Easy Life-Saving Water Filter




Intro: Easy Life-Saving Water Filter

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!

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!

Water Contest

Runner Up in the
Water Contest



    • Furniture Contest 2018

      Furniture Contest 2018
    • Metalworking Contest

      Metalworking Contest
    • Tiny Home Contest

      Tiny Home Contest

    93 Discussions

    Mastering Megagui07

    Answer 3 days ago

    Great question! You can get away with a couple of filtrations (again, depending on the dirtiness of the water) before it needs to be changed. An obvious sign is when the paper begins to fail/ tear apart.


    Answer 4 days ago

    Longer than you'll be alive if you use this death-trap.


    Answer 4 days ago

    It's a one time use thing, kinda hard to use it twice when it kills you the first time you use it.

    Mastering Mewildangel1403

    Answer 8 days ago

    Depends on the water you're filtering. If you have river water/ lake water you could probably get away with using it a couple of times before it fails. If its dirty water like the one I did, you may have to replace it more often! A very visual sign of replacement is dirty sand or if your filter paper is ripping/failing. Good question, good luck and see you on the next Instructable!


    9 days ago

    Most of the comments that are saying that this is a bad filter for pure drinking water are 100% true. Lets just say that this filter may be a good starting point to clean water up but you still are running a huge risk of drinking very contaminated water. This should be renamed or removed from this site!

    4 replies
    Mastering MeJoeC25

    Reply 8 days ago

    What is your reasoning? The water filter follows common themes of filtration from sifting to treatment. I can see your concern because of the nature of filtering can be risky (hence the disclaimer at the top). However, if done properly (boiling/bleach/UV treatment) this is an easy solution to getting drinking water. Thanks for the comment! See you on the next Instructable!

    Captain_NemoMastering Me

    Reply 7 days ago

    The only common theme your 'filter' has with proper water filtration, is
    that they both make the water transparent. Water from your 'filter' is not safe
    to drink, it won’t filter heavy metals, it won’t filter viruses, it will only
    filter bacteria if you find fine enough sand. Encouraging people to use this
    'filter' is like encouraging people to eat paint chips and play Russian roulette.
    Maybe it kills you, maybe not…

    Captain_NemoMastering Me

    Reply 4 days ago

    2 sets of duplicate articles, doesn't seem very honest to me.

    None of your sources mention how much sand is required to reduce the heavy metals. Is it 5 lbs? Or 50 tons? Or is it linear, where you need 1 foot by 1 foot by 1 mile of sand?

    Those sources are worthless.

    Mastering MeCaptain_Nemo

    Reply 7 days ago

    Yes, dangerous if done incorrectly hence the disclaimer. Don’t do it if you don’t feel comfortable doing it


    5 days ago

    back in 1969 I graduated from high school and went on a one week campout... I was beside a stream that was up north... everything was pristine... even the stream water was crystal clear; smelt and tasted fine... turns out there was run off from a farmers fields 2 miles up stream... I was deathly ill... just a warning... this is not going to get rid of poisons that farmers lay on their fields, nor is it going to remove stuff like mercury from logging and paper mills... one needs to be savvy about where their water comes from, while practicing water filtration...

    btw, when we were in boy scouts, we had tablets for purifying lake drinking water... so just look them up... as for dirty water, yeah, this will clear it, but won't purify...


    10 days 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.

    4 replies

    Reply 10 days 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.


    Reply 10 days ago

    Go drink your bleach then.

    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.


    Reply 6 days 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.....


    Reply 10 days 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.