Best DIY Water Filters for Survival – How to Filter Water in the Wild

| Last Updated: March 28, 2021

Have you ever been out in the woods and really needed a drink of water? Bushcrafting skills are not only fun, they might just save you or your family's life one day, with a survival water filtration system. Getting drinkable water with a survival water filter when SHTF is one of those things that I think everyone should know. Luckily, it's easy to do.

Why Would You Need to Filter the Water?

There are six things in unfiltered water that can make you sick. A filter must be able to remove all of them to make it safe. You will need different things to handle each of them.

  • Protozoa are tiny moving microbes. Most are harmless to humans. The ones that aren't will make you sorry.
  • Turbidity is just another word for muck. Think mud, silt and fish poop. Most of it won't make you ill, but it will make the water taste nasty.
  • Parasites can be large or microscopic. Getting them all out is important.
  • Viruses lay in wait, hoping for something to slurp them up. Drinking untreated water can cause anything from diarrhea to polio.
  • Bacteria can be harmful or helpful. There are a lot of harmful bacteria in untreated water.
  • Chemicals in the water come from farming and industry. They can make you as sick as any of the natural pollution.

You will need a coarse filter for the muck and a finer filter for larger pathogens. Carbon can remove most chemical pollutants. Afterwards, the water must be boiled or treated with something like iodine. Making a filter that uses all of these is something even your kids can do.

You can go 2 weeks without food, 3 days without water, and 3 minutes without air. Know your priorities before it's too late. Source

Building Your Mobile DIY Water Filter

The bottle filter uses something like an old pop bottle to hold your filter ingredients. It is easy to build while on the move. The other reliable way to build a survival water filter is better if you are in a single place. More on that method in a second.

You will need a container. Something like an empty and clean soda pop bottle is easy to use. They are also lightweight and easy to find. Use a two liter bottle if you can. Drill a small hole in the cap and set it aside. Cleanly cut the bottom of the bottle off. Put the cap back on the bottle.

Now you will need to prepare the filter's insides. Cut two circles of clean cloth. Use something like woven cotton or a T shirt. The first circle of cloth will be tucked into the bottom of the bottle. Next pour two or three inches of charcoal into the container. Tuck the second layer of cloth over the charcoal.

Really mucky water will need more filtration. Layers of material should be stacked so that the finer material is at the bottom. A good filter will have a top layer of small stones over packed grass. Finer layers can be made of coarse sand over clean soil. Use a clean container to catch the water.

Desalinization and filtration of water in the wild is a tricky process, but if you master it you can be assured to have water in almost any situation. Source

Building a Solar Still (Long Term Stationary Filter)

Distillation of water is a great way to make fresh and clean water out of the grossest water. It can purify urine if need be. It can even pull the water from the air or catch moisture from freshly cut vegetation.

A solar still starts with a wide hole. Dig down at least a foot. Put a clean container in the center to catch the water. A clear plastic tarp is laid over the hole. Hold it tight with stones. Place a small stone over the container to create a dip.

The heat of the sun will pull water out of the soil. You can also set a container of dirty or salt water in the solar still to evaporate and be collected as clean water. If you place fresh vegetation in the still it will create even more water than just the soil alone.

The DIY Fire Still

Fire stills purify and filter water at the same time. Place a metal container of dirty water over a fire. Fit a funnel with a hose over the opening of the container. Be sure that the hose is off the side of the fire. As the steam flows through the hose it will cool and condense. Pure water will drip out of the end. Catch it in a clean container.

You may not have the luxury of having your tea kettle and ten gallon jug with you when you're in the bush, but you're smart enough to get the idea of how this works, right? Source

A simpler fire still can be made with a cotton cloth draped over a small fire. Place the water pot under the cloth. Make sure the cloth is not close enough to burn. The water will boil away. The steam will condense on the cloth. Ring out the cloth into a clean container.

How to Sterilize Your Now Filtered Water

The bottle and solar DIY filters will give you and your family clean water, free of everything but microscopic pollutants. You will need to purify the water to safety drink it. There are many ways to do that.

Clear water can be sterilized by the sun. Pour your water into a clear container. Use clear glass or plastic. Two liter pop bottles are perfect. Close the caps tightly and lay the bottles on their sides in full sun for six hours. If the sky is overcast, leave the bottles in the sun for two days.

Lay the bottles on sheet metal, concrete or dark rocks. Heating the water up helps speed the sun sterilization process. Water can also be boiled before use. If you are using plastic, don't put it over a fire. Instead place hot rocks in the water until it boils.

You can also use chemicals to purify water. Five drops of iodine solution per quart or four drops of chlorine bleach per quart will kill anything safely. You can keep the sterile water in the closed container you sunbathed it in. Store your fresh water in a cool and dark place.

Fresh Water is a LIFE SAVER

A healthy adult can only go a few days without water. Kids need water even sooner. These methods will keep your family supplied with water when nothing else will. Take a look at the videos and let me know what you think in the comments of the necessity a survival water filtration.

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