How to Make a Small Water Filtration Plant

When you find yourself stuck in an emergency situation, water becomes one of your top priorities. Humans can only survive 3 days without water on average. However, finding water isn’t the issue. There are swamps, lakes, oceans, streams, rivers, and ponds all around the world. The challenging part is locating water that’s safe to consume.

Unsafe drinking water is one of the leading causes of deaths each year and a significant reason for all the occupied hospital beds worldwide. Hence, it is ideal to seek a solution now and avoid the pain later.

That’s why it’s important to know how to make a small water filtration plant. In this post, we’ll take you through the steps needed to build your own DIY survival water filtration plant.

Importance of Water Filtration

No doubt, the primary benefit of filtering dirty water out is that it becomes safe to consume. Filtering takes out the parasites and bacteria such as giardia and cryptosporidium. Because these nasty microorganisms aren’t visible to the naked eye, we need to rely on water filtration plants to get the job done.

In addition, the water becomes softer when you filter it to remove the natural impurities and added chemicals. Softer water won’t leave behind the minerals that counteract a soap’s properties. So, preppers and survivalists will need to have less soap at hand for tasks such as cloth washing, which saves you time and money.

Before we go into the steps to make your own water filtration kit, here are some ready-made options you might want to consider having handy:

Where to Buy
Survivor Filter PRO – Virus and Heavy Metal Tested 0.01 Micron Water Filter for Camping
LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness
Sawyer Products MINI Water Filtration System
Survivor Filter - Virus Tested 0.05 Micron Portable Water Filter for Camping, Emergency and Hiking.
Sawyer Products SP160 One-Gallon Gravity Water Filtration System with Dual-Threaded MINI Filter
ProOne Big+ Stainless-Steel Gravity Water Filter System
Katadyn Vario Water Filter, Dual Technology Microfilter for Personal or Small Group Camping, Backpacking or Emergency Preparedness


Making Your Own Small Water Filtration Plant

It’s easier to make a water filter than you think. All you need is the following essentials (there’s nothing in the list that can’t be sourced):

  • An empty water bottle
  • Thin wire or rubber bands
  • Charcoal that’s grounded into fine bits
  • Knife
  • Cloth
  • Containers for collecting water
Coarse, fine sand and fine stone
Coarse, fine sand and fine stone
An empty water bottle
An empty water bottle
Charcoal that’s grounded into fine bits
Charcoal that’s grounded into fine bits
Water Filtration Plant - Thin Wire Thin wire or rubber bands
Containers for collecting water
Containers for collecting water

Once you’ve gathered these things, follow these steps to make your own water filtration plant:

  1. Use the knife to cut the portion of the bottle from the bottom.
  2. Begin to place the filter items, starting from the cloth, one by one.
  3. Next, insert the ground charcoal bits.
  4. After that, place the filter items in the following order: fine stone, coarse stone, coarse sand, and fine sand.
  5. After putting all the filter essentials inside the bottle, you’ll have enough space at the top for pouring in dirty water.
  6. Using a rag set is optional. If you do take this approach, apply a thin wire or rubber bands to cover the top.
  7. There, that’s all you need to do to make a small natural water filter.

The first drippings collected from this makeshift filtration plant might be cloudy, and that’s due to the dustiness initiated by filter items. Hence, it is best to discard this water and then collect new quantities through another container.

Here’s another tip for making the water less cloudy: let the water you collect pass through the filter multiple times until you achieve the desired result. Also, the collected water might still need to be boiled so that it is 99.99 percent free of contaminants.

Note: Survivalists & preppers should note that a filter won’t clear a water sampling that’s contaminated with nature’s contaminants like protozoa, bacteria, and viruses. DIY water filters like the one above only clear the water of iron, radon, heavy metals, particulate matter, and sedimentary matter in the water, which is the initial step of the purification process. After the water is filtered, it can be boiled to kill organic contaminants like bacteria, protozoa, and viruses.

Boiling Water

Boiling water is quite easy and straightforward if you have access to the right tools. Make sure your pot is clean, and your matches are rationed before you get to it. Ideally, you’d want to get that sweet spot between the number of matches that can be consumed for boiling and the quantity of water you can collect and store easily.

Follow these steps:

  1. Put the right quantity of filtered pot into a fireproof strove or put.
  2. Use a lighter to start a fire under it.
  3. Bottle any excess water as it should come in handy at a later stage.

When you undertake these steps, you’d be following the water distillation process, which results in the cleanest water. Distillation basically heats up the water to the extent that it converts into a vapor, after which the vapor is cooled and turned into purified water.

But there are additional ways to boil water as well.
Bleaching: Bleaching can also be used to purify drinking water. However, only ¼ tsp per gallon should be used, or a ½ teaspoon at maximum for cloudy water. You should let the water stand for at least 30 minutes. In addition, the bleach can also be used to sanitize water containers for future storage.

It’s worth mentioning that you should strictly avoid using scented bleach to disinfect filtered water, as it has other chemicals that can be harmful to your health.

Purification Drops/Tablets: These are basically Chlorine Dioxide and function better than standard chlorine, but not as cheap. They can be an excellent buy for bug out bags as they’re lightweight, tiny, and pretty handy in emergency situations. We recommend getting the Aquamira tablets because it removes the headaches of measurements. Aquamira tablets count as a single tablet to one liter or .92 quarts of water.

Collecting Water to Filter

Collecting water from different sources could take a while, but if you want to harvest a steady supply for a more extended stretch, your skills in producing this item and the ground could very well become your lifesaver.

  1. Choose a ground that is getting struck by sunlight on a regular basis (of course, not around the clock).
  2. A relatively shallow hole should be created into its patch. The hole, however, should have enough breathing space to accommodate a water container. When placing the container inside the hole, ensure that it is free of dirt.
  3. Use a plastic wrap to cover the hole. That helps trap moisture originating from the surface of the ground.
  4. Place a tiny rock in the plastic wrap’s middle just above the water container to create a dip.
  5. See how the water evaporates from the soil in the sun. When it rises (the vapor that is), it will first hit the wrap, the condense, and lastly drip back to the container, in purified form.

Drinking Water

The best way to consume filtered and boiled water is by using a straw. Of course, you shouldn’t get an ordinary straw that you use for sipping murky water (that’s just taking the wrong decision). Among the several DIY water filtration systems built by survivalists and peppers these days, the most portable and the most convenient would be the survivalist straws.

These items might be small, but they do a lot to purify water that is found in survival environments. Some products even claim to filter above 1,000 liters to 0.2 microns of water. All you have to do is dip the straw into the pot or filtration plant. See which end to dip in the water and which end to place in your mouth. Then, start sipping. Another thing you can do is blow on the straw so that dirt gets cleared out and go on drinking. However, these straws won’t be useful on salt water.

Water Filter Maintenance Tips

After you’ve created a water filter, it is essential to maintain it. To that end, here are some tips:

  1. Start refreshing the filter, and often. Once it stops filtering the water as good as it did when you first set it up, empty it out, take off its components, clean the inside parts of the filter, and replace used materials with fresh ones where possible. Depending on the filter you’ve set up, this can mean refreshing the charcoal, batting foam, sand, and other materials that catch particulate. And before using new materials, give each a new clean to ensure proper functioning.
  2. Clean the storage containers. Have several clean ones at hand for storing filtered water.
  3. It takes a while for the water to move through a three-stage filter. As the water is poured into the upper portion, move through slowly. That approach ensures that the water has time for moving through each stage without excess water being forced at the water. If the water rises close to the filter top’s lip, other portions of the filter might get filled.
  4. Once filtered, see the turbidity of water. Take it through the filter again (once or twice) if it’s still cloudy.
  5. Cool off the boiled water and use a container to store it. That said, consume it as quick as you can to avoid re-infestation and stagnation.
  6. By the end of the filtration process, use a one to three-minute boil to take out all remaining organic materials. In locations that are above 5000 ft. Above sea level, we recommend three-minutes of boiling instead of one.


You can survive 10x longer without meals than you can without clean water. By educating yourself on how to build a small water filtration plant, you’ll have a little more advantage than others in a survival scenario.