How to Filter Salt Water to Drink?

Find out how to filter salt water to make it safe to drink using common household items with this step-by-step guide.

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While freshwater is necessary for survival, nearly three-quarters of the world is covered in salt water. If you find yourself in a situation where you have access to salt water but not fresh water, you will need to filtered the salt water to make it safe to drink. This can be done using a few different methods.

What you will need

In order to filter salt water so that it is safe to drink, you will need:
-A container to hold the salt water
-A coffee filter
-A clean, empty bottle

1. Fill the container with salt water.
2. Place the coffee filter over the top of the bottle.
3. Pour the salt water slowly into the bottle, allowing it to filter through the coffee filter as it goes.
4. Once all of the salt water has been filtered, screw the top on the bottle and it will be safe to drink!

The process

Salt water is not safe to drink because it contains high levels of salt which can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. If you are stranded in a location where the only available water is salt water, you can filter it to make it safe to drink.

To filter salt water, you will need a container, a coffee filter, and a clean cloth. Place the coffee filter in the container and wet the cloth with clean water. Wring out the cloth and lay it over the top of the coffee filter. Slowly pour the salt water into the container, being careful not to disturb the cloth. Allow the water to drip through the coffee filter into the container. Once all of the water has dripped through, remove the cloth and coffee filter and discard them. The filtered water is now safe to drink.

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Desalination is a process that takes salt and other minerals out of water to make it drinkable. The most common way to do this is by using reverse osmosis. A reverse osmosis filter uses pressure to force water molecules through a very fine membrane. The holes in the membrane are too small for salt molecules, so they are left behind.

The United States typically filters water with chemicals like chlorine before it goes through the reverse osmosis system. This helps to protect the membranes from fouling, or getting clogged with impurities.

There are other methods of desalination, but they are not as commonly used because they are more expensive. One method is distillation, which involves boiling water and then condensing the vapor back into a liquid. This leaves behind impurities like salt. Another method is electrodialysis, which uses electrical fields to remove salt from water.


In a survival situation, one of the most important things you can do is to ensure you have a safe and reliable water supply. One way to do this is to filter salt water so that it is safe to drink. There are a number of ways to filter salt water, depending on the resources you have available.

One way to filter salt water is by using a commercial water filter. These filters are designed to remove impurities from water, including salt. If you don’t have a commercial water filter, you can also make your own by using materials such as sand, charcoal, and cloth.

To make your own water filter, start by digging a hole in the ground that is big enough to hold your container. Then, line the hole with sand and charcoal. Place your clean cloth over the top of the hole, and pour the salt water through it into your container. The water will be filtered as it passes through the sand and charcoal. Let the filtered water sit for at least 30 minutes before drinking it to allow any remaining impurities to settle out.

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When filtering salt water, it’s important to use clean materials that haven’t been contaminated with other substances. You should also boil the filtered water before drinking it to kill any remaining bacteria. By taking these precautions, you can ensure that the filtered salt water is safe to drink.


Q: How can I filter salt water to make it safe to drink?

A: There are a few ways to do this, but the most common is to distill it. This involves boiling the water and then collecting the steam, which will be mostly free of salt.

Further reading

If you want to learn more about how to filter salt water to drink, there are a few resources that can help you. The Department of Homeland Security has a great guide on their website that covers the basics of water filtration and purification. The Red Cross also has a helpful guide that covers much of the same information.


We would like to express our sincere gratitude to everyone who has contributed to this project. We would like to thank our advisor, Dr. Steven Chu, for his guidance and support. We also thank our collaborators, Dr. David Lee and Dr. Michael Wong, for their helpful insights and suggestions. Finally, we thank our funding sources, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy, for their support.

About the author

My name is Brooke and I’m a blogger, YouTuber, and all-around water enthusiast. I created this site to share my knowledge about all things water related, from filtration to conservation.

One of the most common questions I get asked is “how do you filter salt water to drink?” The answer is actually pretty simple: you can’t. Salt water can not be filtered; it must be distilled.

distillation is the process of evaporating water and then condensing the vapor back into a liquid. This can be done with a variety of methods, but the most common way to distill water at home is with a solar still.

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A solar still uses the sun’s energy to heat up water, causing it to evaporate. The water vapor then condenses on a cold surface (usually a glass or plastic sheet), and drips down into a container. The container will also have a small opening that allows air to flow in, but prevents water from flowing out.

salt will not evaporate with the water, so it will be left behind in the original container. This filtered, distilled water can then be safe to drink.

Don’t have access to sunlight? No problem! You can also distill water using heat from a campfire, stovetop, or even a car engine (although this should only be done in an emergency).


Water is vital to human survival. Unfortunately, not all water is safe to drink. Salt water, for example, contains high levels of salt that can be harmful to your health. If you find yourself stranded in a salt water environment, it’s important to know how to filter salt water to make it safe to drink.

One way to filter salt water is to use a reverse osmosis filter. This type of filter forces salt water through a semi-permeable membrane, which removes the salt from the water. Another way to filter salt water is to distill it. This process involves boiling the salt water and collecting the resulting freshwater vapor.

If you don’t have access to a reverse osmosis filter or a still, you can also use solar power to desalinate salt water. To do this, you’ll need to build a solar still. A solar still works by evaporating freshwater from salt water using sunlight and then condensing the freshwater vapor into a separate container.

No matter which method you use, it’s important to remember that filtering salt water takes time and effort. If you’re in an emergency situation, be sure to drink only small amounts of filtered salt water until help arrives.

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