How to Make Your Own Water Filter

DYI Water Filter

Water is vital. We need it to live. Knowing how to make your own water filter could literally save your life. Learn how to make your own water filter with our infographic below.

How to Make a Water Filter

If you’re planning to venture out in the wild in a place where  you know there isn’t a clean source of water, consider taking the items listed below with you, just in case you need to make a water filter.


What You’ll Need to make a DIY Water Filter

  • Scissors or knife
  • Container with open top
  • Coffee filter
  • Activated charcoal (1/2 cup, crushed)
  • Container (1/2 cup)
  • Small rocks (1/2 cup). Take what is readily available at your destination.
  • Metal pot or container. Take your cooking pot.
  • Matches
  • Wood


Here’s how to make your water filter

The basic idea is to put fine material at the bottom of the container and gradually filling it up with coarser material. The unwanted particle will get catch by the filtering material as it flows thru the DIY water filter.


  1. Cut approximately 1 inch off the bottom of the water bottle with you scissors or knife.
  2. Place or hold the water bottle so that the top end (dinking end) of water bottle is facing into the container (jar). The container will catch the filtered water.
  3. Place the coffee filter in the bottle, with the open facing the bottom (cut side) of the bottle. The coffee filter will prevent the charcoal, rocks and sand from getting into the filtered water container.
  4. Pour activated charcoal into the bottle, ensuring that all charcoal sits in the coffee filter.
  5. Pour sand into the bottle on top of charcoal. Ensure all sand sits in the coffee filter.
  6. Pour small rocks into bottle on top of the sand
  7. Pour unfiltered water.
  8. Once water has gone through the filter, pour into your metal pot and place on top of fire to boil. Water should always be boiled before you drink it to ensure any very harmful chemicals or bacteria are removed.

How does This water filter work?

This water filter works because each layer of the filter cleans the water in its own way.


  • Small Rocks: the small rocks filter out larger items that might be in the water, like grass or twigs.
  • Sand: The sand can filter out some of the smaller impurities in water, like harmful bacteria. Sand is widely used in water filters all around the world, and its use is recommended by the World Health Organization.
  • Activated Charcoal: the activated charcoal filters out chlorine and other chemicals that can make water smell and taste bad.
  • Activated charcoal is carbon. Each piece of carbon has tiny holes all over it, making it great for filtering water. Carbon is, essentially, a tiny strainer. It’s important to change the charcoal frequently, though, as it does become less effective as a filter over time.
  • Coffee Filter: The coffee filter ensures the water is free of grains or other small solids that make the water less clean. And less pleasnt to drink.
    • Tip: A clean piece of fabric can also be used if you don’t have a coffee filter available.
  • Boiling: Boiling sanitizes the water, removing any harmful impurities. This is how you can ensure that your water is absolutely safe to drink.
    • If you’re up in the mountains, or somewhere else high above sea level, you should boil your water for 3 minutes. If you’re closer to sea level, only about 2 minutes of boiling is needed.
    • Tip: Boiling will make the water taste a bit funny, but this taste can be removed by shaking the water in a closed container.

How do water filters work?

There are many different types of water filters and while they all work in different ways, they all put water through a filtering system to clean it.


Clean water found in nature

Although even the clearest mountain streams look like they have clean water, there may be harmful bacteria in the water that is unseen to the human eye.

It’s always a good idea to filter your water before drinking it if it comes directly from nature. That said, if a stream of water is coming from a glacier or mountain that has been untouched by man-made pollutants, it is likely quite safe to drink.

Snow is another good source of clean water, if it has been untouched by man-made pollutants. However, it should always been melted before consumed and filtered.

Check out our review on the 8 Best Survival Water Filters for 2019!