Can I Use BBQ Charcoal To Filter Water / Air?

Charcoal specific to filtration purposes is called Air, Water, or Vapor phase carbon. They are manufactured in a precise manner to achieve the desired application.

Charcoal made for water purification is ‘activated’.

But in a pinch, you can use BBQ lump charcoal (not briquettes as they may have binders and chemicals). And here is how you can do it.

How to make an Improvised Charcoal Water Filter:

  1. Use charcoal from a reputable source
  2. Crush your charcoal into small bits, from powder up to the size of aquarium gravel.
  3. Use a tall cylindrical container (taller is better than wider) and punch some small holes at the bottom.

You can pour water at the top, and the purified water will come out the bottom. Don’t make the holes too big, you want the water to spend as much time as possible with the charcoal to filter the water.

Below is a list of fireplace and grill stores that service Virginia (VA)

Manassas, VA

Winston's Chimney Service
11301 Industrial Road
Manassas, VA 20109

Winston's Chimney Service LogoVisit Store Page

Mechanicsville, VA

Hearth & Home Shoppe
8151 Mechanicsville Tpk
Mechanicsville, VA 23111

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Roanoke, VA

Dixie Building Products Inc.
3342 Melrose Ave NW
Roanoke, VA 24017

Warrenton, VA

Costello's Warrenton Fireplace & Hot Tub
251 West Lee Hwy
Warrenton, VA 20186


For more information, contact your local fireplace and grill store..

2 Responses

  1. Stu Mack
    How can I tell if it's brisquette charcoal if it's already out of bag. Is that possible?
    • Joseph Bodden
      Hello Stu: Charcoal briquettes are manufactured from wood by-products. Briquettes have been compressed and contain binders and chemicals that assist with lighting and burning consistently. As a result of this process, briquettes are all uniform in size; like sort of a pillow shape. The size of lump charcoal is not consistent. It varies in size and shape. As the article said, in a pinch lump charcoal can be used to filter water or air.

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