Subscribe now and you will get full access to advance chapters of my forthcoming book, A Field Guide to Biochar Water Treatment.

In late 2006, when I was living in a tiny farming village in the remote mountains of northern Thailand, a contrarian farmer named Pi Jo asked me if filtering agricultural canal water through charcoal would remove pesticides and make the water suitable to drink.

Pi Jo, hard at work. [Source: Ryan Libre https://www.flickr.com/photos/ryanlibre/2903639989]

I replied that I thought it could work, but I’d have to do some research.

Pi Jo’s question sent me on a journey of scientific discovery in the field and laboratory, in academia and as a freelance environmental chemistry and engineering researcher.

This journey, and the many hands and minds joined to it along the way, has resulted in several graduate theses (including my own), an influx of research funds from National Science Foundation, US-EPA, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and a variety of international sustainable development grant-makers, a bevy of peer-reviewed journal publications, a handful of viral YouTube videos, and the slow accretion of practical wisdom from years spent in the field.

A Field Guide to Biochar Water Treatment synthesizes field experience with academic research. It provides a grounding in fundamental science and engineering concepts along with step-by-step guidance to implementing biochar water treatment in a variety of low-resource settings. It unlocks the relevant peer-reviewed literature in an English-to-English translation from academicspeak to plain language that non-domain-experts can appreciate and apply.

Why subscribe?

  • Get the info you need to put biochar water treatment to work for you sooner. The target publication date for A Field Guide… is late 2023. If you can’t wait to get started implementing, subscribe to receive advance book chapters as they’re written (approximately one chapter per month).

  • Join the conversation. Provide comments and feedback, ask questions, and help shape the project to achieve its highest potential. Help it reach more people.

  • Be first in line to get your free copy once it’s published, as a thank-you.

  • Your contribution supports Aqueous Solutions’ efforts to advance the science of self-reliance.

About me

My mission in life is to use environmental chemistry and engineering to understand and repair ecological harms and empower marginalized peoples.

I’m a born-n-bred Appalachian and a native of West-By-God-Virginia and damn proud of it. I studied chemistry and environmental engineering at Clemson (BS), biogeochemistry at Berkeley (MS), and environmental engineering at CU-Boulder (PhD). I’ve spent years bumming around rural and remote communities in Thailand, Burma/Myanmar, India, Nepal, Ladakh, Sri Lanka, Mexico, and Ecuador, and generally tried to make myself useful while doing so.

I’m the Director of Science for Aqueous Solutions, and the Chief Technical Advisor for Caminos de Agua, grassroots water and health development organizations in Thailand and Mexico, respectively.

I taught environmental engineering courses at NC State University for a couple of years before returning to my roots as a freelance renegade scientist and exponent of ecological transition engineering. I live with my amazing wife Rachael and all our critters on a small mountaintop homestead in southern Appalachia.

Subscribe to A Field Guide to Biochar Water Treatment

Low-cost DIY drinking water treatment using biochar to remove chemical pollutants.


I am an environmental chemist and engineer with a specialty in appropriate technologies for low-resource settings.