Making Distilled Water

David Trammel's picture

The method and information here was interesting. I like the point they make that distilling water does not remove the chemicals from it, just kills the microbes.

"How To Make Distilled Water: 6 Easy Steps"

Boil method:

1) Take as large a pot you can get with a lid. Get a second, smaller bowl or pot that can fit in it, and which can be heated.

2) Put the smaller pot inside the larger one, then fill the larger with enough water so that it does not over flow into the smaller one. You may have to go lower, depending on whether the smaller one tries to float. You might add a few weights, but make sure they are clean. The smaller pot is where your distilled water will collect.

3) Put the whole thing on a source of heat. Put the lid on the larger pot, but put it upside down, so that the handle (in the center) sits over the smaller bowl. This is what will collect the steam and then channel the drips.

4) Put something cool in the lid. This will cause a temperature difference and promote condensation. The article suggests ice, but I'm going to suggest you save the ice in a cooler. Add some water to it, then have several wash clothes, which you dip in the cold water. Put the wet cloth in the center of the lid. This will allow you to remove the cloth as it gets warm and replace it. If you don't have ice, a source of cooler water would probably work.

5) Turn the heat on. It doesn't have to boil, though high heat is better at killing microbes.

6) Keep an eye on the process. As the bad water boils, the volume in the larger pot will lower and the volume in the smaller pot will grow. You want to remove the now good distilled water at regular intervals. BE CAREFUL, you are dealing with very hot water capable of causing burns. Same with the steam from inside the pot. When you lift the lid, do so with the opening away from you.

This is not the best method but can do in a pinch if you need specifically distilled water for CPACs or other medical equipment or first aid. Most of us can probably get away with just drinking filtered water.

If you need for distilled water was more long term, I could see making a solar powered distiller instead, which used a copper coil condenser instead of ice.

kma's picture

David Trammel's picture

I was thinking about the more historic stills from the Bootleg times, I see doing a quick image search that design is not optimal for use with solar. I wonder what kind of output you get on the one you link to. Whether having a permanent set up in a sunny part of your yard could supplement or even replace rain water capture.

Of course with rain water the weather collects your water, where with a solar still you'd need a near by water source. Something not a lot of people would have. Distilled water seems like a specialty niche item. Maybe pairing the two up. Collect rain water and then treat the water you use for drinking.

Um. Boiling kills microbes and removes impurities that can be converted to gas by that amount of heat, but leaves behind all the ones that can't. So it's useless for removing, say, lead.

Distillation, where you collect the water vapor and re-condense it, should result in impurities such as lead and other metals, particles of sand etc being left behind in the original water. Because they don't vaporize, they stay in the original water and will eventually precipitate out on the bottom of the pot. The recondensed water should be free of them. Of course, any impurities that get vaporized and then recondensed with with the water would continue to stay. But it's an effective way to remove metals, particles of rock and the like, as well as killing micro-organisms.