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  • Writer's pictureTim Coyne

How to Advance your Water Treatment System out of the Bronze Age

"Do not disregard the benefit of alum in clearing water. Its action is to settle what is unsettled and to purify what is impure. He who drinks of such water shall have a strong throat and shall be free from illness."

This water treatment manual may sound odd. That is because it was written 3,200 years ago. It is a passage from The Papyrus of Amenemope which is a collection of ethical teachings and wise sayings from ancient Egypt that date back to the 12th century BCE. It may surprise you that the ancient Egyptians used Alum in water treatment but this papyrus is not the only proof. In excavations of ancient Egyptian settlements, researchers have found pottery jars containing traces of alum, which suggests that the Egyptians used alum to treat their drinking water. Furthermore, ancient Egyptian art and artifacts also provide evidence of their water treatment practices. For example, wall paintings and reliefs in tombs and temples depict scenes of water purification, including the use of sedimentation and filtration techniques.

To clarify the water, the ancient Egyptians would mix crushed alum into the water source, which caused the alum particles to bind to impurities and suspended particles in the water, making them heavier and settling to the bottom. The settled particles could then be removed through filtration or decantation. The Egyptians may have also used other substances, such as egg white, which contains proteins that can also act as a coagulant. However, the use of alum was more widespread and effective in ancient Egypt.

If your plant still uses this 32 century old technology, consider reaching out to a Sterling Water specialist to explore our 21st century technology such as PAC (polyaluminum chloride) or ACH (aluminum chlorohydrate). Compared to alum, PAC and ACH have several advantages that make them preferable in many applications:

  • One advantage of PAC and ACH over alum is that they are more efficient at removing a wider range of impurities from water, including suspended solids, dissolved organic matter, and microorganisms.

  • PAC and ACH also tend to work more quickly than alum, reducing the amount of time needed for water treatment.

  • Another advantage of PAC and ACH is that they produce less sludge than alum, which can reduce the cost and environmental impact of sludge disposal.

  • Additionally, PAC and ACH are more stable and have a longer shelf life than alum, which can make them more practical for use in large-scale water treatment operations.

In addition to PAC and ACH, Sterling Water Tech also supplies custom specialty blends that include carefully selected polymers to attack many targets in the water system at once. There are many options and each plant is unique in what chemistry works best. But if you have just been using Alum because "it is the way we have always done it", you may benefit from exploring the more modern technologies that Sterling Water Tech has to offer. Progress your water treatment system out of the Bronze Age by emailing a Sterling Water Specialist today.


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