Homemade Water Filtration and Charcoal Making Workshop


Nov. 14th 5:00pm – Nov, 18th 3:00pm, 2019

Hosted at Pun Pun Center in Mae Taeng, North of Chiang Mai

Course is taught in English language

At Pun Pun we were able to work with friends and engineers to develop a homemade water filter system we’ve been using for several years for all of our drinking and produce washing needs.  It’s a simple but also sophisticated system made from rock, sand, and homemade charcoal and is combined with a low-smoke fast and efficient charcoal maker.  In this course we are happy to open up this knowledge with participants while working on our system together. 
This is a very hands-on course where we will make a substantial amount of high quality biochar that will be used in the Pun Pun water filter system.  To do this we will start from scratch and walk participants through the whole process of how to prepare the wood, make a gasifier, use the gasifier and process the charcoal.  We will also show how the char can be used in combination with sand, gravel and locally available materials to build a small (300L/day) and large (2000L/day) filtration system.  The process is somewhat labor intensive but also very rewarding, so come ready to get dirty and be actively involved in the whole process.

Techniques and Topics:

The whole workshop will be very hands-on and focus on allowing participants to experience every topic themselves.

  •  feedstock selection and preparation
  •  drum oven construction and pyrolysis principles for making water filter biochar
  •  generation of several batches of biochar
  •  biochar processing
  • integration w/associated treatment steps (gravel and slow-sand biofiltration; other options such as disinfection, etc.)
  • The objective is to gain sufficient conceptual understanding of pyrolysis and adsorption to accomplish biochar water treatment for trace chemical removal with high level of consistency and quality control.

For more info on the water filter system, check out these short videos. 

Community living:

Evening activities and exchanges will also be included. A large aspect of the course also includes the experience of living in community with other participants as well as entering the community of members living at Pun Pun. We have found this element to be a major contributor in the experience of the course for participants.


General Schedule

Morning and afternoon sessions will be held with an extended break after lunch in the hot part of the day. 

The Project

The course will be held on our center, which is an organic farm, seed center, and sustainable living learning center in Mae Taeng. We started the farm in 2003 and work to create a seed center to preserve our food biodiversity, grow food organically for ourselves in community and for those who come to stay with us, and host trainings and workshops on ways to convert to more self-reliant, sustainable ways of living.

Teaching team

Josh Kearns:  A long time friend of Pun Pun farm and engineering professor at North Carolina State University.  Josh has been doing research on bio-char for water filtration for the last 10 years and also is the founder of the organization Aqueous Solutions (www.aqsolutions.org) that teaches people in rural areas of Thailand, Burma and Laos how to build water filters.
Nate Reents:  A Pun Pun community member that has worked with Josh on a couple of  Aqueous Solutions projects every year for the last 10 years.

Living situation

We will provide simple accommodation in one of Pun Pun’s earthen or bamboo guesthouses. A thin futon mat, blanket, sheet, pillow, and mosquito net will be provided.  Accommodation is single rooms, shared rooms and dorms.  All accommodation is in close proximity to each other.  Outdoor toilets and cool or solar hot showers are close to the guesthouses.

All meals will be shared and eaten in the communal kitchen.  Vegetarian and fish options will be available and we will try to use the most organic vegetables as possible from the farm.  Food will be simple Thai food with brown rice.  We try to use as much of our own produce and other seasonally available produce as possible so we tend to focus on a primarily vegetable and whole grain diet with added protein from eggs, fish, or tofu.

2,000 baht/person.  This fee includes all food during the course, accommodation and instruction.  All proceeds go towards supporting Pun Pun community to grow and continue with our seed center and outreach work.

Community living aspect

Participants will also be asked to engage in helping with community work on the farm.  This may be help in watering the gardens, feeding the chickens, milking the cows, etc.  We do this to help participants to immerse themselves with the Pun Pun community as well as to help to experience more of our philosophy on self-reliant living.

We have children at the farm and share our meals and community space together so be aware that there is a general level of activity and noise in public spaces.  We ask all participants to refrain from any illegal drug use at Pun Pun or excessive drinking.


1) Email your participant survey to punpuncourses@gmail.com. (see below for details).

2) Once you have sent your participant survey and have been confirmed, a 1,000 baht non-refundable deposit is due to secure your spot. Please understand we cannot hold your spot until we receive your deposit.

We ask you transfer this to our Thai account of which we will send you the details.  The remainder will be collected on the first day of the course in Thai baht or if you chose you may transfer the whole amount beforehand.

For more information

Contact punpuncourses@gmail.com

Pun Pun Participant Survey:

Please write us a short letter introducing yourself. Please include where you’re from and a bit on why you want to join the course, what you are hoping to get out of it and how you hope to use it later. This will help us to prepare the program for your needs.

Please also include any special dietary needs causing for any adjustments from the food offered as specified above. Please wait for acceptance before making travel arrangements.

Please send your email to punpuncourses@gmail.com.