Happy news!!! We’ve got charcoal! We are now in the process of seeking and finding filter materials for the water filter and one of the things we’ve been looking for is charcoal. We could have used activated carbon, but it won’t be locally available in a small community of El 20, so it would be difficult for locals to replace the filters, when it is needed. We need to take account that there is no internet in the community, commuting takes time (and money) and it is difficult to get funding for maintenance (funding options are often only for buying something new). So, we decided to use charcoal from burned wood!
Getting charcoal from Finland is not too difficult, because there are plenty of campfire places around. This is the case in summer, but since we cannot wait the snow to melt, we had to find it from somewhere else. One of our team members has a wood sauna, which was for a long time the most competent option, but to gain enough filter material would have required hours and hours of sauna (a nice option on these -20 C days, but not very sustainable). So, this required a bit thinking, and again the solution was right in the front of us! The Water Lab in Aalto University’s campus locates in the same building with a brewery/ restaurant Fat Lizard. In the brewery, they have a wood oven for baking pizzas (which we can recommend, goes also well with their other products). Over the day, they go through quite amount of wood, which means quite amount of charcoal as well! Luckily, they were happy to donate some for our filter, so Charcoal: Checked!
(Photo: Heidi Konttinen, Text: Heidi Konttinen)