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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    137 Discussions

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    warhawk8080

    4 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)

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    winneremerald12

    8 months ago

    Your criticizing comments will be a death sentence to poor Mastering Me. He's just trying to share what he knows. Unless you want to die in five days (or less) for not drinking somewhat filtered water. Add a tip and give reasons why you disagree with this Instructable, but don't call his way of filtering water a, "death trap".

    6 replies
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    Captain_Nemowinneremerald12

    Reply 7 months ago



    It's not a filter. All it does is make water look clear. The
    water isn't clean. If the water you 'filter' with that thing is contaminated
    (lead, mercury, parasites, etc.) you will still have the contamination in the
    water. If you drink that contaminated water, you can get sick and die. I don’t ‘disagree’
    with this instructible, I’m saying it’s dangerous and should be removed. The
    author has replied with some articles he hasn’t read, trying to pass off his instructible
    as the same as a commercial filtration system. As for a ‘tip’, how about ‘delete
    this instructible’?

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    winneremerald12Captain_Nemo

    Reply 7 months ago

    That's why I said "somewhat filtered water" Don't you have to get rid of all the dirt and gravel and gunk first, before you add the real filtering stuff? You don't 'disagree' with this Instructable, yet you want it to get deleted? Well, let's agree to disagree. I think how I think and you think how you think. Sorry if we have different opinions.

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    Captain_Nemowinneremerald12

    Reply 7 months ago

    No, you don't have to get rid of the dirt and gravel before using a proper filter. You might extend it's life a little, but it's absolutely not necessary. Nitpicking semantics is not how you win debates. Only people with losing arguments say: "Let's agree to disagree." You're wrong, and you know it. This instructible is dangerous, and you know it. What if some little kid finds this instructible, drinks logging spill-off, and dies?

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    Build-BotCaptain_Nemo

    Reply 7 months ago

    The instructable acknowledges that there may be risk, and the author says to do it at your own risk. The point of instructables (as I understand it) is to share ideas and knowledge, focused around DIY and home builds. There are plenty of instructables that can be harmful, so you might as well say any instructable that uses a power tool is "dangerous" and should be "deleted" because "some little kid finds this instructable" and basically screws up and cuts off one of their limbs. (Obviously this is not properly following the instructable, but you assumed that when you said the hypothetical little kid would drink logging spill-off, when NOTHING in this 'ible mentions drinking from chemically contaminated water. The author uses water mixed with dirt)

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    Captain_NemoBuild-Bot

    Reply 7 months ago

    Nice straw-man, Build-Bot. Power tools can be used safely, this 'filter' can not.

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    winneremerald12Captain_Nemo

    Reply 7 months ago

    I may lose this argument, but I won't be rude about it. I might take both yours and Mastering Me's advice and use his filter along with a bought one like you advised. I don't see why you must push and shove people to believe things you say when we can have our own choice. Telling someone their choice is going to kill them isn't going to win them over. Mastering Me is trying to show people a way to filter water even if it isn't the best way like you said. But it's hard to write clear and brief instructable. If you can find a way to make a filter without having to buy Amazon single products, make an instructable. But telling people to buy stuff is just like advertising and not everyone will take notice. I know what I stand for and if you must be so dramatic as to convince everyone they're going to die with this instructable, take it up with the Instructables Community Support. They're the ones who featured this instructable. And if the little kid died, that isn't anyone's fault. Trying to filter water isn't suicide. I don't know that I'll reply again. Happy New Year, Captain_Nemo.

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    winneremerald12

    7 months ago

    What if I didn't buy one of those? I'd still need something to help clean out the water I drink. Even if it has parasites and poison and viruses, it's better than nothing.

    1 reply
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    Captain_Nemowinneremerald12

    Reply 7 months ago

    Dying from crypto or mecury poising is worse than dying from dehydration. Buy a proper filter, and you wont die from either.

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    tomwall1969

    8 months ago

    I agree. The first thing I thought of when I saw this is cryptosporidium.

    2 replies
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    EmmettOtomwall1969

    Reply 8 months ago

    You didn't read the Instructable please go back and read it.

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    Captain_NemoEmmettO

    Reply 7 months ago

    A few inches of sand isn't going to remove crypto, you need a real filter.

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    Norm1958

    Tip 8 months ago

    This is an emergency filter.
    This type of filter, the "Slow Sand Filter" isn't perfect, and it is slow.
    Is it better than nothing? Yes
    It can be improved by increasing the filter depth, hence the "Slow Sand" moniker.
    Make it better? Add diameter for volume and depth for fineness of filtration.
    As it gets used, it will form a bio-layer on top which both improves and slows filtration.
    As someone else mentioned, this can and must be removed by back flush or replacing the top layer of material which sadly loses the beneficial bio-film and the process takes time to start again.
    I sense a lot of the comments are critical because this doesn't represent a perfect large scale water filtration system. Remember please remember this is two pop bottles, using available material [sand] to at least clarify water in case of emergency.
    Many years ago I saw this system used on a large scale and quite accepted, filters out bacteria.Now everyone is so paranoid of everything no one will ever be happy with any system.
    I hope one day, if you are stuck on a sandy beach with only plastic pop bottles and a muddy water source you remember this video.
    If you happen to have chlorine or iodine to disinfect the water, lucky you.
    If you can build a wood fire, boil the water and throw some carbon into the filter, lucky you.
    If you have enough pop bottles and sunshine you can build a small distillation plant.

    3 replies
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    winneremerald12Norm1958

    Reply 8 months ago

    Remember this video? I'll remember this Instructable, but I don't know about a video. I didn't see one. Maybe I missed it...

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    ArthurJ5

    11 months ago

    You can’t filter viruses, so remember to use clorine or boil the water. Also, for bacteria you need a .3 micron filter, how do you know if your sand is fine enough? For people who say there are less problems with cold water, that’s simply not true. Many parasites are living in crystal clear rocky mountain streams just waiting for an elk or raccoon to take a sip and warm them up. Don’t assume you know what is upstream.

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    Mastering MeArthurJ5

    Reply 11 months ago

    I sifted it until it was a finer powder separated from the rocks. For additional filtration (the one you are talking about) I would advise using charcoal. That will provide the ideal filtration of the micro materials. Thanks for commenting!

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    JohnC430Mastering Me

    Reply 7 months ago

    yeah, the charcoal will also absorb the heavy metals and like the guy above said, the insecticides etc.