You can filter water at home with DIY methods, such as boiling water, bio water filters, and UV treatment. With these methods, you can achieve pure drinking water without using a whole house water filtration system. Most DIY water filtration systems involve the use of natural resources to trap harmful contaminants and are capable of eliminating pathogens, heavy metals, and chemicals just like commercial filters. Setups like solar disinfection and tablet use are inexpensive and a lifesaver in emergencies.

But to find the perfect DIY method for your needs, you need to consider how much time you are willing to invest, your water goals, and your available resources.

7 DIY Methods to Purify Your Water

1. Boiling Drinking Water

Boiling water is one of the simplest forms of water purification. It has been in use since time immemorial. When subjected to heat, chemicals and other impurities dissipate.

Tools You Need

  1. Source of heat
  2. Water source
  3. Boiling pot


Boil water over the heat source. Bring the water to a boiling point. Leave the water to a rolling boil for at least three minutes. Let the water cool before preserving it in a storage container.

2. Tablets to Purify Water

These are useful where water is stored in containers. They are effective against bacteria, cysts, and viruses. Some of the common tablets that are used to disinfect water include:

Tools You Need

  1. chlorine tablets
  2. chlorine dioxide
  3. Iodine tablets
  4. Sodium dichloroisocyanurate


In normal cases, you only need to drop the tablet into the water and wait. That is why it is so popular with campers, hikers, and for emergencies. The only disadvantage with these tablets is the change in taste.

Once you purchase these tablets, follow the instructions on the pack to get the best results.

3. Stove-top Water Distillation

With the stove-top method, it is possible to purify dirty and salty water. The water you get from this setup is consumption-ready.

Tools You Need

  1. Glass container
  2. Source of heat
  3. Clean boiling pot or electric kettle
  4. Connecting valves
  5. Stainless steel hose

How to Set Up a Stove-Top Distiller

  1. Place your boiling pot on the heat source or use your electric kettle. (Electric kettle is preferred due to ease of creating a connection)
  2. You need to create a connection using the stainless steel hose. The connection is between the electric kettle and the glass container.
  3. Fasten and secure the connection from the spout of the kettle to the container using the connecting valves. (Ensures the steam does not escape)
  4. Activate the heat source

The process works by heating the water to the boiling point. Water evaporates, creating steam which raises and is directed to the glass container using the hose. Clean distilled water is collected in the glass container, which is ready for use after cooling.

4. Activated Charcoal Filter

The method involves filtering water using charcoal. The activated charcoal purifies contaminated water by absorbing the bad smell, toxic contaminants, heavy metals, and germs.

Tools You Need

To set up an activated charcoal filter, you need the following:

  1. A cloth, e.g., Clean socks or cloth bag
  2. Charcoal
  3. Sand
  4. Clear plastic bottles (2-Litres)

How to Set Up an Activated Charcoal Filter

  1. Cut off the bottom of the plastic water bottle.
  2. Start the assembly by turning the bottle upside down to act as a funnel.
  3. At the bottom of your funnel, add the cloth to act as a strainer.
  4. Add the activated charcoal
  5. Add the sand on top.

When water is added, the sand filters out the large sediments and debris. The charcoal absorbs bad odor, heavy metals, chemicals, and pathogens.

The process results in cloudy water, which needs to be boiled. You now have purified water which you can store in a water bottle.

5. Bio-filter

Bio-filter is another popular DIY water filtration method. It consists of three important layers, gravel, sand, and activated charcoal. The water quality from this process is reliable and can be used for drinking. This is the same mechanism and concept that carbon filters use.

Tools You Need

  1. A 2-liter water bottle
  2. Activated charcoal
  3. Screen
  4. Gravel
  5. Sand

How to Set Up a Bio-filter

  1. Cut off the bottom of the plastic bottle.
  2. Turn the bottle so that it acts as a funnel.
  3. Line the bottom of your funnel with the clean cloth
  4. Lay the pieces of activated charcoal on top of the cloth
  5. Pour the sand over the charcoal
  6. Finalize by laying a layer of gravel at the top of your layers

The different layers of gravel, sand, and activated charcoal act as filters. The initial layer of gravel traps all the large debris and contaminants. The second sand layer filters any remaining sediments that might have escaped the gravel layer. The activated charcoal removes pathogens, bad odor, and any microorganisms.

6. Solar Water Disinfection

Solar water disinfection is not well-renowned, but it is the simplest. As the name suggests, this method is dependent on sunshine. The more, the better. This method is utilized in outdoor space, especially off-grid activities like camping.

You only require a clean plastic container.


  1. Put the water into the container. If the container does not have a cap, use a screen or a mesh to prevent contaminants from getting it.
  2. Place it where there is direct sunlight
  3. Leave the water for at least two hours

This process does not remove contaminants like sediments and debris. It kills pathogens and microbes using natural UV light. The filtered water is ready to consume if it was clear; otherwise, let it sit for at least two days.

7. UV Water Treatment

UV treatment allows UV light to sterilize the water. This method has been used to kill bacteria, protozoa, and viruses present in the water. UV filters are beneficial, especially for those who use well water. Organic contaminants are a leading cause of deadly diseases, especially if you have kids or elderly individuals in your home.

The only downside to UV filtration is that it does not deal with chemical contaminants, heavy metals, or pesticides. For this, you have to combine your UV water treatment setup with another method, such as reverse osmosis or carbon block filter.

Installing a UV Water Filter

After purchasing the UV water purifier, use the following steps to install the filter.

  1. Determine where the filter will go – In normal cases, UV filters are combined with other filters for effective filtering.
  2. Plumbing to fix the UV system – Fix the UV filter system in the pipes. Use Teflon tape or putty to seal the filter in place.
  3. Use bleach through your piping – The mix of water and bleach is responsible for removing bacteria from the plumbing.

Note: The system requires maintenance annually. There is a need to replace the UV lamp, which dissipates the UV light.

Checking the Water Quality

Before choosing the water filtration methods, you need to understand your water composition. For instance, in the United States, tap water is the main source of water for consumption. The utility company is mandated to ensure the water is safe for consumption. That might not always be the case. With that in mind, you can analyze the water before choosing to set up your own water filter.

The sure way of checking your water quality is through a test kit. With this kit, you will get a report that will indicate contaminants in your water. For instance, if the water is plagued with living microorganisms, you may prefer to set up a UV treatment system.

A water report from your local utility company will also give you a good sense of your water quality. A method like Bio-filter is the best in filtering water that contains chemicals.

The smell, taste, and sight of water can also indicate the quality. Water with a bad smell and taste points to questionable quality. If you see sediments and living microorganisms in the water, it means the quality is bad.

Advantage of Having a Water Filtration System

Some of the ways to purify water are straightforward. There is no need to depend on bottled water for drinking water, while a simple DIY project can provide you and your family clean water. Some of the advantages of your own filter include:

Improved Health

Unfiltered water is dangerous. The presence of chemicals, heavy metals, and pathogens are dangerous, especially to kids, the elderly, and pregnant women. Pathogens are responsible for causing some terrible illnesses such as meningitis and the flu. Heavy metal may lead to cancer; therefore, it is prudent to set up a water filter to provide clean water constantly.

Better Taste

Tap water from utility companies is often chemically treated with chemicals such as chlorine. More often than not, this water will have an off-putting taste. Methods like bio-filter and charcoal filter will remove bad odor and removing chemicals. These water filters not only purify water but they make the water palatable.

Cheap and Easy to Maintain

The cost to filter water using these DIY methods is inexpensive. The setup uses common items that are readily available. On average, the cheapest cost of a store-bought filtering system will cost you upwards of $200. Likewise, maintenance comes cheap. For instance, the activated charcoal filter only requires replacing its component after six months.

Retention of the Beneficial Minerals

Apart from removing harmful contaminants, some DIY methods retain beneficial minerals found in water.


Using DIY to filter water means you don’t use bottled water as much. Less plastic waste is good for our environment.

Useful in Emergencies

When water lines are cut, and there is no more fresh, clean water, these DIY methods could be a lifesaver. It is possible to quickly set up one of these processes in emergencies, and you will have water in no time.

Finding the Right DIY Water Filtration Method

The water filter that is right for you depends on your situation. What really influences the type of water filter one should utilize?

  1. The water quality: If your water contains sediments and debris, you may prefer methods such as biofilters for clear water and tap use methods like UV water filtration.
  2. Availability of material and resources: Methods like solar disinfection will only work where there is ample sunshine. In emergency situations, getting store-bought tablets may be a challenge. Methods like boiling would suffice in such situations.
  3. Ease of setup: Methods like Biofilter, UV water filters take time to set up compared to boiling and solar disinfection. Preference for methods like boiling will be noted when there is a need for quick results.

Emergency Water Filter

DIY water filtering skills really shine during emergency situations. Practical skills in setting up a water filter are absolutely critical. There comes a time when storms and floods destroy all infrastructure, including water lines.

The ability to filter water to meet your needs will be vital. Most setups use common and readily available materials.

The Cost of DIY Water Filtering

Good thing we have no installation costs for these projects. The primary cost is essentially the materials we use in constructing the water filter. The materials are locally available, at the store or around us.

All these processes are classified as low cost. The majority will cost less than $100 except for the UV water treatment system. Maintenance will not be a big issue as well. We, however, recommend periodic water tests to ascertain the quality of your you are making.

Our Final Thoughts

There are hundreds of DIY projects you can take up. Purifying water should be at the top of your list. Water filtration methods like boiling and solar disinfection are simple, while others, like UV system installation, are a bit involving. Making something with hands is always fascinating. Some people even go as far as suggesting that the water they purified themselves tastes much better.

About the Author

Lucas Greer

Lucas vs. Wild - Lucas is a true nature lover and survivalist. When he's not teaching biology at school, he can be found in nature, hiking, climbing, camping, and rafting. He knows all the tricks and DIYs for making unclean water drinkable with simple means in an emergency. At school, his students love him for his exciting water filtration projects.

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