DIY Water Filter – Update (Edited-More Info Added)

WooHoo I scored!!! I found the original author/creator’s PDF that shows in detail, including pix, how to make the water filter using terracotta clay. Here is the link to the download:, rightclick the link and download it:


I should get paid for researching on the internet… I don’t know how I do it, but I almost always seem to find what I am looking for, sometimes it happens like this time, while looking for something else, I run across something that I have been previously trying to find. Today, while looking up another person who writes on off-grid subjects, one of her articles turned out to be exactly what I have been looking for, a way to make your own terracotta pot for a water filter, this has an actual recipe for the clay, you don’t need a kiln (a MAJOR plus!) and I believe most people would be able to do this. Here is the article, it can be found here https://off-grid.net/2008/06/19/cheap-water-filter-for-everyone/
check it out!

Cheap Water Filter for Everyone

 — by Kelly Mead @ 19 Jun 2008

The Australian National University (ANU) scientist Tony Flynn has developed a process to create water filters from commonly available materials. The materials need to also be fired, which can be done without a kiln or other western technology, by using common manure.
An estimated 80% of all sickness in this world can be attributed to unsafe water and sanitation according to the World Health Organization (WHO). That can be seen in the annual 1.5 billion episodes of diarrhea in children under the age of 5, with about four million of those being fatal.
Since historically water filters have had to be imported to developing nations, which means increased cost and reduced availability for the populace. With the new filter design made from common place materials available in even the most remote places.
“These filters are a hollow ceramic vessel filled with charcoal. They are intended to filter out suspended silt and bacteria. However, at around $US5 each, they’re too expensive for individuals in many developing communities to consider purchasing,” stated Mr Flynn. “They are very simple to explain and demonstrate and can be made by anyone, anywhere. They don’t require any Western technology. All you need is terracotta clay, some used coffee grounds or tea leaves, a compliant cow and a match,” Mr Flynn continued “Everyone has a right to clean water, these filters have the potential to enable anyone in the world to drink water safely.”
Filter production is simple:
  • A handful of crushed dry clay
  • A handful of common organic material, such as coffee grounds, rice hulls, or used tea leaves
  • Add water, just enough to make a stiff biscuit dough like mixture
  • Shape into a cylinder shaped pot closed on one end
  • Dry it in sun
  • Place dried filter on a layer of dry manure, a little straw, dead leaves or shredded bark
  • Add two more layers of manure mixture on top
  • Light the straw, dead leaves, or shredder bark
  • Keep fire going until pot is completely cured (less than an hour in most cases, as different materials will mean different times)
Since using a potters kiln can take up to eight to nine hours to achieve the temperatures needed, which can be achieved using this method in a hour or less. Also with the expensive of such a kiln being prohibitive to most people, this is an excellent method anyone can make use of. Especially since no additional technology, or added insulation is needed being able to drink safe, filtered water water in almost any location on the planet. As long as water, manure, red/yellow clay and human organic debris you can make a filter that traps pathogens.
This design is purposely not being patented in a hope that it can be freely used around the world. Their belief that even third world countries should have the ability to have clean safe drinking water.
When the organic material is burned away inside the clay during the firing process it will leave cavities that can trap pathogens in the water. It is based on the basic principal that these cavities are big enough for water to pass through while being too narrow for the dangerous pathogens and the fine materials that make water muddy and unpleasant. Testing was done with E-coli bacterium and saw the filter remove 96.4% to 99.8% of the pathogen, which is well within the recommended safe levels.
This invention came from the a World Vision project that involved the community of Manatuto, in East Timor. This project was to rehabilitate a small community of potters that was devastated in the East Timor’s civil war for Independence. It was hoped that by helping the potters to produce filters would help in two ways; one give the community clean drinking water and two provide a means of revenue for the community by producing and selling them.
Using one filter it was found to produce a liter of clean water in two hours.

It seems that the terra cotta pots available in the US are not porous enough to allow enough water to drip through, the terra cotta pots need to have some sort of fine/small additive that burns out while being fired to make super small passages for the water to get though but still trap the nasty stuff we don’t want to drink.

I hope this is something that can be easily done, I plan on taking this “recipe” to my potter friend, hopefully we will be able to start working on a water filter soon. :)

Thanks Kelly Mead for your great article, and thanks to https://s414578325.websitehome.co.uk
for doing such great work!

Be sure to read these other 2 messages if you haven’t already:



Here is another article, with a few more details and pictures
here is the direct link https://info.anu.edu.au/mac/Newsletters_and_Journals/ANU_Reporter/098PP_2005/_004PP_Autumn/_water.asp

Here is the direct link for the following article: https://www.abc.net.au/catalyst/stories/s1381331.htm

More links with different pix and more info:






12 Responses

  1. Rook
    Bob is doing pretty well, we are in our rainy season right now so we are already getting lots of rain, I don’t know if we will get more from Ike, if we do, we will just hunker down and wait for it to pass. :) Thanks for asking!


  2. Rook
    I don’t know if you can reuse the clay in an already made terracotta pot, it’s been fired and that changes it’s composition. You can try going to a craft store and getting terracotta clay (if it’s wet, follow the directions and let it dry, then grind it up), if you can’t find it at a craft store, do you have a college nearby? You could contact them to find out where they get their pottery supplies.

    Good luck,

  3. Wretha – Great post. I do have a couple of questions. What if you don’t have the red clay in your area, what can you use? Could I get some terracotta clay flower pots and they work the same? Inquiring minds wants to know. How is the Mountain man Bob doing? I will keep you guys in prayer in case you get all that rain.


  4. Tracy
    I’m sure at that rate, the water must have been pristine! LOL I suppose if you didn’t die of thirst before hand… Thanks for the update on your trial with the terracotta pot. I had thought about using 2 five gallon water containers, the kind you get for the water dispensers in offices and such, kinda translucent blue, goes glub glub glub… if you get 2 of those, and cut the tops off of them, make them look like the Berkey Light units, you could drill a hole, or as many holes as you have filter units in the bottom of one (that being the top part), then drill a hole in the bottom unit for a spigot, you would need to find something to put on the top unit to cover it and protect the water and your filters. I think that would work just like the Berkey Light units, even better because you would have 5 gallons of water instead of just a couple of gallons. Just a thought… Let me know what you try. :)


  5. Oops! I just realized that I never responded to your questions on the other post! Sorry.
    The pot I used was a 12″ standard unglazed clay pot from Walmart. I did presoak it, and it took about a week to get a usable quantity of water. I did not, however, keep adding water to keep the pressure up. I need to try that; but I’ve about decided to just buy a Berkey element and use it with a double-bucket arrangement.

  6. Nancy
    Thanks, I have gotten so much great information from people who share, it’s my pleasure to continue sharing the love! :)

    Let me know if your sister makes one for you and how it works.


  7. Thanks for posting this info. I’m keeping it myself, and also passed it on to my sister, who’s a potter. It turns out she heard about it a few years ago, but didn’t follow up at the time, so now she’s doubly grateful. I’m hoping she’ll make me one. ;)

    Keep up the good work. You’re living like I’ve wanted to for years, and hope to someday. Thanks for talking about your experiences and keeping this blog.


  8. It makes me want to dig my fingers in some clay right now!lol Not sure where I can find dried clay, have looked in several local craft stores for other clays, but it is not carried by them. Will be on my list for my next trip to Portland! Thanks for the great info.

  9. This is good news! I will have to look into this some more as our water is getting worse as the days go by. Thank you very much. You would not happen to have the url to this study or article ?

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