In any emergency situation, the top survival priority should be to find and disinfect sufficient drinking water to supply your (and your loved one’s) needs – thus enters this survival water filter homemade trick.
Remember, humans can only last three days without any drinking water, so whether your survival crisis is unfolding in a desert or wilderness after losing your way (or even in your own home after a natural disaster), the survival water filter homemade methods I’ve discussed below will come in handy.
NOTE: While the survival water filter homemade trick I’ve shared below can take up and store toxic compounds, germs, smells, heavy metals, and excess fluoride, it does not appear to be very effective at getting rid of viruses and bacteria completely.
That’s why I’ve included additional methods to disinfect and purify water at the end of this guide. All three additional techniques should eliminate any unwanted dissolved gasses, chemical contaminants, and biological contaminants that may still be available in your filtered water.
How To Find A Water Source In A Survival Situation
Before you can filter and disinfect dirty water, you’ll need to find it first. Here are several ways you can find a water source depending on your survival situation and location:
- You can get water from lakes, ponds, creeks, and streams
- If distilling water is an option, you can even use salty or brackish water sources
- You can melt new snow and drink it without needing to process it
- Fresh rainwater that didn’t fall through a forest or jungle canopy should be safe to drink as-is
- Springs and underground sources
- Tapped trees like birch and maple
Regardless of the water source available in your survival situation, you should assume the water is dirty and filter or disinfect it accordingly.
So what’s the best survival water filter homemade option? The survival water filter homemade method most experts recommend is bio-filters, which are easy to build in survival situations and can be designed to filter out germs, bacteria, smells, toxic compounds, and even heavy metals from natural water.
If, like me, you’re a huge fan of the famous post-apocalyptic TV show The Walking Dead, you remember the scene from a Season 5 episode where some of the survivors run out of clean water while in an unfamiliar region.
One of the characters, Rosita, takes an empty bottle, cuts it at the bottom, and starts filling it with rocks and sand. She then slowly pours cloudy water from the stream nearby and collects the filtered water in a separate container. This is the same survival water filter homemade option I’ll teach you today.
Making A Homemade Bio-Filter: Survival Water Filter Homemade Guide
To create the bio-filter itself, we’ll need sand, gravel, and ACTIVATED charcoal. I’ve capitalized activated because it’s key here. The gravel will start by catching the big stuff, followed by the sand, which will catch any remaining particulate matter. Finally, the activated charcoal will complete the process on the micro-levels.
While the water collected from this filter method won’t be 100% pathogen-free, it should be sufficiently clean to drink safely.
Let’s start building the survival water filter homemade tool:
Step 1: Collect the Supplies
To create this crafty solution, you’ll need:
- Pebbles or gravel
- Sand (coarse and fine)
- Activated charcoal
- Porous cloth or coffee filter
- Cheesecloth or clean cotton
- Another container for collecting the clean water
- A plastic bottle or similar food-safe container
- Scissors or knife
Step 2: Cut Off the Bottle’s (or Food-Safe Container’s) Bottom
Using the scissors or knife you collected in the first step, cut off the bottle’s bottom part, as shown in the image above. This is the vessel inside which we’ll add all the filter material. The bottle’s cap should be shut tight.
Step 3: Poke A Drain Hole
Cut a small drain hole in the bottle’s cap using the same knife or scissors you used in the second step. If all the bottles you could find have no caps, reverse the second step we just looked at above. Instead of cutting the bottom, cut the top side of the bottle, and poke several drain holes on the bottle’s bottom side.
Step 4: Place the First Layer of Straining Fabric
We’re now onto the exciting stuff. Using the paper fabric or fine cloth (cotton stuffing, cheesecloth, or coffee filter) you collected, stuff the bottle’s “not-cut” side as shown in the image above. If you couldn’t get any of the fabrics listed above, you can also use grass and sand.
With the grass and sand option, fill the bottle with approx. 3 inches of grass clippings. These will filter out large particulates and give your filtered water a clean taste. Subsequently, add an additional 3 to 4 inches of extremely fine sand.
CAUTION: Be careful while collecting grass clipping to ensure you do not use unidentified or poisonous weeds. Also, steer clear of highway department sand, which tends to be filled with road chemicals and salt.
Step 5: Break Up The Activated Charcoal
Take your activated charcoal and use a rock or harmer to break it down into small particles.
Step 6: Create A Second Layer of Pulverized Charcoal
Next, pour approx. 3 inches of pulverized activated charcoal into the bottle. If possible, cover the first layer using a coffee filter before adding the pulverized charcoal. Since the charcoal is in small particles, the coffee filter will ensure no charcoal particles are displaced as filtered water passes through.
Step 7: Create the 3rd Layer of Fine Sand
Pour 2 to 3 inches of the finest sand you could find on top of the pulverized charcoal. This and all other remaining layers you’re about to add will filter out any particulates available in the water. Again, feel free to separate this layer from the previous charcoal layer using a coffee filter.
ONCE AGAIN, do not use Highway Department Sand.
Step 8: Create the 4th Layer of Coarse Sand
Here, add a 2 to 3-inch layer of either coarse sand or tiny pebbles.
Step 9: Create the 5th Layer of Fine Sand
Add another 2 to 3-inch layer of fine sand. These multiple, varying layers ensure that any particles present in your water are caught and won’t be in the final, drinkable water.
Step 10: Create the 6th Layer of Gravel
This 10th layer of small rocks or gravel will ensure the water you pour inside won’t displace the fine sand.
Step 11: Cover the Bottle’s Opening Using A Top Strainer
Using a porous cloth like cheesecloth or bandana, cover the top and open end of the bottle. This covering plays two roles. First, it further decreases your chances of displacing the sand beneath the gravel layer, and second, it strains any large debris in the water from going in.
Step 12: Collecting Filtered Water
After pouring water slowly onto the covering and holding the bottle over the second container you’ll be using to collect clean, filtered water, you need to be patient and wait. Ensure you’ve wiped off the collection container and it’s clean.
How to Purify and Disinfect Filtered Water
As promised at the beginning of the post, here are three ways you can purify and disinfect your filtered water (just to be safe.)
Distillation is a water purification method that utilizes heat to collect pure water in the form of vapor. This method’s efficiency is assured by the scientific fact that water boasts a lower boiling point compared to disease-causing elements and contaminants found in water.
With this process, you subject water to a heat source until it hits its boiling point. You then let it sit at that boiling point until it vaporizes. Finally, collect the vapor and direct it into a condenser, where you’ll cool and reserves it in liquid water that’s safe and clean to drink.
All other substances present in the water with high boiling points will be left behind as sediments in the container. Let’s look at how you can create your own distillation equipment at home.
As shown in the image above, take a pot and fill it halfway with filtered water. Next, place an empty glass inside the water, but ensure none of the water gets inside the drinking lass. Third, place the pot’s cover upside down on the pot and slowly bring the water to a boiling point.
When the water boils, it’ll become pure vapor and leave behind anything previously dissolved in it. It’ll then condense on the cover’s bottom surface as water droplets, after which the droplets will run down to the handle’s lowest point and drip right into your drinking glass.
This entire process should take approx. 30 minutes.
If you’re in a survival situation where supplies are limited, use a household liquid bleach to disinfect your filtered water and kill any microorganisms present. Regular bleach contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite, just the right amount needed to disinfect.
With that in mind, add 16 drops of bleach to a gallon of water, stir, and let the solution sit for half an hour.
NOTE: You should never use colour-safe, scented, or bleach with added cleaners to disinfect filtered water.
Boiling as a water purification method needs no introduction. It’s also the safest and cheapest method of water purification you can employ in any survival situation.
With this method, bring your filtered water to a boiling point and let it keep boiling for at least 3 minutes. If you live in a high-altitude area, you’ll need to boil your water for longer (at least 7 minutes.)