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How to Convert Pool Water to Drinking Water

By Edwin Thomas ; Updated September 21, 2017
Draining your pool water into the sewer is a huge waste.
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Even a small wading pool holds a substantial volume of water, and when it comes time to drain that water, simply pumping it into a storm drain is a terrible waste. Recycling the pool water into drinking-quality water is an effective cost-cutting and conservationist measure. The main obstacle is the chlorine in the pool water, used to control algae and bacteria, and an effective way to remove chlorine is a carbon-based water filter. However, household filters like those made by Brita and Pur are too small for use on the vast quantity of water a swimming pool, so you must build a much larger homemade filter to handle that enormous volume.

Step 1

Cut the top off a plastic barrel with a knife and a hacksaw. Drill a half-inch drainage hole in the center of the bottom of the barrel.

Step 2

Line the bottom of the barrel with a cotton sheet.

Step 3

Set the barrel on a stand. Use whatever works for the stand, such as sawhorses, cinder blocks or an old pallet, but remember you need to place your water storage container(s) beneath it.

Step 4

Shovel sand into the barrel, filling the bottom with an even 2-inch-thick layer.

Step 5

Shovel charcoal into the barrel until you create a 4-inch-thick layer. Periodically smash the charcoal with the shovel, breaking up any large chunks and ensuring you have a compact layer.

Step 6

Fill the barrel with alternating layers of sand and charcoal, repeating Steps 3 and 4, until you have filled the barrel to roughly three-quarters from the top. Make the last layer sand, even if it means making the charcoal layer beneath it thinner. This creates a reservoir for pouring water into the filter.

Step 7

Place one hose from your drainage pump into the pool, and the other hose into the reservoir at the top of the barrel filter. Put your first storage container underneath the stand. Turn the pump on.

Step 8

Adjust the speed of the pump so it roughly matches the speed at which the filter processes the water as closely as possible, favoring the pump working more slowly if necessary. Whenever a storage container is full, replace it.


Things You Will Need

  • Plastic barrel
  • Hacksaw
  • Buck knife
  • Drill
  • Cotton sheet
  • Stand
  • Shovel
  • Sand
  • Charcoal
  • Containers for storing water (barrels, bottles, buckets, etc.)
  • Pool drainage pump


  • Instead of using multiple containers to store the filtered pool water, you can redirect it. Set a deep pan under the filter barrel, and then either pump or siphon the water from the pan. This method can be used to fill large tanks or redirect the water to other uses, such as filling fish ponds or watering gardens.


  • Use real charcoal, not the artificial charcoal briquettes commonly used as barbecue fuel.