How to Make Filtered Water

How to Make Filtered Water thumbnail
Pitcher-style portable water filtration systems are available for home kitchen use.

Porous, activated charcoal or carbon filter sheets combined with sand and gravel are a natural, basic combination of filtering materials that will remove dirt, impurities and sediments from water when properly constructed in filtering layers. Portable, commercially available water filters use this process. Permanent systems employ technologically advanced and often pricey ceramic filters and reverse osmosis to cause water pressure to push water molecules through microscopic filtering pores or layers while leaving contaminants behind. The average consumer can construct a money-saving and effective homemade water filtration system by following a few simple steps.

Things You'll Need

  • Water source
  • Filtered water collection container
  • Fine sand
  • Small stone or crushed gravel
  • Activated charcoal bulk stone or activated carbon filter material sheet
  • Lint-free cheese cloth or food-safe fiber cloth
  • Boiling vessel (optional)
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    • 1

      Choose appropriate containers to be used for the filtering process and for the collection of filtered water. A large, heavy-duty bucket with a quarter-size hole drilled directly on the bottom and cleaned works well. Choose a clear collection container, if possible, to check for water clarity once filtered.

    • 2

      Line the filtering container with lint-free cheese cloth or any food-safe natural fiber material such as rinsed, non-dyed natural cotton or coconut fiber made from the husk of the nut. Either cut the fiber material generously to the shape of the container and build layers on top or use enough of the material to line the filter system container completely and create filtering layers within it. This keeps any sediment or extra filtering material from escaping out through the drip hole. Keep enough material to use in between the two filtering layers.

    • 3

      Place a 1- to 2-inch layer of dark-colored activated charcoal or carbon filter on top of the chosen natural fiber lining. Activated charcoal is available in small stone form or activated carbon is available in a sponge-like sheet of fibrous filter that may be cut. Water filtering through this layer will leave carbon-based impurities behind in the activated porous material and absorb unwanted salts and minerals such as chlorine or some heavy metals. Cover with another layer of the natural fiber lining.

    • 4

      Gather enough pre-rinsed sand and crushed gravel mixture to construct a 3-inch-deep layer. This initially filters out sediment and small debris before filtering through into the next layer.

    • 5

      Repeat the entire layering process again on top of the previously created layers to make a double-filtration system if desired.

    • 6

      Pour unfiltered water slowly into the filtering container and allow it to seep down through the layering process of first the sand and gravel layer and lining and then through the activated charcoal or activated carbon material layer and final lining. Collect the water as it drips out through the drip hole. Seal filtered water in an airtight container and store either at room temperature or in a refrigerated space.

    • 7

      Make a portable version of this water filter for camping by sealing all layering and lining material in small portions in separate locking plastic storage bags. Cut the top quarter of a plastic 2-liter soda bottle off and drill a small drip hole in the bottom of the bottle. Construct the layers as described above in the smaller filtering container made out of the soda container and pour unfiltered water through it to process. Boil when finished for added safety when unable to test the filtered water's quality.

Tips & Warnings

  • When initially making a homemade water filtration system or each time when changing out filtering materials, test the initial batches to ensure the water meets government-regulated safe drinking water levels before consuming any water filtered through the system. Do this by contacting the local county health department to find out proper testing procedures and laboratory contact information.

  • Be sure to use the cloth liner on the inside of the filter system container as opposed to across the outside of the drip hole or spigot. This keeps the filtering materials of sand, crushed gravel and activated charcoal from coming out of the drip hole.

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  • Photo Credit Michael Blann/Digital Vision/Getty Images

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