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How to Clean Your Jesmonite Gravity-Fed Water Filter

Being a mindful and environmentally responsible creative is the name of the game; it's not just about what your products are made from, but how your products are made. I've spoken at length about Jesmonite, a gypsum-based acrylic resin, and the environmental impact of releasing microplastics into our environments and water supplies.


Enter, the water filter. Filtered down to 0.5 microns, this gravity-fed water filter is designed to remove any of the microplastics from the water generated when wet sanding Jesmonite. Pour the dirty water into the top bucket, where it is flited through 2 ceramic candles and, with the power of gravity, into the bottom bucket, where it is cleaned and can be reused for future wet sanding, creating a completely closed-loop water system.


If you've followed my guide Creating a Gravity-Fed Water Filter for Jesmonite AC100 in 6 Steps, after 6 months, you'll need to clean your filter.


It's a simple task but this is my recommended order of approach.


Warning in advance, you're going to need some additional buckets for this.


1. Let the tank completely filter through

If we're going to clean our tanks, we need to make sure they're completely empty beforehand. Leave your tank 2-3 days without adding any additional dirty water to allow it to drain through fully.


I always keep a couple of 30 litre 'overflow' buckets where I can store any additional waste water I generate if there isn't room in the filter. I would recommend doing something similar if you still intend to continue sanding while you are letting your tank drain.


2. Remove the Guppy Bag and store it in temporary dirty bucket for storage

As you can see, my Guppy Bag was loaded with Jesmonite silt. For the longest time I was adamant this bag wasn't as useful as I anticipated, but it has really proven its worth time and time again.

Grey bag containing microplastics held above water-filter buckets

Take the Guppy Bag out of your water filter and immediately transfer it into another bucket. This bucket should be somewhere you intend to keep all your dirty items temporarily.


3. Detach the top bucket and pour any remaining liquid into your temporary dirty bucket

You may find some liquid residue in your top bucket, don't fear, just pour it away into the temporary bucket where you have stored your Guppy Bag.

Inside of a filthy bucket containing dirty water and microplastics

You're going to remove your candles to thoroughly clean this bucket, so you'll want to make sure it's over the temporary bucket or similar so the dirty water does not escape into the environment.


4. Remove the dirty candles and clean the inside of your top bucket

Keeping your top bucket within your temporary dirty bucket, wash the inside of it with a hosepipe, ensuring the water goes directly into the temporary dirty bucket.

Inside of a dirty bucket once it's been cleaned

You may not be able to fully remove all the dirt from this bucket, but that's okay, we primarily want to remove any build-up and residue.


When removing your dirty candles, be sure to hold onto the washers as you will be using these when attaching the clean candles.


5. Clean the bottom bucket with a hosepipe

This part's easy because your bottom bucket should already be clean as it has only ever had filtered water in it.

Inside of a clean bucket with a spigot attachment

6. Replace the candles on your top bucket

Sadly, your old dirty candles will need to be disposed of in your general waste bin. These filters are now clogged with microplastics remember, so it is important to dispose of them correctly.

Hand holding two dirty ceramic candles above a bucket of dirty water

Insert 2 clean candles and securely attach them with the nuts and washers provided.


7. Transfer the contents of your Guppy Bag into a plastic bag and dispose of it

Unfortunately, that bag of Jesmonite silt has to go into the bin with along with the candles. Transfer it into a secured plastic bag to prevent any of it from leaking.

Plastic bag containing grey mound of silt and microplastics
The contents of the Guppy Bag are unpleasant to say the least

Wash your Guppy Bag in the temporary dirty bucket of water and place it back over your filter.


8. Reassemble your buckets

Once dry, place your buckets back on top of one another.


Ensure your spigot is switched to 'off' to prevent your filtered water from leaking straight out.


9. Start pouring water back through your filter

You're all set! Your filter is ready to go, so first things first is to take that temporary bucket of dirty water we just generated and pour it straight into the top bucket.


You may notice the drip rate sounds faster than you're used to - this is normal, you are no longer using congested candles.


If you're still unsure, lift away the lid between the two buckets to ensure the water that is flowing through is perfectly clear.

Can Jesmonite be recycled? A snipped from their official site

I have read on the Jesmonite website that Jesmonite can be recycled. Though not as you may expect:

When recycling Jesmonite AC100 (water-based gypsum) you would recycle it in the same way as glass reinforced plaster. Cured Jesmonite AC100 and Jesmonite AC730 can also be broken down and used as decorative fillers

Part one is specifically referring to the raw gypsum powder, which can be recycled in the same was plaster can be.


As for part two, this is essentially referring to creating terrazzo (or similar) with broken Jesmonite pieces.


You can bet my plans for 2022 are to clearly establish with the Jesmonite team whether cured Jesmonite (or the bag of silt in my Guppy Bag) can be recycled or not.


Watch this space.

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