Water distillation…the quick way.

I live on an island of sorts. This is a bonus in some aspects as I have a rather large continuous supply of tasty seafood year round. The draw back of course is in times of need…I am surrounded by salt water. This can present a problem during the dry season, which sometimes occurs during the wet season. Sometime it rains every afternoon and sometimes it doesn’t rain for weeks. So the ability to procure drinkable freshwater can be a challenge. An easy method is water distillation. The simple method of causing water to evaporate and then condensing it elsewhere. This is exactly what nature does to create rain. There are several methods to doing so, but one of the quicker methods is to boil water and then condense the steam and collect the water. 

Materials are rather simple:
-Pressure cooker (recommend stainless) or any container which can withstand a heat source under it and can be sealed to prevent loss of steam except through 1 hole.
-Heat source (fire, grill, etc.)
-food grade vinyl hose (not required, but makes connection easier)
-hose clamps (unless not using hose)
– stainless or copper tubing
-rubber stoppers
-5 gal bucket
Water distillation leaves you with water that is free of salt, bacteria, viruses, etc. Now point of caution…chemicals with a boiling point less than or equal to water can end up in your collected water. A trick to avoid this is boil water for ~10 minutes uncovered..this cooks off the volatile chems.

Distillation Systems


  • Distillation Systems use a process of heating water to the boiling point and then collecting the water vapor as it condenses, leaving many of the contaminants behind.
  • Distillation Systems have a very high effectiveness in removing protozoa (for example, Cryptosporidium, Giardia);
  • Distillation Systems have a very high effectiveness in removing bacteria (for example, Campylobacter, Salmonella, Shigella, E. coli);
  • Distillation Systems have a very high effectiveness in removing viruses (for example, Enteric, Hepatitis A, Norovirus, Rotavirus);
  • Distillation Systems will remove common chemical contaminants, including arsenic, barium, cadmium, chromium, lead, nitrate, sodium, sulfate, and many organic chemicals.

Set up is easy. Salt water into your pressure cooker (or what ever container) place it over your heat. Secure lid to pot (now a tea pot and hose attachment to the spout can work too). Attach hose/condenser coil to your lid valve/hole. In warm weather it’s good to have the condenser coil submerged in a bucket of water (any water is fine) to help condensation. If it is cool outside, air cooling on the condensing coil works too. It takes a bit to get water boiling, but once it is going you are in business. 
It is a good idea to produce water for about 20 minutes, then use that water for the garden. This sterilizes your hose/condenser coil in case any contaminants got into them….in other words don’t drink it.
Once the system in perking along you should be able to produce between 1/2 to 1 oz of water per minute. The great thing about this system..once it is going, it produces well…the drawback is that it is very fuel (for the heat source) intensive.

About PapaSwamp

Apex predator, preparedness whacko.
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18 Responses to Water distillation…the quick way.

  1. Pingback: 5 Ways to purify water in a pinch - Out Alive : Out Alive

  2. Pingback: Weekly Survival Reader: August 19-23 | Prep-Blog.com

  3. Reblogged this on Gardengal Bevy and commented:
    something we should all learn to do

  4. Dale says:

    Love this

  5. could we use a still for this? then i would have vodka for my tinctures for medicine and can also use it for water…

    • PapaSwamp says:

      I recommend having a pot dedicated for water only. This is due to the left over salt + other contaminants that will have to be scrapped out when finished. The rest of the set up could be used as an alcohol still, though I think copper makes the best due to easy heat transfer.

  6. Saddique Hassan Durrani says:

    Make a big radiator and circulate cold water. The breeze bringing moist air will condence around it and will drop down collect it drinking water not disteilled water

  7. Pingback: 5 Ways to purify water in a pinch | SHTF R U Ready?

  8. Pingback: How To Turn Any Salt Water Into Drinking Water | Eco Snippets

  9. Bill says:

    Put this on a rocket stove and you’re on to something with a unlimited fuel source.

  10. Pingback: How to safely drink salt water. - The Preppers Voice

  11. Pingback: 14 Water Distiller Designs

  12. MSalzbrenner says:

    A good way to to accomplish recovery from the excessive heat source requirements is to utilize a Fresnel Furnace (quick Internet search will provide all the details you need) as your heat source. They are inexpensive and VERY effective. If you are on a “island” the sun is an excellent source of heat to be utilized for this purpose. No more need for “fuel” is a big plus for the “environmentally conscious”.

    • PapaSwamp says:

      Fresnel Furnace can melt the metal container the water is being boiled in. Though it can be used to boil water…the sunlight is brought into direct contact with the water, not suitable for steam collection. Solar still is another option, but is very slow ( though large units can generate a steady supply of water).
      The method I describe above was used by Florida watermen (gladesmen) that traveled through the Everglades. More of a packable system for boats.

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