Vortex Filter DIY – Organic Fertilizer on Demand

These guys right here are our vortex filters. Retail, they would be about $4,000 apiece… DIY version about $100..You might be able to do it for cheaper. We have a 55-gallon drum, with a cone built into it, down into a shower drain. Out here, you can pull off your fertilizer every day for your garden. I will show you about that. We are pulling off a pretty incredible fertilizer. We had it tested at the University of Columbia. 10-6-2 fertilizer with a ton of micro-nutrients. Right here, is our aquaponics system with IBC totes. We are going to be focusing on the four cylinders on the backside of the system. These are our vortex filters; we are going to show you how to build them from scratch. We have a pretty intense system so we built some really intense filtration. But, you will want to think about these
processes. Stage One, you want to settle out as much of the solids as you can before you send it to your mechanical filter so you do not have to change your filter pads all the time. So, we built this vortex filter where the water spins real slow, the solids settle to the bottom, we pull them off as fertilizer every day. Stage Two, whatever solids sneak by get caught in four filter pads so that the only thing left to filter now is the ammonia. Stage Three, is the biological filter. It is where you create a lot of surface area
for bacteria to grow. Ours is a bead filter. You might do a sand filter or a trickle filter. After Stage Three, the ammonia is turned into nitrate. It is pumped up to the plants. Stage Four, the plants use the nitrates and send it back clean. And you can do this on a much simpler level. We would not even need the vortex filters if we just had 100 fish instead of 1,000. The rocks and the grow bed would do most of the biological filtration and we would just have to clean it out, whatever solids got caught up in there. But, we are on a mission to create organic fertilizer and harvest it. So, how did we build it? Alright, we make our vortex filters out of 55-gallon drums. You are going to have to pick up one of these 55-gallon drums. This one here had vanilla in it. You want to make sure it is food grade. We picked it up for $15 dollars, got four of them for $60. and first thing you do, is plumb in this shower drain right here. So, we thought, we will drill a 3-inch hole. Come to find out, you run into all sorts of problems when you drill in. Here is what we drilled out. It has a humongous bump in it. It is anything but flat, so if you are trying to plumb that shower drain in, you are going to leak. You are going to leak real bad, because it is just not a flat surface so we had to figure out a way. What do we do?
So, we went to go buy some new drums. Looked and looked; went to four or five different places and could not find a single drum that was flat. We found some that were more flat, but still it was rough and wavy. I guess it is just part of the plastic process. So, I racked my brain. I went up to the metal shop, looking for a giant, 8-foot C clamp and could not find it. So, I thought, man, I have to make my own tool to iron this plastic out, heat it up. It was a total theory; I halfway believed it would work. And I found these two metal plates right
here. They were just plain metal plates. And I thought, man, if I get these holes drilled in it and weld on some bolts, tighten it down, put it together. While I am tightening it and heating it with the torch, it will iron that plastic out. And so, I went down to the machine shop,
paid them twenty bucks, he drilled me perfect three holes right
here in the middle of this circle I drew for him, and boom, we have a plastic vice.. And it worked. Okay, what we are doing now, is heating up these plates, which we are going to use to flatten out the bottom of these 55-gallon drums. Kinda like what we have done over here on these. So, I have drilled some holes to put the plate on both sides getting the plates real hot. I am going to flatten out these barrels so we can plumb the bottom of them in. Now, we are tightening this up, one by one. Do not tighten any one of them up too tight before you go to the next one, just get it snug, snug, snug, snug. Keep going around. He is heating it from the inside. We are looking for it to start melting around this edge. But, it happens really fast, so you want to pull off before the whole thing melts through and you ruin your drum. Then, you are going to keep heating it. Switching between tightening it up, heating it, tightening it up til you get that bead of melted plastic around the edge. Then, you might have to run outside and hose it down before it melts all the way through. Okay, I am starting to get a little bead, probably cannot see it in the video.. Right there, that little clear, plastic bead. And there might be a better way to do this. I am just kinda shooting from the hip here. But, we are about completely flat here..I have been tightening it up and heating it up, and you can go too far really fast. So, I better pay attention. See that bead, bubbling out on the edges there. Just where we want to stop.. Next thing you want to do after you flatten the bottom of your barrel out, is drill a hole with a hole saw. We are using a 3 1/4 inch hole saw…you have to make sure it is real sharp. You want that shower drain to just fit through there, not too tight, but not loose. You want as much sealing surface area as you can. So, you will drill that hole, you will plumb your shower drain in. You make sure you have that gasket
underneath the barrel..you might put one on top, but definitely one underneath. Use a bunch of pipe dope. You will put pipe dope on all these threads. Plumb that thing in there, and then put your tank up on blocks. Put your 55-gallon barrel up on blocks, throw a plug in there. We picked up one of these plugs for $2. You have to check it to make sure it does not leak before you throw a bunch of concrete in there and waste your barrel. Fill it full of water, check it out, make sure it does not leak, and then you will be ready to move forward. So, this is what your cone is going to look like before you rivet it together. Every cone is going to be different. Every barrel is different. So, you have your upper diameter and your lower diameter for your shower drain. It is a crazy equation. We got it from this guy who used to build rocket bodies for the U.S. Army and he had to figure out how to cone down from a bigger cylinder to a smaller cylinder. So, hit up the wiki. We have the cone calculator. All you have to do is type in the upper diameter and the lower diameter and the height of your cone. Make sure you have at least a forty-five degree angle
coming down so that the solids will fall. It is on our website: theurbanfarmingguys.com Hit up the knowledge base and do not give yourself a headache trying to figure out the cone all by yourself. Next, we built a wood stand for our filter to sit on. It is just four legs made out of 4x4s, a plywood top with a hole cut out for the shower drain to come through. Then, we plumbed off of that a valve. We made the whole thing high enough for a five-gallon bucket to go underneath it to pull the fish waste off. Next, drop your cone right into the barrel and center it over the drain hole. Then, take a Sharpie marker and trace around the top of the cone. You will use this mark as a guide when you are putting down the cement base. Then, pull your cone out and mix up your cement. When your cement perlite mix is ready, cut a PVC pipe to the length of your cone wall and use it to form your base. Then, after it is nice and cone-shaped, let it set for three days to dry. Come back, mix up some thinset mortar, spread it all over the cone, set your cone in, push down til the mortar squeezes all around the sides, clean it up, and let it sit for three more days. Then,
come back, caulk it, wait for the caulk to dry, and you have a cone-bottom filter. So, here is our inlet and outlet pipe. This whole thing has been made possible by these magical uniseals. Instead of spending a hundred dollars on a bulkhead fitting, we are able to use these rubber uniseals, five dollars apiece. Our inlet pipe is plumbed on. It is on a rule of thirds here. This is the top of the cone, we come up a third from there, then come down a third and this is our outlet pipe here. You want to get hard-turn 90s, this is as hard as I can find. And make them low-profile, cutting them down so they will turn inside your filter here. Let me show you. And you do not need to use any kind of glue. Actually, I am going to drain this and cut it even shorter. And real soon, we will start to get a vortex here and it will start to turn. So, here is what the finished product looks like. You can see the pipe coming in at the top is the outlet pipe. You can see the little tornado above it, the little vortex, it shows it is working. This is where the water exits the tank. The pipe right above it is the inlet pipe. That is where the water comes in, takes a hard right, and starts slowly spinning in the tank. The solids settle out and the clean water at the top is pulled off and sent to the second filter. So, rewind a little bit, we are going to show you how to install the uniseal in the practice barrel. Before you drill your hole, you want to stick a support board in there. Like so, drill right next to it. Right there. Right now, we are putting a beveled edge on the edge of these PVC pipes so that they will be able to slide through the uniseals. Then, you just pop the uniseal in the hole, push the pipe through, you have to lubricate it a little bit with some WD-40. If you go too far, it is one-directional, you will have to go all the way through, start again and push it to where you need it. Just enough to get our elbow in there, and we are gonna put one up higher for the outlet pipe. There you go, vortex technology is now in your hands. If you need a parts list, come check out the wiki on the web page. Stay tuned for part two where we build a mechanical filter and a bead filter. And come ask questions on the forum. We are here for you.

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