7 Easy Steps On How To Make An Activated Charcoal Water Filter At Home

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A pile of Activated Carbon

Activated charcoal is becoming quite a popular alternative for water purifiers. Not only does it provide natural, non-toxic benefits, but it can also filter out pesticides, chemicals, and other impurities from your drinking water.

Activated charcoal is a black powder that has been treated with steam or fired to create millions of tiny, hollow tubules. Activated charcoal soaks up bad odors, chemicals, and particles from the air. This makes it a perfect substance for carbon water filters of all sorts.

Here’s how to make your own activated charcoal water filter: these instructions are pretty easy. But essentially, the same process is used in city water treatment plants- it takes just a bit more work on your end (but it’s still pretty simple).

STEP 1: Get Activated Charcoal

To make a water filter, you can’t use store-bought charcoal because most charcoal you buy at stores is not pure and the process may contaminate the water with chemicals. Instead, you can make activated charcoal to filter water.

In a wilderness survival situation, you can make your own activated charcoal from hardwood. To do so, first, burn the wood for about half an hour and build up enough coals for about 2 inches thick layer of ashes.

Spread this out evenly on a flat surface then let sit overnight to cool. The next day, blow off any loose ash and crush it into a powder. An alternative to that is simply buying it online — it’s available cheaply on Amazon in bulk.

STEP 2: Rinse Your Activated Charcoal

Before you filter water with activated charcoal, you need to rinse it off and let it dry first. This is because impurities on its surface could create additional risks to your health. The same steps should also be taken with a Brita filter before using it.

STEP 3; Create Your Filter Vessel

One way to make a survival charcoal water filter is to take a 2-liter plastic bottle and use a cloth to hold each filter layer afterward, or if you are skilled at bushcraft, make a cone out of birch bark.

Take notes

  • It takes time for dirty water to pass through a charcoal filter. For large groups, or if long-term survival is in question, buckets can be used as DIY filters.
  • The perfect shape for a charcoal filter is funnel-shaped, especially if you have limited amounts of activated charcoal available.

STEP 4: Gather Pre-filter Materials

You can make the filter with charcoal, but debris and scum can clog it. For this reason, make a layered filter.

In most cases, gravel and sand are used as pre-filter media. But most people use things like cotton balls, concrete, and pasta to filter fluids.

STEP 5: Layer Filter Media

Here is how to make a DIY water filter layers

  1. Tight-knit cloth or a coffee filter: The activated charcoal water filter can prevent any charcoal pieces from getting into the drinking water.
  2. Activated Charcoal: Activated charcoal is the most effective filter for absorbing chemical impurities from the water
  3. Sand: You can also use smashed-up pieces of brick for this.
  4. Small Pebbles: This will filter out larger pieces of debris that were missed by the previous layer.
  5. Large Pebbles: This particular layer catches larger pieces of debris in the water.

Some people prefer to put the layers in different orders. For example, they will use sand first, then pebbles, or repeat this same process.

STEP 6: Pour Water Into The Filter

Pour water into the cup at the top of the filter. This is called a gravity filter. The water will move through each layer. It will take some time, so be patient!

STEP 7: Kill Pathogens

However, activated charcoal does not absorb all impurities in the water. This can lead to gut-wrenching diarrhea and vomiting, which will cause dehydration and is potentially life-threatening.

For this reason, it’s important to further treat your water from the charcoal filter. Some options include:

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Why Is Activated Charcoal The Best Water Filter?

  • The good stuff stays
  • It actually makes your water taste better, the product filters out chlorine from your water, producing healthier, better-tasting water. Chlorine is used to create safe drinking water, however, we don’t need to drink the disinfectant.
  • It is inexpensive
  • It is also very easy to maintain

Open Questions On Activated Carbon Water Filter

How Long Does An Activated Charcoal Filter Last?

You should know how long an activated charcoal filter will last to prevent it from decreasing without you knowing. Some variance depends on the type of filter and you should always read the manufacturer’s instructions accompanying it. Most commercial activated charcoal filters will last anywhere from 2 to 6 months.

What is the difference between Activated Charcoal and Regular Charcoal?

High-grade activated charcoal is made of coconut shells and is treated more than other types of charcoal. Activated charcoal sounds better than regular charcoal because it is purer and more processed.

Since charcoal is typically used to burn as a fuel, it contains agents that make it function better. This means if you come in contact with the water near it, these agents would be harmful to your health.

Activated charcoal can be used as a natural remedy or ingredient. Like activated oxygen, it is processed with extreme heat and sometimes other chemicals. Activated Charcoal has the same surface area, about 6 football fields.


By following these simple steps, you can create a powerful and effective activated charcoal water filter without having to spend a lot of money. So what are you waiting for?

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