candle filter

Pour me a Tall Glass

Some Ugandans walk 1 to 5 kilometers everyday to fetch water from a local borehole. The children and women are often responsible for filling their large yellow jerry cans with water and carrying them back home. You can find them delicately walking along the roadside with a jerry can gracefully balanced on their head.

Luckily, my access to water is a short stroll to the kitchen or bathroom tap; truly a luxury in Uganda. But the tap water is rarely clean drinking water. With the lack of water pressure, inconsistency of supply and waterborne diseases there are still a few extra steps to take before I can pour myself a glass of water.

Up until now, I would boil water for drinking and store extra water in jerry cans for when the town water shuts off (which is often). But even after boiling the tap water there was still a strange taste that lingered. So I’ve finally decided to put my Peace Corps issued “Water Filter Candle” to good use. This is a post for anyone interested in making a dual candle water filter….. or anyone who is just curious about how I passed time on Saturday night.

First, you need supplies. Find two buckets that stack onto one another, with space for the lower bucket to collect clean water. (Wash your buckets!) A knife and candle for heating the blade. If you have a utility knife, the metal file can be useful. And of course, you’ll need the candle filters.

Second, decide where you are going to cut. I decided to stack my smaller bucket on top of the big bucket; so I had to cut a hole into the lid. Be sure to heat the blade over a candle. The process is more like melting an outline instead of cutting. Just press the hot knife into the plastic until it melts away then re-heat. Be patient, if you try to saw the plastic with a cold knife or scissors it will crack!


Cut a small hole into the bottom of your top bucket; make sure it is a tight fit for the candle filter to prevent unfiltered water from leaking through. Cut your second hole if you’re making a dual filter.


Take off the fastener, metal and rubber washer.


Screw candles into your top bucket.


And the other candle….


Stack em’ up…


Add water to the top bucket and check for any leaks…


Finally, let the candles soak and filter through a few buckets of water before you begin drinking. Otherwise, it basically tastes like you’re drinking chalk. Once the water runs clear, pour me a tall glass 🙂


Are you interested in learning more water facts about Uganda? Or maybe you have a few Buck-a-Roos to donate towards helping rural villagers gain access to disease-free drinking water? You’re such a do-gooder! Check out these sites:

You can also find some interesting videos on YouTube. Search “Uganda drinking water” or “Uganda Jerry Can” or “Sitya Loss” or whatever else meets your fancy.