DIY Projects

How to Build an Easy DIY Water Filtration System for Less Than $

Ever wondered how you could build your own DIY water filtration system? It’s hard to think of anything more important than water. We need it to drink, we need it to bathe, and we need it to cook. That’s why a disaster can be so devastating when there is no clean water available for survivors.

So gather up the essential supplies and learn how to build this DIY water filtration system for under $1.

This makes a fantastic school holiday project for kids, and you’ll be prepared to make safe water for your family in a disaster too!

Materials needed

Everything that you need to make this filter can be found at your local dollar store or grocery store.

You will need the following items:

  • A needle, preferably new
  • A candle – make sure it is unscented!
  • Some activated carbon powder – you can find this in pet stores, aquariums,
  • Paper filter, cloth, or kitchen paper towel
  • A funnel
  • Some dirty water to filter
  • Some strong lungs – you will need to blow into the system to speed it up later

A step-by-step guide to building your DIY water filter

  1. Heat up the needle with the lit candle
  2. Puncture four tiny holes in the bottom of a plastic water bottle
  3. Fill the bottle to around 1/3 with activated carbon
  4. Roll a cone from your filter material and secure it with a paper clip
  5. Line your funnel with the cone
  6. Pour water through the funnel, and into the bottle

Now all you have to do is wait.

If you’re impatient (like me!) or you just want to make the project more fun, take a deep breath and blow into the top of the bottle. This will speed up the filtration process.

It may take up to an hour, but you’ll eventually be left with crystal clear water.


  • You can make more holes with the needle if you’d like a faster flow rate, but the quality of the filtered water won’t be as good.
  • Adding more activated carbon will improve filtration, but will slow the flow rate.
  • If you don’t want to use paper filter cones, just skip this step. But this may affect the final water quality.

What is activated carbon & how does it work?

Activated carbon is basically carbon that has been heated to very high temperatures in an environment with a limited supply of oxygen. That makes the atoms inside the molecules “electron-hungry” and they start stealing electrons from other things around them, including pollutants and impurities like pesticides and chemicals you don’t want in your water.

This causes those particles to become charged and attracted to each other where they form bigger masses that can be easily filtered out of your drinking water.

Many commercially available water filters pitchers use activated carbon. Most whole house filters and some of the better countertop RO filters have a final activated carbon stage too.

Loose activated carbon powder is mostly used in aquariums, so you can easily buy it at any pet store or hardware store.

DIY Water Filtration System – In conclusion

If you don’t want to spend money on a big bulky water filter system that will collect dust in the basement, but still want to make sure that you have access to clean water after a disaster, this DIY project is perfect for you.

It’s easy and very cheap, it makes a great science lesson for kids, and it might just save your life when the time comes.

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