29 Reasons to Use Coffee Filters for Survival

Print Friendly

coffee filterCoffee filters are ubiquitous. They are inexpensive, light weight and readily available. Heck, you can purchase coffee filters at the Dollar store, Amazon Costco, the corner grocery and even on EBay.

Now I will be first to admit that there are a lot of lists floating around with suggested uses for coffee filters but most include all kinds of uses that are nice, but irrelevant to the prepper. After all, if you are in experiencing hard times, or a survival situation, do you really care about preventing your fine china from chipping?

Today I list 29 reasons why you should include coffee filters in your survival kit and preparedness pantry.


1.  Substitute rag or paper towel

Use a coffee filter as a makeshift rag. Unlike paper towels, coffee filters are lint free and take up very little space. They are also dirt cheap.

2.  Keeping insects away from food

When cooking or dining outdoors, cover your plates and bowls of food with coffee filters to keep the flying insects at bay.

3.  Pre-filter collected water

When collecting water, you will likely find some sediment, leaves, twigs or other undesirable matter in the water. Pre-filter collected water using a coffee filter then process as you normally would, typically by boiling or by the use of a filtering system.

4.  Make a disposable plate or bowl

If you are bugging out or on the run, plates and bowls, even disposables, may be scarce. Dry foods can be eaten directly from a coffee filter bowl held in your hands. Heavier foods, even those that are moist, can be supported by a paper of plastic plate or bowl. When done, throw out the filter and your plate or bowl is still clean enough to use for the next meal. Saves cleanup and even more important, saves water.

coffee filters for survival_0

A makeshift bowl for dog food.

5.  Keep small hardware items organized

Nails, screws and all manner of fix-it items are good to have on hand in your survival kit. Secure them in little bundles made of coffee filters. Tie off the bundles with some paracord since that will be useful too.

6.  Keep your specs spotlessly clean

You don’t need fancy liquid products to clean your glasses and, as a matter of fact, some products can also damage the coatings on specialized lenses. (I know – it happened to me.) The next time you need to clean your glasses, try using a coffee filter with a bit of plain water. Your glasses will come clean and will be lint-free. You can also use a coffee filter to safely clean cell phone. E-reader and computer screens.

7.  Protect your cast iron skillets from rust

Nothing can be more discouraging to the cast iron maven then to find a bit of rust on your well-seasoned cast iron skillet. You can help prevent this by putting some coffee filters in the skillet when it’s not in use. The filter will absorb moisture and prevent rusting.

8.  Emergency toilet paper

No TP? No worries. A coffee filter will work just fine – just don’t flush it down a toilet – remember, this is for emergency use.

9.  Pet pooper scoopers

Ditto for pet pooper scoopers. Coffee filter work like a little glove for taking care of your pet’s business. Great on the hiking trails or even indoors when Fido has a little accident. You can also use a coffee filter to wipe a messy tush – if you have to.

10.  Keep potting soil where it belongs – in the pot

Before placing soil in a pot, cover the hole in the bottom with a coffee filter. This will prevent the soil from leaking out and yet will allow the excess water to drain properly.

11. Make an air freshener

To make an air freshener, fill a coffee filter with baking soda, twist-tie it shut (again, use a bit of paracord) and you are all set. The baking soda will absorb all kinds of nasty odors. Make several and tuck them into your backpack, shoes, ice chest, vehicle or tent and anyplace else that tends to get stinky smelly.

coffee filters for survival_3

A nifty little air freshener for my backpack – plus a bit of paracord

12.  Make a cold compress

Soak filters in brewed tea or even just plain water and chill. Fold them up to fashion a cold compress when you have a headache or slight fever or even just to tame puffy eyes.

13.  Make a bandage

If you have a small cut or even a razor nick, grab a piece off of a coffee filter and slap it on with pressure to stop the bleeding. Your coffee filter will work similar to a styptic pencil but without the stinging. Note: this is not a replacement for a decent first aid kit.

14.  Trap cooking grease

When cooking greasy foods – especially meats – you can soak up the extra grease by placing a coffee filter both under the cooked food and on top. Pat your food down well with the coffee filter and you will be good to go.

15.  Make an instant funnel

Cut the end off of a cone-style coffee filter to make an instant funnel. <EXAMPLES>

16.  Make an herbal tea

Gather up some fresh herbs, crush them a bit, them make a little sack out of your coffee filter. Tie off the top with a bit of twine from your survival kit (or some strands of paracord). Boil some water, add it to a cup, and then let your packet of herbal tea steep to the desired strength. If you have a cold or sore throat, be sure to add a bit of honey or honey powder.

17.  Flavor your sun tea

When making a sun tea, add dried orange peels, mint leaves or other herbs for flavor. Take a filter and center the contents in the middle. Gather the edges, twist and tie with string. Drop your little flavor packet into the jar along with the tea bags and let it brew as usual.

18.  Use as a filter for fresh juices

If you have found a citrus tree and are scavenging fruit for juice, you can use a coffee filter to filter the juice, leaving seeds and pulp behind

19.  Spot clean clothing

Spots and spills are a fact of life. Use a coffee filter to spot clean your clothing. If you have some, use some white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide and the spot will be greatly reduced if not disappear completely.

20.  Sprout seeds for consuming

To sprout seeds, dampen the coffee filter then place seeds inside. Fold it up then place the filter and seed packet into a plastic baggie until they sprout. If you can, keep your little sprout packet in a dark spot for a few days then move them into the light so chlorophyll develops. Some good seeds to use are mung beans, bean sprouts, and mixed broccoli and radish seeds.

21.  Sprout garden seeds

You can also sprout garden seeds in coffee filters to give them a head start before putting them into the ground or pots.

22.  Store garden seeds between seasons

Even without a desiccant, a coffee filter can be stored with seeds to keep them moisture free between growing seasons.

23.  Keep glass surfaces clean

Coffee filters are lint-free so your glass surfaces will sparkle after they are cleaned. If you have some – and you should – add a little vinegar to water and use this combo as a cleaning solution. (But use only water and soap on eye glasses – no vinegar please. See above.)

24.  Keep fresh produce crisp and dry in your cooler

Wrap fresh picked produce – especially greens – in coffee filters before putting them in your cooler. The coffee filter will help absorb any moisture and keep your produce fresh and crisp longer.

25.  Make a portable food wrapper

While fending for yourself, you may not have aluminum foil, plastic wrap or other containers for storing your food. Instead, use a coffee filter as a food wrapper or storage container. You may need to split the filter and combine two or more to surround your food but after securing your food wrapper with a bit of string, you will be all set.

26.  Strain soup stock and broths

In a survival situation, you will not want to waste anything food wise. After boiling up food scraps, strain the broth for a nice rich soup stock that can be consumed as is or used as a base for another meal.

27.  Make a Bouquet Garni

Bundle herbs and spices into a coffee filter, tie it off, and add to your soups and broths as a nifty way of seasoning your homemade creation.

coffee filters for survival_2

Coffee filters can also be used to make coffee!

28.  Make coffee!

Lest I forget, don’t forget to use your filters for making coffee. If all you have is a pot, some ground coffee and water, boil it up and filter the resulting brew into your cup. Not exactly a Starbucks experience, but if you are a coffee addict, it will be delicious none the less.

29.  Bonus item: Make dryer sheets

Okay, this is not a survival necessity but it works so well, I just had to include it. First of all, I do not use nor do I endorse the use of commercial dryer sheets. Sometimes, though, I will dampen a coffee filter with some white vinegar and a few drops of my favorite essential oil (lavender). When it is raining and cold and I cannot hang my sheets outdoors to dry, I will pop one of these scented filters into the dryer and my sheets will smell heavenly.


Tucker Apr 2012 001My inspiration for this article was finding myself without a bowl for Tucker the Dog’s food while traveling home from my recent visit to the Seattle area.  I just happened to have a coffee filter in my glove box – the perfect makeshift bowl.

I had a long drive so that go me thinking – what a great pooper scooper!

When I got home, I started thinking of other uses – some I found on the internet and just sort of came to me.  What about you?  Do you have some unique uses of coffee filters in a survival situation?

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


If you have not done so already, please be sure to like Backdoor Survival on Facebook to be updated every time there is an awesome new article, news byte, or free survival, prepping or homesteading book on Amazon.

In addition, when you sign up to receive email updates you will receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

Bargain Bin: I am newly obsessed with my cast iron skillet.  Last night I gave my favorite pan a good scrubbing with oil and salt.  All of the little bumpy bits smoothed out and it is now nice and smooth.  If you are thinking about a cast iron skillet, check out the following items.  And also get yourself some coffee filters!

Brew Rite Coffee Filter – 700 ct.: Coffee filters are cheap.  Try Costco or the Dollar Store – or Amazon, of course.

Lodge Logic 12-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet: This purchase changed the way I cook. I use my cast iron cookware for everything from salmon, to bacon and eggs, to biscuits. For under $20, there is no excuse not to own this survival basic. Don’t forget the Lodge Set of 2 Pan Scrapers, a must have for cleaning those food bits from your cast iron cookware.

Lodge Dutch Oven/Camp Stove: I originally purchased this Dutch oven because it was so darn cute. But over time, I have learned to love it for its versatility. Remember, a camp stove is designed so that you can bake with it by arranging charcoal on top of the lid as well as underneath the Dutch Oven itself.

Ove’ Gloves Hot Surface Handler: I cannot say enough about these hand and arm protectors. I have permanent scars from hitting my arm on the rack of my oven. I can only imagine what I would look like if I did not use these with my cast iron cookware. Forget the colorful silicon hot pads. These are 1000 times better!

Four Silicone Brushes: I call these”mop thingies”. Great for layering a nice thin coat of oil on your cast iron pans.

Lodge 5-Quart Double Dutch Oven and Casserole with Skillet Cover: This is another cool piece. This Dutch Oven does not have legs and is designed for indoor use – but it can be used outdoors too. Just don’t forget the Ove Gloves.

Lodge Logic Pre-Seasoned 15 Inch Cast-Iron Skillet: Similar to the 12” skillet only bigger.

One More Thing: It has been very cold up here in the Pacific Northwest this winter. Make sure you are nice and toasty by having a heater that will work if the power goes out for an extended period.

Mr. Heater Portable “Big Buddy” Heater : A number of readers have mentioned this portable heater to me. Using propane and safe for indoor use, the Big Buddy Heater features an automatic low-oxygen shut-off system that automatically turns the unit off before carbon monoxide fumes reach dangerous levels in home.

Now how good is that? Read the reviews and decide for yourself. I think that in a power down situation, this is a great option for someone without a wood burning heat source.

Shop the Emergency Essentials Monthly Specials: The monthly specials at Emergency Essentials feature discounts of up to 35% off sometimes a bit more.

Specials that I like this month are their SUPERPAIL of Soft White Wheat, a Deluxe Grain Mill and Motor and the Provident Pantry Freeze Dried Meat Essentials Combo. The grain mill is on sale for $123.98 (normally $189.99).

In addition, this month Emergency Essentials is featuring their 55 gallon water barrel combo kit. The kit includes a 55 gallon water barrel, Aquamira water treatment, a barrel buddy, and emergency siphon and 2 bung seal caps. The price for everything is $94.99 – a discount of about 33%.

Like this and want more?

CLICK HERE to visit Backdoor Survival on Facebook
CLICK HERE to follow Survival Woman on Twitter.

Spread the Word – Tell your friends: Share Backdoor Survival with your friends. All you need to do to send them a short email. Now that was easy!

Need something from Amazon (and who doesn’t)? I earn a small commission from purchases made when you begin your Amazon shopping experience here. You still get great Amazon service and the price is the same, no matter what.

Amazon has a cool new feature called Shop Amazon – Most Wished For Items. This is an easy tool for finding products that people are ‘wishing” for and in this way you know what the top products are. Like I said, very cool.

Shop Amazon Tactical – Great Selection of Optics, Knives, Cases, Equipment
Amazon’s Most Wished For Items in Sports and Outdoors

Help support Backdoor Survival. Purchases earn a small commission and for that I thank you!


29 Reasons to Use Coffee Filters for Survival — 31 Comments

  1. Great article. On the Buddy heaters…. I suggest that if you purchase one, get the adapter hose so you can use a 20 pound or larger tank with it instead of trying to store all those small tanks that will only last about an hour each. You can safely store several of the “grill” type tanks and they will last quite some time. Much cheaper also.

      • Sounds like good advice, BUT, there may be fire and safety codes, or lease agreements, that prohibit keeping or using a 20# or larger tank inside a dwelling. A 20# tank, if it explodes, can take down a house. Be sure you check your local laws and agreements before investing in the equipment.

          • You are most welcome, Gaye. I’ve just discovered your site, and really appreciate the down-to-earth, no fantasy approach you take. I intend to visit often.

          • I think most all laws and regulations came about as a result of ignorance (or just plain stupidity ) shown by people at some point in time..
            So, yes, people should obtain and use what they need, but should use common sense or learn about what the dangers are and what to do to reduce or eliminate any potential problems.

  2. Strange, been on the island for 14 years, and this has been the mildest winter here…. Great uses for filters though!
    Take care

    • I agree, it has been mild but the biting wind has been icy cold for some reason. Probably because I am near the water. Even in the snowy years, I do not remember it to be this bad.

      Glad you enjoyed my article!

      — Gaye

      • Tucker is the smartest one among us!! Not only is he bright-eyed and perky, he’s conned some red-headed woman into treating him like the King he thinks he is. GO TUCKER!!

  3. I’m glad to hear you like cast iron for cooking. Here’s a quick way I use to clean mine: pull up some grass by the roots and scour the bottom and sides with that (yes, dirt and all. Dirt is the abrasive) then rinse, heat and season. I use this method often and it came in real handy while we were building our new house and didn’t have a lot of water yet.If you use the roots for scrubbing and then wipe it out with clean grass or leaves it goes pretty quick and does a good job.

    Another little cast iron trick I use is after I’m done cleaning my cast iron and it’s still hot, rub a little bees wax on it instead of grease to keep it seasoned. Don’t smell and don’t impart any taste to whatever you cook next.

    • @Burntfinger – I have been fiddling with my cast iron skillet these past few days and am worried that I scraped off some of the seasoning with over-vigorous cleaning while using a metal spatula. Bad news and I knew better. I normally use both salt and baking soda for cleaning the crud off my cast iron but dirt? What a great idea. Sand would probably work too.

      BTW, I have been known to use leaves and grass as TP in the woods.:)

      • What works for me is an almost dead Scotch pad – 1/2 step from being pitched, it’s so worn. There’s enough scratchy left to get the residue, but not enough to damage the surface.

        RE: your BTW comment above, just remember, “Leaves of three, let it be!”


        • @Soupbone – I just bought a chore girl pad at the grocery for about $2. That should do the trick don’t you think? I ignored the advice from Lodge to start over and take the skillet to bare metal. Instead I continued to use my skillet as is just to see what would happen. It is still fine and nothing is sticking – so I guess I did not scrape off the seasoning after all.

  4. When we traveled in our travel trailer, I would keep coffee filters between bowls and pans to give some protection from rubbing together if things shifted a bit during travel. Worked well.

  5. Hi there, You’ve done an incredible job here. I’ll definitely be back.
    And will personally recommend it to my friends. I’m sure they’ll benefit from this site.


  7. I think a coffee filter saturated with any petroleum based product like vaseline or even mineral oil, or vegetable oil, and then rolled up, crumpled up, or twisted would burn for a pretty good amount of time to get that hard to light fire going… It would act as a wick of sorts….

  8. Today, I went to the beachfront with my children. I found a sea
    shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said “You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear.” She placed
    the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear.
    She never wants to go back! LoL I know this is entirely off
    topic but I had to tell someone!

  9. Hi
    I love all your ideas for the coffee filters. I thought of one more that I thought I would share. In an emergency situation, power outage etc. you could use the coffee filter to catch candle wax if you needed to supervise burning candles. Now I realize that this may be a little dangerous with children around but if you are by yourself with no power, it might work. :)
    Thanks again for all of your ideas, they are really helpful.

    • I always copy and paste the text I want to print into office or notepad to make sure that I am only going to print what I need.

  10. Coffee filters can also use as water filter. In case of emergency and you need water to drink you can use coffee filter to remove dirt in the water then you can boil it afterwards for a much cleaner water.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.