You can filter water at home with a DIY water filtration system, such as boiling water and bio water filters. With these and other methods, you can achieve small amounts of pure drinking water without purchasing a house water filtration system.

Most DIY water filtration systems involve the use of natural resources to kill harmful bacteria and are capable of eliminating pathogens, heavy metals, and chemicals just like commercial filters. Setups like solar disinfection and tablet use are inexpensive and a lifesaver in emergency situations. But to find the perfect method for your needs, you need to consider what you want to filter out of the water, how much time you are willing to invest, and your available resources.

6 DIY Methods to Purify Your Water

1. Boiling Drinking Water

This method is best for removing chemicals, chlorine, and other impurities.

boiling water to purify water

Boiling water is one of the simplest forms of water purification. It has been in use since time immemorial. When subjected to heat, chemicals, and other impurities dissipate.

Tools You Need

  1. Source of heat
  2. Water source
  3. Boiling pot

Instruction

Boil water over the heat source. Bring the water to a boiling point. Leave the water to a rolling boil for at least three minutes. Let the water cool before preserving it in a storage container.

2. Tablets to Purify Water

This method is best for purifying water from bacteria, cysts, and viruses.

white tablet to Purify Water

These are useful where water is stored in containers. Some of the common tablets that are used to disinfect water include:

Tools You Need

  1. chlorine tablets
  2. chlorine dioxide
  3. Iodine tablets
  4. Sodium dichloroisocyanurate

Instruction

In normal cases, you only need to drop the tablet into the water and wait. That is why it is so popular with campers, hikers, and for emergencies. The only disadvantage with these tablets is the change in taste.

Once you purchase these tablets, follow the instructions on the pack to get the best results.

3. Stove-top Water Distillation

With the stove-top method, it is possible to purify dirty and filter salty water. The water you get from this setup is consumption-ready.

Tools You Need

  1. Glass container
  2. Source of heat
  3. Clean boiling pot or electric kettle
  4. Connecting valves
  5. Stainless steel hose

How to Set Up a Stove-Top Distiller

  1. Place your boiling pot on the heat source or use your electric kettle. (Electric kettle is preferred due to ease of creating a connection)
  2. You need to create a connection using the stainless steel hose. The connection is between the electric kettle and the glass container.
  3. Fasten and secure the connection from the spout of the kettle to the container using the connecting valves. (Ensures the steam does not escape)
  4. Activate the heat source

The process works by heating the water to the boiling point. Water evaporates, creating steam which raises and is directed to the glass container using the hose. Clean distilled water is collected in the glass container, which is ready for use after cooling.

4. Activated Charcoal Filter

This method is best for cleaning water from bad smells, toxic contaminants, heavy metals, and germs.

black Activated Charcoal

The method involves filtering water using charcoal. The activated charcoal purifies contaminated water by absorbing bad odors, metals, harmful contaminants, and germs.

Tools You Need

To set up this filter, you need the following:

  1. A cloth, e.g., Clean socks or a cloth bag
  2. Charcoal
  3. Sand
  4. Clear plastic bottles (2-Litres)

How to Set Up an Activated Charcoal Filter

  1. Cut off the bottom of the plastic water bottle.
  2. Start the assembly by turning the bottle upside down to act as a funnel.
  3. At the bottom of your funnel, add the cloth to act as a strainer.
  4. Add the charcoal
  5. Add the sand on top.

When water is added, the sand filters out the large sediments and debris. The charcoal absorbs bad odor, heavy metals, chemicals, and pathogens.

The process results in cloudy water, which needs to be boiled. You now have purified water which you can store in a water bottle.

5. Bio-filter

The activated charcoal method is best for removing pathogens, bad odor, and any microorganisms.

Bio-filter is another popular DIY water filtration method. It consists of three important layers, gravel, sand, and activated charcoal. The water quality from this process is reliable and makes the water safe to drink. This is the same mechanism and concept that carbon filters use.

Tools You Need

  1. A 2-liter water bottle
  2. Activated charcoal
  3. Screen
  4. Gravel
  5. Sand

How to Set Up a Bio-filter

  1. Cut off the bottom of the plastic bottle.
  2. Turn the bottle so that it acts as a funnel.
  3. Line the bottom of your funnel with the clean cloth
  4. Lay the pieces of charcoal on top of the cloth
  5. Pour the sand over the charcoal
  6. Finalize by laying a layer of gravel at the top of your layers

The different layers of gravel, sand, and activated charcoal act as filters. The initial layer of gravel traps all the large debris and contaminants. The second sand layer filters any remaining sediments that might have escaped the gravel layer.

6. Solar Water Disinfection

This method kills pathogens and microbes using natural UV light. It is utilized in outdoor spaces, especially in off-grid activities like camping.

Clear big watter container for solar water disinfection

Solar water disinfection is not well-renowned, but it is the simplest. As the name suggests, this method is dependent on sunshine. The more, the better.

You only require a clean plastic container.

Instructions

  1. Put the water into the container. If the container does not have a cap, use a screen or a mesh to prevent contaminants from getting it.
  2. Place it where there is direct sunlight
  3. Leave the water for at least two hours

This process does not remove contaminants like sediments and debris. The filtered water is ready to consume if it was clear; otherwise, let it sit for at least two days.

Checking the Water Quality

Before choosing the water filtration methods, you need to understand your water composition. For instance, in the United States, tap water is the main source of water for consumption. The utility company is mandated to ensure the water is safe for consumption. That might not always be the case. With that in mind, you can analyze the water before choosing to set up your own water filter.

The sure way of checking your water quality is through a test kit. With this kit, you will get a report that will indicate contaminants in your water. For instance, if the water is plagued with living microorganisms, you may prefer to set up a UV treatment system.

A water report from your local utility company will also give you a good sense of your water quality. A method like Bio-filter is the best for filtering water that contains chemicals.

The smell, taste, and sight of water can also indicate the quality. Water with a bad smell and taste points to questionable quality. If you see sediments and living microorganisms in the water, it means the quality is bad.

Advantages of Having a Water Filtration System

Some of the ways to purify water are straightforward. There is no need to depend on bottled water for drinking water, while a simple DIY project can provide you and your family with clean water. Some of the advantages of your own filter include:

Improved Health

Unfiltered water is dangerous. The presence of chemicals, heavy metals, and pathogens are dangerous, especially to kids, the elderly, and pregnant women. Pathogens are responsible for causing some terrible illnesses such as meningitis and the flu. Heavy metals may lead to cancer; therefore, it is prudent to set up a water filter to provide clean water constantly.

Better Taste

Tap water from utility companies is often chemically treated with chemicals such as chlorine. More often than not, this water will have an off-putting taste. Methods like bio-filter and charcoal filters will remove bad odors and remove chemicals. These water filters not only purify water but they make the water palatable.

Cheap and Easy to Maintain

The cost to filter water using these DIY methods is inexpensive. The setup uses common items that are readily available. On average, the cheapest cost of a store-bought filtering system will cost you upwards of $200. Likewise, maintenance comes cheap. For instance, the activated charcoal filter only requires replacing its component after six months.

Retention of the Beneficial Minerals

Apart from removing harmful contaminants, some DIY methods retain beneficial minerals found in water.

Environmentally-friendly

Using DIY to filter water means you don’t use bottled water as much. Less plastic waste is good for our environment.

Useful in Emergencies

When water lines are cut, and there is no more fresh, clean water, these DIY methods could be a lifesaver. It is possible to quickly set up one of these processes in emergencies, and you will have water in no time.

Finding the Right DIY Water Filtration Method

The water filter that is right for you depends on your situation. What really influences the type of water filter one should utilize?

  1. The water quality: If your water contains sediments and debris, you may prefer methods such as biofilters for clear water and tap use methods like UV water filtration.
  2. Availability of material and resources: Methods like solar disinfection will only work where there is ample sunshine. In emergency situations, getting store-bought tablets may be a challenge. Methods like boiling would suffice in such situations.
  3. Ease of setup: Methods like Biofilter and UV water filters take time to set up compared to boiling and solar disinfection. Preference for methods like boiling will be noted when there is a need for quick results.

DIY water filtering skills really shine during emergency situations. Practical skills in setting up a water filter are absolutely critical. There comes a time when storms and floods destroy all infrastructure, including water lines.

The ability to filter water to meet your needs will be vital. Most setups use common and readily available materials.

Our Final Thoughts

There are hundreds of DIY projects you can take up. Purifying water should be at the top of your list. Water filtration methods like boiling and solar disinfection are simple, while others, like UV system installation, are a bit involving. Making something with hands is always fascinating. Some people even go as far as suggesting that the water they purified themselves tastes much better.

About the Author

Lucas Greer

Lucas vs. Wild - Lucas is a true nature lover and survivalist. When he's not teaching science at school, he can be found in nature, hiking, climbing, camping, and rafting. He knows all the tricks and DIYs for making unclean water drinkable with simple means in an emergency. At school, his students love him for his exciting water filtration projects.

View All Articles