Anyone made your own still?
- Pure-ist Jul 20, 2003 11:33 PM
Has anyone made their own still? How do you do it and what did you use. and how do you do it?
I live in a flood zone and when my well gets flooded I need clean water.
Yes, I made a small one for a science project in Junior High. It's a simple thing, really. You need a regulatable heat source, a sealable container for the liquid to be distilled, and condenser pipes and a coolant leading from the otherwise sealed boiler to the collection vessel.
The idea is to make pure steam, then condense it back into water and collect it. Might be a bit of an operation if you're talking about drinking water for a family for several days.
You could always consider one of the larger, heavier-duty camping water filters. You can crank out a pretty good amount of safe-to-drink water. I've filtered water from some pretty dubious sources (still pools in the woods) and haven't gotten sick. Some of the better filters will include an iodine cartridge (and iodine chelator to get rid of the funky taste) and will kill viruses along with the bacteria.
You may want to reconsider if you are planning on producing drinking water, because distilled water has a distinct and not very pleasant taste.
That said, stills do have useful applications.....
You might consider a water filtration system that can handle everything from micro-organisms to chlorine. We've had our Kinetico system for over 4 years, and I can't honestly think of another investment I've made in the house that's had as much positive impact on our every day life. We have a shallow-jet well (20 ft deep - what can I say, I bought a swamp - at least I've never run dry and I water my lawn when the folks on town water can't) - our water was hard and very acidic. We had installed some in-line carbon and particle filters, but we worried about petroleum products and everything else from neighbors changing oil or dumping anti-freeze, or septic systems leaking. I have an acre of land and the neighbors aren't that close to the well-head, but I was worried anyway. With the Kinetico system installed, we've had great water and great local service - neutral, soft (but certainly not distilled), and safe from micro-organisms. The town so overchlorinates - our neighbors who are on town water love our water - one has even installed a system on the town water. Kinetico has all kinds of systems, including UV systems that kill micro-organisms.
Another consideration is that it takes a lot of heat (i.e. money for fuel or effort for woodcutting) to evaporate a gallon of water. I don't know the exact number, but it's considerable. You could Google for "latent heat of vaporization". Then you're going to need even more than that because you're never going to get 100% efficiency. And if you don't rig some kind of cooling bath for the condenser, you'll probably lose some of that expensively heated steam to the atmosphere. I'll join the other responders in recommending filtering over distilling. You might also want to look at storing a few days or weeks worth of clean water.