How to Filter Water Using Charcoal Sand and Gravel

Last Updated on October 15, 2021 by Michael

How to Filter Water Using Charcoal Sand and Gravel

Water is a must for everyone and most people are happy to just turn on the faucet and fill their glass with the pure liquid. However, there are times when you have to access clean drinking water, but it is not directly available. There is a need for a water filtration system.

Do you need a water filtration DIY system?

How to filter water using charcoal sand and gravel

When your nearby water source is a lake or a stream, your dire survival circumstances call you to consider a water filtration DIY system. It helps you stay hydrated and without any dirt. In developing countries building to lean water filtration system is a way of avoiding sickness. Besides, it helps in filtering out debris and removing contaminants.


You may create a water filtration system at home and educate your kids to acquire more knowledge about the need and importance to drink clean water.

It is an opportunity to understand that a water source appearing clean is not clean, what you see may be deceiving. Today, very little water that we use comes from the ground pure. There are impurities and the large ones can be removed using sand and rocks. However, it is important to know that a filter does not make water potable. Even filtered water may have pathogens.

The water filtration system type does not need any substantial investment. The sand and gravel are materials easily available and it filters mud. Charcoal is a crucial ingredient to remove stuff that you should not drink. Today, most traditional water filters contain charcoal.

But if you are skeptical about charcoal you can filter without charcoal. Read more


Read: Best Tankless Reverse Osmosis System Reviews


How Charcoal is made and its usefulness?

charcoalCharcoal is useful to trap impurities existing in the water. But creating charcoal is a must to absorb impurities and dust.  A substance such as bamboo, wood, coconut is burned to create char.

After burning the substance is heated at a high temperature and it is exposed to other gases. The process makes it porous and it transforms into activated charcoal. With activated charcoal, the substance binds easily with any other substance.

In this way, the charcoal gets to attracts any impurities or dust in the water.


Activated charcoal is exposed to water as it is non-toxic and it acts as a magnet to absorb dust, chlorine, iron, and other impurities.

The water on using activated charcoal is free from toxic and chemicals. Even placing a charcoal stick in your water pot is helpful.

You will notice within 4 to 6 hours, the stick will absorb all the impurities from water, thereby ensure pure and fresh drinking water. The activated charcoal does not interact in water with essential minerals, and so the essential minerals are retained in the water.


sandFiltering rainwater is possible by using charcoal, sand, and gravel. You can collect the water in a drum, make a hole at the bottom such that water can enter, but the gravel must not. Fill the drum bottom with gravel, add a layer of sand and have a tube of charcoal coming from the hole in the drum, keeping at the end a sock filter.

Ensure to have a pipe going from the water collector and pours into this drum top so that there is automatically filtered rainwater.

You can also have the tube featuring the charcoal and the sock into another tube to fill up a water drum as storage using a makeshift faucet and lid. In this way, you can also hook a sink to the storage drum up and ensure easy access to it in your house.


Charcoal is an ideal source for filtering water as it attracts impurities, ensuring to give clean, fresh, and pure water to drink. This filter is a natural purifier and even if there are charcoal traces, there is no harm to your body.


Things Required: How Does Gravel Sand and Charcoal Filter Water

Plastic water bottles of 2 liters in two numbers, fine sand 1.5 cups, coarse sand 1.5 cups, small stones or pebbles around 1 cup,  piece of cloth, charcoal in powder or small broken bits, clean tap water 1.5 liters, dirty water 1.5 liters, rubber band, ruler, kitchen knife, and coffee filter or cotton balls.


Let’s get started.


  1. Cut a Small Plastic Water Bottle Bottom. You can start with a plastic water bottle. It can be anything that you use at home. Cut half-inch such that you cut from the bottle bottom to the up.

Keep the neck of the bottle as the filter bottom and the opening you created is the top.  Keep the cap on the bottle top end. Some also make a hole in the cap of the bottle using a screwdriver for this type of filtration system.


  1. Insert a Cloth Filter. You may stuff a soft filter within the bottle such that you push it towards the neck of the bottle. A bandana is appropriate as a filter. If not, you may use a coffee filter or any of the cotton balls.


  1. Rinse Filtering Materials. It is a must to rinse the bottle very well before you add substances that will act as filters in the bottle. After thorough rinsing, pass the water portion and it will have less debris than using unwashed filtering materials. There are traditional methods for water filtering. However, you can rely on the membranes of special kinds known as PTFE. It is a polymer-made membrane. It is useful for DIY as a water filtering system. Using natural materials such as gravel and sand or small rocks is useful. Nevertheless, rinsing off filtering materials is crucial to have a clean water filter.


  1. Prepare Charcoal. You may get a cloth piece to spread out on the charcoal. A good source is when you get the charcoal from a fire pit or a grill. Make sure you break it into small chunks. The charcoal should be crushed if required. You can use any large object. Once the charcoal is available in the desired size, you can wrap the cloth tightly around the substance. Finally, you may slide against the cloth piece placed first into the bottle.


As the mechanism is ready, you may use the stone and crush the charcoal before placing it into the funnel. After that, you can pack grass or sand on the charcoal top and it will help the process of filtering. Eventually, pouring the lake or groundwater into the funnel will ascertain the water filters down slowly into the container.


  1. Add Playground Sand. A DIY water filtration system is about adding gravel to ensure purification. The finest material is the first to start and you can add layers progressively as coarser stuff. Put directly the playground sand on the charcoal layer top. You need not wrap it in any cloth before pouring it into the bottle but must cover the cloth fully.


  1. Put in Paver Sand. There is a need for paver sand and it is also known as polymeric sand. It comprises the next layer. As you run it through your hands, you can feel small stones and this is not found in the playground sand.


  1. Add Small Rocks or the Gravel. The two final layers of the filter are fine and coarser gravel. Relying on the area you live in, you may find it naturally, and if not, find it in nature. The plastic bottle’s modest diameter is that you need a few handfuls so that it equals an inch or two as coverage.


The homemade water filter or the water filtering process using charcoal, sand, and gravel in each layer has a purpose. The small stones or gravel help in filtering out sediments larger such as insects or leaves. However, the sand used in water filtering helps in removing fine impurities. Finally, charcoal helps in removing impurities and contaminants through chemical absorption.


  1. Secure the Contents. Add everything you require to the filtration system. Thus, you can assure your hard work does not go to waste. You can get another cloth piece and stretch it tightly over the bottle bottom. Keep in place the soft material using a cable tie or a rubber band.


  1. Pass the Water using the Filter. If you are ready to see the results of your work, you can see them now. Keep the filter over a cup and remove the cap off. On top of it, pour water to pass through the filter, and wait to come through the neck of the bottle to reach into the cup. It is a portable water filter type that is good if you plan backpacking.


  1. Easy way of filtering water at home. These are the steps demonstrating the way to filter water at home. It is not challenging, but bear in mind, you must use tablets for water purification to make the water potable.



You may use play sand or beach sand for the fine sand. Using aquarium rocks is the best choice for the rocks. For cleaner water add carbon or charcoal one layer on top or above the fine sand.



Carefully cut the bottles, and if essential, seek adult supervision.

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