Easy Life-Saving Water Filter

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Fun Fact: Humans can live about 20 days without any food but can only live about 5 days (maybe even less) without water. We may take water for granted now because it is in such rich supply, but what if disaster strikes? I will tell you right now, YOU WILL REMEMBER THIS INSTRUCTABLE AND YOU WILL LIVE TO FIGHT ANOTHER DAY! The method introduced in this Instructable is the same method by which your drinking water is filtered now but just on a smaller scale. With just a few common household items that you more than likely have just laying around, you can supply clean water with this Environmental Engineer approved method to you and your family when you so desperately need it.

DISCLAIMER: I am not responsible for any harm/ accident / sickness caused as a result of this Instructable. Water treatment such as this is extremely safe but if not done properly, it can make you very sick. Perform at your own risk!

With that being said, let's get to it and save some lives!

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Step 1: Assembling the Materials

This project is easy as it gets. All you need is just a handful of items that you can find at home.

- Coffee Filter (I used the cone-shaped ones to fit in the bottle better but any coffee filter should work just fine

- A small shovel

- A colander

- Sand / Dirt (Sand is much better but dirt would work)

- Knife / Scissors

- A 2 Liter Plastic Bottle

Optional: Charcoal- to refine the purification process even further but it is not always necessary. I did not use it for this instructable and the water purified just fine.

*Tip* It might be worthwhile to have these things already set aside in a emergency preparedness kit. Who knows, you may only have minutes to leave your home and these materials could very well save your life!

Step 2: Making the Filter

The first step is getting the bottle ready to hold the sand. Take your knife or your scissors and cut a little less than half of the bottle away (Picture 1). After you cut the bottle, you will want to set the tip inside the bottle so that it can drain into the bottom piece. If you have done this correctly, it should look similar to (Picture 2). Next, take the coffee filter and expand it to conform to the edges of the bottle (Picture 3).

The next step is to prepare the filter through which the water will flow to give you 95% clean water! We will talk about the last 5% in a later step! Take your Sand / Dirt and add it to the colander (Picture 4). Be sure to have a bowl beneath the colander to catch your refined material. With the material in the colander, gently shake the material to separate the finer sand particles from the rougher sand particles. The distinction between the two should be rather dramatic (Pictures 5 & 6).

For the final step, you add the most-refined material to the least-refined material. With that being said, add the fine sand particles in first then the rockier particles. Depending on what you are filtering, it may be worthwhile to add slightly larger pebbles, but in this case, it was not necessary. If you followed the steps correctly, it should look like the filter I made (Picture 7)

Now that your filter is built, lets filter some water!

Step 3: Filtering the Water / Purifying the Water

To test this homemade filter, I got the nastiest water that I could find. I got a few scoops of dirt and added it to some water and shook it up to get a really filthy concoction (Picture 1). This could represent an absolute worst case scenario of water filtering.

Now it all comes down to this, an epic showdown between dirty water and our filter! (Picture 2) Remember this could be the difference between life and death so lets hope this works!

Add the water to the top of the filter (Picture 3) and watch it drip down through the filter! (Picture 4) The filter will catch twigs, small organisms and even the tiny particles of dirt! It might be difficult to see, but the water is pooling at the bottom of the bottle! So Cool!

*Tip #1 * The water may still be a little cloudy after the filtering process (especially with this dirty of water) so the best way to fix it is just running your filtered water back through the filter again. After that, it should come out pretty clear!

*Tip #2* To avoid running into the problem discussed in Tip #1, if you have extremely dirty water, let it sit for a moment so the majority of the dirt sinks to the bottom before pouring it into the filter. It will minimize the amount of filtering you will have to do. *If you filter rainwater or pull water from a river you shouldn't have this problem at all!*

Well, let hope it worked... Drumroll please!

Step 4: Raise Your Purified Glass of Water to Success!

Success! The water looks great! I know what you are thinking "Now let's boil that sucker!" WRONG. It takes an immense amount of precious energy to boil water. You want to use your fire/ energy source to cook your food not boil your water! It will deplete your valuable resources dramatically and waste your time as well!

The most efficient way to clean up that last 5% of dirty water (mostly microorganisms) is to use common household bleach. When used properly, it cleans the water to become totally drinkable.

Here is a table to give you an idea of how much bleach is need for the amount of water you are filtering.

Volume of Water to be Treated to Amount of Bleach Solution to Add:

1 quart/1 liter - Add 5 drops

1/2 gallon/2 quarts/2 liters - Add 10 Drops

1 gallon - Add 1/4 teaspoon

I did a little less than a liter so I used 4 drops to be safe. Mix the solution thoroughly. Once you add the bleach, it is wise to wait about forty-five minutes to an hour for it to kill all of the bacteria.

* Tip* Sniff test! If you can still smell bleach after forty minutes, wait a little bit longer, it is probably still killing bacteria. Once you can no longer smell the bleach, the water should be totally safe to drink.

If you are brave enough, give it a shot and try it for yourself! :)

Step 5: Bottoms Up!

Here I am drinking that tasty new filtered water! I did this about a week ago and I feel great with no sickness in sight! I am amazed how easy this is to do! Again, this is one of the easiest, most efficient ways to purify water! Don't forget these super easy steps so if something were to ever happen you will be prepared! Water purification is so important and everyone should know about it! Share this with your family and friends so they can be prepared as well!

Be safe, and live life to its fullest! Thanks for reading and I will see you on my next Instructable!

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    146 Discussions

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    RMF808

    1 year ago on Step 5

    Drink bleach? No thank you. You’re just reading one “poison” for another. I study particle physics and everything adds up.

    18 replies
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    M40RMF808

    Reply 1 year ago

    Poison?? Seriously? Let's not get hysterical here. The average person drinks bleached water all the time. Treating water with chlorine is perfectly safe, and in fact the most commonly used method by towns, cities and other municipalities to treat what comes out of your faucet.

    Your body not only has, but NEEDS chlorine. Without salt (also known as sodium CHLORIDE), you'll die. Salt separates in your body to sodium and free chlorine. The average person is about 0.5% salt by weight, so a 200 pound man has a pound of salt in him... which means about a half pound of chlorine. Note that a gallon of bleach weighs about 8 pounds, and is only about 5% chlorine. So the average person has far more chlorine in them than a gallon of bleach.

    As a (self-proclaimed) particle physicist, you should know better than to get hysterical over basic chemistry.

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    kelevrabrewingM40

    Reply 6 weeks ago

    Ingesting elevated ph is very bad. Bleach is ph 14, water(drinking)7.3-7.8. Each ph level =10X previous... 7-8=10x, 8-9=10X... 7-9=(10x10)=100x stronger. That said, if done properly, ph will be in a healthy range... and hydration is life, and bacteria will ruin a survival day. It's even worse to get on skinin full strength, as that will not go through digestive system. (Don't use bleach for mold!)

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    M40kelevrabrewing

    Reply 6 weeks ago

    Look at those big chlorine pucks they put in swimming pool skimmers, and remember that the average person has about that much chlorine in their body at any given time.

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    kelevrabrewingM40

    Reply 6 weeks ago

    I know for a fact that I don't have that much chlorine in my body. And it's not just about the salts, as much as it is about PH level of the blood. Look it up. You can cure cancer by maintaining healthy PH. Organ failure and other problems "can" occur, but again, not over short term. Boiling is definitely a better option if available.

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    M40kelevrabrewing

    Reply 6 weeks ago

    Your body not only has, but NEEDS chlorine. Without salt (also known as sodium CHLORIDE), you'll die. Salt separates in your body to sodium and free chlorine. The average person is about 0.5% salt by weight, so a 200 pound man has a pound of salt in him... which means about a half pound of chlorine.

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    kelevrabrewingM40

    Reply 6 weeks ago

    I understand the Chloride is part of salt... that said, it is not the whole, therefore the amount of Chloride would be much less than .5%. But besides the "salt" issue... PH stands for Parts Hydrogen. All I was trying to say was that boiling is significantly safer if available. Adding chemicals to anything you put in your body should be monitored. Overuse of bleach can certainly be harmful. Read the bottle of Clorox.... or pool tablets.

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    RMF808M40

    Reply 1 year ago

    Go drink your bleach then.

    poison
    n. A substance that causes injury, illness, or death, especially by chemical means.
    n. Something destructive or fatal.
    n. Chemistry & Physics A substance that inhibits another substance or a reaction: a catalyst poison.

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    M40RMF808

    Reply 6 weeks ago

    You can't live without salt... the average person has a salt level equaling about half of one percent of their body weight (ie: a 200 lb. person has about a pound of salt). And the body breaks most of that salt into its constituent elements (sodium and chlorine). So yeah... look at a half pound puck of swimming pool chlorine and figure you've got that in your body at any given time.

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    jpdurocheRMF808

    Reply 1 year ago

    Chlorine is actually a crucial part of water treatment. Small amounts of chlorine are added to public water sources and treatment plants to eliminate traces of bacteria, viruses and parasites as the water travels to its point of use. Even treatment plants that use non-chlorine disinfection agents are required by law to add small traces of chlorine before distribution.

    The EPA requires that chlorine levels in public water systems be maintained at a range that is detectable but not above 4mg/L. Most people will detect a bleach smell if the chlorine level is around 1mg/L, so it is not an uncommon occurrence. If the bleach or chlorine smell is strong, it is possible that your local water source distributes water over a long distance and therefore adds extra chlorine to keep the water clean for longer lengths of time.

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    kelevrabrewingjpduroche

    Reply 6 weeks ago

    Ummm.... the EPA is a bit of a joke.... Tap water should not be consumed regularly for the healthiest living... it can even be bad to shower in in major desert cities (Phoenix, etc). However bleach in small doses, on occasion, should not present major problems, EPA is basically saying it's better than drinking the dead bodies floating in the canals...

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    M40kelevrabrewing

    Reply 6 weeks ago

    You can't live without salt... the average person has a salt level equaling about half of one percent of their body weight (ie: a 200 lb. person has about a pound of salt). And the body breaks most of that salt into its constituent elements (sodium and chlorine). So yeah... look at a half pound puck of swimming pool chlorine and figure you've got that in your body at any given time.

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    aebeRMF808

    Reply 1 year ago

    Still wrong . Using Chlorine is probably the least expensive means of treating water to remove organisms and is used worldwide .

    Had a grade 2 water treatment license back when I was working for a living . Finding a dead horse in Rough creek , about fifty yards up from where I had filled my canteen.....

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    probablepossibleRMF808

    Reply 1 year ago

    You've probably heard a hundred times about how dihydrogen monoxide can be fatal in large quantities, but it's probably time for you to hear it again.

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    Even in small quantities it can cause death, as in case of accidental inhalation.

    Also, prolonged exposure to solid dihydrogen monoxide causes severe tissue damage. You should be aware!

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    FernandoMeloM40

    Reply 1 year ago

    I guess he is saying "poison" (inside quotes) to emphasize that it's not that kind of poison that you drink and dies, like cyanide. In chemistry there is a catalyst, which speeds up a reaction, and poison, that slows down that reaction or even stop it. Bleach acts by oxidizing molecules (including bacteria's proteins) and breaking them or changing their characteristics, mainly killing microorganisms. I also know that chlorine is indeed used by water treatment stations, at least here in Brazil chlorine is the most used chemistry. But also, here in Brazil, bleaches aren't pure chlorine, they have sodium hypochlorite or calcium, it can has other chemicals (some have odorizers) which make it improper to treat water.
    A note for Brazilians who want to try this at home:
    Se você mora no brasil e quer fazer isso, certifique-se de usar apenas algumas gotas de Qboa da embalagem verde (a marca própria), não da rosa e nem da azul, pois elas possuem aromatizante não comestível.

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    RussellP32RMF808

    Reply 1 year ago

    Were you ever in the Military? As well as other resources, we find the Clorox in correct quantities will purify the water quite well. We used it in Viet Nam to purify the water there. Drinking Bleach as you call it, is ridiculous, as the Chlorine evaporates after a while when it finishes the purification. If you do as you say, you may find yourself thirsting to death in hard times.

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    kelevrabrewingRussellP32

    Reply 6 weeks ago

    Ummm.... "It's safe because the military says.", probably not a great argument... lol. Especially when it comes to chemicals.... huge problems from their fire retardant seeping into the drinking water etc.

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    dan_4737RMF808

    Reply 1 year ago

    Do you drink city water? You ever got pool water in your mouth while swimming, I didn't study physics but I learned common scene. How do you think the city treats the water? Hint they don't boil it.

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    warhawk8080

    7 months ago on Step 5

    Nice...the media is just a "filter" for large particulate...the chemical treatment kills the stuff you can't see that can/will kill you...
    Great writeup and glad you put the purification part in
    Boiling is also another way to kill the bad stuff (actually pastrurization..but "boiling" is the dummy proof way to ensure temp has been reached)