Use Coffee Filters to extend the life of your Water Filtration System

Coffee Filter

Water Filtration Systems have a set lifespan. After a while the filters just get worn out. You can use coffee filters to extend the life of your water filter.

Zack and I did a quick demonstration of this system in Mason jars to show how effective it can be. (Click for larger pictures)

Pre-filtering water through coffee filters removes all of the larger debris and a lot of dirt too. This can go a long way towards extending the life of your water filter because it doesn’t have to work nearly as hard.

Not to mention coffee filters are small and light enough for your Bug Out Bag

Dirty Water

Dirty Water

Dirty Water

Standing rain water from outside the house. We added some dirt to emphasize the effects. In a survival situation you may have to rely on whatever water you can find and chances are in won’t be very clean.

Coffee Filter

Filtering

Filtering

The easiest way to get water to drain through the water filter was to push it down into the container and let gravity do it’s thing. It takes a few seconds for the water to drain.

Coffee Filter Results

Results

Results

Here is a before and after shot of the coffee filtered water that is ready to put through your water purification system.

Filters

Coffee Filter Leftovers

Leftovers

We only used regular old coffee filters for this, but I poked around and found these Micro-Filters that are for espresso makers.

The description says: “The Micro-filter removes grit, unlike other press-type coffee makers” So I am assuming the filter is even more fine.

It might take longer for the water to work through, but they could be that much better for filtering out tiny grains of dirt. Find them here on Amazon: Micro Coffee Filters.

If a reader wants to test them please let me know and we’ll publish your results.

Save your Bottles

In a survival situation you might only have a few bottles. Don’t contaminate them with dirty water. Use a collapsible bucket to collect water, then coffee filter, then really filter. 6 Great Uses for a Backpacking Bucket

Check out our new Survival Store – Forge Survival Supply


{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

aj52 June 22, 2010 at 5:02 pm

My Mr. Coffee came with a fine wire mesh permanent filter It is supported by a plastic frame. I am sure I have seen these sold seperately at Wal Mart. It could be carried and protected in a pack by placing it a Tupperware and the void space in the filter could be used to nestle other items so as to not waste space.

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Lucas_SurvCache June 25, 2010 at 7:27 am

aj,

That sounds pretty cool, like a permanent reusable filter. I wonder if the mesh is really as fine as a paper filter though? or if it even matters?

If you give the pre-filter system a try with it let me know how it works out.

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guest October 5, 2010 at 3:48 pm

The permanent filters don't strain out as much as the paper filters but using both together can have positive results. Filter through the permanent filter then the paper filter as sort of a two stage filtration system. Drink the result through your filter straw.

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Kevinthenurse August 27, 2010 at 4:42 pm

I want to throw my "worst case scenario" butt-saver out there. All survivors know the "RULE of 3's". In the worst case where all you can get is water (no food what so ever) You can still have an edge! I call this edge my "lyte-paks". I make these with this formula: 7 potassium tablet/ 3.5 teaspoon salt/ 7 Tablespoon sugar. This will suffice for a weeks worth of 1-day supplies. I crush the tabs and mix it all together (this will make a 7 day electrolyte supply). I divide it out into 7 equal parts, then vac-seal. In an emergency where you cant get food, you can dump 1 of these per day in drinking water and replace vital supplements or just eat it dry. You can drink all the water you want but without the sodium and potassium the muscles will quickly get fatigued. After a few days without food and electrolytes you mental capacity, heart, an other muscles will be effected. Its the poor mans gator-aid. REMEMBER the brain runs on sugars, but the muscles/heart MUST have sodium and potassium for electrical function.

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bostonsurvival December 5, 2010 at 6:30 pm

Just picked up a 100-pack of Melitta filters for about 3 bucks from the store, talk about a cheap and light thing that could really be useful!

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Starydog December 31, 2010 at 9:07 am

My two cents worth on this subject, I have a PUR Scout model filter, used it for years backpacking and love it. I have had great success with the coffee filters as a "pre-filter" on the pick up tube end. Small 4 cup sized Mr Coffee filters doubled and a rubber band, and nice clean drinking water is provided. Yes, the scout is slow with the added chemical filter section attached, but I have not had a single issue with water related discomfort. The only real maintenance I've had besides cleaning was replacing the orings after a couple years use. Weighs about as much as a standard bottle of Ozarka.

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ruger110 January 3, 2011 at 2:26 am

I've heard that dust masks work well for filtering sediment out of water too.

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jarhead03 February 18, 2011 at 8:20 pm

I have used dust masks and they work better than the coffee filter and hold up better when pouring water but they aren’t as cheap as the coffee filters. I keep 5 dust masks in my BOB for the vehicle and a box of 20 in the home BOB as well as the coffee filters.

The coffee filters work well, cheap and for the cost you can’t beat its ability to be packed and not take up the room. I may try both together and see if changes anything in the results.

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ruger110 January 3, 2011 at 2:26 am

I've heard that dust masks work well for filtering sediment out of water too.

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Nurseryman75 January 19, 2011 at 10:58 am

I'm looking into buying 2 water filtration units. One smaller, lighter one for my BOB and one to keep around for a base camp filter in case I'm able to return home but local water sources may be contaminated. I'm finding it difficult to determine which ones are the best. Anyone with experience using them have any feedback?

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Red February 6, 2011 at 6:02 pm

I enjoyed the article. Given what you stated, I would set up a double coffee filter system, standard filter on top to catch most of the big stuff, expresso filter next, catch the water in a plastic bottle or metal pot, then boil or use the 0.02 micron filter for bacteria. This effective system will greatly enhance the lifespan of your filter system, and probably enhance the flavor of the water.

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bob April 5, 2011 at 4:23 pm

i take two coffee filters and charcoal and glue then together to make a filter that is worth its weight in gold for filtering water ..i use it for fifty gallons of water and dispose of it. i use gorilla glue
because it wont fall apart and forms a plastic seal ..good luck and good hunting

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Zythum_Halen May 13, 2011 at 1:00 pm

I ordered the Berkey water filters and ordered a spigot and some bucket to make my own water filter/collector. I have given a lot of thought to a simple inexpensive way to try and extend the life of these expensive filters and what I came up with was to purchase the small pool filters available at Walmart, Target,…etc. I bought the two pack that had filters are 4" tall and have a 1.75 hole. There is a plastic mesh inside the filter that can easilt be cut out with a knife. I remove the mesh and then I cut the rubber seal on both ends at the 12, 3, 6, znd 9 o'clock positions so that the cheap paper pleated paper filter will fit snuggly over the Berkey filter. I think this will stop a good deal of debris from ever even coming in contact with my filter. The cost of the filters was $6 and I might be able to do better once the summer is over. I posted a picture in my Skydrive "Prepping Folder" here is the link if anyone wants to see. https://cid-269aef6040832a62.skydrive.live.com/re…

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Ken September 7, 2012 at 7:50 am

Can you provide the link again. It appears to be broken. ken.jackson@romadyn.com Thanks

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Zythum_Halen May 13, 2011 at 1:02 pm

Oh the picture name in the folder is Water Filter Extender.

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TINDERWOLF May 14, 2011 at 2:58 pm

I have had coffee filters in my BOB for some time now. They can also be used for fire making in a pinch. Also, it isn't a bad idea to put a small ziploc bag of coffee grains or tea in your BOB. You got to remember some of the small pleasures in life in hard times. Waking up on a day of the SHTF a cup of coffee just might pick you up a bit….also it might literally pick you up, the caffeine giving you an extra boost if your feeling a bit tired.

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jessiecrafty1 February 19, 2012 at 9:51 am

would activated carbon, like used in fish tank filters, filter the water as well? i know they use carbon in some coffee machines. i was thinking if youu put a layer of the carbon in one of the coffee filter, it might further filter the water

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Jordan February 22, 2013 at 8:09 pm

I've been collecting those Folgers single-serving instant coffee packets and adding them to my BOB. You can get them @ WalMart for $1.00 per pack of 7 servings. I'm in total agreement…a cup of boiled water (to disinfect) just BEGS to become coffee! It's those little moments that make a survival situation more bearable.

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joshuavossler22 August 8, 2011 at 6:37 pm

I try to always wrap my water filter intake with coffee filters.

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Bogan November 27, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Excellent idea!

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KansasScout April 8, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Ok does it matter if the paper Mr. Coffee type filters are the bleached or unbleached kind?

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Alvin R Saunders September 13, 2012 at 7:16 pm

That's a resourceful tip for water filtration! It is really a must to make sure your water's clean. Like us, we have water purification perth to be sure that we are drinking and using clean and safe water. The coffee filter can also work of course, and can save you money most importantly!

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Joshua Dalla March 4, 2013 at 1:56 am

WOW! This sounds good. That's truly an informative segment about water filtration. Good job and a very nice post!

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Brandon Reynolds March 24, 2013 at 7:11 pm

Well, it figures that, if those things can filter coffee, then they can do the same for water. I'd still boil the H2O though, just to be completely safe.

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@JefferyGlennLan September 19, 2013 at 10:58 am

what filter brands are 0.02

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kohls October 18, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied

on the video to make your point. You obviously know what youre talking

about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you could be

giving us something informative to read?

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Roger February 25, 2014 at 1:31 pm

Using coffee filters to reduce contaminates in water is certainly better than no filter at all, but the filter is not fine enough to trap bacteria, viruses, etc., a commercial filter is better/safer! I prefer to set water in a clear container (usually plastic) with a loose lid on top in the sunlight for UV sterilizing and to let the dirt/etc. settle to the bottom, (often for several hours) then slowly pour the clear water thru a filter and/or into a pot for boiling (at least for three minutes full boil). Giardia and other viruses exist in almost all water sources, remember that birds shit anywhere and everywhere! Using both filtering and boiling together is probably best since boiling kills all known pathogens but doesn't remove heavy metals, which a good filter should do! A question I have for anyone out there is will placing a magnet in a make-shift filter reduce or eliminate heavy metals from the water? Or is there some other simple way to do that? Coffee filters have many other uses such as for fire making, toilet paper (better than pine needles), dust mask, etc. so they are worth carrying a few! I always carry instant coffee and/or tea because I'm a heavy coffee drinker and to suddenly not have that frequent caffein fix is mentally and physically detrimental, and not a good thing especially after SHTF! Good Luck!

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guest June 6, 2012 at 3:24 pm

This is good thinking because when most people think of
"nutritional survival", they think of "solid food" only. You
MUST have electrolytes in your system because the body
is essentially a "battery" made of mostly protein.

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susan October 14, 2013 at 10:43 am

sam, have you ever seen the drip pots for coffee. Just pour the boiling water over the grounds, but the pot has top for the water, middle for grounds, and bottom for the finished coffee. It's a must in all my camping gear.

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