Sunday, July 13, 2014

DIY Tripod Water Filter

DIY Tripod Water Filter:
Aside from air to breath, some kind of body temperature control and predator control a lack of good drinking water will kill you quick. An ample supply of clean water is needed if you want to thrive in a woodland environment or any environment for that matter for any length of time. While this filter isn't going to filter harsh chemicals, it will filter the nastiest water you can find and make it clear to boil for further disinfection (If you smell a chemical spill you may need to try a distillation method to purify your water then filter and possibly reboil).

When you are done this is how the process should look:
To start building your water filter you will need a tripod to act as the base/attachment point of your filter (Click HERE to learn how to build a tripod). Once you have the tripod lashed you will need the following items to complete your DIY water Filter: 1) Three large pieces of 100% cotton; 2) 30-50' of Cordage; 3) a 1' x 1' x 6" of green material (fern is great, pine works OK but changes the taste of the water a bit.... basically anything with a ton of surface area that isn't poisonous); 4) Sand (you can do a course and fine level is you so desire but generally isn't needed; 5) Charcoal from you fire from the previous night or make some while building the tripod; 6) a large metal container to collect and boil the water post-filtration; and 7) fire to boil water. 
 Step 1) Secure your top level of cotton to all three legs of the tripod and ensure it is able to support you load. To secure the green foliage material I always just three knots near the top of the tripod to speed up the building process. 
Step 2) Add a few rocks to the bottom of the pile of green material to make the water filter to a single low point in the cotton material and then recover with green material.
Step 3) Add sand (thicker grain sand seems to help the best) to another piece of cotton no more than 6" below the bottom of your top layer (to prevent splashing out into you clean water below). If you are unable to find sand standard dirt will work but I usually try to take the grass, top soil and the layer below topsoil as one large hunk as it seems to work better than just loose dirt if you can't find sand. To secure this level I usually tie one leg and then secure the other two legs by wrapping a stone in the cotton material twisting and then securing it to the tripod leg.
Step 4) Layer three will be your charcoal layer. You want chunks no bigger than your thumb in circumference along with finely ground charcoal near the bottom of the pile, be liberal with the amount of finely charcoal. Also add a few smaller rocks as you did in step two to this level to help the water settle to one point. To secure this layer you will need to use a rock wrapped in cotton twist the rock 4 times and secure with cordage to each tripod leg.
Step 5: SLOWLY pour ~1 gallon of water through the filter to ensure your final product will be clear (this step is to clean you charcoal and does not need to be repeated after the initial time). Be sure to pour slow so that you don't over flow your filter and lose material and water out the side. If you have limited water you can pour the water through the filter and then recollect the same water at the bottom to reprocess. 
Step 6: Obtain water from a source (this was our water for demonstration purposes as I wanted the nastiest looking water from a stagnate source I could find).
Step 7: SLOWLY pour water into the top level of your filter (once again give it time to process through the layers (sand should be where it takes the longest to get through). So once you begin to see water drop from the 2nd level to the 3rd you can add more water to the filter.
Step 8: You should then have a solid stream coming out the bottom of the 3rd level which you can collect in your metal container below to boil.
 Step 9: A full overview of how the filter looks when functioning fully
 Step 10: Filtered water should be preheating as it filters unless water is at a minimum then save the filtered water until filtration is complete and you can avoid boiling off much water.
Step 11: Cover the container once a sufficient amount of water has been filtered and allow it to come to a boil (if taste is still an issue throw in a few pine needles to help with the taste and to add nutrition (See HERE for how to make pine needle tea)
Step 12: Final product completely clear water ready to consume..... or cook with!
Step 13: 72 hours later, three glasses of tea and one pack of shrimp Ramen noodles and I'm still here to report the results without any issues.


  1. Excellent directions, thank you!

  2. gustafsonhobbyfarmJanuary 18, 2015 at 9:12 PM

    Thanks for sharing this ......

  3. It's a very creative method. Thanks for share this amazing tut.

  4. This filtration method is so cool. If we cannot access a water filter, this method is useful.

  5. I enjoyed reading your work. I'll come back for more

    Keep up the good work :) from CWR

  6. I never knew you could do this. A man made filtration system. The interesting thing is filters that are mass produced today came from these concepts from history. Great Post