How to Make Your Own DIY Charcoal Water Filter – Easy Steps

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How to Make Your Own DIY Charcoal Water Filter

We are all familiar with one popular statement and we definitely confer with it- water is life. Just like the air, we breathe; water is an important resource. At home we need it for drinking, cooking, cleaning, and watering plants among other users. Though of minute significance, some forms of recreation also depend on water.

With all this importance, usable water is scarce. 99.7% is held in the ocean, glaciers, and icecaps. Only 0.03% is available for use. Of the 0.03% that is usable, only 0.0001% drawn from the rivers is drinkable. This means that there is a great need to purify water. One way of doing so is by using a DIY charcoal water filter.

This method not only assures you of clean water but also saves your life by getting rid of harmful contaminants from the water. This article highlights simple steps for making a DIY water filter.

Requirements for Making Charcoal Water Filter

For this activity, you need activated charcoals, a cylindrical container, for example, a bucket or a water bottle with one end cut, a funnel to act as a filter, and glass or sand. With them, you are set to go.

  1. Source activated charcoals and crush them

For a DIY charcoal water filter, activated charcoal is more ideal and safer than just any charcoal. Why? Well, the charcoals we get from stores are meant for cooking and not water filtration. Most of the time, the substances used during burying and collection are toxic.

Also, in the process of deposition, fulvic and humic acid attach themselves to the charcoal, adding toxicity. Because of this toxicity, the charcoal may leach contaminants into the water that is being purified. If that happens, we are not purifying the water but contaminating it.

Activated charcoals, on the other hand, will not release any toxic substance in the water and that is why they are safer. Instead, they remove toxins from the water. Activated charcoals are available online and can be sourced from sites like Amazon. If you want to make your own activated charcoal, you can do so by using hardwood. After sourcing it, you can crush the charcoal into powder.

  1. Thoroughly rinse the activated charcoal

After crushing the activated charcoal into powder, we are not just going to use it for making our filter directly. One step is crucial – properly rinsing the charcoal. Why is this process significant in the entire cycle? Rinsing the charcoal makes it safer by removing any toxins and sediments that could be found on the surface.

If rinsed, the lifetime of the charcoal is also prolonged. Some people even rinse the activated charcoal with soap once every month in an attempt to promote the charcoal’s life span. Once properly rinsed, the charcoals are now even safer for water filtration.

  1. Design a filtration vessel

At this point, you need to get yourself a filtration vessel. A wide variety is available, depending on what you can get. Often than not, the 2-liter water bottles have been useful here. If that is not within reach, a piece of fabric, preferably a cloth is used to hold the filter layer.

In the context of a bush, some people improvise a cone from a birch bark which perfectly serves as a filtration system. For best results with charcoal water filters, people use funnel shapes for they work best. The 2-liter bottle is ideal for only a limited number of people.

This owes to the fact that dirty water trickles through the charcoal system really slowly and so a lot of time is needed for water to collect. To make the process a little quicker, you can opt to use a bucket for the filtration system instead of the small bottle.

Charcoal Water Filter

  1. Assemble pre-filter media

Ideally, charcoal is just enough to filter your water and make it clean. However, you will soon realize that more than just charcoal is needed- you need pre-filter media. Remember that the water you are trying to make drinkable here is dirty and has both visible and invisible contaminants.

Substances such as debris, scum, and algae easily block the uppermost layer of charcoal. When blocked, the charcoal filter cannot work anymore and that is what makes the need for a pre-filter media is dire.

  1. Place the filtration layer system

The layer filter media is arranged from the bottom to the top. At the bottom-most, a coffee filter or a tightly-knit cloth is placed to deter charcoal pieces from finding their way into the collection container.

Next is the activated charcoal that traps impurities from the water. Pieces of bricks or sand that are smashed form the third layer. The next layer is made up of small pebbles that pick out debris that was not captured in the previous layer. The last layer has large pebbles or glass whose role is to trap debris from the water.

  1. Pour water into the filter media

The filter media formed using the activated charcoal is essentially gravity media. The description suits it since the principle of gravity is employed in letting the water move through the channels. In such a case, water trickles down slowly and so time is needed. So pour the water into your filtration system and wait for it to collect in the collection container.

  1. Get rid of pathogens

The DIY charcoal water filter is a good method of treating your water. However, there are some disease-causing pathogens that the method may leave uncaptured. To have such killed, it is essential to treat the water further.

You can choose to boil the water or make use of water treatment tablets such as Aqua Water. These methods, alongside your charcoal filter, will suffice water treatment. You will not have to vomit or have diarrhea because of catching infections through the pathogens.


Because of the scarcity of water as a resource, there is a need to use the available water well. One of the methods that have proved practical in availing drinking water is the use of a DIY charcoal water filter. Activated charcoal,  a funnel for filtration, and a cylindrical container or a bucket are the basic requirements for this activity.

The article has brought to light some simple steps that can be followed in making a DIY charcoal water filter. Sourcing activated charcoal and rinsing them off to remove contaminants is the first step. The next step involves designing a filtration vessel. After this, you get a pre-filter media to get off debris from the water. With this, you are set.

Arrange your layer filtration system, pour water, and collect it via the collection container. Suffice the process by either boiling the water or adding water treatment tablets to take care of pathogens that the charcoal filter could have left uncaptured.

Jeremy Lee is a researcher and part-time blogger who has a passion to discover cutting-edge technologies related to water filtration. He knows the importance of purified water in our lives and started this blog aiming to provide the best product reviews, buying guides, and other useful information related to water. When not working, he loves to spend time with his beloved wife and two kids.