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Thursday, May 29, 2008

DIY Water Filter / Purifier

Well, a very nice reader left a comment on my blog, he gave me a website that has a water filter/purifier that can be made at home it' s easy, no difficult instructions, no impossible parts to purchase, it is a very simple system using only 4 parts, yes, 4 parts! I'll post the instructions here, and I'll give the link to the site where you can get the PDF download, I highly recommend it!


I love my Berkey water purifier, and if I had it to do over again today, I would still buy it, but I do plan on using one (or more!) of these homemade water filters too.


By carefully following these instructions you will be able to

· Drink clear, safe, good-tasting water,
· Improve your family’s health,
· Reduce expenses, and
· Save time.

1. Parts of the Filter

(added by Wretha-I assume they are talking about an unglazed ceramic pot, glazed pots are water proof and the water would not flow through)

2. Take Care to Avoid Cracks

Handle the ceramic pot carefully to avoid breakage or cracking. Small invisible cracks may allow microorganisms to pass through the filter, making the water unsafe to drink.
If a ceramic pot full of water takes less than 3 hours to empty, the flow rate is too fast and the ceramic pot should be replaced.

3. Before Using the Filter for the First Time

Soak the ceramic pot in clear water (rain or tubewell water) for 12 hours


Fill the ceramic pot three times, allow the water to seep through, and discard the filtered water.

Doing one of the above two steps will flush the clay smell and color from the ceramic pot. You only need to do one of the above steps, it is not necessary to do both.

Lastly, clean the receptacle tank and spigot with soapy water. DO NOT use soap to clean the ceramic vessel.

4. Daily Use

Put the filter in a safe place where it will not get knocked over and secure it to the wall or a post.

If the water source is very dirty, tie a piece of cloth over the top of the filter to strain out the dirt and debris.

The filter will flow faster when the ceramic pot is full, so fill it often.

Keep the lid closed to prevent dust and mosquitoes from entering.

5. Cleaning the Filter

The ceramic pot should be cleaned once per month or when the flow rate begins to slow down.

– Clean the inside surface of the lid with soapy water and let it dry.
Place the lid on a level surface with the clean side facing up.

– Carefully lift the ceramic pot out of the receptacle and set it on the lid. Touch only the rim when lifting the ceramic pot.

Do not touch the outside of the ceramic pot with dirty hands and do not set it on an unclean surface.

– Scrub the inside of the ceramic pot with a cloth or soft brush and rinse with clear water.
Do not use soap to clean the ceramic pot.

– Clean the receptacle tank and spigot with soapy water. Put the ceramic pot back into the receptacle tank immediately after cleaning to prevent recontamination. The pot does not have to be dried after cleaning.

6. Good Hygiene

It is important to practice good hygiene to ensure that the water that leaves the filter clean stays clean.

– Do not touch the outside of the ceramic pot, the inside of the receptacle, or the spigot opening with dirty hands.

– Place the filter up off the ground in a clean and tidy place.

– Wash hands and drinking glasses often with soap and water.

7. Effective Life of the Filter The ceramic filter pot should be replaced when any of the following occurs:

· The filter becomes cracked
· The filter flow rate is too slow and scrubbing no longer causes it to increase, or
· The filter has been used for three years.

House 22, Street 592, Toul Kork, Phnom Penh
Tel: 023 880 604 Fax: 023 880 059

Water from the Rabbit Water Purifier has been tested by the Ministry of Health and meets World Health Organization guidelines for clean drinking water


  1. Thanks so much for this post, I love simple things that REALLY work. I will be gathering the supplies tommorrow to make this handy water filter. Once again, thanks.


  2. Hey Chris, let me know how it goes! I have been looking on line for unglazed ceramic pots, I haven't been able to find anything suitable, if you can find something, would you let me know what it is, where you found it and the price, thanks!


  3. Wretha, I found one online at Lowes. http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?action=productDetail&productId=94452-303-671984

    Hope this link works for you. I am pretty sure it is unglazed, will know for sure tommorrow when I go to lowes, wasn't able to get there today. Too many weeds in the garden. I'll let you know for sure.

  4. Wretha, the pot from Lowes is unglazed, got one today. Was unable to find a bucket the right size so, I guess I'm on hold again.


  5. Scavenger, does this pot have a hole in it or is it solid in the bottom?

    Thanks so much for the info! :)


  6. The pot has a hole in the bottom but I think I can plug it up with something. Still thinking on that. Hope to get to town in a day or 2 to find a bucket that it will fit in. Gas is just to high to make trips without having several things to do at the same time. I'll let you know what I find.


  7. Scavenger, if you could find something (safe and waterproof)to go across the hole, you could "glue" it using silicone, if you do use silicone, be sure, make super super sure that it is pure silicone, do NOT use the kind that kills molds and mildews, that silicone contains cyanide (don't ask how I know that, let's just say, fish tank, dead fish...)


  8. Bustednuckles,

    That sounds good, whatever you use, it would need to be sealed, you would not want the water to be able to leak around it even the tiniest bit, pure silicone would work to seal it.


  9. Thanks for that info Wretha, I have been searching for some time now for something simple yet effective.

    BTW...love the blog.


  10. Hi Wretha; I bought a big unglazed clay pot from Walmart and plugged the hole with a rubber stopper from a health food/homebrew supply store, then set the pot in a 5 gallon food grade bucket and poured water in. It takes a week to seep through. I think that's just too slow.
    The people building such filters for African tribes add chopped straw to the clay mix to make it more porous.

  11. Thanks Molly, I appreciate your nice comment! :)

    Tracy, how thick is the pot? I assume it was a standard size and thickness... Did you soak it first or do the other step to clean and flush it? Maybe soaking it would help the water flow through faster??? I have a friend who does ceramic sculptures and pottery, I'll try to ask her about possibly making a pot for me to try, they need a water filter too, maybe we could work on something together....


  12. Tracy, another question, how big is the pot? I do know that the more water you can put in it, the more water pressure and the faster the water would come though, that is true for my Berkey Light water purifier, when I fill it completely up, it goes lots faster, as the water level goes down, the water dripping through slows, if it had a small reservoir on top, I know it would take forever...

    Just some thoughts...


  13. I'm a little concerned that people are trying to buy clay pots from Walmart and Lowes and use them. You can't do that. You need to have a special clay pot for water filters. This is made by adding some organic material like coffee grounds or ground rice stalks in asia. This organic matter burns off when the pot is placed in the kiln leaving tiny holes. The pots are then coated with silver nitrate that kills bacteria they should filter water at a rate of 1.5 to 2.5 liters per hour.

    There are some sites on the internet that gives you direction on how to make your own.

    Please see the wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clay_pot_filter

  14. Yeah, we figured that out, read my latest on this subject

    I found a method for making the terracotta clay pots without having to use a kiln.

    Thanks for the link. :)

  15. Have you ever tried a slow sand filter / biosand filter?

    They are easy to build and can last years if maintained occasionally.

  16. Great links Icarus, it's great to have so many different ways and alternatives to filter and purify water. :)


  17. How does this do to get out pharmaceutical and choline/other chemicals? I see it lists pathogens, but Chlorine (in the city) and pesticides/herbicides is a big problem as well. Thanks!

  18. Please folks, read the Potters for Peace website. These clay pots need to be coated in colliodal silver to be effective. The silver is the anti-microbial.

  19. My son Jake is trying to use domestic clay pot (Lowes or Walmart) for same water filter to prove the system is viable for hurricane prone areas (Bahamas, Puerto Rico as an example) and can be made in an emergency from items "found around the house".
    This is a 5th grade science project - We live in Brevard County.
    We have processed maybe 4 gallons of water over 48 hours with gravity only.
    That's ok but not a viable resource for filtering water to sustain a family of 5 until we can get back "to normal" after a hurricane. Our goal was 1 gallon per person per day.
    We have tested our systems with very dirty standing water to expose any flaws and we have learned a great deal. We are using rain water/ moving water for our final tests. The flow through the domestic clay pot is our limiting factor at this point.
    We had hoped for filtering volume at a more sustainable flow. We thought that the tight seal between the clay pot and support bucket and receptacle bucket was preventing water filtering so added a metal straw to equalize any vacuum or suction working against the gravity. No real change.

    If the commercial pots are too fine and the preferred pots have baked in voids to increase porosity, wouldn't the sand only do a better job (volume wise)? And then chemical purification (bleach 1/4 tsp / 5 gallons be preferred? Therefore wouldn't a cheese cloth/tight fabrick plug be preferred and negate the ceramic filter action anyway? I admit I like the "romance" of the ceramic pot rather than plastic - but it seems we've made them so flawless they fail this application.

    I could check and see if I can find a specialty garden store that carries more rustic fired pots with no glaze but that's not something most people would have around the house... We are trying to do this with "found" items.
    Any suggestions are appreciated.


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