How to Make a Water Filter


Heap of activated charcoal on a steel background

There are some differences between a pile of wood charcoal and an activated charcoal filter? Can I make an activated charcoal filter to filter water through for drinking?

Activated charcoal is in no way the same as burnt wood. Activated charcoal is charcoal that has been treated with oxygen to open up millions of tiny pores between the carbon atoms.


Heap of activated charcoal on a steel background

However, regular charcoal was used for water filtering for a long time before activated charcoal. In its natural state it contains the atoms that neutralize odors and filter water. Activated charcoal just has those atoms in larger quantities, activated charcoal made from coconut shells is better than that made from wood.

You do need to plan your filter to allow proper time for the charcoal to adsorb the contaminants, and you will need a sediment filter before the activated charcoal filter. Sediment filters can be fine sand or gravel and they will grab things like sand and rust particles.


  • Regular charcoal in its natural state it contains the atoms that neutralize odors and filter water.
  • If you want a DIY water filter, you can buy the activated charcoal and DIY everything else
  • Remember to account for filter replacement. If you want 3 months worth of water filtration, but your rate of water usage means you’ll need homemade water filter for survival to replace the filter every 2 weeks, you’ll have to have 6 replacement filters on hand.

“Keep that Usage Rate in mind when you are designing the system. Do you have a place to hold the needed water, before and after filtering? If you know you’ll need 12 gallons a day, do you want to hold 6 at a time and filter twice a day? Or hold 24 gallons and filter once every 2 day"

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