In this instructable we will show how effective different types of fabric filter water while explaining the science behind the process.

This type of filter is a common solution to the problem of obtaining clean water in many parts of the world, especially rural parts of developing nations. It is a fairly simple process that involves only materials that are available in most parts of the world.

A friend of ours is away in Kenya working on various projects having to do with sustainability including filtering water for drinking.  Where he is now, "water guard" tablets are used to kill bacteria, but it does nothing to improve the clarity or taste of the water so he has been experimenting with different filtering techniques.  Unwanted clothes from all over the world are imported to Kenya so there is a wide variety of fabrics available which makes fabric a good option for filtration.

Note that this filter can only filter particles and color out of the water. It cannot filter bacteria or viruses. Water filtered through this filter is not meant for drinking, and should be boiled before being consumed.

This instructable is the culmination of a project for the Spring 2011 Stuff of History class at the Olin College of Engineering in Needham, MA.

Step 1: Types of Fabrics

For this project, we were not sure if any fabric would work at all for any sort of filtration so we decided that our best bet would be to try as many different types of fabric as possible, both in what material they were made out of and in how the fabric was made (woven, knitted, etc.).
We went to the fabric store and got some different remnants, which are cheap pieces of fabric that are the leftover, smaller pieces of fabric that the fabric store sells for half off.  We also went to a thrift store and bought a lot of cheap clothes that were made out of all different materials and were constructed in different ways.

Woven fabrics have less give than knitted fabrics which is good for filtration since if fabrics stretch (as knits do), the holes in between the fibers get larger and let more particles through.  Another factor that affects the amount that the fabric stretches is the actual fiber that the fabric is made out of.  Some fibers have more "give" than others, but we were not sure which ones those would be.

Danger, you never cease to impress me! Have you ever heard of a small project called LifeStraw? It's sort of a miniature filtration system built for personal water drinking usages for the middle east.
<p>A LifeStraw will get you killed in the middle east as it does NOT filter viruses! In fact, most filters do NOT filter viruses effectively or at all</p>
I haven't heard of that, but it sounds awesome.
<p>thanks it was very help full</p>
what you used at the end of the bottle? <br>https://www.instructables.com/files/deriv/F34/QNEP/GN77VZFZ/F34QNEPGN77VZFZ.LARGE.jpg <br>
can you tell me what are the materials you used? please tell me because i have to the project in it
Super!An information I'll remember for sure, and will keep an old silk scarf handy just in case :) . This should be edited and reformated in a Kindle format with an added cover to be sold as a survival book - you could sell quite a few I think. It can't hurt to pay schooling fees right? In any case, good job!
Great project and really well written!
Thank you!
The highly magnified pictures of fabric weave were as interesting as the purpose they were going towards. Very thorough and well done instructable. <br><br>Did you guys do any subjective tests on taste?
Yeah, I love the microscope pictures, I might get them as poster or something.<br>We didn't test for taste in this project, although that would be interesting.
Indeed, very well written. Also, I'd like to say informative. I've heard about using fabric to filter your water before boiling or using chemicals, just to get the particulates out. I had wondered which fabrics would be best for this, but never gave it much thought. Thank you for this 'ible.
Thank you, I'm glad it was informative for you!
Very well written, and very comprehensive. Good job.

About This Instructable




Bio: I'm just a lady who likes making stuff. I got my degree in engineering but also enjoy cooking, sewing, knitting, gardening and backpacking, among ... More »
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