Build water distiller? : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

Can anyone tell me how to build a water distiller that will produce at least a gallon a day? I know you can buy them, but I want to construct my own. Thanks bunches for your help.

-- Lois (, August 03, 2001


Assuming you're able to do some wiring and not make sparks fly. :)

Go visit these folks and request a catalog, or order online. I've purchased from them over the years.

You need a boiling device of some sort. They have heating elements from small to huge as well as thermostats and timers.

Meci had the guts to a 10cup coffee perker, don't have a catalog handy right now. It was really cheap <$8. Not sure how easy it is to clean or how hot it really gets.

You mount the temp sensor as close to the heating element as possible, you want it to shut down before the element starts to glow.

To cool the steam you want to you can use a nice coil of copper tubing. get from a Hardware store.

You might want to play with an old coffee maker to get the details worked out. They really don't get hot enough to make good steam.

What ever unit you build you want the be able to clean the bottom out easily! And you really don't want to boil of the last of the water, this way you can pour out most of the gunk with out having to scub it all out. Rinse with a dose of vinegar, to help clean out the deposits.

Most importantly you actually want to vent the first few minutes of steam - volitles and other nastey stuff get boiled off first.

Some other ideas would be to use a hotplate and an old pot. Be sure to use a timer on this. Drill a hole in the lid and connect the coil. I'd also run a small fan to cool the coil.

just some randumb thoughts.

-- (, August 03, 2001.

Thanks, Perry, for all the info. It sounds do-able. One question, though--what length of copper tubing would you recommend?

-- Lois (, August 03, 2001.

Probably enough to make 6 or 7 turns w/ a dia. of about 8-16" (Also, try searching google for "Home made still", as it is the exact same idea, for the most part)

-- Brendan K Callahan (Grinnell, IA) (, August 03, 2001.


I'd say about 25' feet should be way more than enough, 10' might work, it really depends on how much cooling you provide to condense the steam.

Steam is very dangerous, it can actually be lethal!
Some surfaces will be scalding hot!

A just poped into my head method: use a big water bath canner kettle, inverted [upside-down] as the cooling condenser, tilt it a bit to one side to collect the condensed water -- use a fan to cool it. The tilting may not work well enough, you may need to drill the lid and use that as the collector.

Use only food grade materials, since you plan on drinking the results!

Meci sells 'muffin' fans, small square fans that push alot of air - get the finger guards, too.

-- (, August 03, 2001.

Lois if you want ill send you a drawing of my sti ops i mean water distiller.but will have to use snail mail as i dont know how to work this contrapsun.Bob se.ks.

-- Bobco (, August 03, 2001.

You can build a simple solar modelby using two shallow trays and a piece clear plastic and some coat hangers. Make a tent frame over one trays from the wire and stretch the plastic over it and extend one side of the plastic to the other tray . As the sun shines into the tray with the dirty water , it will condense on the fabric and run into the collection tray as distilled water.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, August 04, 2001.

Good answer, Jay. I read a story in the Reader's Digest, I think, where this contraption saved someone's life. Provided drinking water in the boonies or somewhere where they would have died without knowledge of this simple rig.

-- daffodyllady (, August 04, 2001.

This design can distill twice as much if you place collectors on both sides of the resevior so the tent sides drip to both sides and no steam, pressure or fuel required. I learned about it in the self sufficiency book by John Seymour. Also the tent frame can be made of wood or old fishing rod to last longer and not rust.

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, August 04, 2001.

Hmmm! I would like to see that contraption work, the water vapour would need to condense on the plastic which it would only do if the temperature of the plastic is below the prevailing dew point. Might work well on a rainy day though.

-- john hill (, August 04, 2001.

I never tried this, but we were discussing this and hit on this theory.Another solar powered design could be made using two 5 gallon carboy jugs , one drilled plug , a length of 1/2 inch hose, a couple mirror reflectors and a dirt mound. Put the non potable water in one jug, insert the plug and hose, then run the hose to the collector at a lower level. Cover the hose with a layer of soil a foot or two deep. Use the mirrors to keep the sunlight heating the distiller. It should condense in the cooler soil condition and fill the collector. You could even use non potable water to moisten the dirt layer if necessary to maintain the condensation point

-- Jay Blair in N. AL (, August 05, 2001.

I would use 10'minimum of food grade 3/8" to 1/2" stainless steel tubing for a condensing coil.

-- Edwin Mulhearn (, March 14, 2002.

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