Mushroom Filters

amanita muscaria fly agaric fungus grass
Photo by Pixabay on

Mycrofiltration (not to be confused with microfiltration) is a biological water filtration method that puts mushrooms to use. The variety of research on beneficial aspects of mushrooms shows that there are many ways to apply them – in both water filtration and medicine. The EPA saw enough potential in the method that they funded research at Washington State University aimed at filtering bacteria from storm water runoff using the web-like tissue of fungi to capture and degrade particles. Another study found that a certain type of oyster mushroom could filter environmentally hazardous PCP-contaminated water. The problem is, you can’t just stick a mushroom in a tub full of water and expect it to do its thing. Mushroom spawn are mixed with other substrates, other times they are ground up, and still other methods involve extracting metabolites from the fungi.

white mushroom surrounded with green leaves
Photo by hermaion on

One article on mushrooms from 1972 sought to explain the antimicrobial properties of the fungus basidiomycetes, which scientists suspected were due to metabolites discovered in similar studies from the 1940’s. Eleven different solutions of mushroom-related metabolites were tested for antimicrobial characteristics by being introduced to various bacteria. This included Bacillus subtilis, Stuphylococcus aureus, Mycobacterium smegmuiis, Etrterobucter aerogenes, Escherichia coli, Pseudomonirs fluorescens, and Candidu ulbicans. The authors of the study found the metabolite solutions of hispidin, bisnoryanyonin, and vulpinic acid to be the most useful against the introduced bacteria. However, the metabolites were deemed to be less clinically useful than pre-existing antibiotic alternatives such as penicillins and tetracyclines.

“Fungi” by troutcolor is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 

Mushroom filtration is something I’ve never researched before, and even though it is praised as an efficient and eco-friendly method, the results of the EPA-funded study are yet to be released. Do you think there are health benefits to using mushrooms – for filtration, medicine, or otherwise?

Cheers, Jess 🙂

9 responses to “Mushroom Filters”

  1. Hi Jess,
    That’s fascinating, but not entirely surprising, considering that some of our earliest and still effective antibiotics (penicillin, streptomycin) were produced by fungi. I think this is a great field for further research.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. very true. also, i wonder if mushroom filters aren’t so popular because the mushrooms die after a bit and stop filtering!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Good question. I really do not know anything about that process, other than what I read in your post. But it is very fascinating!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. The problem with using mushrooms to filter water is that it’ll attract all the Hobbits from a 100-km radius. Do you have any idea how much Hobbits can eat?

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Ugh so true, someone needs to write that into the implications section of any future publications. and hmmm…i’ll ask next time i see one!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. Hello, my name is Adam from ParagonTrails, and I’ve just discovered your blog! Mycology, the study of mushrooms, has been somewhat of an obsession of mine as of late, and no matter how much I study there are just more and more rabbit holes! I never knew that mushrooms could be used for filtering water too.

    You should look up Paul Stamets, and his interview on the Joe Rogan podcast. Some of the stats that Stamets states include: thirty percent of the organic matter that we walk on in the soil is fungi, there are some five million registered species of fungi and the number is continuing to climb every day, and around 450 million years ago animals split off from fungi which makes animals fruiting bodies.

    One of the most remarkable parts of the podcast is when Stamets talks about how he discovered that honeybees can drink the dew from certain species of mushrooms and gain immunity to parasites and diseases which protects their populations from extinction. This is really important since honeybee populations are dying off in record numbers.

    Anyways though, I’m going off on quite the tangent. I really enjoyed your post, and I’m going to check out the rest of the website! Looking forward to more awesome content! Happy Trails!

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks for commenting, Adam! I’m glad someone out there is curious about mushrooms. A lot of people in the science realm research mycorrhizae, but not as a water treatment technique. I’ll have to pop over to your blog and listen to the Paul Stamets piece. Cheers!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Jess, thank you for sharing your research. Do you have any source on how to actually build mycofiltration filters? I collect rain water from my roof, for agricultural use, but have been wondering whether it could be mycofiltered to make it drinkable. I have been growing mushrooms for a while now, so it is not like I need to start from the basics. But I still have many doubts.

    Things like: how large would a filter need to be in order to process all the water that would be running through it in those specific circumstances? Are there any formulas for calculating that? Or would you just do trial and error?

    In my mind I see it could work if you shredded some straw and then inoculated it with either Oyster or Wine Caps (both of them would work, according to the literature). Then? Perhaps packing it into a thick pipe connected to the one the water is running through? Into some kind of box (if it needs to be larger than just a pipe)?

    And so on and so forth, the questions are many, and the answers few. I don’t mind trial and error (that is basically how I learnt to grow), but anything that would save me some time would be really welcome.



    1. Thanks for the inquiry, and sorry for the late response! I am honestly not sure what the answer to this is, so I have been scouring the web to find mycrofiltration design guides and I have come up short. Many studies appear to focus on the chemical aspect by isolating certain mushroom compounds and testing their use for water filtration or other uses that way. If you use the “Contact Me” page I can send you information from the one study that you might be able to replicate titled “Mushroom-derived chitosan-glucan nanopaper filters for the treatment of water”. It appears that they ground the mushrooms, heated them, and then mixed them some more, then added them to a salt solution, added some other chemicals, etc. The results showed that the mushroom filter might be capable of removing viruses or heavy metals, so it would be a pretty reliable filter at least for industrial wastewater. However, the study has not been replicated and therefore caution should be taken when applying their methods to drinking water. You might have to do something to remove the bigger particles first so you don’t break the mushroom filter, such as screening or maybe sediment filtration. There are formulas for things like finding the amount of activated carbon, chlorine, or alum necessary for treating drinking water, but the papers I found seem like they are really guessing with the mushroom content. One thing you could do is use contaminated, dyed water and then use an at-home test kit to see your filter system removes both the color and the contaminants. My concern is the accuracy and precision of the at-home test kits to tell you how well your system works. I have used one before to test my own water and they are affordable. I think you have a really interesting idea with the straw oyster or wine caps. Perhaps you could keep the mushrooms alive and place them as the top layer of a sediment filter and simply let your water trickle down from the top. Alternatively, you could make a system with different sections and cutoff valves so the water must stay in the section with the mushrooms for a certain amount of time before moving on. I hope you document this process if you are trying it at home. You would be one of very few to test this method and I would be interested in seeing your results. I hope this was at least somewhat helpful and I wish you luck!


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