DIY Water Purification Straw




About: My whole life I have thought of ways to make things that you can only go out and buy, follow me and I will teach you how to make all sorts of things. Praise carbon!

Situation: you are driving your car in the middle of nowhere and you go off the road and flip your car into the ditch with only a few things. You get a fire started as you sit by your mangled vehicle you realize that it till be a while before some one will find you, so you decide to assess the situation. You have your shelter and your fire, you need to get water and food so you rummage through your car to try and find something, but all you could find was a straw, some cotton, and a coffee filter what do you do?

Answer: simple you build a water purification straw 

I know what your thinking "how", well in this instructable I am going to explain how using common everyday items that you can find around your house. This indestructible will be divided into two parts, the first part will be explaining how to build it and the second part will explain how to use it safely. These can be made any size to fit in any survival kit, and can be made any where using natural materials that you can find if you are lost.

Why do you need to use one: in all water sources there are micro organisms that can make you really sick along with many other contaminants, such as feces, chemical run off, dead and decaying animals, and other hazardous materials. 

How does it work: on the two ends of the straw there are filters to filter out any sediment that would normally be in the water. Then the inside of the tube contains charcoal (activated carbon) which kills all the micro organisms that you can't see in the water. On the other end of the straw the other filter prevents the carbon from escaping into your mouth as you drink.

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Step 1:

Here's what you will need:
  • A straw
  • A pipe cleaner 
  • Scotch tape
  • Activated carbon(the black stuff on burnt logs or sticks)
  • A coffee filter
  • Scissors

Step 2:

Cut your straw to size.

Step 3:

Cut a piece of pipe cleaner to be the same size as the straw.

Step 4:

Drop your pipe cleaner into the bag of activated carbon. Completely cover the pipe cleaner.

Step 5:

Slid the pipe cleaner into the straw.

Step 6:

Cut two circles from the coffee filter.

Step 7:

Tape the circles you just cut out to the ends of the straw.

Step 8:

Once you do that your done and it is time to use. Take one end and put it in your mouth and take the other end in the water, next take a mouthful and spit it out do this three times, this will remove any bad taste or color that might come from the carbon.

How does it work: The carbon kills all the bacteria in the water and the filter keeps the dirt and sediment out.

If you made this yourself then I want to see it, leave a photo in the comments below. For all my followers I say thank you for the support. Don't forget to vote for me in the in the outdoor survival contest, thank you.

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    37 Discussions


    Question 1 year ago on Step 1

    do you need to use activated carbon?


    1 year ago

    this is cool and I will try it.


    2 years ago

    I made the straw and it works really well. I would do it again if I had a chance to do it again.


    3 years ago

    can powdered activated carbon be used in the straw? please reply it's important!!


    4 years ago on Introduction

    You could just pack some iodine, use two drops for a gallon of water, wait thirty minutes, and you got yourself some drinkable water.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    I thought iodine didn't kill cryptosporidium? I read somewhere that it barely kills giardia. Just looking for clarity :)


    4 years ago on Introduction

    That's why you make something like this ahead of time and keep one in the glove box and in the bug out bag. It's called being PREPARED. Not " Oh crap, i'm in an emergency....what do I do now?" You won't last a day. You prep enough to sustain you until you find resources.


    5 years ago on Step 8

    Let's say I'm in an actual situation where a drinking straw, tape and a coffee filter just would not be in my car.

    Say I need to make this from parts of a car (or even a bicycle). Is there a modification of this that would work with LIKELY stuff on hand? Would it work to just stuff the powdered charcoal into the tube (inner-tube) or hose from vehicle, with some kind of cloth filters on each end?

    3 replies
    Dark Solarstubbsonic

    Reply 4 years ago on Step 8

    K, well...stumbled across this 'ible on the way to something else...first, charcoal does not kill bacteria --which is bad. What charcoal does do is react with ionized chemical compounds in solution, binding them --which is good. It tends to do the same thing with chemical compounds as well. In lieu of coffee filters and in light of the wrecked car scenario, the place to look for your first-stage filter is inside the car's seats. Seat foam is fairly dense, liquid/gas permeable and will do a fairly good job of excluding fine silts so long as you don't draw too hard on the straw.

    Dark SolarDark Solar

    Reply 4 years ago on Step 8

    Whoops...went full-on redundant there... As far as what to use in place of a straw, good question. Yes, inner-tube could work but given the ubiquity of litter, maybe forego the straw route in favor of an improvised filtration bottle (way easier to cram foam into the neck of a bottle).


    Or just boil the water since you already have a fire and a container shouldn't be hard to find in a car (metal rim caps, air filter lid, bent license plate...).

    5 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    not all bateria will be killed just by boiling it bacteria has own some protection for they body to survive from heat, so boiling doesn't enough to kill bacteria....

    (Maybe you can just do it both so you can be more safer)

    I agree with you, your straw is faster, however, boiling water would kill the bacteria for sure, as in your straw if there's a little flaw (wrong charcoal, punctured filter, etc.) it may cost you your life. Also, you would most likely need to boil water for food preparation. Great idea, however, don't let me affect you, it's a great idea, but boiling water is certainly more effective and the hot water would also warm your body.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    One thing I'd like to add, it would be necessary to consider the amount of time that you could reasonably expect to be stranded there, and the temperature.

    If it is hot.....then staying hydrated is a priority. While no one WANTS to ingest 'nasties' from the water, MOST of those can be treated successfully once help comes along. So, if you have the materials to make this straw....make it, and drink enough to stay hydrated. In the meantime, boil some water if you can, and you'll have perhaps safer water for later.

    You can die quicker from dehydration, than you can from most water-born 'nasties'.


    5 years ago on Introduction

    First of all, charcoal in no manner "kills" microorganisms. Charcoal works as a filter, not as a disinfectant. Also, charcoal does not filter out virus particles at all.

    If packed with charcoal powder (not chunks of any size, but powder), this unit might work to filter out most bacteria. The problem is that the water through it still needs to be boiled, and it is a straw. (Commercial filter straws are based off of 1 micron or less nanotube filter technology, not charcoal.) Otherwise it is a case of cryptosporidium, giardia, E. Coli, Salmonella, etc., just waiting to happen.