Exploring Natural Products To Treat Contaminated Water
Cindy Chow, Sarah Chung
Burnaby South Secondary
Floor Location : J 116 V

The purpose of our experiment is to explore the use of natural products in water treatment and to see which of the selected products reduces the most bacteria found in raw water. The main focus of the water treatment process that our experiment was based on was coagulation. Coagulation is one of the primary steps in treating water. It is a chemical process that helps to clump together colloidal suspensions so that they can be easily separated from the water through filtering.
We collected water from Deer Lake. After doing background research on natural sources that have been tested as coagulants, we came up with two natural coagulants we could use and replicate results (Moringa Powder and Bentonite Clay), one where there is little research done (Pumpkin Seeds), and two of our own (Chia Seeds and Corn Silk Powder). Our hypothesis was that Bentonite Clay would reduce the most bacteria. To test this, the Deer Lake water was mixed with natural coagulant and vinegar for three minutes. After 12 hours of letting the colloids settle, the water was filtered through cheesecloth, with the acidity level measured. The petri dishes were swabbed with the treated water and compared to the bacteria count of untreated water. We found that adding vinegar had made the variables coagulate better compared to without vinegar, in which only one of five had had started coagulating. With added vinegar, Pumpkin Seeds and Bentonite Clay had the best results for coagulating and reducing the most bacteria.
Our experiment supports our hypothesis with Bentonite Clay being the best natural coagulant to reduce bacteria. This may be explained because of its characteristics to adsorb a wider variety of compounds and contaminants than the other variables. We were also surprised that Pumpkin Seeds reduced the same percentage of bacteria and was able to coagulate.
We see our results from our experiments to be helpful towards developing countries and small communities where chemical water treatments are expensive for their budgets but have access to natural resources that work as coagulants. It is an alternative way for a cheaper and a more natural way to gain access to cleaner water.