No-budget water distillation: That hardly worked at all.

I put this off all month, hoping that distilled water would re-appear on store shelves. But it’s nearing battery day, clearly time to give it a try.

The praxis is simple enough: Boil water in a stock pot. Float a Pyrex bowl in the middle of the water, which mustn’t be so deep that a full bowl will sink in the pot.


Place the lid upside-down on the pot. Put an ice bag or freeze pack on the lid to encourage condensation. Wait.


A really long time.


In the first twenty minutes, virtually nothing happened. But in the second twenty minutes the bowl was nearly full.


In fact the second time around the bowl was so full I scalded myself pretty good getting it out of the pot.

And after two sessions, all together taking on the order of an hour and a half,…


That’s how much new battery water I had.


But not particularly surprised.

I’m going to have to take this more seriously if I’m really expected to distill enough water to service the batteries long-term.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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13 Responses to No-budget water distillation: That hardly worked at all.

  1. Robert says:

    Huh. That’s rather clever, actually. Although I would think the fuel expenditure is horrendous.
    I’m tellin’ ya, Joel, Mr. Sun can be your friend. Think heating a la your roof-mounted contraption and piping the steam through a cool water bath for condensation. Sorta like making moonshine with none of the fun afterwards. BTW, our local big food store’s stock of distilled is rather meager here in the Land ‘O Cheddar so I feel your pain; 1 gallon lasts me three weeks. Good luck. Keep us posted.

  2. Robert says:

    Oops. Need a retroactive ” Notify me of new comments via email” button.

  3. Ben says:

    I realize that you don’t actually live in a rain forest, but don’t overlook nature’s distillery when it’s available.

  4. B says:

    Old pressure cooker.
    Drill a hole in the lid, thread it, . attach some 1/2″ or so copper tubing to the hole. string the tubing to a container. Might leave a turn or two for cooling/condensing. Pipe the steam/condensate to a jug.
    Fill pan with water, put the lid on, heat. Refill as needed.

    Oh, and keep the weights on it for safety.

    You can, with a “normal” burner, make about 3 gallons per hour.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Solar oven would be free energy. I took mine out of storage. In Northern California in march it heats up to 350degrees F in a very short time

  6. anonymous says:

    Begin by pouring water in pot to be boiled. Place several rods / dowels over the top of the pot to form platform. Place heavy cloth on top of these supports to capture water vapor. When saturated, wring out water into separate pot and pour that distilled water into container. Keep out of sun.

  7. Steve Walton says:

    Anonymous, you won’t end up with distilled water that way. It will be full of chemicals from the cloth and the rods. The best design of a system is such that the condensate doesn’t contact anything but glass, stainless steel, or food-grade plastic.

  8. anonymous says:

    I stand corrected – Thank you for explanation Mr. Walton.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Do the battery caps advertised to “reduce water consumption” and capture the evaporate work, or are they just so much hype?

    Other than that I would second all the calls for solar distillation.

  10. Mike says:

    I hate to say it, but it looks like the ROI for the energy used to distill water sucks. Joel, listen to the others and try solar. If that isn’t feasible, you could try the wood stove to heat the pot. Propane is too expensive for this.

  11. Joel says:

    I hate to say it, but it looks like the ROI for the energy used to distill water sucks.

    Ya think? 😀

    But I have something else up my sleeve. Wasn’t able to score exactly the right materials today, but I have enough to give it a try.

  12. oneGuy says:

    Try a ZERO water filter.

  13. Eat your lentils and grin – you lucky guy! How many people made their own distilled water today compared to how many people only speculated about it!

    Take the same set-up outside on a griddle (so you don’t melt the handles or soot up your kitchenware) and use local wood and you can trade the propane $ for time.

To the stake with the heretic!