Fun with Buckets: The Homemade Water Purifier

A while back I picked up a couple of Black Berkey purification elements. The plan was to build a simple five gallon water purification unit out of plastic buckets. I saw this link a couple of years ago on a preparedness site. Then Creekmore posted it on his blog at the beginning of the week. Thanks for reminding me to get off my butt and get this done M.D.

This was the easiest project that I've undertaken in a long time. You could literally build one of these with a sharp pocket knife as long as you have the rest of the materials. The Berkey filters come with a gasket and everything else that you need to screw them down. They cost $99 a pair at Our Happy Homestead which is pretty cheap insurance if you ask me. They're the same price everywhere so take advantage of Our Happy Homestead's free shipping on orders over $99. For the bottom bucket with the spigot I used an ale pale. It's a five gallon bucket with a spigot installed on the front that you can get at most homebrew supply stores for around $10 or $15. The above link explains how to make one yourself, though. Just get a spigot with a rubber gasket, drill a hole in the front of a bucket near the bottom and install. For the top bucket I used a six gallon bucket since the charcoal filters displace some water. Drill two half inch holes in the lid of your ale pale and two half inch holes in the bottom of the top bucket. Make sure that they line up properly and screw down the filters. Put everything together, add water and wait for gravity to do it's thing.

I filled it up yesterday morning. By last night about half of the water from the top bucket had filtered through. Keep the top bucket full if you want it to filter faster. I haven't tasted the filtered water yet but I've heard that it tastes like distilled water. If you're using dirty water make sure you filter it through a tshirt or something so that the filter elements don't clog up too quickly. Just take everything apart and give the filters a good scrub if the flow slows down too much. I plan on taking it camping this summer. I'll definitely share my results with natural water sources.

This thing takes up a lot of space. Because it's so easy to make my advice would be to keep everything on hand but don't bother building it until you need it. Just keep the filters stashed somewhere. If you don't need the "ale pale" then keep your spigot with the filters. Use the buckets for other things until you really need to put everything together. To speed up the filtration process there's plenty of room for at least two more filters. If filtering a lot of water is important to you then going with four filters would be a good idea. Obviously, having spares is a good idea, too. You never know when unexpected guests that you decide wouldn't be so bad to have around might show up during a disaster.

If you don't want to go through the hassle of building your own water purifier or you want something that's more durable and easier to keep clean then you could always go with a metal Berkey purifier. They range in size from the Go Berkey kit which uses one filter and filters a couple of cups of water at a time to the Crown Berkey which is almost as big as the five gallon bucket purifier that I just built. They also make the Berkey Light. No matter what solution you settle on having a means to purify water is a must. The Hiker Pro in your BOB may be a great short term solution but it won't cut it if you need to use it for an extended amount of time.


I decided to take some pictures and measurements of the full unit. It's 12" in diameter (WOAH the diameter of a standard bucket!) and 35" tall. The water tastes like clean water. I didn't think that it tastes like distilled water at all. There is still some water at the bottom of the top bucket as expected. It won't filter all the way to the bottom of the top bucket because of the bases on the purification elements. I'd say that it took a full day to filter the entire top bucket. I'll pay closer attention next time I try it. Here are a couple of pics.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Image and video hosting by TinyPic


Prepper Man said…
Great useful post. Storage is always at a premium so I like items that can be kept disassembled.
Melissa said…
Water is definitely an important part of our preparations. Hubby is trying to hook up the gutters to some of these drums in the garden. That way we can store more and have some water for drinking and growing food too. He is having trouble though finding the parts to make the connections... Anyway the plan is to have water storage outside since we live in a manufactured home and the floors may not hold the weight of 4 or more of these drums. Sorry no basements here in Texas. We got some water filters from They were only about $70 and will filter 1 million gallons.
Anonymous said…
Make sure that he runs the condensate line from the AC into your buckets. There in Texas in the summer we may not get much (or any!) rain, but the air is humid and the AC units pump out gallons of cold clean water.
Air Purifier said…
Air conditioners feature effective, air-purifying filtration systems to reduce bacteria, dust, particularly benefitting those who suffer from allergies and respiratory problems. Our Air Purifier business is one of them.
Azfireandice has been recognized for their quality of service. Whether you need to service or repair your current air conditioner or to purchase a new air conditioning unit, Air Conditioning Service Phoenix is one of the best service provider for you.
Manuel Long said…
Water is definitely a significant part of our life because water is life so better keep drinking clean water and would suggest to find the best water filters to be safe.
Elia Lester said…
This is very resourceful! I hope it does work as well as a manufactured one. I’m sure it would save a lot of money if it did. I wish you posted pictures of the steps so that it would be easier to follow also.

Elia Lester
Nadia Brightman said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Good deal thanks! Words and thoughts like that are poison and could lead you to rely on someone else who could poison you, through your water. Not like its never happened before right ? @Micheal.
Derek Sharpie said…
Great post!
Berkey water filter works very well. I always use this, at home or outside during a camping trip or long vacation somewhere else. I love using it at river and spring waters. And it tastes good also unlike the other purifiers that makes the water tastes odd.
Hannah Tess said…
very resourceful.
i use reverse osmosis for my home water system. it can remove contaminants such as arsenic, nitrates, sodium, copper and lead.
Jason Forest said…
now that a lot of people suffers from different diseases they got from unfiltered water, it is really important to have a water purification system at home. thanks for sharing this wonderful blog post
laura smith said…
Hey,You can utilize an earthenware filter on the end of a tube vast enough to fit over the filter's outlet,begin a siphon and permit the water to siphon from one container to the next.Utilized this system for a considerable length of time as a part of Africa.BTW,the filter can be turned up side down (iow the outlet indicating up) and it works fine. As the quantity of DHm required expands,more filters can be included each with its own particular tube.Thank you.
new type of water purificationhere
Water is essential for health, hygiene and the productivity of our

community. water treatment process may vary on the water

condition that you have in your area. its better to invest on a

good water treatment. it will benefit you by providing safety to

you and your family.
Sam Jones said…
Another brilliant idea to look forward to! I've been reading about this DIY system and only here did I read about the t-shirt thing. Most articles only tell you to pour water right into the buckets. Thanks for a good tip!

Popular posts from this blog

Some Self Defense Basics

Stopped by the gardening store today