People have a tendency to confuse boiling water and distilled water. However important they may sound to us, we keep forgetting the basics of elementary science and chemistry. Distilled water is not boiling water. So how to make distilled water?
While boiling water is simply water that has reached its boiling point, distilled water goes through the same process of boiling, but it has an extensive purity percentage. Distilled water is devoid of any mineral and accounts for almost 100 % purity. Boiling water, on the other hand, reaches around the point where the water starts evaporating, but its purity can’t be ascertained to any percentage.
Distilled water is made by heating water continuously even after it has reached its boiling point and well past it. The idea is to vaporize it, to the point that it can be condensed back into the liquid form. This is the process of making distilled water, in a nutshell.
What happens in the process of vaporization and then again condensing the water back is, the impurities remain in the boiling flask as their boiling points vary from that of the water. A common misconception is that distillation is mainly done for removing impurities such as bacteria from the water. But it is so much more than that. The compounds and substances that one can remove from water by distilling it are:
- Heavy metal salts
- Ionic compounds
- Microorganisms other than bacteria
- Mineral salts such as calcium compounds
Boiling water, on the other hand, contains all these elements, barring microorganisms which usually die at searing temperatures. But the main difference between distilled water and boiling water lies in the fact that distilled water is much more versatile in its uses. In the next section, we would be dealing with the various uses, before moving on how to make distilled water.
Uses of distilled water:
- Safe for drinking: Despite the rumours about distilled water is unsafe for drinking, recent studies speak against the original claims. People claimed that distilled water would make one’s body too acidic, but experiments show the opposite. There is little evidence to prove our bodies will lose its chemical equilibrium if distilled water is drunk. The other cause of worry used to be the lack of minerals. Well, most people all around the world depend on tap water for drinking purposes. Or the water available from the filters contain little or no minerals, neither it is safe for consumption. That’s because all over the world, the acidic quality of tap water is increasing. So, all these factors are absent in the case of distilled water. It is the purest form of water, similar to the chemical composition of rainwater. Does anyone tell you to not drink rainwater? Moreover, no chemical compounds such as fluoride, chlorine, or ozone are added to purify the water. Therefore, in the absence of toxins, bacteria, chemicals, and viruses, the water is extremely safe to drink.
- Can be used with different drinks: Extending the argument of no toxins in the chemical composition, beverages, and drinks such as tea, coffee, and fruit juices taste a lot better when served with distilled water. That is because no chemicals work to neutralize the original aromas of these beverages.
- Perfect for babies: With a high quantity of arsenic in drinking water, exposing babies to this kind of groundwater seriously acts as a detrimental factor for their growth and well-being. This is why distilled water is the best and safest source of drinking water for babies as well.
- Wonderful for plants: Not just humans and animals, but distilled water extends its helping hands to plants as well. As there is no percolation of unwanted materials along with other contaminants, germination of seeds take place at a much faster rate. Moreover, there is no organic/inorganic chemical that is usually present in groundwater, helping to increase the survival rate of plants as well.
- Great for Batteries and Radiators in cars: For batteries which require water to operate, distilled water proves highly useful. This is because impurities usually take a toll on the shelf-life of the batteries, and reduce the performance quotient of the same. In the absence of any such impurity, car performance increases manifold.
So here are some of the primary benefits of using distilled water. Apart from these, distilled water is also great for your hair, for CPAP machines, for industrial purposes, etc.
How to make distilled water?
Now, let’s move on to how to make distilled water. There are many processes, all of which are extremely easy, and we will cover them all one by one:
Distilling water on a stove or a grill
This process on how to make distilled water works great on campfires. Yes, for all the times you thought what would you do if you had no access to clean water in some far-flung adventure, here we are at the rescue. Making distilled water which is absolutely safe for drinking is perfectly easy if you have a stove or a grill. In other words, if you have a fire running, making distilled water out of every source of dirty water is a cakewalk. Here are the things that you would need for the job:
A fairly large water container and a smaller container that is less dense than the larger one. The idea is to make the smaller container float in the larger or you can prop it up just above the water level. Next, you would need a pointed lid fitting the size of the chosen large container. The purpose of the lid is to hold the condensed steam so that the water gets collected in the smaller container. And finally, you would need some ice. So, here are the materials that you would require:
- A pot of large volume. A recommended size is 5 gallons, and the material is preferably aluminum or stainless steel.
- A lid that is rounded or pointed
- Ice cubes
- A smaller container that fits the larger pot
- Hot pads
Now, follow these instructions carefully to get a fair amount of distilled water:
- The larger pot, the one whose capacity is 5 gallons should be filled partly with water
- The smaller bowl, which is the collection bowl is set in the pot. The purpose of this bowl, as mentioned above, is to collect the dripping water, that is supposed to condense on the inner surface of the inverted lid. Therefore, you got to ensure the distilled water does not drip back into the larger container, which is why it is a must to ensure the main container is the larger one.
- Now set the pointed lid on the pot in an upside-down position. Once the water starts getting heated, you will find the water vapour will rise up to the lid and settle on its inner layer. It will then condense into tiny droplets after cooling down, and get collected in the bowl.
- Once this arrangement is done, you got to light up the campfire, stove, or grill. Remember to get the water reach its boiling point and preferably well past it. On the other hand, it is also fine if you do not allow it to reach the boiling point but you got to wait till it gets really hot.
- Now put the ice cubes on the top of the lid. The sudden decrease in temperature will let the vapours from the boiling water cool down or condense. So, you have the smaller pot with perfectly distilled liquid water. You must take care to not spill or turn that container upside down, otherwise, the impure water will get mixed with the recently obtained distilled water.
- While figuring how to make distilled water, you have to find a clean and sterile container for storage if you want to preserve the distilled water for future use. Care must be taken to wash the container properly, otherwise, contaminants will percolate and make the water impure just the same.
Obtaining distilled water from mud or plants
Here is another great plan of securing your water sources when you are out camping. That’s because you may not have ice or 2 solid containers in an emergency situation, right? All you have to do is have your basic concepts ready at hand, and you will be able to figure out how to make distilled water in no time. The only catch here is this process is time-consuming.
Here is the list of materials you would require for the job:
- Plastic wrap
- A simple but clean container
- Green plants
- Yes, that’s all you need to have some super-clean water ready in any situation.
Follow these steps carefully and understand the science behind it, and you are good to go:
- Try to look for a sunny location. You got to ensure there is a chance of water evaporating and condensing, so you need to have enough heat for that.
- Dig a decent-sized hole in the chosen location. Avoid shades.
- Now place the clean container at the centre, deep in the bottom of the hole. This will be where the water will get collected.
- The green plants that you collected need to be dumped inside the hole around the can.
- Now cover the hole with the plastic wrapper. The idea behind this is to make a miniature greenhouse effect to trap the heat. So, to ensure the moisture from the plants does not escape, you got to seal the plastic wrap. Here is where the rocks come to use. The tighter the sealing, the quicker the condensation process becomes.
- Choose a heavy pebble to put it at the centre of the plastic wrapper so that a small depression is created. The depression will be right above the can or container you placed. As the water will evaporate, it will condense on the inner side of the plastic wrap and drip into the can.
- Once you see the plants have lost their dampness, you can replace them with equally damp saplings. But you need to be aware while trying how to make distilled water is not to use poisonous plants because that will completely turn the tables on you. Ferns are great plants to make distilled water as they are edible and completely free of toxins.
Collect Water in an Outside Container
The first method mentioned in the list for how to make distilled water can be improvised for larger amounts of distilled water too. The idea is to heat the water in a pot and collect the purified distilled water inside some container placed outside the setup. The only factor that distinguishes the first setup from this one is you have to be more careful not to collect the impure pot water instead of the distilled water.
One of the best methods on how to make distilled water is having a funnel over the container that comprises the boiling water. This setup is a bit more sophisticated and needs to connect the collection container to the boiling water holder with proper aquarium tubing. Other than this, the mechanism behind this process is exactly the same.
The best part about this process on how to make distilled water is that you can simply forget about the process after you light up the stove. The water will evaporate, condense, and collect in the outside container without any chance of outside contamination. And you have a bowl full of perfectly clean distilled water ready at hand.
Collecting and purifying rainwater or snow
While trying how to make distilled water, note that the purest and naturally distilled forms of water are snow and rainwater. All of us are well aware of the natural filtering processes that take place in the water cycle. As the water evaporates, the dust particles are unable to reach the higher levels of the stratosphere, leaving behind pure water. So, when the rain falls or in cases of colder countries in the winter months, you will get perfectly distilled water. In case you live in a heavily polluted area, the water will contain impurities. Barring those areas, you can follow this simple process on how to make distilled water perfectly.
Collect some rain or snow in a clean container. The container should be preferably sterilized to ensure a lack of impurities. Please note that while trying how to make distilled water, the rainwater you collect falls directly from the sky and does not hit any surface such as roof or asphalt surfaces. Once you collect a fair amount of rainwater, you have to keep in covered and stored for a day or two. The impurities will sediment down and you can directly drink it from there. If you want to be extra cautious, you can heat it up to the boiling point, and you will have distilled water ready at hand.
For snow, the process of how to make distilled water is the same. You have to make sure you don’t pick up ice that has already fallen on the ground. Collect a decent amount of ice that is falling and heat it up. Once the ice melts, you have the perfect setup for how to make distilled water.
Is boiled water the same as distilled water?
NO, boiled and distilled water are two different types of water and their usage also differs. Distilled water has its first step as boiling water which may take a few hours. Boiling water is a method where the water reaches its boiling point usually within a few minutes. Distilled water is considered pure because it doesn’t contain any impurities like microorganisms and minerals. Boiled water is free from microorganisms but still has traces of minerals.
Distilled water is used for the industrial process where pure water is required. Boiled water is used for consumption and sometimes for surface sanitation. Distilled water is not recommended for consumption mainly because it is deficient in essential minerals.
What can I use instead of distilled water?
Here are the best alternative for distilled water
Mineral water: It is commonly used for drinking and it contains lots of minerals, including magnesium, calcium and iron etc. Mineral water can be packed in bottles and can be handy when travelling.
Springwater: this is the natural form of water. It is sourced from lakes and well. It is enriched with minerals and devoid of germs and bacteria. It is fit for consumption and no additives are added to make it pure. It can be filtered once and used for cooking and drinking.
Deionized water: Deionized water lacks any mineral ions. Minerals like iron, sulfate, and calcium can be removed through a simple chemical process with the help of resins. It is still closer to distilled water but has high chances of microbes thriving in them.
Osmosis purified water: The water goes through different layers of membranes, pressure and heat to remove any minerals or contaminants. It has less than 10ppm total solid which is closed to distilled water and hence can be used safely for drinking, cooking and other chores.
Can you distill tap water?
YES, you can distill tap water, by following the method mentioned below-
Take a pot and fill it with tap water and place it on medium heat.
Now place a glass bowl into the pot (like a double boiler). Place the curved lid onto the pot upside down. Keep ice cubes on the lid and once the ice melts keep on adding more ice. The ice helps in cooling the distillate and improves condensation. If you do not have ice it is fine but it may take longer to create condensation.
Over time you may see those small droplets of water form onto the lid and fall off from the glass bowl. Once the glass bowl is filled with enough water to bear the weight stop the process and store the freshly brewed distilled water in a glass container.
Can we make distilled water at home?
There are different methods to distil water, one of them is boiling water and through condensation, you get distilled water, other methods use an evaporation process where without boiling you can change the pressure and temperature to form water vapour. The vapour cools down to form distilled water.
You may also purchase home distillation kits to distil water at home instead of distilling water on a stove.
Do you have to use distilled water in a CPAP?
Yes. CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) is used to treat sleep apnea. It consists of a heated humidifier. The manufacturer of CPAP recommends to use distilled water only in the humidifier as it is pure and devoid of any minerals.
If you consider using tap water check with the water supply the minerals present in the water. Like the minerals, salts present inside the water may get deposited into the machine and may cause irreversible damage to their system. Humidifiers help in preventing dryness and reduce the risk of respiratory infections.
So here we are with all the easiest processes on how to make distilled water at home. At the beginning of the article, we had mentioned how important it is to keep brushing up on the skills we learned from elementary science. They come to use in strange situations when we expect the least out of them. Therefore it is important to remember at least one of the above methods.
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