Introduction: How to Purify Your Water

Picture of How to Purify Your Water

When you find yourself an a survival situation, you do not always have access to chemicals or a filter to purify the water so you can drink it.

You could just boil the water but this would n't get sand and other particles out of the water and the chemicals will also remain in the water after cooking it. Which in turn could affect your health.

So the best way to purify your water is to use a filter.
Often you can build a water filter with the resources you have available, this gets the particules, dirt and some of the chemicals out of the water.

It is wise to boil the water after you filtered it so that all bacteria and viruses are killed.

Step 1: The Filter

Picture of The Filter

A water filter can be created by removing the bottom of a bottle. Turn the bottle upsidedown (with the cap down down).
and put the following materials in the bottle.
- pebbles
- Sand
- a piece of cloth or bandages
- charcoal
- a piece of cloth or bandages
- Sand
- pebbles

The cloth or bandages are used to ensure that all the different materials do not mix.
The pebbels and sand filter the particules and the dirt out of the water.
The charcoal gets a big portion of the chemicals out of the water, but it won't get it all out. (You can use charcoal from your campfire).
This filter will not remove any viruses and bacteria from the water so you have to boil the water after it is filtered.

Step 2: How to Use Your Filter

Picture of How to Use Your Filter

Gently scoop some water from a puddle or a pond with your cup, try to get as little dirt as possible into the cup. The more dirt comes along with the water the faster the filter becomes clogged and can no longer be used.

Pour the water from the pool or pond in top of your water filter, catch the water at the bottom of the filter in a clean cup.
it is best to throw away the first bit of water that comes out of your filter it often is cloudy and not that clean.

If the water that comes out of your filter is clear it is good and you can use it.

Boil the water at least 1 minute before drinking it, cooking will kill bacteria and viruses that are still present in your water.

If you put some spruce needles in the boiling water, you'll also have a tasty tea.


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KimW103 (author)2016-04-24

for salty water just boil it and find a way to capture the steam. like if you have a pot with a lid the moisture with condense on the lid and you can drip that off into a container and repeat until you have enough.

txadams (author)2016-02-26

Good points and I might add some easily packed coffee filters can start the process of filtering out the particulates before the charcoal process.

cjanki13 (author)2015-10-13

how much charcoal, sand, and pebbles are needed to make this????????

JosephineP4 (author)cjanki132016-02-19

Maybe 1 or 2 inches is enough :)

RamG2 (author)2015-05-14

i wish to know is there any natural filtering material like 'seeds' for this filtering method?? except clay or sand..

jhanger (author)RamG22015-10-12

Moringa Seeds ground up will actively clear the water of sediments and chemicals, you still have to boil and filter out the coagulated sediments from the bottom, but that may be what you would be looking for.

BloomWorld (author)2015-07-07

Charcoal is carbon when it is treated with oxygen, it works as activated carbon. This process removes tiny pores of the charcoal which adsorbs the chemical impurities. It is basically used in the water purifiers to remove chemical impurities like chlorine.and other carbon based chemicals.When the water is passed through the activated carbon, it blocks the chemicals from moving further thus resulting in water free from carbon related chemicals.

KesateB (author)2015-01-03

From my understanding and i have done not alot but a fair bit about filtration and purification processes research, have gone to talk to a few water filtration companies local in my country and here is their expertise advice. ( Please be advised to always ALWAYS do your own research into water purification and disinfection methods before testing what you might propose to do) Boiling water at a normal altitude will kill most viruses and bacteria, once it hits to a rolling boil ( you will notice that the water looks like it is rolling like a micro wave on the shoreline of the sea or lake) let it continue for at least a minute, anymore will evaporate the water ( Particularly if you are in a scarce water area such as when Bushcrafting or trekking, hiking etc , but will not remove chemicals and heavy metals residues and the such, still great if your only fears of the source water is pathogens and viruses, effective if you have background knowledge of the water source in question ( In higher or mountainous regions, a rolling boil will take longer as water boils at a different temperature depending on altitude). Activated carbon setups ( There are various designs based on a simple principle, to absorb/attract and/or energise is what i was told by one expert, the chemicals and residues towards the charcoal. Other mediums used in the processes are to aid turbidity, taste, sediment separation among others.

Hope it helps guys and gals!

Brown Hick

david.buschhorn (author)KesateB2015-05-07

On Everest, water boils at the unimpressive temperature of 160°F.

Higher elevation brings lower boiling points. But you can both raise the temp and help sterilization by adding salt which really just gives you a vastly unsatisfying, salty, tepid cup of coffee. :-(

When you are already frozen and miserable and then you have to drink salty, lukewarm coffee...

elkliko (author)2015-04-30

You can use a piece of cloth or a layer of grass to prevent the sand to fall out.

w0lv3s r awsum (author)2015-04-29

How do you use this without the sand falling out?

anil2705 (author)2015-03-28

how do we know the life of coal?

When shall we replace it?

Goldstar212 (author)anil27052015-04-28

About every month. Best way to make sure you don't get sick.

Goldstar212 (author)2015-04-28


MeganE1 (author)2015-03-20

Thanks for these instructions! There are tons of different ways to purify water. One of the most common is just to boil it. Boiling isn't always possible, though. I really like the idea of making a purifier out of a water bottle. I'm totally going to give this a try.

kz440 (author)2012-07-06

I am curious about the flavor of the filtered water. I recently moved into a house that has terrible tasting water. I do NOT want to pay the high price of water service, not even my dogs care for the water. The water is safe enough but has a high calcium content and tastes salty. I can't even handle coffee made from it. Any clues as to the flavor change?

turtle.trovillo (author)kz4402015-01-22

Charcoal filters remove chlorine which accounts for a lot of the bad taste. It will not remove salts though. Minerals pass right through the filter. But the chlorine in your water bonds to the carbon in the charcoal so that taste and odor is removed.

elkliko (author)kz4402012-07-08

I can't say alot about the flavor of the water because the water i use isn't that bad i only have to remove the dirt, bacteria en chemicals that are in the water, I do not think that it wil get the salt out of sea water for instants. but you can always try it because the ilter is very easy and cheap to make.

In your case it can help to vaporize your water and than condence it again.
When you boil salt water the salt in the water won't evaporate and you can get rid of the salty tast, but as you can imagine this is a intensive way of cleaning your water and i don't know if it wil get rid of calcium.

kz440 (author)elkliko2012-07-08

...actually, it's not salt water... it has a slightly salty taste though. I am going to try the filter, but perhaps on a larger scale as I have to have water for my spoiled dogs, but hey- they don't like this water either.

Thanks for your reply, much appreciated.


ercela31 (author)2015-01-15

I was wondering if you acn use any sand and if you can buy active charcoal?

Jared101 (author)2015-01-09

Very helpful

Croocket (author)2014-10-17

Hi! Thanks for a great instructable. I have a question about the longevity of the filter; how much water could you filter before having to change the charcoal? I'm guessing it gets less effective after a while?

Momo5556 (author)2014-09-08

if you can I need it quick thanks!

elkliko (author)Momo55562014-09-10

you asked how this works well in the simple way:
the chemicals bind with the charcoal and with that they are filtered out of the water and get stuck in your filter.

amethena (author)2013-11-02

dose any one no what chemicals it takes out

Momo5556 (author)amethena2014-09-08

no sorry

Momo5556 (author)2014-09-08

how dose that work? I'm doing a protect and would like to know thanks!

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