You might be wondering how to make a water filter with a few things you can bring on any adventure.

Whether there is a hurricane blowing in or you find yourself deep in the woods without clean water, rigging up a DIY water filter can help you stay alive. Water can easily house sickening and potentially deadly bacteria, and you do not want to consume that. This being said, these water filters can filter out big chunks and small sediment, along with some microorganisms. However, most of these do not produce one hundred percent pure water, so use water purifying tablets if you have them as well. But, there are still some pretty fun ways to experiment when learning how to make a water filter when you're out in the woods.


how to make a water filter - Bio-Filter

Our first DIY water filter is the Bio-Filter. It is quite simple and uses gravity to do the work for you. You will need to collect a few items from your campsite or improvise when learning how to make water filters. This one, in particular, will use a plastic bottle, a coffee filter or cheesecloth, something to poke a hole, and a mug or cup to invert the bottle into. On top of that, you will need to gather activated charcoal, sand, and small gravel. You should be able to find something close enough to each of these items even out in the woods. To start, unscrew the cap on the water bottle and place the coffee filter over it. Poke a hole in the cap and screw it back onto the bottle. This will keep the activated carbon from falling out into the clean water, and slow the flow of the water. Next, cut off the bottom of the plastic bottle and invert it into the mug or cup.

Now it’s time to put in the ingredients that actually do the filtering. Fill it about ⅓ with activated charcoal. It should be in small pieces, smaller than the size of a pea. Charcoal can get quite messy, so wear gloves if you’d like for this step. Next, fill the next ⅓ with fine sand. If you have two sizes of sand, put the finer sand on the bottom and the more coarse sand on top. Lastly, put the fine gravel on top. Make sure to leave at least an inch at the top of the filter to pour water into. Water will take about seven to ten minutes to filter through here. In the end, you’ll have debris-free water! It’s still best to boil the water on your camp stove for one to three minutes to kill any bacteria still living in it. But, you now know how to make a water filter.

Pine or Sapwood Filter

how to make a water filter - Sapwood Filter

This might be the simplest and most natural option when learning how to make a water filter. Woods with sap in them naturally filter the water they pull from the ground. This sapwood contains what we call xylem tissue. It can filter particles as small as seventy nanometers. This filter will get rid of 99.9% of E. Coli bacteria! So, if you find yourself in a pinch in the woods, this might be your best bet of how to make a water filter.

First, find a pine tree. Get a straight piece of a branch between three and five inches long. Peel the bark off of it and use it as a plug on a water bottle or a small hose. Now, fill the hose or water bottle with water. Let the water filter through the stick into a sanitary bottle. If the stick dries and then gets wet again, it will not be as efficient. So, keep this filter going once you start. Over the course of a day, you should be able to filter quite a bit of water. When it slows down production, simply grab a new piece of pine. It is incredible what nature can do. Like our other water filters, it is still important to boil the water afterward if you have the ability to do so. But, not you know another way how to make a water filter.

Other Options for Safe Drinking Water

how to make a water filter

Credit: Flickr / Scott Ackerman

There are so many different ways of how to filter water. When it comes down to it, there are professionals who have perfected incredibly lightweight and portable water filters. If you often find yourself out in the woods or in a disaster zone, it will be well worth investing in one of those. While you do now know how to make a water filter, neither of the ones we taught you can truly filter out Hepatitis or Norovirus. So, chemically treating or boiling your water is a must. 

If you’re looking for a way to filter water in large amounts at your house, perhaps look into ceramic filters. While not as portable, they can filter incredibly well and get most of the viruses, nitrates, and sediment out that no other filter can. So, in an emergency situation, you do know how to make a water filter. But, we would urge you to be prepared ahead of time with water purification tablets or professional water filters. Lastly, it is always best to filter water that has been moving, such as a stream or river. Stagnant water will always harbor more bacteria.

Learning how to make a water filter can be a fun project for kids learning about safe drinking water or a life-saving survival tactic.

Hopefully, these water filters more often end up in the first category, rather than the second. Drinking contaminated water can cause sickness quickly. Diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration, but E. Coli can wipe you out pretty fast. Other dangerous bacterias like strains of the flu and Hepatitis can live in water for a while as well. So, when you are incredibly thirsty, it is still worth it to filter your water and boil it before consuming. It could easily save your life. Make sure to have tools to make a DIY water filter if you need to, or grab one that is already ready and portable to keep you safe. Let us know if you have other ways you like to filter your water as well.

Related Article: 7 Best Portable Water Filters for Your Outdoor Adventures