5 DIY Water Filters You Can Make Anywhere

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A DIY water filter can give you water that’s safe to drink — no matter where you are.

Using a water filter can be a great way to ensure harmful contaminants have been removed from your drinking water. You can find them available for purchase in a wide variety of styles at many different prices. Whether you need a filter for a water bottle or a whole house system, there’s a product out there for you.

But did you know you can also make a water filter at home? If you aren’t interested in making a big purchase, you may want to try one of the following DIY water filters. We give you a breakdown of how they work and how to put them together on your own.

Table of Contents

    Why Choose a DIY Water Filter?

    Have you been wondering whether to go with a DIY water filter over a store-bought unit? A DIY water filter can save you money, especially if you plan on using items you already have around the house. More importantly, though, learning how to make a water filter gives you flexibility.

    Have you ever found yourself at a hotel or friend’s house where the water quality is questionable? Or has your city had a water consumption warning when your drinking water is usually fine without a filter? This is when a DIY water filter can become invaluable.

    How to Make a Homemade Water Filter

    1. Solar Water Disinfection

    One of the easiest water filters you can make, this option mostly requires a sunny day. It’s an excellent choice for camping, picnics, and other off-grid activities. Simply find an area that receives plenty of sunlight.

    What You Need

    For this water filter, you’ll need:

    • A container.

    We recommend using a food-safe plastic container. A 2-liter soda bottle or a 1-gallon milk container works well for this. They’ll allow you to keep the filtered water for later consumption.

    Instructions

    1. Get started: Place water in the designated container.
    2. Cover: Lay a screen or mesh over the container to prevent new contaminants from entering your water.
    3. Filter: Allow the water to sit in the sun.

    Once the water has been purified by the sun, it’s ready for consumption. If your water source was clear to begin with, you can drink your water after two hours. If the water quality was more inferior, allow it to sit longer, for up to two days.

    Extend the drinkable time period if it’s cloudy. A good length is to leave the water a couple of days.

    2. Boiled Water

    Another easy filtering process you can use almost anywhere involves boiling impurities out of your water.

    What You Need

    To successfully boil water for drinking, you’ll need:

    • Heat source.
    • Pot.
    • Water source.

    You may also want an additional container to store your drinking water for future consumption.

    Instructions

    1. Warm things up: Start your fire source or stovetop.
    2. Get ready: Fill your approved-for-cooking pot with water.
    3. Begin the process: Place your pot on the heat and bring the water to a boil.
    4. Start the timer: After reaching a rapid boil, allow it to continue boiling for at least three minutes.
    5. Sit back and wait: Remove from the heat source and allow it to cool.

    The more water you have in your pot, the longer it will take to reach boiling point.

    Boiling for longer than three minutes will not hurt your water, but it will allow water to evaporate and therefore not provide any further purifying.

    Allow your water to cool fully before transferring to a storage container.

    3. Charcoal Filter

    You’ll need a few more ingredients for this DIY water filter, but charcoal is an excellent option for water filtration.

    What You Need

    Before you get started, gather your items. You’ll need:

    • Sand.
    • Charcoal.
    • 2-liter plastic bottles.
    • Cloth.

    Prep the plastic bottle by cutting off the bottom with a sharp implement of choice. Not everyone will have these items on hand. If you don’t and think you might use this filter option in the future, consider purchasing what you’ll need ahead of time.

    This is an excellent option if you need heavier-duty filtration but don’t have the resources to put together a more extensive system.

    Instructions

    1. Prep your materials: Remove the bottom of your plastic bottle.
    2. Begin assembly: Turn your bottle upside down so it can function as a funnel; wide end up, and narrow end down.
    3. Add your strainer: Line the old top (the new bottom) with your cloth.
    4. First layer: Place your charcoal in through the newly created opening.
    5. Second layer: Add sand on top of your charcoal.

    Don’t be hasty

    This is not a one-step filtration approach. After running your water through this filter, you will have removed sediment and harmful properties. However, you’ll be left with cloudy water that needs to be boiled before consumption (1).

    Now your DIY water filter is ready for you to add water to it. The sand works to filter out larger debris and contaminants.

    Charcoal further refines the water as it passes through, removing smaller particles.

    Finally, the cloth helps keep the sand and charcoal from passing through during the filtration process.

    Using this filter as part of a catchment system can be a fantastic option when you’re working off-grid or camping.

    If you prefer, you can add multiple layers of charcoal and sand to provide better filtering. Just remember to leave some space in the unit for the water you hope to filter.

    4. Stove-Top Distiller

    If you need more than just your run-of-the-mill filtering, you may be in the market for distilled water. This set-up is suitable for turning both salty and dirty water into consumable water. Knowing how to do this in your home can be helpful, whether you need it for cleaning or consumption.

    What You Need

    This method does require some prep work. To get started, you’ll need to find the following supplies:

    • Tea kettle.
    • Stainless steel hose.
    • Connecting valves.
    • Glass container.

    Instructions

    1. Get started: Place water in your tea kettle.
    2. Prepare your area: Set your tea kettle on your heat source.
    3. Create the connection: Attach stainless steel hose to the spout of the tea kettle with the connecting valve.
    4. Finish assembly: Place the other end of the hose in the glass collection jar.
    5. Warm things up: Turn on your heat source.

    This system works by boiling the water. The evaporated steam is sent through the hose and then collects as distilled water in the glass container.

    More On This Topic
    Can You Drink Distilled WaterCan You Drink Distilled Water? (9 Pros & Cons You Should Know)

    You’ll find this method does take longer than others, but you aren’t merely filtering your water, you’re also distilling it.

    A few things to remember

    The hose will get hot, so use caution when touching your distiller during and after the filtering process. Keep in mind that sudden extreme temperature changes can cause the glass to crack or explode. Allow to fully cool before storing in a refrigerator.

    5. Bio-Filter

    The bio-filter is a more sophisticated version of the charcoal filter. With one additional layer to the unit, it’ll do everything your charcoal filter does — and a little more.

    What You Need

    You’ll need the following equipment before getting started:

    • 2-liter soda bottle.
    • Sand.
    • Activated charcoal.
    • Screen, or some mesh.

    Instructions

    1. Get ready to filter: Prepare the soda bottle by cutting off the bottom.
    2. Prep your filter: Turn your bottle upside down so it can act as a funnel.
    3. Add your liner: Line the new bottom (the old top) of the bottle with your cloth.
    4. Start the process: Place a layer of activated charcoal on top of the cloth.
    5. Begin layering: Add in a layer of sand.
    6. Complete your filter: Create a layer of gravel at the top.

    Consider playing with how much of each substance you use in a layer. As with the charcoal filter, you may choose to repeat particular layers, depending on the water source. Just make sure to leave room for the water that needs to be filtered.

    This can be another good option for working into a catchment system. It’ll remove both large debris, and microscopic particles as well. To ensure the removal of bacteria, plan on boiling the water after it’s gone through this filtering process.


    Making Your Own Healthy Drinking Water

    Now you have the ability to make water safe for consumption, no matter where you are or what kind of water you have access to. Put your new DIY water filters to the test by comparing them to your other filtered waters. You may be surprised by how truly effective they are — and how easily they’re made with items on hand.

    Have you had a time where a DIY water filter would’ve come in handy? Do you have plans for where you’ll use yours next? We always look forward to hearing about your adventures — leave us a comment below!

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    About the Author

    Peter Gray

    Peter has been a homeowner for 35+ years and has always done his own repair and improvement tasks. As a retired plumber, Peter now spends his time teaching others how they can fix leaks, replace faucets, and make home improvements on a budget.
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