DIY Water Distillation

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Distilled water is produced by evaporating water in one location and allowing the steam to condense in another location where it is collected. This process works well if dealing with impure water, seawater, or other less than desirable forms of water. Done properly, distilled water is free of minerals or contaminants and is perfectly safe to drink. Specific systems for distillation are available for purchase, but a homemade system works the same way and is cheaper to build.

Things You'll Need

  • Large stock pot
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • 3/8 inch hollow brass barbed fitting
  • 3 foot long, 3/8 inch diameter plastic refrigerator water line
  • Pitcher or other collection container
  • Oven mitts
  • Purchase a large stock pot that has a removable handle on the lid. Get one that is at least 1 gallon capacity, but a 2-gallon is probably better. Don't use a stock pot with a lid handle that is welded on. Wash the pot and lid in hot soapy water.

  • Turn the lid over and remove the screw that holds the handle in place with a Phillips screwdriver. Measure the diameter of the hole left in the lid and get a hollow barbed brass fitting of the same size. The most common size is 3/8 inch, but it depends on the lid. Carefully screw this fitting into the hole so it is tight against the metal lid.

  • Feed one end of a 3-foot, 3/8-inch diameter plastic refrigerator water line into the hole in the fitting. The fit is snug, so apply some force to push it through so that approximately 1/4 inch is below the inside of the lid.

  • Place the other end of the water line into a clean water jug, pan, pitcher or other container. Position this other container approximately 2 feet away from the pot and slightly lower to allow gravity to help in the process.

  • Fill the pot with water and bring it to a boil on a stove. Heat the water to a low boil without the lid and let it roll in the pan for a few minutes at this heat. When it is consistently boiling, place the lid with hose attached over the pot and verify that the other end won't pop out of the collection container.

  • Look at the hose to verify that steam from the water is rising through the tube. If the system is correct, you will see condensation form on the inside of the tube. As the steam cools in the tube, it converts back to a liquid and distilled water drips into the container.

  • Check the boiling pot after about 15 or 20 minutes to see how much water is left in the pot. Only open the lid momentarily and then reseal. Stop the process if there is 1 inch or less of water remaining.

  • Empty the remaining water and clean the pot, lid, and hose in warm soapy water before boiling again to remove any sediment left behind after the evaporation.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use a pot with a transparent lid. This helps you check the water level without opening the lid and letting steam escape.
  • Wear oven mitts when handling the pot or lifting the lid to check the water. Rapidly released steam will burn exposed skin.

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References

  • "The Drinking Water Book: How to Eliminate Harmful Toxins from Your Water"; Colin Ingram; 2006
  • Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images
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