General

How to Make Your Own Distilled Water

DIY Distilled Water

The dictionary defines the term distilled water as “water from which impurities, such as dissolved salts and colloidal particles, have been removed by one or more processes of distillation; chemically pure water.”

Although the process for making distilled water may sound complicated, it really isn’t. Distilling water may take a little time, but the payoff is worth the effort, especially when the end results are pure water.

It does take some time to properly distill water, though, so let’s dive right in and learn how to distill your own water.

Why Distilled Water?

Water distillation can literally be a lifesaver. Distilling water removes all kinds of toxins from your water source. Bacteria, particles, metals, viruses and much more are all left behind when you properly distill water.

Distillation can convert any kind of water you have—tap, salt, waste or even water from streams, rivers or ponds—into a potable source of water. Distillation takes just a few household items to provide you with a safe drinking water source.

Distilling water in your kitchen is a great idea for preppers, too, as you can distill larger amounts at a time and store for later use.

Materials Needed for DIY Distilled Water

Here’s what you’ll need for kitchen distillation:

  • A large pot (with a concave lid)
  • A glass bowl
  • Ice

Steps for Distilling Water

Here are the steps involved in distilling your own water:

Step 1: Fill it up!

Fill your pot full and place it on medium to high heat. Put more water in your pot than you plan to distill at a time, since you’ll lose some in the process.

Step 2: Float it!

Drop your glass bowl into the pot, making sure it floats. You must be able to pour water into the glass bowl while it is floating. Then place your lid on the pot upside down (so the curved part of the lid is downward).

Step 3: Create condensation!

Place your ice onto the concave lid. Make sure you have plenty of ice on the lid, but don’t overfill it. The ice cools the distillate and speeds up condensation in the pot.

Step 4: Cool it down!

As the ice cools the moisture-filled air in the pot, water droplets form and cling to the lid. Eventually, the droplets (now distilled water) fall into the bowl floating in the water.

Step 5: Pay attention!

Pay close attention to your floating bowl—it holds your distilled water. Remove it from the pot before it becomes too full and sinks. Once it is full (and still floating) remove the lid and take the bowl out of the pot.

Take your freshly distilled water out of the bowl and store it however you wish. Repeat as needed until you have the amount of distilled water you were striving for.

Have you got a stash of water you distilled yourself? Did you have fun prepping it all? Share with us in the comments section.

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Editor’s note: this post was originally published in September 2014. It has been completely updated and revamped for clarity and accuracy.

The Mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!'s blog, The Shooter's Log, is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!

Comments (13)

  1. Great description. I’d love to see a diagram of this process, too. One of my old roommates years ago had something similar to this in our house.

  2. SLINGSHOT.

    Slingshot is a Three-Stepped, Self-Contained Non-Networked Stirling-Steam Engine Powered, Water Vapor Compression Distillation System Step ONE: The user places a hose in any dirty water source—say, a polluted river or well—and a small pump draws the fluid into the boiling chamber. As the water reaches boiling point, it turns to steam, which leaves behind any pollutants. They then flow out of the chamber via a separate hose line. Step TWO: The steam rises into a compressor, which squeezes it and thereby raises its pressure and its temperature by ~50F more. The high-pressure vapor now has a higher boiling point, which means it can condense back into water at a temperature greater the 212F. Step THREE: A counterflow heat exchanger runs the superheated water past the incoming flow of dirty water. The process heats the incoming water and then cools the hot water to ~room temperature. That distilled water is ready to drink, while the dirty water vaporizes and begins the whole process all over again. It promises to produce ~1,000-Liters (~264-US. Gallons per Day). Currently the system’s price is not set. But, should sell between $1,000.00 to $2,000.00 USD. There is no website address at this time, but you should be able to find on the NET. Example: Slingshot Water Purifier.

  3. There has to be at least ONE old moon shiner who reads the Shooters Log. Black pot tec. Will try to guess who will respond based on user name.Removing junk or sour mash from a liquid same thing. Different temps for water or shine.

  4. If I have the heat source, I’d use a pressure cooker minus the weight on top… run 3-4 feet of 1/4″ copper tubing [like you would hook up your refrigerator’s ice maker with] from the opening on the top of the pressure cooker a few feet over to your water container. ****Don’t completely seal the top of the pressure cooker so you don’t build up too much steam. As the steam leaves the pot… it cools down in the 3-4′ of copper tubing and turns back to water and drips into your water bottle. No different than making pure moonshine. Just make darn sure you use copper tubing.

  5. the kitchen method is all well and good, but the bottom your bowl is now contaminated with whatever toxic water you are trying to distill.

    you will have to dip out of the bowl, or draw out the distilled liquid by hand, AND BE SUPER CAREFUL not to contaminate the inside of your bowl when refilling with toxic source(s).

  6. I’ll cast a skeptical eye on solar stills and this kitchen still. I’ve made about 6 solar stills and never got more than maybe an ounce from them, even when soaking the pit before closing it up. Here’s what appears to be the problem.

    The moisture in the pit heats up, evaporates, condenses on the underside of the plastic sheet, drains to the bottom middle of the sheet, and drips into a container. Now, here’s the rub. There is no difference between the distilled water in the container and the other moisture in the pit, so guess what? The moisture in the container will continually re-evaporate, same as any other moisture in the pit! So, unless you also put a long tube into the pit so you can suck out sips of water at regular, short intervals, how are you going to collect any significant drinking water with this simple setup?

    The kitchen method seems to share the same flaw… the water in the floating bowl is going to continually re-evaporate unless you somehow draw it out frequently.

    Besides that, with solar stills, what’s the likelihood you are going to have a suitable plastic sheet, much less a suitable drinking tube? And, if you’re going to say that you’d have to plan in advance to obtain and carry/store these items, then why not plan in advance to obtain and carry/store a more versatile and productive water treatment method? And, other than desert sand, chances are pretty good that you’re going to work pretty hard digging that hole, especially if you didn’t plan ahead and bring a shovel so you have to use a stick or your hands to dig…

    As for the kitchen version, it appears that you’re going to need a lot of fuel to produce much drinking water this way.

    Any distillation rig will work immensely better if you route the condensate away from the evaporation chamber for collection in a cooler location.

    In the kitchen, you might do better to use a slanted pan positioned over the pot (but extending off to the side) to condense steam on the pan’s underside. The condensate would drain down and drip off into another pan or bowl off to one side of the heated pot. The collected condensate wouldn’t be subject to rapid re-evaporation and would be easier to collect.

    Similarly, if you’re going to go to the effort to did a solar still pit and you have that tube to suck out sips of cleaned water, maybe you could dig a second, smaller but slightly deeper, pit right next to the main pit, with a narrow channel connecting their bottoms. Put your collection tin in the bottom of the deeper pit and run your tube from it back to stick up from the bottom of the main pit, and back fill the channel with dirt.. Rig a funnel from a rolled leaf or bit of your plastic sheet to catch condensate dripping from the plastic sheet and direct the water into the tube. The water will flow downhill into your collection tin positioned in the smaller pit.

  7. I like the kitchen still!! I ran boilers in the Navy –DD785–.We had to make every drop of fresh water we used. In past blogs I talked about using a tarp to make a solar still. But to tie two “water” blogs with the “coffee pot power blog” how about a junk water boiler ? Gray water in,make steam,power generator turban ,cool condensate to drink. Three blogs one solution.

    1. 72-73 Nam.We were good at making water never had to go to salt water showers. Just short. USS Henderson got sold. Became the flag ship of the Pakistani Navy. Subic rocked!

  8. http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Distilled-Water

    Same process here (with some refinement to make it easier to avoid sinking your bottle), plus a couple of other methods.

    In desert survival situations, we used to dig a pit about 2-3 feet across, perhaps 9-12 inches deep. Then, we’d stretch a poncho or plastic sheet (like a black garbage bag) over the entire hole and weight down the edges with a berm of dirt or sand to seal it down. Then, put a light rock in the center of the tarp so the tarp tents downward. Put a bowl or jar under the lowest part of the tarp and seal it up. The moisture in the soil will evaporate onto the poncho or plastic and run down to the lowest point and drip into the container. If things are very dry, you can put grass, twigs, weeds, food waste, etc. under the cover and the moisture will evaporate. I’ve seen about a pint of water “distilled” this way in about four hours when the temperature was over 100 F. Be careful not to put alcohol, as the evaporation point of alcohol is lower than water and you’ll just get the alcohol back into your drinking water – booze, even low amounts of it is not good in high heat. Also, anything that can contain methanol – same warning, but remember methanol is “wood” alcohol and can kill you. As an aside, I’ve seen this method also used to dry meat and veggies, though it takes a bit longer, like a couple of days. Usually, we were quick to get out of the desert as possible and didn’t really need any long range food stuffs.

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