Make Your Own Water Filters From Tree Branches

October 24, 2013

in Tools, Water

Some highly effective commercial water filters use a variety of types of fiber. Many of these can have their useful life extended by backflushing to clean them. But eventually, the effectiveness goes down and they should be replaced. Here’s an interesting article on making water filters from porous tissue found in branches of conifer (white pine in this case) trees. Armed with this knowledge and a few simple supporting articles (hose, glue, hose clamp, bucket), it becomes possible to make your own water filters when the commercial ones begin to fail.

How to Build a Plant Xylem Water Filter

Xylem is the porous tissue that conducts fluid in plants. In woody plants, it is called sapwood, is surrounded by bark and often surrounds older, inactive heartwood itself. In conifers, it is formed from dead cells called tracheids which are essentially hollow tubes with diameters of up to 80 ┬Ám and lengths of up to 10 mm.

These cells grow in parallel and have closed ends. The water passes from one conduit to another through holes known as pits that are covered in a membrane with nanoscale pores that act like a kind of sieve. Anything bigger than these pores cannot get through.

So in theory, the plant xylem from conifer trees should be an effective filter.

To find out, Karnik and co cut 1 inch-long sections of branch of the white pine tree pinus strobus. They peeled off the bark and stuffed the remaining sapwood into a tube, sealing any gaps with epoxy resin.

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