In today’s article we show how you can make a water filter at home using some materials that might be lying around. It’s fun, educational, and not difficult at all!
You can apply some of the filtration techniques used by some well known water filter brands to materials you might have lying around the home. While we wouldn’t recommend replacing a recognized water filter that has been stringently tested and certified with something that you have made yourself, it can be a fun science experiment or last resort in case of an emergency.
Take a look at the video which gives a rough idea of what we’ll be doing. But, make sure you keep reading as our homemade water filter is more effective than his.
Our homemade water filter will work in much the same way as many pitcher or countertop systems work. Gravity feeds the water downwards through a variety of media that each act as a stage of filtration.
Starting with the largest particles at the top (gravel) which will filter out the larger contaminants from the water, and finishing with a fine coffee filter that prevents any visible particles from making their way into the final drinking water.
There’s a special ingredient too, which might not be so readily available around the home. That’s the activated carbon.
However, this is available from sites like Amazon and also pet stores that specialize in fish. If you have carbon water filters at home (perhaps a pitcher) then you could also recycle the activated carbon from inside for the purpose of this experiment.
Why activated carbon?
Activated carbon is the functional component of most water filters. It is basically charcoal that has been treated to increase its potential for chemical adsorption. It uses this process to make water contaminants “cling” to its porous surface and prevent them from passing through into your drinking water.
What you’ll need:
- A plastic bottle (the bigger this is the more water your filter will be capable of filtering per minute)
- Activated carbon
- A coffee filter
The quantities of the gravel, sand, and activated carbon depend on the size of bottle you use. You are going to cut the bottom of the bottle off and fill it with layers of these substances.
What to do:
- First, you’ll want to source your materials and prepare them properly. Rinse the gravel and sand in water to make sure they don’t contain any dirt or dust.
- Next, you need to prepare the activated carbon. The finer the particles, the more surface area, and therefore the more effective it becomes at adsorbing pollutants. Grind up the activated carbon into a powder-like substance.
- With the filtration media prepared the next thing to do is prepare your bottle. In theory, the more filtration media (sand, gravel, and activated carbon) that you use, the better the level of water filtration you will get. This is more true for the carbon, as increased contact time will give better filtration. Also, note that you will need a gap at the top where you fill the bottle with water. The more space at the top, the more water you can put into the homemade water filter at once.
- Now, we can start filling the bottle with the carbon, sand, and gravel. The order in which we put these into the bottle is important. We need the biggest objects at the top and the smallest at the bottom. Start by placing the coffee filter in the bottom, and then gradually fill with activated carbon, then sand, and then gravel. Remember to leave a gap of at least a few inches at the top. This allows our water filter to fill up with a decent amount of water each time it is used.
- An extra tip to increase the effectiveness of our homemade water filter is to fasten the bottle cap. By putting a few holes in the bottle cap we can allow the clean water to pass through, but at a much slower rate. This means the water has more contact time with the activated carbon, which increases its effectiveness at adsorbing water pollutants. However, it does mean you’ll have to wait longer for your filtered water.
We now have a pretty decent water filter that is made from mostly recycled materials and uses the same techniques as many big brand water filters. This kind of filtration is comparable to a rudimentary water filter pitcher, but just remember our homemade filter should never replace a professionally built and certified water filter.
This makes for a fun and educational science experiment that’s perfect for young kids. See what kinds of contaminants you can remove from water. Oil, dirt, coloring?
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