Anyone make your own water distiller?

Discussion in 'Survival & Sustenance Living Forum' started by 12fretter, Apr 10, 2011.

  1. 12fretter

    12fretter New Member

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    I was looking at designs for a distiller and just like anything else, you can go crazy or simple. Anyone have a good plan for one that will yield drinkable water from, say, pond scum?
     
  2. CA357

    CA357 New Member Supporter

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    I've known some pond scum in my time. ;)

    Actually, that's a very good idea. It never occurred to me, and it's a thought worth exploring.

    Thumbs up fretter.
     

  3. dunerunner

    dunerunner New Member

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  4. 12fretter

    12fretter New Member

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    What I have found is that you can take a pot with a cover, drill a hole towards the top or in the lid, insert the copper tubing into the hole, coil that tubing and blow a fan on it. Then boil water with a little bit of vinegar in it, which supposedly lets you clean the pot more easily of the contaminants left behind after a boil, and the other end of the tubing empties into a glass or catch of some sort.

    There was one issue I didn't quite understand. Apparently you can end up with other gases caught in the water vapor that can end up in the catch. Whether they are harmful or not, I can't tell. But there was some mention of drilling small holes in the top of the coil to allow those gases to escape before they condense into the water. Not sure how that wouldn't allow the actual water vapor to also escape.
     
  5. dunerunner

    dunerunner New Member

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    I would distill twice, or even three times if there were pollutants in the water (gasoline, oil kerosene, etc.) If you drill the hole in the top of the coil 1/3 of the way down the length of the coil, water vapor would have condensed and would collect at the bottom of the coil and any non-condensed gasses could escape through the holes.
     
  6. 12fretter

    12fretter New Member

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    Thanks Dune. I think I'm going to try one this week. I'll see how quickly it yields a gallon. If water becomes the next gold standard as many predict, this could be priceless.
     
  7. dunerunner

    dunerunner New Member

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    Thinking of building one myself!

    [​IMG]
     
  8. AusLach

    AusLach New Member

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    It all depends on the boiling points of the contaminants. If there is petroleum products in your water source (usually identified by the 'rainbow' on top) you will not be able to simply boil the water and collect its vapour. Because petroleum products have a boiling point much lower than that of water they will be the first vapours to condense and you will just end up drinking them too. The holes in the coil would only let equal amounts of water and contaminant vapour escape.

    Here's what I would do.

    The container described above is just about perfect however I'd make one small modification. Drill a hole in the lid just wide enough to fit a mercury thermometer through it.
    Strain your water source as much as possible (through a shirt doubled over a few times will do) and place it into the container mentioned above. Place over a high heat for about 5 minutes but do not put the top on yet. This will allow all of the contaminants with boiling points lower than H20's to evaporate.
    Place the lid on top of the container, positioning the thermometer so it's in the water but not touching the bottom of the container. Boil the water so that the temperature stays as close as possible to water's boiling point (212*F). This will ensure that you don't boil too hot and end up with contaminants with BP's higher than water's vapourising and ending up in your drinking water.

    Using this method you should end up with water that is relatively clean. You can repeat the process however in a survival situation you really don't have the equipment or time to make the water any cleaner so once should be enough :cool:


    EDIT: Dune that's almost perfect! Add a thermometer and a way of regulating the fire's temp. and you'll be set!
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2011
  9. c3shooter

    c3shooter Administrator Staff Member

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    Would point out that you CANNOT heat water hotter than 212 degrees F unless you are using a pressure vessel. At 212 (slightly lower at altitude) it is going to become steam. The water in the furiously boiling pot is the SAME temp as gently boiling- you are just making more steam.
     
  10. AusLach

    AusLach New Member

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    Sorry c3, very true. I was thinking back to the distilling vessels we used at school; a simple container and lid probably wouldn't be enough to boil it any hotter :eek:
     
  11. Yunus

    Yunus New Member

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    A common misconception in distilling is that a liquid composed of different substances with different boiling points will all boil at their exact boiling points. Lets say you have water contaminated with 10% alcohol (Oh NO!). Water boils at 212F, ethanol at 172F and methanol at 149F. But when you run this contaminated water through your still the temperature stays steady at 175F at the first step. What has happened is that your methanol is boiling off first for the most part but it's taking some ethanol and water with it. Everything mixes together and blends, stilling is the process of separating those substances but it's not perfect and might require multiple runs depending on the type of still involved.

    If you want to spend a few bucks. Get a reflux still as this will operate with the most efficiency. If you want to spend less but have a dedicated still go pot still. If you want to be really cheap you can actually distill using 2 pots of different sizes with a large lid. They also make residential water distillers for under $200 that run on electricity and will make a couple gallons a day.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2011
  12. 12fretter

    12fretter New Member

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    I built one today that looks a lot like the picture. But all the steam escapes through the lid, as if it's not on tight. But, I don't want the thing to achieve low Earth orbit. I wonder if I used too small of a size for the copper tubing??
     
  13. Yunus

    Yunus New Member

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    Distilling water is safer than distilling other things (depending on the makeup of your water source) but there are still dangers involved when you are talking about heat and pressure and open flames. The steam is taking the path of least resistance. You can try to create a better seal on the lid but if your tubing is to small you could over pressurize the system and have a blowout, most likely at a seal on the lid or on the connection from the lid to the tubing. Also if you are soldering copper or anything make sure you use solder that is designed for use in water pipes or food, avoid lead.
     
    Last edited: Apr 11, 2011
  14. bizy

    bizy New Member

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    Distilling

    I use a preasure cooker with a piece of automotive vacuum hose to attach a 6' 1/8 ID copper tubing. I use to make my own drink. It really works great.. Only pure alcahol comes out, or in this case only clear distilled water.
     
  15. Yunus

    Yunus New Member

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    You should be careful with the materials you choose. Automotive hoses are not rated for this type of use and could leech plastics or chemicals in the hose into the product.
     
  16. 12fretter

    12fretter New Member

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    EIGHTH inch id? How in the world did you get that to work? I'm using quarter inch ID now and I haven't gotten a single drip out of it. I'm afraid to seal the top completely because it just seems there is no way the steam wants to go down that little tube, and it will explode. I was going to try a much bigger ID but if you're getting it to work with eighth inch, it can't be that.
     
  17. dunerunner

    dunerunner New Member

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    The thing should hold 5#. I never thought of the pressure cooker, I could get one of those at a garage sale!
     
  18. bizy

    bizy New Member

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    Moonshine

    People have been distilling alcahol this way for 100s of years. I know it works for a fact. The preasure cooker, vacuum hose and 1/8 copper tubing I have used many, many times in the 70s and 80s to make my own drink.

    The old timers in the woods didn't have automotive hose to use for the connection, they just used a copper pipe..

    Check out this video on youtube.com
    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mPCiLvrp_0]YouTube - home made still[/ame]

    When distilling water in this manner it is completely safe. Some times people are afraid to use old time methods because their mind has been "WALMARTED"..
     
  19. jungleman

    jungleman New Member

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    If your going to go into the woods for a few days, why bother lugging a water distiller which is just more weight.
    Have you given any thought to using charcoal granuals, as used in the food industry?.
    Just get an ordinary plastic 2 ltr bottle, fill with the charcoal, drill a small hole in one side,about an inch from the bottom, fill with the pond water and drain it into another container. do this 2 or 3 times, and the water should be drinkable, was the last time I did it, but will admit, there must be a limit as to just how "Filthy " the water is your trying to purify.

    WE have a very good magazine over here called simply, "BUSHCRAFT" a very good read, and contains words of wisdom you could survive in any situation in.
    Travel lighter, run faster!!

    Jungleman.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2011
  20. mrm14

    mrm14 Active Member

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    I use one of these for extended backpacking trips.


    http://www.rei.com/product/695265/msr-miniworks-ex-water-filter

    177.jpg



    Also pictured here is the iodine tabs and neutralizer to get viriuses out first.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2011