I made a cheap Berkey styled Water Filter

I made a cheap Berkey styled Water Filter

If you'd like to take my DIY Water Filter Course just hit the link. You'll get access to step by step directions, a parts list, this blog and other resources. 

I have lived off grid in the high desert of Arizona nearly three years now. Safe drinking water is paramount but I'm too frugal to spend $300 and unlimited expensive Berkey replacement filters when I can make my own filter for $70 and continue to make filtration substrate for free. Not only is this filter less than 1/3 the cost it will last about 6x as long. It's completely sustainable too! 

 best water filter system for virus and bacteria too  off grid living homesteading

I'll tell you how I built my filter, what parts to purchase if you want to and for those who would like step by step directions I'll include a link to a frugal course that you can watch so you know exactly how to build it and exactly how it works. 

I have been using a filter like this for nearly three years now. My first model was simply two 5 gallon buckets. I used a bulkhead to connect the top bucket to the lid on the bottom bucket. Then I inserted a simple plastic faucet in the bottom bucket at the very bottom. 

Frugal off grid Berkey styled water filter with sustainable activated charcoal

In order to create a filter I ordered a couple pounds of activated charcoal and about the same amount of pea gravel. I washed a couple pounds of the desert sand that is everywhere on my land. Once you rinse away all of the clay and silt you only have sand left. The water will become clear. By building up layers of each substrate twice I was able to create a very effective filter. In fact, these kind of filters are still considered to be about the best on the market. I started with pea gravel at the base to help keep everything else from falling through the bulk head. then sand then activated charcoal, I double up the charcoal then sand and gravel at the top. 

Frugal off grid Berkey water filter with sustainable activated charcoal

 The reason for each substrate is; gravel removes large debris, sand removes smaller debris and activated charcoal removes almost everything else you could want to remove except for virus and bacteria but don't worry, we'll talk about that later. 

Activated charcoal has about 100 acres of surface area per 1lb. This is a huge amount of surface area which allows it to adsorb all kinds of impurities. Adsorb is similar to absorb but unlike a sponge that pulls everything to the center, activated charcoal adsorbs impurities which means they stay on the outer surface. So what can it remove? Well, like I said, almost everything you would want to remove. Contaminates from human and animal feces, heavy metals, phosphate which leads to algae build up, chlorine, chloride, and a lot more. 

In order to prevent virus and bacteria from entering my system I add about 1/4 cup chlorine to every 300 gallons of water I store in my rain harvesting system. Rain water by the way is perfectly safe, it's what can happen while it's stored that I'm being careful about. A lot of people tell me they would be concerned about adding chlorine to their water but here's the deal. It's nowhere near as much as you have in city water and once you filter it with your new activated charcoal filter it removes 93% of the chlorine you have added, leaving virtually none. 

So why did I decide to build a new filter? People ask me about water filtration more than anything else and I thought I would design and create a sharp looking filter you guys could be proud to display on your counter. It turned out to cost less than using food grade buckets in my case because I can only order them on Amazon and they're highly over priced. The stainless steel parts are nearly identical to those in $400 Berkey water filters. In fact, the tap is exactly the same. 

Frugal off grid cheap Berkey water filter with diy activated charcoal

I should point out that in the new system I am making my own activated charcoal from scratch. The purpose behind doing so is it's clearly frugal to make my own for free when I will be replacing it annually, more importantly, it's sustainable. I can replace it for the rest of my life if I never leave my land again. And the container should last a life time if I take care of it. I like to be as frugal and sustainable as possible. 

I'm confident many people could build one of these simply based off of my description but I'll be posting a video in a day or two that will make it easier to see the process and for those you want it, I'll put a highly detailed step by step course on my website. I'll link both of them in the blog when complete. 

Oh, hey, leave a comment below and let me know if you enjoyed this blog. Thanks! 

Here' s 15% off on my homesteading and weight loss books just use code FRUGALOFFGRID on my Website  

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Jill, it’s really a more sustainable way to do it. Hopefully you can save a bunch of money.

Frugal Off Grid

Trish, I’m happy to help. The course will be available within a week. I should be able to get a Youtube video up today.

Frugal Off Grid

I’ve been putting off buying the two replacement filters for my Travel Berkey which are going to be $173. Your design is cheaper and more sustainable! Thank you!

Jill Henderson

I’ve been putting off buying the two replacement filters for my Travel Berkey which are going to be $173. Your design is cheaper and more sustainable! Thank you!

Jill Henderson

As always, you inspire and help us tremendously. This is such a much needed DIY -Thank you! Looking forward to the course!

Trisha Barnes

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