This photo of Cheavin's Saludor Water Filter is taken at the Methodist Archival Museum in Sibu. This is a ceramic water filter fitted with an amazing filtration system. Doctors and dentists have been known to use them very effectively in the early days of Sibu.
This water purifier from the early 20th century worked on the principle of passing water through a carbon or charcoal filter. It is like water filters in homes today.
The tall stoneware ceramic container has a lead free glaze. Its domed lid has an interior ridge to prevent it from slipping off. Near the base of the container is a hole leading inside the container. A small metal tap blocks the hole, allowing water to be drained out of the container when required. On the outside of the container are the words 'Cheavins Saludor Safe Water Filter. Drinking Water of Absolute Purity, British Made Throughout'.
The filter system was inside the container. The container would be filled with charcoal, and water poured into the top of the container. As the water passed through the charcoal it was cleansed. The clean water was drawn from the bottom of the container through the tap.
Charcoal is pure carbon, made from the partial burning of organic waste. It contains ions that help to kill germs, and it works on the principle of absorption. Large amounts of gases, including poisonous ones, and gases that create bad smells and tastes in water stick to the charcoal. It is porous, and has, therefore, large surface areas that absorb gas.
In the 1950's my family lived in Pulau Kerto at the Ice Factory and our water supply came straight from the Rajang River with the help of a small pump which my father worked at once in a while. Some of the water we used for washing came directly to the doorstep when the flood water reached the bottom of the stairs.
In the kitchen was this Cheavin's Saludor Water Filter standing at a small counter . I would always remember it as pure tasty water would come out of a tap at the bottom and my mother told me that the water was "spring water" after it was filtered inside the huge cannister. I imagined that I was tapping the water from a series of rocks and the water came out miraculously as Moses' rod struck the rock wall! My mother loved this particular water filter as it was not only a social symbol of well being but a symbol of my father's love for good living and for the family.
Our water filter mysteriously "disappeared" when the family moved lock stock and barrel from the Ice Factory to the house on Kung Ping Road in Sibu. My mother never knew who took it away or why. And father was not a person who would find fault with the movers.
I am sure many families in Sibu continue to keep them as treasures in their homes. This water filter was popularly sold all over the world in 1890-1950's before chlorine treated water supply became the norm. I have read somewhere that the original company which sold Cheavin's Saludor Water Filter was established in Boston USA. However I still need to check this fact out.
At the present moment Singapore History Museum at Riverside Point has one unit for exhibition. I do hope that the unit in our Methodist Archival Museum will continue to help educate our younger generation.
How I wish I still have one now.