Coffee filters are cheap, easy to find, and almost every home already has some already. They are also easy to repurpose for a wide variety of uses, including survival.
Some of the most popular ways to use coffee filters for survival are:
- Water pre-filter
- Fire tinder
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels
- Dust mask
- Bowl or plate
- Seed starter
- Cold Compress
- Writing paper
However, those are just a few of the ways to use coffee filters. Below is a long list of 60 ways that you can use coffee filters for survival. To keep things organized, I have broken them down into categories.
Survival Uses of Coffee Filters
Running muddy water through a filter, such as a Lifestraw or Sawyer Mini, can quickly clog it up. Using a pre-filter will remove larger particles from the water before it goes into the filter, which will extend its useful lifespan.
To do this, set a coffee filter in a bowl, cup, or another container. Pour the dirty water into the filter. It should catch most of the larger junk in the water. Then, use your filter to drink the pre-filtered water.
Osmosis water filter
You can also use coffee filters to create and osmosis water filter. To do this, fill one bottle with water. Roll a coffee filter into a straw shape and set it in the bottle. Place an empty bottle next to the first and place the other end of the coffee filter into it.
Water from the first bottle will soak into the coffee filter. As this happens, it will eventually begin to drip into the other bottle. The filter will trap larger contaminants, preventing them from transferring to the second bottle.
Layered water filter
Coffee filters can also be used to create a small layered water filter. Place a thick layer of charcoal at the bottom of the filter. (Do not use grilling charcoal. It has chemicals in it.) Then, pour a layer of sand on top of the charcoal. After that, cover the sand layer with small gravel.
After you are done building the filter, slowly pour water onto the top layer of gravel. The gravel will catch large particles. After that, the sand will catch most of the stuff that got past the gravel. Then the charcoal will take care of pretty much everything else before the water passes through the coffee filter into a container below.
*Important Note: These methods of filtering water will only remove visible contaminants. They will not remove things like bacteria or protozoa. Because of this, you still need to use a quality water filter or boil the water to make sure you don’t get sick.
Cooking and Food Storage
Coffee filters make suitable bowls and plates in a pinch. They are especially good for dry foods or for providing a clean barrier between your food and another surface.
You can cook small amounts of rice by pouring rice into a coffee filter and tying it shut. You can boil water in a small container and lower the rice baggie into it. After you are done cooking, lift the rice out of the container and open the bag. You can use the bag as a plate as you eat the prepared rice.
It is always nice to have a place to set down utensils such as spoons and spatulas while cooking. This will keep them and your cooking area clean.
Jar or Bottle Lid
If you lose a lid to a jar or bottle, you can use a coffee filter to provide a temporary replacement. Place the coffee filter on the jar or bottles mouth and secure it in place with a rubber band or paracord.
Coffee filters work well to filter freshly harvested milk from animals such as cows and goats.
Protecting Cast Iron
Cast iron can rust very easily. However, placing a coffee filter inside of your cast iron cookware can absorb moisture. This will help protect your skillets, griddles, and other equipment from rust.
Removing Silk from Corn
Removing silk strands from corn can be made easier with a coffee filter. Take a damp coffee filter and use it to wipe the silk off the ear of corn.
Food Cutting Board
Coffee filters can also be used as makeshift cutting boards. You may need to use a few of them, but they can provide a clean barrier between your food and the surface underneath. They can also make cleanup easier since they will absorb much of the juices from whatever food you are preparing.
If you run out of ziplock bags or tin foil, coffee filters can also make acceptable food wrappers. Some items can simply be folded up into the filter while others may need to be tied up.
If you don’t like to have pulp in your juice, you can use a coffee filter to strain it out. Sit the coffee filter on top of a glass and pour the juice into the filter. The filter will prevent any pulp from making it into the glass.
Placing a coffee filter between pans will absorb moisture, protecting them from rust. Another benefit of placing coffee filters between pans is that they can reduce noise caused by vibration. Sometimes pans can rattle due to the air conditioner or some other appliance. Having coffee filters between them will provide a bit of a cushion that will reduce how much they vibrate.
If you want to re-use your cooking grease, you can remove particles from it by straining it through a coffee filter.
Coffee filters also work well to preserve stock from soups and stews. Boil what remains and run it through a filter. Veggies and meat will be trapped by the filter while the stock will drip through.
Soups and other dishes are always better with seasoning. Use a coffee filter to hold seasoning mixes and tie them shut to prevent them from opening.
If you are foraging for berries and nuts, coffee filters can make excellent collection containers. If you are collecting a large quantity, the filters, after being tied shut, can serve as individual baggies for dividing portions.
If you save your seeds from one season to the next you can use coffee filters to hold the seeds. They will keep them organized and protect them from moisture.
Coffee filters can also work as homemade tea bags. Place the tea leaves you want to use into a filter and tie it shut. You can use it just like a normal tea bag by placing it into hot water.
Some foods, such as bacon and ground beef, can contain an unhealthy amount of grease. Use a coffee filter to remove excess grease by using it as a liner for the food’s serving plate. You can also use coffee filters to dab the grease off of the food also.
Flies and other pests love to get nosy whenever we try to eat outside. This can get highly irritating and can be unsanitary as well. Protect your food by covering it with a coffee filter. You can also use a coffee filter to cover food while it is in the microwave to prevent messes.
Coffee filters can also be used to start seeds for either gardening or edible sprouts. Place the seeds into the coffee filters and tie them shut. Add some water to the filter and place it in a ziplock bag. The seeds will absorb the moisture and sprout.
If you run out of ziplock bags or just prefer not to use plastic, coffee filters can serve as small snack-size storage bags. They can hold food items like crackers, grapes, as well as small non-food items like fishing weights.
Of course, coffee filters also work really well to make coffee.
Sanitation and Hygiene Uses of Coffee Filters
If your hands are dirty and won’t clean up with soap and water alone, you can use a coffee filter as a wet wipe or washcloth. Gently scrubbing your skin with a wet and soapy filter can help remove stubborn dirt or grease.
Feminine Hygiene Products
As a guy, I don’t know too much about this, but in a truly worst-case scenario, coffee filters can be used (in theory) as feminine hygiene products due to their absorbency.
Diaper Liner (cloth diapers)
If you have to use cloth diapers, coffee filters can be used as a diaper liner. They will help keep the baby dry and make the diapers easier to clean.
If you are walking your dog and they make a deposit, you can pick it up and throw it away using a coffee filter. Although I would recommend using more than one. Dog poo stink can easily defeat one layer of thin paper.
Stinky shoes can clear out a room if they are really bad. To avoid being kicked out of your survival group, pour some baking soda into a coffee filter and tie it shut. Place it into your shoe overnight. The baking soda should absorb the odor. This can also be done in refrigerators, pantries, and vehicles.
If you run out of paper towels, you are still in good shape if you have some coffee filters. They can wipe food off of dishes and absorb minor spills.
The best thing to do is to store enough toilet paper to last through an emergency. However, if you don’t, coffee filters offer a much better alternative than leaves or grandpa’s corn cob. Slightly dampen them to avoid irritation. Also, double or triple up. They are pretty thin and you don’t want them to fall apart halfway through the job.
Using Coffee Filters for Guns and Weapons
Wiping arrows and Crossbow Bolts
If you are shooting a bow or crossbow you can use coffee filters to wipe off your arrows or bolts after practice. If they are still in good condition after being used on an animal, you can also use coffee filters to remove blood.
Gun Wipe Cloth
Apply a small amount of gun oil to a coffee filter and fold it over on itself to allow the oil to spread. You can use it to apply a thin layer of oil to the surface of a firearm to prevent rust.
Gun cleaning patches
If you run out of gun cleaning patches, you can use coffee filters as a temporary solution. Because they are thin and tear easily, using a patch loop would probably work better than a cleaning jag. Be sure to inspect your bore to ensure no filter pieces are left inside.
Coffee filters are the perfect size to be used as shooting targets. Staple them to a backdrop and shoot away.
Medical Uses of Coffee Filters
Treating Puffy Eyes
Coffee filters can help reduce swelling from puffy eyes. Soak coffee filters in tea and apply them to your eyes. The tea’s caffeine is what actually reduces the swelling by constricting blood vessels. Be sure that the coffee filters are a safe temperature. Also, unprocessed green or black tea works best for this purpose.
Applying a damp rag to your forehead can help ease a headache. Pour some water on a coffee filter and squeeze out the excess. Apply it to your head the same way that you would a washrag.
Although sterile bandages are much better, a coffee filter can serve as a bandage in an emergency. They will absorb blood and provide a barrier between the cut and more outside contaminants.
If you need to blow or wipe your nose, you can use a coffee filter if you don’t have any kleenexes or toilet paper. If you need to do this multiple times, pour some water onto the filter to make it less abrasive to your nose.
Razor nicks happen to everyone. Use a small piece of a coffee filter to place over those small cuts. They will help stop the bleeding quickly.
Stop a Nose Bleed
If you have a nose bleed, tear off a couple of pieces of a coffee filter and use them to soak up the blood in your nose and help it stop bleeding faster.
General Uses of Coffee Filters
Keeping your head cool is very important when working in a hot environment. Soaking a coffee filter in water and placing it between your head and a hat can help you stay comfortable and safe. I use a bandana for this purpose, but a coffee filter will work in a pinch.
Catching Candle Wax
Melting wax from candles can make a big mess and be difficult to clean. Place a coffee filter under the candle to catch the wax as it runs down. Don’t do this if you cannot monitor the candle or if the candle is short. Coffee filters are flammable and you don’t want to burn your house down.
Coffee filters can be used as dust masks during an emergency. Place them over your face and breathe through them. They will prevent some dust and other particles from entering your nose, mouth, or lungs.
Dirt, leaves, and crud somehow always end up at the bottom of a gas can. You can use a coffee filter to trap debris while pouring the gas. This will protect your engines from the debris and prevent wasting fuel.
If you do embroidery, you can use coffee filters as sewing backings. They are easy to remove since they tear easily.
Coffee filters work well as packing material for small breakable items. You can use them to wrap glass knickknacks and Christmas ornaments.
Stacking Dishes and Glasses
If you are moving or keep dishes in an RV or travel trailer, you can place coffee filters between them. This will reduce how much they rattle against one another and prevent glasses from sticking.
Coffee filters make a good bug out or hiking food bowls for pets. After they get done eating you can recycle the coffee filters as poop scoopers.
If you need to clean leather, a damp coffee filter should work fine. You can also use it to apply leather care products to preserve belts, holsters, or other items.
Coffee filters and club soda can be used to dab small stains from clothing. If you need to remove blood, use hydrogen peroxide and dab it up with the coffee filter.
You can make homemade dryer sheets by applying white vinegar and a small amount of essential oil to a coffee filter.
Coffee filters, unlike paper towels and toilet paper, do not leave lint or other residues when you use them to clean glass. This makes them excellent choices for cleaning mirrors, windows, or glass optical lenses.
If you have a rabbit or other small animal, shredded coffee filters can be placed at the bottom of litter boxes to absorb urine or provide them a bed to nest in.
Coffee filters can be used to transfer sugar, grains, and even small amounts of liquid as a funnel. Make the filter into a funnel shape and cut off the bottom tip. Then use it to transfer whatever you need to from one container to another.
Planter pots have holes in the bottom to allow water to drain. However, soil can escape from these holes as well, wasting it and causing a mess. Sit a coffee filter at the bottom of the pot, covering the hole. Pour the potting soil into the pot, making sure that the filter stays in place. It will allow the water to drain without losing soil.
Small Item Organization
Coffee filters can also be used to organize small parts or prevent you from losing them. You can wrap up unused nuts, bolts, or other small items. If you are cleaning a gun, especially one with a lot of small parts like an AR-15, you can place the bits and pieces in a coffee filter to keep up with them.
Since coffee filters are made of paper, you can also use them to write notes.
Coffee filters are pretty flammable, which makes them excellent fire starters. You can make them burn longer by applying a small amount of oil to them.