How to Siphon Water

Siphoning is a great way of using gravity to move large amounts of water from one location to another. You can empty a pool, clean a fish tank, or prepare rainwater jugs by siphoning. If you are working with fresh water, it’s possible to move water through a siphon using pressure from your mouth. If you are working with a single siphon tube, submerging the tube and draining it is a quick option. However, if you are tackling a larger job, then a two-hose siphon system might be your best bet.

EditSteps

EditSiphoning with Your Mouth

  1. Position the empty bucket. You’ll need to use gravity to siphon water from one spot to another. The object that the water is coming from must be higher than its final destination. So, if you are siphoning water from a full bucket to an empty bucket, place the destination bucket on a stable, lower surface.[1]
    Siphon Water Step 1 Version 2.jpg
  2. Position the tube. Stick the end of your siphon tube into the empty destination bucket. It should almost reach the bottom of the bucket to prevent it from coming back out. Then, place the other end of the siphon into the full bucket.[2]
    Siphon Water Step 2 Version 2.jpg
    • You can use almost any type of hose or tube for siphoning. However, it really helps if the hose is clear, so that you can see the progress of the water.
  3. Suck lightly on the end of the tube. Pick up the end of the siphon tube from the lower destination bucket or container. Hold the tube end up vertically to prevent any air bubbles. Place your lips against the tube’s end and suck against it gently. Continue until the water reaches just past the halfway point of the tube.[3]
    Siphon Water Step 3 Version 2.jpg
    • Be careful to watch the location of the water in the tube or you might end up swallowing some as it comes out of the end. This is a reason why it is not a good idea to siphon other liquids, like gasoline, with your mouth.
  4. Let the water pour into the empty bucket. Take the end of the halfway full siphon tube away from your mouth and quickly place it into the lower container. The water will start to run into the bucket through the siphon. It will continue until the upper container is emptied or you pull the siphon end out of either container.[4]
    Siphon Water Step 4 Version 2.jpg

EditSiphoning by Submersion

  1. Immerse the tube in a container of water. Coil the siphon tube into a circle and place it into a container full of water. Gently push the tube down until it is completely covered. You will see air bubbles pop up to the surface of the water, as the air escapes from the inside of the tube. Once the bubbles stop, the tube is full of water and ready to be drained.[5]
    Siphon Water Step 5 Version 2.jpg
    • To make sure that the bubbles are completely out of the tube, shake it a bit before pulling it out.
  2. Place your finger over the end of the tube. Now that the tube is full of water, you’ll need to stop up the end that you plan to pull out of the container. Fold or crimp the tube in on itself toward the end, creating a barrier. Then, place your finger or thumb over the end, blocking off the flow of water out of the tube.[6]
    Siphon Water Step 6 Version 2.jpg
    • The tube must stay totally under the water during this process or you’ll end up with bubbles in it.
  3. Move the plugged end of the tube to the empty container. Slowly and carefully lift the blocked tube end out of the water. Keep your finger covering the end of the tube. And, make sure the other, unblocked end stays securely under the water. Place the blocked end into the lower, empty container.[7]
    Siphon Water Step 7 Version 2.jpg
  4. Unplug the tube. Pull your finger away from the end of the tube. Hold the tube down slightly with your fingers to keep it from flailing around as the water starts to come out. Watch the water move from the higher container and into this new one. If the water flow seems to stall, give the tube a small, quick shake to start it up again.[8]
    Siphon Water Step 8 Version 2.jpg

EditSiphoning with Two Garden Hoses

  1. Position the first garden hose. Put the end of your hose in the bottom of a higher container that the water will move out from. If you choose to anchor the hose down with an object to keep it from moving, just make sure that it doesn’t block the water flow. Then, place the opposite end of the same hose into a container that is the destination for the siphoned water.[9]
    Siphon Water Step 9 Version 2.jpg
    • This is a great method to use if you need to siphon water over a longer distance or if you need to move a large amount of water.
  2. Attach the shut-off valve. Screw on the valve to the end of the hose that is at the bottom of the higher container. Make sure that the valve is set on the open position. You can purchase a shut off valve at your local garden store.[10]
    Siphon Water Step 10 Version 2.jpg
  3. Attach a second hose. Get the unused hose and screw one of its ends into the empty side of the shut off valve. Then, attach the other end of the second hose in to a nearby faucet. Double check that all of your connections are secure and tight.[11]
    Siphon Water Step 11 Version 2.jpg
  4. Fill the siphon hose. Turn your faucet until it starts to send water out through both hoses. Watch to see when the first hose is full. Then, turn the shut off valve into the off position. You can then disconnect the second hose from both the faucet and the valve. This will leave you with one hose that is full of water and connected to both containers.[12]
    Siphon Water Step 12 Version 2.jpg
  5. Open the shut-off valve. As soon as you move the valve into the open position, the water will rush out of the hose and into its final container. You can hold the end of the hold somewhat upright to guide the flow of water, if you like.
    Siphon Water Step 13 Version 2.jpg

EditVideo

EditThings You’ll Need

  • Container of water
  • Plastic tube
  • 2 garden hoses
  • Shut-off valve
  • Bucket
  • Object to anchor the garden hose

EditTips

  • If you are siphoning as part of an experiment, add a few drops of food coloring to the higher water container. You’ll then be able to see that water travel down the tube and into the empty bucket.[13]

EditWarnings

  • Make sure that the hoses that you are using do not have any holes. If they leak water, then the siphon process may be slowed down or it may not work at all.
  • It’s a good idea to have a separate hose for siphoning water. Do not use the same hose for gasoline products or chemicals.[14]

EditSources and Citations

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