will eliminate pathogens and make it safer to drink. If you are using a Sun Oven, the WAPI will indicate when the water has been heated long enough for it to be pasteurized. See WAPI article on Page 3.

2. Add unscented household bleach (5.25% sodium hypochlorite) as per the chart below. Stir and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not have a slight bleach odor, repeat the dosage and let stand for 15 minutes. Use fresh bleach.

3. Water purification tablets (Halizone or potable agua). Different types of tablets are available at drug stores or sporting goods stores. Follow the manufacturer’s directions. Do not use tablets that are yellowish in color and/ or have a strong odor, and don’t use products that are past expiration dates.

4. Iodine: Use 2% tincture of iodine to purify small amounts of water. Add three drops per quart of clear water. Let stand for 30 minutes. NOTE: According to the Department of Environmental Quality, Division of Drinking Water, pregnant or nursing women or people with thyroid problems should not drink water with Iodine.

5. Water from swimming pools can be safely treated and used as drinking water. Let the pool water stand for at least 72 hours to reduce the chlorine level. Do not add chemicals to the pool during this time. Use a combination of ceramic and carbon filter purifying pump/filter to extract water from the pool. This type of filtration system is effective in removing organic contaminates and enough chlorine to render the water safe to drink. Most of these filter types can safely convert up to 13,000 gallons of water before the filtration system needs to be replaced.

Additional tips on water storage and purification 

• Stored water goes flat. Aerate the water by pouring it between two containers.

• Immediately after a major disaster, prevent contamination of home water supply by shutting off the main incoming water valve. If water from the tap looks cloudy or has an unpleasant odor, don’t chance it – PURIFY IT.

• Clearly label and date all storage containers, especially those reused from other products.

• Consider canned soups, juice from canned fruits and vegetables, bottled soft drinks, bottled juice, etc., as sources of liquid.

• Use water stored in the hot water tank, ice cube trays and toilet tank (not bowl)

• Dirty water can be strained through paper towels or clean cloth to remove particulates. Boil and treat with chlorine bleach as directed.

• There is no effective way for home decontamination of water which contains radioactive or chemical contamination

 September 2011, Every Needful Thing                                           Jason M. Carlton

The Cultural Challenge of Solar Cooking

Changing Hearts and Minds

Careful research and experience has proven that the challenges of introducing solar cooking in the developing world are far more cultural than they are technical. The GLOBAL SUN OVEN® has been carefully designed to overcome many of the cultural barriers that have limited the success of solar cooking in the past.

While there are a number of cultural challenges that are unique to each people or group, which must be accounted for. The two major obstacles that have limited the success of the wide spread introduction of solar cooking have successfully been over come:

1. In most countries people work while the sun is out and eat their main meal of the day after the sun has set. Food that is cooked in most solar cooking devices must be consumed immediately or it will become cold. The GLOBAL SUN OVEN® is very well insulated, which allows food that is cooked in the afternoon sun to stay warm until it is ready to be consumed later in the evening.

2. In many countries a woman is working from very early in the morning until well after sundown. Many solar cooking devices do not get hot enough requiring the food to be cooked at a lower temperature for a longer period of time. Women are often far too busy to devote additional time to solar cooking. The time required to cook in a GLOBAL SUN OVEN® is comparable to cooking with a wood or charcoal fire, which makes it easier to gain the acceptance of the women who use it.

Sun Ovens are Reaching Around the World  solar oven

(NOTE: Each month, one article will highlight the international efforts of Sun Ovens Internation to benefit developing countries around the globe.)


July, 2011 Every Needful Thing
Jason Carlton

First Aid: Healing With Water

Water Has Healing Properties

Did it ever occur to you that if we make the best use of water, we could reduce the amount of sickness and death in the world? From microbes to soap, contaminated water is a major source of diarrhea. An important part of its prevention is to purify water used for drinking and preparing foods. Boiling and filtering water will help make it safe to use.

First Aid: WaterIf cooking fuel is limited, pasteurization (using the WAPI kit in a Sun Oven®) will make water safe for consumption. Hand washing with soap and water before eating or preparing foods and after defecation is important.


Babies are especially susceptible to diarrhea. A common cause of death in babies and small children, is severe dehydration. By giving the infant or child plenty of water, this can be prevented, even if given a spoonful at a time.

 Making a Rehydrating Drink

A rehydration drink made with half a teaspoon of salt and 8 teaspoons of sugar per liter (~32 oz.) combined with half a cup of fruit juice, coconut water, or mashed banana will replenish the electrolytes. This should be given often in small sips, every five minutes, until the person begins to urinate normally.

Additional uses of purified water include bathing skin infections, washing wounds, lowering high fevers, hot water vapors to loosen mucus and using hot and cold compresses. When water is used correctly, often medicines are not needed, and the body will heal itself. (“Where There is No Doctor,” Hesperian Health Guides.)

October 2013, every Needful Thing                     Billie A. Nicholson, editor

Emergency Sanitation

When You Lose Water Service

If you have no water service during an emergency, turn off all faucets, valves and outlets. This includes the valve at your toilet. This will prevent flooding when water service is restored. Turn off gas or electricity to your hot water heater. If it runs out of water and keeps heating, the heater will be ruined or might explode.

With no water service, you must find a way to safely dispose of human waste and garbage. If you don’t, you will soon be spending your time taking care of sick people, including yourself. The leading cause of illness and death during disasters is inadequate sanitation, poor hygiene, and contaminated water supplies.

There are three kinds of water

Potable water is drinkable and can be used for cooking and bathing. Gray water is leftover from cooking, washing and other hygienic purposes. It can be used for irrigation of plants or flushing toilets into a septic system or a functioning city sewer. The third kind is black water, sewage containing human waste. You will be responsible for disposing of black water if your septic/sewage system is not working.

A Luggable Loo or bucket toilet can be a good option to have along with your 72 hour kit. Keep basic supplies inside the bucket. They can include toilet paper, baby wipes, garbage bags, disinfectant wipes, feminine products, spray deodorizer and chlorine bleach or other sanitizing chemicals.

Setting Up Emergency Sanitation

bucket toiletTo set up a bucket toilet for use, put a garbage bag inside the bucket. Mix one cup of liquid bleach to two quarts of gray water and pour into the lined bucket. Add a little more disinfectant after each use. Change the bag when it is one-third to one-half full. Carefully tie the top and place bag into a larger lined can. Close toilet lid after each use to control odors. There is a variety of commercial chemicals which will make your emergency toilet smell much better.

If you are able to shelter in place, make a permanent port-a-potty out of your toilet, assuming you do not have sewage backing up into your toilet. With advanced planning, you can have an automatic sewage back-up prevention valve installed on the sewer pipe which exits your house. This will be worth it’s weight in food or gold, if the sewer system fails. It will also prevent rats from crawling up an out of commission sewer pipe into your home.

To set up your in house toilet, make sure the water supply is off. Empty the toilet bowl. Insert a large rag into the exit hole to keep sewer gas from coming up and entering the house. Line the toilet bowl with a 13 gallon plastic trash bag. Duct tape the edges around the back and sides of the bowl completely. Then insert a second bag inside the first. Tape this bag lightly around the sides and lower the seat to hold it in place. Pour a small amount of disinfectant into the bag after each use to help prevent the spread of germs and disease. You may want to add sawdust or poo powder to solidify the liquids. The bag may be used several times before changing.

To change the bag, lift the seat and carefully remove the inside bag by loosening the taped edges. Twist the top edges together and seal the bag. To avoid accidental spills, place an empty bucket right next to the toilet and lift the bag into the bucket. Use this bucket to transport the black water waste outside. Put in a fresh bag, lightly tape and repeat as above. Cover the entire toilet with a 30 gallon trash bag to control odor.

How Much Waste Per Person?

emergency sanitationEach person creates an average of five gallons of human waste each week. The waste, if not handled properly, will stink and make people sick. Never throw human waste on the open ground. If no other alternative is available, bury it in deep trenches and cover with two to three feet of soil,  100 feet away from your house or water supply to avoid contamination. (LDS Preparedness Manual)


October 2013, Every Needful Thing       Billie A. Nicholson, editor

Join The Every Needful Thing Newsletter

  • Helpful Preparedness Tips
  • Solar cooking Recipes
  • Preparedness product reviews and promotions

The monthly resource for emergency preparedness and food storage specialists, and their family, friends and neighbors.