How to Siphon


If you need to empty a tank of water or another liquid filled tank, but that tank can't be moved, you can use a siphon. A basic siphon can be done with virtually any type of hose. It works on the principle of gravity, so the end of the hose that empties must be lower then the end of the hose that fills. There are many situations where knowing how to siphon comes in handy. Here's how.

Things You'll Need

  • A length of hose or flexible tubing, length appropriate
  • Collection container
  • Place the collection container lower than the tank to be siphoned.

  • Place one end of your hose or tubing into the liquid to be siphoned. It does not have to reach to the bottom of the tank, but it is important to understand that a siphon will only continue to work as long as the end of the hose remains submerged and unblocked.

  • Fill the hose with the liquid from the container to be siphoned. Hold your finger over the end of the hose that empties and repeatedly dunk the other end into the tank until the hose is completely filled.

  • Hold the end of the hose that fills beneath the liquid to be siphoned. Hold the end that empties into the collection container. When both of these hoses are in place, release your finger from the end that empties into the collection container.

  • Allow gravity to do the real work. The siphon will begin once your finger has been released. The liquid will flow from the upper end of the hose through the lower end of the hose.

  • When you want to stop the siphoning process, simply withdrawal the hose from the tank. Wait a moment for the liquid in the hose to drain out, and you're done.

Tips & Warnings

  • When attempting to siphon a substance like gasoline using your mouth, keep in mind the toxic and flammable nature of this liquid. Work very slowly and listen carefully - you should be able to hear a difference as the liquid begins to flow through the hose.
  • If possible, use a see-through piece of tubing to minimize the risk of getting a mouthful of gasoline.
  • Another option is to stand with the hose in your mouth above the level of the liquid to be siphoned. Place your thumb over the end of the hose as you put both the hose and your thumb into your mouth. Take your thumb off the end of the hose and suck hard, and then replace your thumb when you need to take a breath. When you believe the liquid is high enough in the tube, simply cover the end, lower it into the collection container, and remove your thumb from the end of the hose.
  • Never use your mouth by sucking on the hose to get it started.
  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/ Images
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