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DIY Water Filtration System

DIY Water Filtration System

by Carl Jensen

Plumber, Welder, Contractor

> 2 min read

Water purification filter with activated charcoal and other filter substrates

Clean water is essential for maintaining your overall health. For drinking, showering, and cooking, it’s imperative the water coming from your taps is pure and safe to use. However, the chlorine-treated water that many people drink today may still be contaminated with harmful bacteria and chemicals.

This is why many people have water filtration systems installed in their homes. Acting as a physical barrier against harmful bacteria, they purify your water making it safer to drink.

If you suspect your water supply may be contaminated and needs filtration, but you’re reluctant to purchase one, why not try your hand at making your own? Read on to discover the ultimate DIY water filtration systems and how you can build one for your home. 


pouring water in a glass

How to Make a DIY Water Filtration System

There are many reasons why people decide to construct their own water filtration systems, the most common being because it is cheaper than investing in a commercial model. People also build them for traveling, such as when camping. 

There are several different types of DIY systems you can build. Below are a few different units you can choose from.

Bio Water Filter

This filter is a domestic system consisting of three separate layers of gravel, activated charcoal, and sand. A simple and modern method, this system filters from the larger particles at the top, all the way down to the small ones at the bottom.

To construct this system, there are a few things you will need:

  • Sand
  • Gravel
  • Activated charcoal
  • Plastic plumbing fittings 
  • Mesh screen
  • Hole saw
  • 5-gallon bucket


  1. Turn the gallon bucket upside down and cut a hole in the top to pour the materials in.
  2. The first layer needs to be gravel, ensuring you source a type resembling rock-shaped pebbles. This prevents large sediment and organisms from entering the filtration system.
  3. Then pour in the sand. This filters out the smaller contaminants that escaped the first layer.
  4. Next comes the activated charcoal, perfect for removing chemicals and microorganisms that may still be present in the water.
  5. This last step is what makes the water drinkable and pure.
  6. You also need to ensure you cut a hole at the end that allows soil and water to pour through.

While this filter won’t remove all contaminants, the water is still safe to drink, and it is a great portable option for camping. To improve the water quality further, you can also boil the filtered water. Know the difference between water filter and softeners on our comparison guide.

Charcoal Water Filter

How to Purify Water with Charcoal

Photo by Eddie Douglas

This design is relatively similar to the biofilter; however, you don’t use any gravel. To construct this system, you will need:

  • Charcoal
  • A piece of cloth
  • Sand
  • 2L plastic bottle


  1. Following the same process as the biofilter, pour the sand over the layer of charcoal.
  2. The charcoal needs to be in pieces when you place it inside the bottle. This is so the water can be pre-filtered, as the bottle is the central purifier.
  3. Unlike the biosystem, where the water is drinkable straight away, you will have to boil the water from the charcoal filter before drinking it. This is because the water will present as cloudy when it is filtered through the bottle.

Boiling Water

Modern glass electric kettle boiling on kitchen table

One of the easiest, quickest, and basic ways to filter your water is by boiling it. It’s a method that many people overlook because of its simplicity; however, it’s incredibly effective. 

  • All you need to do is put sediment-free water in a pan and leave it to boil for at least one minute at 158°F.
  • This amount of time is all it takes to kill 99.999% of all bacterias, viruses, and protozoa.
  • Once you’ve boiled the water, leave it to cool before drinking.

Solar Water Filter

This water disinfection system is also known as the SODIS method. This method is simple. However, it  requires a location with ample direct sunlight and is quite time-consuming. This is because the speed of the filtration process depends on the water source. To complete this filtration method, you will need:

  • A container 
  • A thin screen


  1. To expose the water to direct sunlight, fill a sturdy BPA-free container and leave it in a sunny location.
  2. Place a thin screen on top of the container of water to prevent any contaminants from getting in.
  3. If your liquid is relatively clean and bright, the filtration process should only take around two hours.
  4. However, if the water source is cloudy, you should leave it for at least two days.
  5. With this method, there is a possibility that the water may not be completely pure, especially if the light source was not particularly bright.

With this in mind, when using the solar filtration process, it’s a good idea to combine another method. The most recommended method to use would be boiling. Even though the water has undergone one filtration process, it still may not be 100% pure. This extra disinfectant is a safer option, as the boiling process will ensure that any leftover bacteria is eradicated.

The Benefits of Water Filtration Systems


The bottled water industry is responsible for one of the highest levels of synthetic pollutants in the world. Drinking filtered water means you will refrain from purchasing bottles, preventing further plastic waste. 


For some people, enjoying the taste of water means they will drink more. By purifying your water, you are removing the chemicals that can provide unsavory flavors.


Tap water, especially in hard water areas, can sometimes contain heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic, lead, and copper. If these metals are consumed regularly, you may suffer from serious health problems in the future, including cardiovascular problems and kidney failure. 

However, because water filtration systems remove harmful bacteria and some metals, they purify the water and make it safe to drink.

Construct Your Own DIY Water Filtration System

After learning about the benefits of consuming pure water, chances are you’ll be itching to build your own DIY water filtration system.

By trying out any one of these methods, you’ll be able to purify and filter your water. Not only will constructing a system allow you to drink fresh water without a worry, but the DIY process will also save you money. You can also try salt-free water softeners to remove all the hard minerals on your drinking water.

Carl Jensen

About the Author

Carl Jensen is a plumber with over 50 years of experience in the industry, as well as related jobs like underwater welding. He runs a successful plumbing practice in Tampa, Florida, and contributes his plumbing expertise to our DIY articles, and helps to fact check and consult on most of our other stuff to boot.

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