How to Use Fruit Peels to Filter Your Water

Photo: lotherington/Flickr.

With more and more eco-conscious people replacing their bottled water intake (and for good reason) with tap water, there is a growing demand for water filtration devices. But you don't need to go out and buy a fancy device to ensure that your tap water is free from pollutants. Researchers with the National University of Singapore have recently discovered a simple do-it-yourself method for filtering water using nothing more than fruit peels and rubbing alcohol, reports Wired.

Researcher Ramakrishna Mallampati originally thought up the method as an easy, cheap way for rural communities in the developing world to purify their water. He found that apple and tomato peels -- two of the most widely consumed fruits in the world -- were remarkably efficient at absorbing a wide variety of harmful pollutants, and that they could be transformed into effective water filters with only minor preparation.

To make use of Mallampati's technique yourself, begin by peeling your apples and tomatoes and placing them in a rubbing alcohol solution and letting them soak. Next, remove the peels and let them dry out. Once they're thoroughly desiccated, simply place the peels in a container of water and wait. After a few hours, remove the peels from the water and it's ready to drink.

Mallampati found that the apple and tomato peels together were reliable absorbents of toxic heavy metal ions, dissolved organic and inorganic chemicals, various nanoparticles, dyes and pesticides. Note that the method does not remove pathogens from the water, just a wide variety of pollutants, so you shouldn't use it as an all-encompassing water purifier. But if you're worried about any of these other pollutants finding their way into your water supply, the technique should help make your water much cleaner.

Fruit peel filtration ought to be most beneficial to rural communities around the world that lack access to clean potable water. Fruit peels are plentiful, and often discarded as useless biowaste. Re-purposing them for water filtration will offer a cheap and accessible way for communities to hydrate themselves in a safer manner.

"We don't want to do any sort of commercialization," said Mallampati, "so we're working with NGOs that can take the technology to the people and explain it."

Mallampati isn't stopping at apple and tomato peels either. Research efforts are already underway to test other kinds of fruit peels, particularly the peels of fruits local to communities that need clean water the most.