Saturday, July 13, 2013

DIY Drinking Water Filter with Aquarium Charcoal

UPDATE: In the Spring of 2016, my town's water treatment plant was destroyed in a massive flood that also took out a highway. Our town was without running water for one week while we awaited an emergency mobile water treatment truck rented from New York. After the truck arrived, we were still on a boil water notice for many weeks and very restricted water conservation use.

Fortunately, the water filter experiment in this blog post was already under my belt from a few years prior. I boiled about two gallons of water each day and then ran it through the filter explained below, to remove the small but visible debris. I let it drip into a tall tea server that had a spout. We used the boiled and filtered water for cooking, making tea, and for safe potable water for my dog. This was something we would not have been able to do with a small unit attached to the faucet. And the tiny amount of charcoal in the store-bought faucet filters (about two tablespoons) could not have handled this situation.

THE ORIGINAL BLOG POST... I've been filling up water jugs down at Cool Clear Water. Tastes great; I love it. But I drink a lot of water and would really like to not go down there with so many jugs every week or haul one of those big honkin' bottles back and forth. So I bought one of those "Pur" water filters that snaps on to the faucet. The water did NOT taste good. It tasted terrible. If it doesn't taste good, I'm not going to drink it. I want crisp, clean-tasting water.

So I happened to have a big tub of activated charcoal for aquarium filters. I rinsed it, and rinsed it some more, and some more and some more. Took a lot of rinsing for the water to stop being gray. Then I drilled a tiny hole in the lid of this tall smartwater bottle you see in the photo, cut the bottom off the bottle, turned it upside-down into a glass jar with a coffee filter, filled the water bottle with my rinsed charcoal, and poured my "pur" filtered water into the charcoal.

A tub of activated charcoal for aquarium filters is waaay cheaper than the pur or brita pitcher filters, which contain only a tiny amount of charcoal.

The water is sitting in the bottle while it slowly drains through the tiny hole in the lid (the longer the contact with the charcoal, the better). It is passing through the coffee filter (to catch any remaining charcoal dust, even though it's healthy for you - people even eat charcoal tablets for health reasons), and into the glass jar.

It tastes pretty good but I still like the reverse osmosis water from Cool Clear Water and will probably continue to get my drinking water from there.


  1. I think this is a great idea if you're trying to get by on a budget, but I'll definitely be sticking with the store bought water filters even though I know I'm paying more than I have to. The convenience is just worth it to me!


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