Access to water is a basic human need, readily available to many in their own home through a tap. Even though tap water is safe to drink, it can still contain impurities one might wish to take out before consuming it. A water filter may be essential in such a situation and a few online glances will provide lists such as 11 Best Water Filters of 2021, readily available for purchase. Prices for products like these might not be what some people are willing to invest in. A homemade water filter is an alternative solution, one that uses existing tools already present in most homes or that do not cost all that much.
Basic homemade water filter
Making a water filter at home is either a very fun way to introduce children to some basic science knowledge or an effective way to clean your water. A few materials are needed to begin building the filter.
First off, a plastic water bottle cut in half into which all the filtration layers will go. The bottle cap will need to have a small hole drilled into it. At the very bottom of the bottle, right against the bottle cap one or two cotton balls should be placed, tight enough to fit closely to the cap and be around two inches thick. Cotton balls can be replaced with cloth or coffee filters, depending on what is available.
The second layer will be made up of an inch of activated charcoal. Two more inches of small stones or gravel make the third layer, with somewhere between three to four inches of clean sand on top to make the fourth layer and finally some bigger gravel at the very top.
The bottle with all its multi-layered filters can now be used, by simply putting it on a container and sifting water through the top.
Distilled water at home
In addition to combining out impurities through the bottle, some more added purifying techniques can be implemented. The already filtered water can be further distilled, thus cleaning it even more through condensation. Distilling water at home can also be done with tools already in the home. The filtered water placed in a pot with a glass bowl that floats is brought to a boil, while an inverted pot cap with ice on top acts as the condensation barrier dripping distilled water down into the glass bowl.
Some ingenious methods combine the multilayered filter with a copper coil under a flame that directs the water through and distills it right after the filtration process.
The method of cleaning water like this, with a homemade filtration system naturally cleans water as it uses natural materials that imitate water’s life cycle, and does not add any unwanted components to it. On the plus side, a project such as this can be enlarged as much as one may want to. A bigger filter can easily be built, with no restrictions a store-bought filter may have and it also doesn’t contribute to the carbon footprint.
Bringing safe clean water to the world
A filtration system like this can be so effective and have such a capacity for expansions that it can be of use at a household, small community, or village level.
Doctor Josh Kearns, an environmental chemist of the North Carolina State University has developed a system that helps supply clean water to many marginalized communities.
His organization’s take on the filtration system is not that much different than the basic one described above. In attempting to purify water, taking out pathological components like bacteria is not the only issue, but also chemical ones. Pharmaceutical residues from pesticides and insecticides infiltrate into water sources that are used for drinking, by way of industry and agriculture.
Kearns perfected a method of quickly building water filters for areas affected by contamination, and have the community learn how to make and maintain it themselves.
Instead of commercially produced activated charcoal, Kearns refined a technique of creating charcoal from locally sourced materials in the field. This affordable treatment method meant that it could be implemented anywhere. Biochar, as it came to be known, is an alternative to activated charcoal that is roughly as effective as store-bought absorbents used in higher developed countries.
Everything else stays the same, with a multi-barrier filtration system laid down in barrels that can be expanded according to the quantity of water needed to be cleaned. Four such barrels are used, the first containing gravel for rough filtering which empties into a second barrel with fine biologically active sand, which again empties into a third barrel with the biochar. A fourth barrel acts as a storage unit for the cleaned water.
This simple low-cost technique of handling essential water and sanitation problems can be implemented by anyone that wishes to build a self-reliant water cleaning method to either clean their entire water source or even rainwater collected in water butts.