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Can we really overstate the importance of water? There is nothing we put in our bodies, not medicine, not food, not vitamins, as imperative to living as is water. A body can go without food for more than three weeks, but try to make it a week without water and it’s over. It’s no great surprise, as we are mostly made of water, about 60 percent of us.

While there are many ways we get water into our bodies, including drinking juices and eating certain foods, the undisputed best way is to drink a glass of the good stuff, straight. If only life were so simple, right?

Tap water may be the most readily available source of water to most people, but many are concerned about things like heavy metals or other contaminants that may sneak into the tap. In an attempt to avoid this, some people opt for bottled water. However, not only have studies found that some bottled water comes from the same place as tap water but the sheer volume of waste created by water bottle trash is not ideal either.

But, there is a better way: Water filtration.

Most people are familiar with water filtration from the large-scale operations we use to handle sanitation for cities and suburbs, but this isn’t the only way to get clean water at home. Recent evidence — just ask the folks in Flint — suggests that our water companies aren’t super reliable in that department anymore, either. No worries: It’s possible, nay simple, to make a water filter of your very own right at home. And, with the following easy instructions, a puddle can turn into a perfectly respectable glass of purified water.

The DIY Material List

For a basic yet highly effective version of a water filter, there are only a few materials necessary. The filter itself will be created with gravel, sand, and activated (activated is key here) charcoal. The gravel catches the big stuff, the sand catches the rest of the particulate matter, and ultimately the activated charcoal works out the situation on the micro-level. The water won’t be completely pathogen-free, but it will be clean enough to drink safely.

The rest of the materials are simply the things needed to contain the water and filtering materials. This boils down to two buckets made from food-grade plastic (or better yet a glass or ceramic system), a little screening, a rubber band (or O-ring), and few plumbing fittings to create a water spout. Then, with just a run-of-the-mill household tool kit, a homemade water filter is well within grasp.

How to Build a Filter

Building the filter is simple enough for even the most novice of DIYers. Drill a hole (a hole saw fits into a typical drill) in the bottom of one bucket and into the lid of the other. Be sure to match the size of the plumbing fittings. The idea is to stack and connect for water to flow through the fitting, so the holes need to be properly lined up.

Next, cut another hole in at the bottom rim of the bottom bucket, where a food-grade water spigot (available easily online) can be installed. Put in the spigot, connect the lid of the bottom bucket to the bottom of the top one, and stack the two buckets. Cover the plumbing fixtures connecting the two buckets with a screen to prevent the filtering materials from dripping down with the drinking water,  and secure it by a rubber band or O-ring,.

Measure the top bucket into quarter sections. The bottom section should be the activated charcoal, cover over with a section of sand, and then gravel. The remaining section is for the water. Gravity will handle the filtering when water is poured into the top bucket. Water bottles or cups can be filled from the spigot at the base of the bottom bucket.

Check out the video below for instructions to make a smaller version with water bottles:

Source: MakerBoat

A Little More for Good Measure

While some people are perfectly content drinking water that has gone through this filter, for those still in doubt, there are two relatively easy routes to follow for further purification. One is solar, and the other heating. Simply putting the filtered water into a clear glass (or safe plastic container) in the sun for a few hours would help with any remaining pathogens, or there is always boiling the water before using it.

Note: If you live in an area where water quality is an issue, you should use your discretion and added precautions when using this method. No filter comes with a real water purity guarantee, and it might not protect against certain pathogens/bacteria.

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Lead image source: Vladimer Shioshvili/Flickr