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How To Make A Homemade Water Filter | Free 10-Step Guide

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Tim Rhodes

The quality of water we drink determines the health of our body and minds, and that’s when knowing how to make a homemade water filter comes in handy.

Quality hydration affects the health of your liver and kidneys and overall body health and brain functionality. 

Water filtration will serve as a wall between you and the diseases caused by contaminated water. 

Like the water we have in our rivers, lakes, reservoirs, and seas, even when they look clear to you it still includes impurities, chemicals, bacteria, and viruses. 

This consumption of contaminated water has short and long-term effects which cause gastrointestinal illnesses like stomach aches and diarrhea.

Kidney and liver diseases are too dark of a picture that we don’t want to go through.

Let’s first understand what clean water means before we go through the steps of building the water filter.


Water Purification & Filtration

To learn how to make a homemade water filter, first, we need to clarify the difference between filtration and purification.

Because understanding this difference will determine the use of the water we produce from every process and what can we drink safely.

Water filtration is the process of preventing harmful particles such as pesticides, sediment, impurities, and living organisms from getting into the water system.

There are many types of filtration such as:

Carbon filtration is using activated charcoal as it adsorbs materials, which means it filters the water as the other materials stick to it.

Mechanical filters with small pores that block contaminants with larger particles from passing through.

There are also many other filtration methods such as Reverse Osmosis, Deionization, Ion Exchange, and Ozone, but they’re not in our scope today.

Filtration does a great job removing these harmful particles, however, some chemicals and viruses will remain in the water.

Even if you see that the water looks clear and drinkable at this point, this doesn’t mean it’s safe to drink 

Water purification is a water treatment process that kills harmful pathogens from water but it doesn’t include filtering.

This process is applied by using:

Chemicals such as chlorine, iodine, citric acid, and many other chemicals.

Distillation is the process of converting water into vaper through boiling it to high temperature and then condense it to be liquid.

This type of purification can remove bacteria and microorganisms.

Ultraviolet treatment by exposing water to the sun for a long duration of approximately 24 hours, or by using various UV devices.

It can kill bacteria and viruses but it doesn’t remove contaminants such as chlorine and pesticides.

Applying these water purification processes will help to get rid of viruses, microscopic bacteria, and microorganisms.

If you live in a developed country the process of water purification is usually done already through water treatment plants.

So the remaining part will be water filtration which you can do easily through the steps in this article.

If you are outdoors or off the grid, filtering water will help a lot reducing the harm that these pesticides, sediment, impurities could do, but it doesn’t make the water 100% safe to use.

However, you can do extra steps to purify your water by using potable water purification tablets, available in stores, and also on Amazon, it costs around 10 dollars for 100 tablets and it takes less than an hour to work.

Also, boiling water after filtration for about 3 – 10 minutes will help a great deal for killing bacteria and microorganisms.

As we understand filtering and water purification, let’s go through the methods we can use.

Methods Of Making A Homemade Water Filter

So, we will go through 3 methods on how to make a homemade water filter that suits multiple situations for using the water filter.

First, we will start with portable biofiltration, it’s a simple form that you can use anywhere like if you’re traveling or camping and there is no source of clean water.

As you can do it with simple and basic material, and it’s a great survival skill to acquire. 

The second method is also for a biological filter but it’s more advanced that you can use it to filter a huge amount of water over a longer duration and it can be done with few household materials.

And the last technique is more advanced and it will require some materials that you will need to buy.

But it’s still way cheaper than the commercial water filter price and also it produces clean water and safe to drink and way more durable, as you can use it to filter 2500 gallons of water or more. 

Now as we understand the processes let’s roll our sleeves and start working. 

I. Portable Bio Water Filter

It’s your to go or emergency filter, and as I said earlier it is very simple to make by using basic materials.

Here are the steps on how to do it:

Step 1: Gathering Materials

Here is the list of materials needed:

  1. Plastic bottle (preferred 2 liters) as the materials container
  2. Craft knife
  3. Coffee Filter
  4. Big jar or relative size to the bottle you’re using as the filter, also you can use another bottle or a bucket
  5. Activated charcoal
  6. One or two cups of sand
  7. One or two cups of aquarium gravel
  8. Cotton balls
  9. Water purification drops or tablets if available or needed
  10. Rubber band
Step 2: Prepare The Filter

First, turn the bottle upside down like a funnel and then cut the bottom of the bottle with the knife so you can add the materials through it.

Step 3: Prepare The Filter Nozzle

Start by putting the cotton balls in the bottleneck, you can use two cotton balls and it will be good enough.

Cover the exterior of the bottleneck with the coffee filter and tie it firmly with the rubber band as it will hold the components of the filter in it.

Step 4: Adding The Filter Components

After preparing the bottle hold it like a funnel and start by adding:

  • Sand: this layer of sand will hold some of the impurities and the small particles and slow the filtering process which makes it more effective.
  • Activated Charcoal: the layer of activated carbon will filter sediments, impurities, and some chemicals and it will improve the taste of water.

If you have it in large pieces you can break it into small pieces using a bag and a hammer.

  • Aquarium gravel: will hold off the larger particles and impurities or insects.

All the amounts should be around 2 cups each, and make sure to use this order from bottom to top: sand-> activated charcoal-> aquarium gravel.

Step 5: How To Use It

Get the suitable filtered water container that you will use, it should be slightly smaller than the bottle, so it can be stable to stand by itself when you put it under the filter.

Pour the water slowly into the filter and don’t overflow it, if it’s about to reach the top, wait for a minute or two until its reduced enough to pour some more.

Wait until the water passes through all the layers and into the container, this process should take around 5 – 10 minutes.

Step 6: Test The Filtered Water

After you finish the filtering process, literally test the water.

Check if it smells okay, see if there is anything smells peculiar, and make sure the color is clear.

And if the smell and color are good, try to taste a little sip to check it, to make sure it doesn’t taste weird.

If it’s still not good, repeat the process, as it depends on the condition of the unfiltered water so it could take two or three times to make it right, it might require a little patience.

Step 7: Disinfection

As we discussed earlier, the filtration process is not enough by itself.

If the water came directly from the river or a lake in case you’re outside if it was possible for you, use water purification drops or tablets, as it will help with the remaining chemicals or bacteria in the water.

Each one of them has a duration to work, from 30 minutes to 3 hours, so use it as instructed on the package.

Step 8: Boiling

For better and safer water, we can use this old and basic form of purification, however very effective in killing germs and bacteria.

Boil the water for 3 to 10 minutes and that will do.

Step 9: UV Purification

This step is not mandatory as if you’ve done the previous steps, however, if you wish to make it even better, you can expose it to sunlight from 12 to 24 hours.

Step 10: Storage

As our aim here is for healthy water, so let’s talk about storage, this step is more applicable for the next methods of filtration as they produce bigger amounts. however, it’s good to know anyway.

the best two ways are food-grade containers or glass bottles both materials can keep the water safely for up to six months.

Water doesn’t go bad, but there is a slight risk of bacterial growth if you left it for longer periods.

keep it tightly sealed in cool, dry, and dark place, its good to expose it to the sun for two days but if left it for a long time the heat could affect the container which affects the water.

II. Large Bio Filter

In this method, you will be able to produce big amounts of clean water.

It works with the same concepts of the portable filter method and similar steps but with more supplies and materials.

Step 1: Supplies
  1. 2 plastic containers or food-grade containers as the materials container
  2. A small hose as a nozzle
  3. Thread seal tape (also known as Teflon tape) or Silicone Caulk
  4. A drill or utility knife
  5. Coffee filter
  6. Activated charcoal
  7. Sand
  8. Aquarium gravel
  9. Cotton balls
  10. Water purification drops or tablets if available or needed
  11. Rubber band
Step 2: Preparing The Filter

Start by cutting a piece of a hose so you can use it as a nozzle, around 4 inches will be good enough.

Drill or cut a hole in the side and at the very bottom of the first container, and it should be the same size as the hose you will use.

Step 3: Prepare The Filter Nozzle
  1. Put the cotton balls inside the hose
  2. Use the Teflon tape around the water hose, so it won’t leak when you start filtering the water
  3. In case if you using silicon, caulk put the water hose inside the plastic container first then surround the entrance and the exit of the water hose with silicon
  4. After attaching it to the container through the hole you made
  5. Put the coffee filter over the exterior of the water hose and tie it with the rubber band
Step 4: Adding The Filter Materials

Add the materials in the same order as before:

Sand-> activated charcoal-> aquarium gravel.

Each layer should be around 2-3 inches high.

Step 5: How To Use It

Put the other container on the floor and then put the first container on a higher surface, a chair will do, and direct the nozzle to the below container.

The rest of the steps from step 5 to step 10 are the same, if you’re interested, there is another method with a bit more steps.

Now let’s go for an advanced method.

III. Homemade Ceramic Filter

In this method, you will be able to make a homemade filter that is similar to the commercial filter but way cheaper, as it costs around 35 dollars.

The filter candle has a ceramic outer shell that has a porous structure of 0.2 to 0.5 microns that block any larger particles than that size.

Also, it has a silver layer within it and carbon core, it’s kind of the same concept with the materials we use before, but more advanced.

It also removes impurities, sediments, and bacteria without affecting the useful minerals in the water.

However, it will cost more than the previous methods as it doesn`t use the natural materials we’ve used above, but it can be used safely for a longer period.

We will use a ceramic filter candle as our filtration device, one candle can filter up to 2500 gallons of water, so you can use one, two, or three that depends on your usage.

Step 1: Supplies
  1. 2 plastic containers or food-grade containers (recommended to be the same type and size)
  2. One or two ceramic filter candles, available in stores or on Amazon or eBay which cost around 35 dollars
  3. A drill
  4. Thread seal tape or Silicone Caulk
  5. Spigot faucet tap or water cooler faucet (optional) also available in stores and on Amazon or eBay which cost around 3 – 6 dollars
Step 2: Preparation

Put the lid of the container exactly under the container.

As we will drill a hole in the bottom of the container and we want the hole to be in the same place in both the lid and the container where the filter candle will go through.

Wrap the thread seal tape around the head of the filter candle.

Then put it through the bottom of the container and lid, so we can prevent any leakage from the unfiltered water to the filtered water. 

Or if you will use silicone caulk, put the filter candle through it first, and then surround the head with silicon from both sides.

Around the bottom of the container, and the lid under the container.

The filter candle comes with a nut, so fasten it from the lid side so it holds the container and lid together.

Step 3: Place The Spigot (Optional)

Now get the second container and drill a hole at the side and near the bottom of the container with the same size as the end of the spigot.

And with the same technique mentioned previously, ether surrounds the neck of the spigot with the thread seal tape and put it in the container hole, or place it and then surround it with the silicone caulk

Also, the spigot comes with a nut, so fasten it from the inside of the container.

Step 4: Using The Filter

Now we have the parts ready.

Put the container with the filter candle and lid over the other container, close the lid attached to the container with the filter over the second container, and make sure it’s stable.

Pour the unfiltered water into the container with the filter candle. 

To filter a 5-gallon container it should take from 4 – 6 hours, so it’s recommended to leave it overnight, and in the morning, you will have your filtered water ready.


As the filter is new, so its recommended to run the filtration process one time before using it, as for the first time, the filter changes the water taste, but the second time will be good to drink.

If you use more than one filter candle it will make the filtration process run faster, but if the duration is not important to you, then one will do the job.

You can also use it to collect and filter rainwater at the same time and it will work great with methods two and three.

One last thing before you go.

Benefits Of Good Hydration

We started by talking about why we should have quality hydration, and we would like to finish by mentioning the benefits of hydration.

As sometimes we forget to drink or relay on unhealthy sources of hydration like soda and alcohol.

The recommended water intake is 2 liters a day, this doesn’t include alcohol and caffeine as they can dehydrate you since they cause frequent urination.

Here is how it will affect your health.

Energy: Drinking water enhance your overall physical performance and prevents dehydration that will cause fatigue.

Also drinking water on an empty stomach stimulates the growth of red blood cells which will give you a morning full of energy, and also empowers your immune system.

Brain: Also, your brain needs water to function properly, as frequent hydration will increase your concentration and brain functions up to 25% more.

Weight loss: Drinking water enhances body metabolism, studies shown an increase from 24% to 30%, burning more calories, also it fells you up reducing the feeling of hunger.

Digestion system: It helps your stomach digest food properly and regulates your bowel movements hence releases the toxins from your body.

Minerals and nutrients: As we mentioned earlier water is full of useful minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Skincare: Water will help to prevent acne, plus dehydration causes premature wrinkling and skin problems and disorders. 

Joints: It helps by lubricating your joints which reduces the friction between joints preventing many joints problems.

Protect your organs: Water prevents diseases such as kidney stones, liver diseases, and even headaches, and of course hangovers.

Infused Water

As you will keep the water overnight anyway, add a great value to it, by adding healthy nutrients like lemon, mint, and cucumber.

This will hugely increase the benefits you get from water as they greatly help with releasing toxins from your body, enhance the digestive system, decrease inflammation, help with weight loss, and add a wealth of vitamins to your water.

Final Thoughts

Those were the three most popular methods to make your homemade water filter, use any method suitable for you with the available resources.

Drinking clean water is important for the proper function of the body and mind.

You can also infuse your water with fruits and herbs which can be very beneficial for your health.

I hope you get the best out of these methods.

Always drink clean filtered water, and always hydrate.

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