26 Creative DIY Water Filters for Survival in Bad Situation

diy water filter

Water from your home supply might not be as clean and risk-free as you think. That means you need some form of water filtration system just to be sure.

There are many different types of water filter ideas for your home ranging from simple to whole-house filtration systems.

DIY water filters are a low-cost option and teach one a thing or two about survival techniques. Here, we look at 28 DIY water filter ideas that will provide clean drinking water whenever you need it.

You can find more than just these free water filter plans like plans for pond filter. Be sure to click on each of the links to find instructions, diagrams, and photos.

DIY Stove Top Distiller

This is a versatile take on a water filter. This distillery is designed to cater for a variety of distillation tasks ranging from water to oils.

The setup comprises a distiller and a chiller. The chiller has a condensation coil made of copper tube. The coil is taped to stay in place.

Well, this stove top distiller has a distillation temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit. Though quite low, this condensation temperature is compensated with a pressure no greater than 1-5 PSI.

The designer puts sand to act as a filter. Ice is added to the chiller tank to increase distillation rate. According to the designer, this setup distills around 4 cups of water in 1 hour.

2. DIY Berkey Water Purifier

DIY Berkey Water Purifier

As the name implies, this water filter is made using Berkey water purification elements. This is used in combination with two lidded buckets.

The designer recommends using food grade buckets. The first step is to stack the buckets after which the filter is primed. Two holes are drilled through the bottom of the top bucket to fit the two primed filters.

The bottom bucket has a hole drilled to fit a water faucet. Water is then filled in the top bucket ready for the filtration process. You can choose to add more filters for increased flow.

The size of bucket used is a personal preference. The designer recommends bucket sizes of 3 to 6 gallons.

3. DIY Brita Water Filter with Activated Carbon

DIY Brita Water Filter with Activated Carbon

Osas has a DIY water filter plan that gives you the same working and effectiveness of Brita water dispenser. The good news is that you get to set it up at just half the price.

What you need is a one-time purchase of a Brita filter. In short, you won’t be making any replacements in the future. The filter is refilled with activated carbon that traps dirt to give water its natural color.

In this setup, Osas drills a hole at the top of the filter making it large enough to firmly fit a polyethylene plug. The filter is rinsed then the plug removed to fill it with activated carbon.

The plug is then inserted. Though optional, Osas recommends adding ion exchange resin to play the role of softening the water. This water filter design has a video tutorial so it’s easy to follow.

4. Bio Water Filter

Bio Water Filter

You’ll agree with me that almost all water filters need replacement at one point. Instead of stockpiling such filters, this plan uses a simple alternative to a bio-filter system.

This water filter uses a multi-stage approach to ensure complete removal of impurities and pathogens. This 3-stage filtration process is made up of a layer of gravel, sand, and charcoal.

Each layer filters out something different. Large debris is removed by the gravel layer while small debris is filtered out by the sand layer. The activated charcoal gets rid of bacteria and chemicals.

The setup is done using three buckets stacked on top of each other. The top bucket is for gravel, the middle for sand, and the bottom for activated charcoal.

5. Small-Scale Water Filter

Small-Scale Water Filter

I would call this a bio water filter built to a small scale. Considering its filtration capacity, I would recommend it for one-person use.

The setup uses common supplies that won’t be difficult to find. A plastic bottle and a mug make up the shell of this DIY water filter. Here, the designer uses a lidded plastic bottle that has the bottom rim cut off.

The lid is removed and a coffee filter placed over the mouth of the bottle. The lid is then put back and the bottle inserted on the mug with the lid facing down.

Ensure that the opening of the mug lets the plastic bottle hang by the neck. A layer of activated charcoal, sand, and gravel is then put inside the plastic bottle and water filled to begin the filtration process.

6. $100 Homemade Water Filter

$100 Homemade Water Filter

Erich’s water filter is a simple one. In fact, you only need basic supplies and tools to set it up with the exception of the filter elements.

He uses two lidded food-grade buckets each with a 5-gallon capacity. The buckets are arranged in a stacked manner.

A hole is drilled on the bottom of the top bucket and through the lid of the bottom bucket. Erich inserts a filter element through the hole.

Another hole is drilled on the side of the bottom bucket at a lower level to fit a spigot. Water is poured into the top bucket to start the filtration process.

7. Genuine Black Berkey Water Filter

Genuine Black Berkey Water Filter

The designer of this water filter goes for something genuine yet cheaper enough not to put a huge dent in your pocket. This DIY water filter uses a bucket system and Black Berkey purification elements.

Two food-grade buckets are stacked together. Holes are drilled through the bottom of the top bucket and the lid of the bottom bucket.

The number of holes will depend on the rate of filtration you want. A higher number means increased filtration rate.

The filter elements fit through the holes and a spigot installed on the bottom bucket. Compared to other Berkey purification elements, this one comes more powerful.

It removes all contaminants from water while retaining the beneficial minerals your body needs.

8. $40 DIY Water Filter

$40 DIY Water Filter

Talking about budget-friendly water filters, this one here definitely makes the cut. The designer goes for a cheap yet longer life Culligan WHR-140 in-line filter.

The filter is fitted inside a PVC pipe at the elbow joint. In short, it fits inside your plumbing system close to a sink or garden hose.

Ensure the filter snug to provide a tight seal with the walls of the PVC pipe. Once set up, this water filter has the capacity to handle flow rates up to 2.5 GPM.

9. DIY Water Filter from Tree Branch

DIY Water Filter from Tree Branch

This is a low-tech yet effective water filter. Derek, the designer of this filtration system calls it a xylem filter. Well, that’s because it uses a piece of a tree branch with the bark peeled off.

Choose a branch with a diameter that fits snug inside your garden hose after the bark has been removed. The bark is then fastened in placed to provide a tight seal against the wall of the hose.

Derek recommends the use of sapwood since it contains xylem tissue. Once set up, this system has the capacity to filter 4 liters in one day.

It has the advantage of removing 99% bacteria resulting into fresh, uncontaminated drinking water.

10. Three-Bucket Bio-Water Filter

Three-Bucket Bio-Water Filter

Bio-water filters can be made in different sizes. Compared to small bio-water filters, large filters are more thorough in the filtration process.

Rich goes for this large filtration system made of three, 5-gallon buckets. The buckets are stacked on top of each other and holes drilled on the bottom.

The top bucket is filled with 50 pounds of pea gravel, the middle with 50 pounds of sand, and the bottom with 25 pounds of activated charcoal.

In this setup, water takes about half an hour to percolate from the top to the bottom bucket. A spigot is fitted to the bottom bucket.

11. DIY Ceramic Water Filter

DIY Ceramic Water Filter

This water filter gives good quality water at low cost. Russ designs it using three dome-shaped ceramic cartridge filters.

The cartridges are fitted in holes drilled at the bottom of a bucket. These cartridges have a porous shell and contain activated carbon inside.

The sub-micron sized pores on the shell filter out bacteria and chemicals. A spigot is fitted at the bottom of the bucket to dispense water.

Using a standard 5-gallon bucket, this setup gives a filtration rate of 12 to 15 gallons per minute. The ceramic filters used here last up to 8 months before replacement.

12. DIY Portable Water Filter

DIY Portable Water Filter

This is a multi-layered bio-water filter. You can design it using a standard 5-gallon bucket. But to make it a portable filter, the designer chooses to use a 2-liter plastic container.

This system has five layers of filtration media. The bottom ring of the lidded container is cut off. A filter cloth is inserted followed by a layer of activated charcoal.

Fine sand is then added followed by coarse sand. A layer of fine stone and finally coarse stone finalize the filtration layers.

Water is added ready for the filtration process to begin. Well, this is a portable filter you can take with you anywhere.

13. Under-Sink Water Filter

Under-Sink Water Filter

Well, this under-sink water filter kit is installed in a cold water supply line. You can choose to connect to an existing faucet or separate faucet.

There’s a 5-step tutorial outlining how it’s done. The tutorial gives a list of the tools and materials you’ll need. The designer recommends leaving enough clearance under the filter for easy cartridge change in future.

This project is likely to cost you around $200. According to the designer, it requires advanced plumbing skills. Expect to spend around 1 day from start to finish.

14. DIY Activated Charcoal Water Filter

DIY Activated Charcoal Water Filter

Makeshift water filtration systems are fun to build. Here, the designer settles for a portable option using an empty coke bottle.

Apart from activated charcoal, the other supplies used here won’t give you trouble finding. What you need is a few pebbles, clean sand, and fine cloth.

The bottom ring of the bottle is removed and a hole poked into the lid. The cloth is folded in three layers and screwed on to the lid.

Clean sand is added followed by activated charcoal then another layer of clean sand. The top layer is that of small pebbles designed to filter out large debris.

Due to the small capacity of this filter, you’ll have to filter around one cup at a time.

15. Water Filter with Keg Can Storage

Water Filter with Keg Can Storage

This setup is for a GE water filtration system. In this setup, the designer mounts the filter to the rim of the keg can using screws.

The keg collects the filtered water and has a spigot at the bottom to dispense the water. This system is a good choice for connecting to your water faucet.

The designer recommends using brass and stainless steel fittings. This helps prevent rust that might contaminate the water. The can is fitted with a gauge that monitors the pressure level.

16. Mini Water Filter for Kids

Mini Water Filter for Kids

This might be a good idea for your kid’s science project. It’s a mini filtration system designed using two plastic bottles.

One of the bottles has the bottom rim removed while the other a third of the top cut off to function as the collector. The lid on the filter bottle is poked with a sharp object to create a hole.

A coffee filter is placed near the hole after which a layer of sand is added. Gravel and large rocks are then placed on top of the sand.

The cutting should be done by an adult for safety reasons. This project has a video tutorial making it easier to follow.

17. DIY Butler Water Filter

DIY Butler Water Filter

Alex makes this filtration system to replicate the natural filtration process within the layers in the ground. It makes a good experiment idea using basic supplies.

What you need is a filter container and a vase to collect the filtered water. For the filter container, I’d recommend using a funnel so you won’t have to do any cuttings.

Clean cotton is first stuffed into the funnel. This is followed by a layer of activated charcoal. Two inches of gravel is added on top of the charcoal followed by a 3-inch layer of sand.

Finish with another layer of gravel to trap large debris. This butler filtration system is a good project for kids.

18. Simple Homemade Water Filter

Simple Homemade Water Filter

This is a simple filtration system made using basic supplies that can be found in local stores. Two plastic bottles are used to house this filtration system.

One of the bottles has the top removed and serves the purpose of a collector. The other bottle has the bottom cut off and houses the filter elements.

The filter bottle has a hole poked in the lid. A piece of cotton is placed close to the lid and covered with a layer of activated carbon. Over the carbon is a layer of sand followed by a final layer made of gravel.

In this DIY water filter, the activated carbon needs changing after 2 to 4 weeks.

19. Bio-Water Filter with Cotton Swabs

Bio-Water Filter with Cotton Swabs

Tim Miner has this simple idea of a water filtration system. He uses a transparent glass container and a wine bottle.

The wine bottle has the rim removed and the mouth stuffed with cotton swabs to make a tight seal. A layer of activated charcoal gets in first followed by a layer of sand.

The final layer pebbles piled to a few inches to get rid of large particles. According to Tim, this project takes around 15 minutes. There’s a video tutorial for this project.

20. Brita Brand Water Pitcher Filter With Activated Carbon

Brita Brand Water Pitcher Filter With Activated Carbon

This DIY water filter is built in five simple steps. Three Brita water pitcher filters are used here. A hole is drilled through the top of each filter after which a polyethylene plug is inserted.

The filters are rinsed thoroughly and a funnel inserted through the drilled holes. The funnel is filled with activated charcoal and water poured inside.

This is a very effective water filtration system designed to remove unwanted contaminants in water and other liquids.

21. Tea Hack BPA-Free Water Filter

Tea Hack BPA-Free Water Filter

This is a simple DIY water filter designed to work faster than regular water filter cartridges. Well, you won’t believe what goes into making this filtration system.

The designer uses 3 muslin spice bags and activated charcoal. One advantage of the muslin bag is that it can be cleaned and reused over and over again.

Each muslin bag is filled with activated charcoal and the thread tightened to make a knot. The bags are dropped in a container of water and left there for a few hours until the water turns clear.

In this setup, one pound of activated charcoal can last at least six months.

22. Two-Bucket Ceramic Water Filter

Two-Bucket Ceramic Water Filter

One good thing about this filtration system is that it removes particles as minute as 0.2 micron in size. Here, two food-grade buckets are stacked onto each other.

There’s a hole drilled through the bottom of the top bucket and extends into the lid of the bottom bucket. A ceramic filter fits tight through the hole using nuts and washers.

A spigot is installed on the bottom bucket to dispense the filtered water. According to the designer, this filtration system filters out around 7 to 10 gallons of water a day.

23. DIY Whole-House Water Filter

DIY Whole-House Water Filter

When it comes to drinking water needs for a whole family, size does matter. This water filtration system has a capacity that gives clean drinking water whenever you need it.

It includes a whole-house water filter kit that installs in the main water line. That means that all impurities in the water coming inside the house are filtered out.

The tools needed in this project include adjustable wrenches, pipe cutter, and a bucket. It’s good to install the filter where there’s enough clearance for easy cartridge replacement.

This 6-step project takes around half a day to finish. It requires master plumbing skills and costs about $200.

24. Whole-House Multi-Stage Water Filtration System

Whole-House Multi-Stage Water Filtration System

This is a complete whole-house filtration system. Jessica comes up with this water filtration system that cleans water in stages.

It installs on the main water line. The system is made up of a pre-filter and two Pelican brand water systems.

Jessica gives a detailed tutorial on how to install this water filtration system. It even has a question and answers section in case you have any queries.

25. Simple Whole-House Water Filter

Simple Whole-House Water Filter

The tutorial of this whole-house water filtration system includes a list of tools and materials you’ll need to save you the frustration.

The system comprises a big filter installed on the main water supply line. It’s a sediment filter designed to get rid of grit inside your water.

Compared to other whole-house filtration systems, this setup is fairly inexpensive. The filter used here is a carbon paper-style filter that needs replacement after every three months.

26. Homemade ‘High-Volume” Water Filter

Homemade ‘High-Volume” Water Filter

This fast water filter lets you enjoy a clean glass of drinking water in seconds. This setup uses a coffee filter combined with a layer of activated carbon.

The filter media are housed inside a funnel-shaped bottle held upside down to fit into a collecting jar. This filter has the ability to remove over 200 chemical contaminants.

It has a filtration rate of one gallon in 3 minutes. The coffee filter needs replacement after every use.

I hope you now have some ideas on how to eliminate the possible hazards in your home drinking water.

Regardless of the water filter idea you’ve chosen on the list, we’ll be glad to know the experience you get during and after the design process.

Make sure to put it down in the comment section and we’ll get back to you.