Introduction: How to Distill Water

Picture of How to Distill Water

If you fear that your tap water may not be ideal for drinking, or if you are in the great outdoors and running low on clean drinking water, this is the instructable for you! Learn how to distill water in your own kitchen with just a pot and some ice. No Laboratory or fancy equipment required. This method can also be easily adapted if you are in the wilderness.

Distilled water is not only great in preventing mineral build-up in machinery, but it also converts any water source, be it river water, lake water, salt water, or waste water (i.e urine) into clean drinking water. Distillation will remove bacteria, viruses, cysts, heavy metals, radionuclides, organics, inorganics, and particulates, leaving all chemicals, toxins and waste behind and creating pure, clean water.

Distillation is literally the method seen in nature, whereby: the sun heats the water on the earth's surface, the water is turned into a vapor (evaporation) and rises, leaving contaminants behind, to form clouds. As the upper atmosphere drops in temperature the vapors cool and convert back to water to form water droplets. Then once the droplets fall as rain (precipitation) the cycle starts over again.

Different types of methods can be used to distill water. Essentially, distillation entails boiling the water to produce vapor, leaving behind any and all contaminants, which luckily, have a higher boiling point than H20. Once the water entirely vaporizes, that vapor is put into a clean container where it condenses back into pure water. So merely boiling the water will not distill it, it will only potentially remove few toxins.

It is debatable whether drinking large amounts of distilled water is ideal for the human body. Some claim that because the distillation process strips the water of everything besides pure H2O, the natural occurring, potentially beneficial minerals are being extracted as well. However, some research has found that the potentially beneficial minerals present in water are unlikely to be able to be absorbed by the human body.

Let's get started!


Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

You will need:

A deep pot with a lid that is concave if turned upside side (i.e is domed if place on pot properly) This will be used to hold the ice.

Ice. Amount varies depending on outside temperature and how much water is being boiled. However, if you do not have access to ice, that is fine too. The condensation process will just take longer, but you can still have distilled water.

A glass bowl that floats. Depending how deep the bowl sinks naturally, you will need to keep checking to make sure the distilled end product does not cause it to sink. You'll figure this out as you begin seeing water forming in the glass bowl.

Step 2: Filling Pot and Heating

Picture of Filling Pot and Heating

Fill your pot with much more water than you want distilled. Place on medium to hi heat

Step 3: Receiver Flask and Lid

Picture of Receiver Flask and Lid

Place your glass bowl (receiver flask) into your pot, making sure it floats well enough to allow for some water to be poured into it without sinking.

Place your lid onto your pot upside down

Step 4: Ice

Picture of Ice

Once your lid is on, place ice onto it. How much ice you use depends on how big the lid is, but as it melts, you can throw it out and put fresh ice onto it.

The ice is designed to cool the distillate to speed and improve condensation, which happens in the receiver flask. Accordingly, you could distill water without ice, but it may take longer to create condensation.

Step 5: Condensation Forming

Picture of Condensation Forming

If you lift the lid off your pot slightly, you will see small droplets of water forming and falling off the inside of your lid onto the glass bowl. It may be hard to tell from the 2nd photo, but the droplets have turned into quite the small pool in the glass bowl. It's amazing to see the process as it is a mini ecosystem of its own.

Step 6: Removing and Storing

Picture of Removing and Storing

Once you think that your glass bowl will not be able to sustain any more water weight without sinking, remove it from the pot carefully and store in a clean glass container.

Enjoy your new life skill and your freshly brewed distill water!


JR36 (author)2016-03-17

Getting Ice in the wild is easy if your near a Lake, Pond or River. I would just try to avoid any water treated with chlorine. In fact I would try to Avoid Chlorine in any water or food product.

jwkiv (author)JR362016-03-17

Chlorine evaporates quite quickly so, if you're that concerned, pour your water & let it sit for a few minutes & the chlorine will be gone. You absorb more chlorine through your skin just taking a shower, than ingesting a glass of water.

SpencerW (author)jwkiv2017-11-28

You need to let it sit a lot longer than a few minutes. Most people recommend at least a day and that's if its in a wide mouth jar allowing easy evaporation. Put it in something like a pop bottle and it'll take forever.

Bellaizabella (author)jwkiv2016-03-17

but no matter how well you look at this picture , chlorine is poison flat out poison , If you live in the city filter out the chlorine, it's dangerous ,

Ridiculous. Treating water with chlorine is one of the most important public health advances in history, and it has saved tens of millions of lives--people that used to die of cholera, typhus, and other water-borne epidemics that regularly devastated large cities. There is NO evidence that the amount of dissolved chlorine in treated tap water is harmful; and most of it escapes the water within a few minutes.

There are SO MUCH mythology and quackery around drinking water it's crazy. People will believe anything. The US has the safest tap water in the world. It has to be tested several times a day at the treatment facility (something that's NOT true of bottled water, which is why tap water is usually superior). I work with water engineers, and they all drink tap water.

Oh, and distilled water? It's simply not harmful at all to drink it. The amount of dissolved solids in normal tap water is only 20ppm or so; blood plasma is about 9000ppm, sea water about 35,000ppm. So by comparison, putting 20ppm tap water into your body's 9000ppm plasma is virtually identical with putting 0ppm distilled water into it--the osmotic difference between them is less than 0.02%, negligible. This myth has been around for decades and it's simply nonsense.

Jon Gen (author)TimothyJ9992016-03-17

Then why does much of Europe use ozonation rather than chlorine? Besides, this is not the issue since many or most municipalities are using chloramine. Chloramine does not evaporate out. The old method of leaving water out for 24 hours prior to using it in the fish tank does not work. The fish die. If city water is so healthy, please explain why equestrian stables have to filter their water.

aaser1 (author)Jon Gen2017-11-02

Exactly. Chlorine kills aquarium fish so easily. But science says its safe so I guess it is! Oh wait. That "science" is funded by huge companies that market this stuff. Surely they couldn't be biased! No!

Chloramines are much worse than chlorine. Research if you have them. Many municipalities don't.

JustS11 (author)TimothyJ9992017-08-23

Right. Some guys in water world drink it so it must be safe? What if they just didn't dump all the toxic waste in the water in the first place? Then they wouldn't need to keep pouring chemicals into the water supply to keep the population from dying because of it. "Even the FDA agrees it's safe" That really sums it up, doesn't it? The government agency that takes bribes from the worst polluters says it's least least as safe as the medication you're taking, right? You know, the stuff that uses toxic sludge from the water supply as filler for generic prescriptions. Those are who's word you're taking as the truth about anything? Dump the water and the news! In fact, dump your TV first! William Casey, former head of the CIA said this, "When everything everybody knows is false....Then our work will be done." Doesn't that just make you feel all warm and cuddley inside? I'll drink to that. Make mine filtered.

aaser1 (author)JustS112017-11-02

Well said and expressed. People like Timothy believe what governments say no matter their apparent bias. People like Timothy believed government for decades when they told us tobacco, mercury, lead, asbestos and scores of other toxins were safe. The sad thing is when people are trained in science they believe other scientific people automatically.

The real truth is that our water is chlorinated because it makes our life easier and convenient. Not for our real health. I've spent months in Mexico and yes I did get sick from the water initially but after my body built up an immunity after a few days I didn't get sick again. Mexicans when they go north sometimes get sick. Its because the bacteria is different. If we didn't live so packed together and didn't toss our chemicals and waste on the soil which ends up in groundwater, we wouldn't have these problems. People in 3rd world countries like Mexico have no problems with water. If anything they have much less problems because their water isn't inundated with chlorine, chloramines and flouride. And they seem to have a lot better teeth that we do! Chlorine is going to be in North American water for a long time.. Learn how to filter it out somehow along with whatever other contaminents you have in your water supply (check your city's testing for that info.)

AndrewG47 (author)TimothyJ9992016-03-17

I have bottled water delivered to my house because the tap water is undrinkable. It smells and tastes like sh!t. I live in rural upstate New York where this should not be the case, but it is. Personally I think it's because of all the pesticides used on the apple trees here that get into the ground water.

All that aside, I will not consume fluoride. There have been extensive studies about that little poison that are hard to ignore. If you're willing to dismiss all of that data, that's just grand! I think the world should work where each person makes educated decisions based on their own research. I don't think another human being should ever be able to tell me what I should or should not put into my body. If Mr. Bellaizabella from above post thinks chlorine is poison, it should absolutely be his right to avoid consuming it.

deannaf123 (author)AndrewG472017-01-22

The best tap water I have ever had is from NYC. Unfortunately, the Adirondacks flows into Manhattan.... (think $$$). That aside, I use distilled water for machinery - I've dealt with too many machines gone bad that are "safe" to use with tap water. I am not sure I use enough to warrant making it and use a filter for drinking water. I agree that fluoride is not good and that chlorine is heavily absorbed through the skin during a shower.

BlakeH28 (author)AndrewG472016-07-10

everyone is scared of fluoride. I have a giant can of sodium fluoride that I use for making hydrofluoric acid. On the side is a huge skull and crossbones. Sad thing is that we brush our teeth with fluoride several times a day. Not to mention drink it. and the pesticides getting into the water? A large city like that if your on the city water supply then the water your drinking more than likely comes from 500 - 2000 ft not many pesticides are going to make it that far down. More than likely the water is nasty because of a break in a main somewhere and its pulling in dirt. Possibly a root has grown into the main? Might want to let them know whats going on.

RadarS1 (author)AndrewG472016-06-21

get youre facts straigth most bottled water contain fluoride and lots of more stuf that not supost to be in there (google it) also source water need to be collected there with all the polution and chemtrails you stil think this water as being clean

TimothyJ999 (author)RadarS12016-06-21

Wow--chemtrails, seriously? You are living in a different world than I am, based on Alex Jones-type paranoia rather than what's real. Here in the reality-based world, tap water in the US is GENERALLY the safest and beat in the world, of extraordinarily high quality.
Yea there are exceptions, I said generally, but on average it's better than most bottled water (which is just filtered tap water that's been on the shelf for a few months). Chemtrails are utter bs, you are gullible and have been duped.

DoggyMANIA6105 (author)AndrewG472016-03-17

Wow I thought upstate New York would have very good quality tap water.

Yes pesticides can make water undrinkable!

But I can drink from my tap because my country's water is clean without having to distill the water. The only thing I use distilled water for is science experiments! But we all(should) know that the minerals in water are very good for us.

TimothyJ999 (author)AndrewG472016-03-17

Well of COURSE it's anyone right to drink or not to drink their tap water--I never said it wasn't. There are times when there are excellent reasons not to, as in Flint now, and apparently at your house.

Just saying that if you decide not to because you think chlorine is harmful, you're making that decision based on lots of evidence to the contrary. Lots of people refuse to fly becaus they think it's more dangerous than driving, but they're objectively wrong. They still have every right to that decision of course.

Lots of us though, try to make decisions based on the best existing evidence rather than uninformed opinion or anecdote. "My grandfather smoked 3 packs a day and lived to be 90" is not a valid basis to judge that smoking is safe. But I'm not going to stop you.

J SquaredA (author)AndrewG472016-03-17

that is a good look on it.

guys, just do whatever you want. blogging about it here won't change most peoples minds.

I have my views, you guys have yours. :)

TJLee089 (author)TimothyJ9992016-11-14

Yes, chlorine is a poison. Which is exactly why it is used and why, unlike many parts of the world, our water, with few exceptions, is safe to drink. Nothing like unsubstantiated paranoia.

BlakeH28 (author)TimothyJ9992016-07-10

they need a like button. lol. Very well said.

distilled water is for when you don't want mineral buildup or when your dealing with something electrical that CAN'T be allowed to conduct electricity. Distilled water is an insulator and tap water is a conductor

ScottZ2 (author)TimothyJ9992016-04-06

Well said Timothy

SpillB (author)TimothyJ9992016-03-31

Public tap water in PBG, FL is registering 175ppm on my TDS so maybe where you are its 20 but most of the country is not so lucky I would assume.


jwkiv (author)Bellaizabella2016-03-17

Then you better stop taking showers and swimming in pools. I was not kidding about absorbing chlorine through your skin. Every inch of your skin is absorbing the chlorine.

SamuelR127 (author)jwkiv2017-02-28

Simply, an Aquarium uses activated charcoal to remove chlorine. The fine mist bubblers, aid to release this poison gas.

deannaf123 (author)jwkiv2017-01-22


BlakeH28 (author)Bellaizabella2016-07-10

lol i would be more worried about the fluorine. as stated above the chlorine evaporates almost immediately.

  • arsenic
  • radium
  • aluminium
  • copper
  • lead
  • mercury
  • cadmium
  • barium

these are the most common elements found in tap water due to natural erosion of the earth. Chlorine is actually one of the good things you will find in your water. You go swimming right? In a pool? You will absorb more chlorine from your swim than you could possibly drink in your lifetime.

you have hydrochloric acid, in your stomach.

what happens when you put chlorine in water, most of it reacts with water to become extremely weak hydrochloric acid and releasing oxygen. but still extreemly well below the acidity level, of the stomach.

unless they, put to high of a concentration of chlorine in the water. which they, sometimes do to flush out the system. should the system become contaminated, like with a water main break.

but we are still talking, extremely low levels of chlorine. well below, the lower level toxic proportions. even when they flush out, the system.

J SquaredA (author)Bellaizabella2016-03-17

yeah dude, it is very important. chlorine is one of the main ways we purify water.

go jump in a pool. lol XD

aaser1 (author)jwkiv2017-11-02

Chlorine does evaporate IF one uses a wide mouth container which few people would ever hike with. Also, how do you hike without a top on your water? It will spill all over the place. Also it takes at least a day for the chlorine in most tap water to evaporate. Several days if using a typical water container. If your water supply contains chloramines you're out of luck. They don't evaporate. Distillation uses a suprising amount of electricity. My older (probably inefficient) distiller takes 3-4 hours to make one gallon. It consumes about 1500 watts. So about 5-6 kilowatt hours @ 8 cents is 40 cents a gallon. One can use a Kill-O-Watt device to measure consumption. Rigging up a good, multi stage sediment filter is much more cost effective. Reverse Osmosis is also better if you can source low priced membranes.

Chimonger (author)jwkiv2017-05-21

There are SO many manmade chemicals currently in most water sources; many become gaseous when heated, ending up in the otherwise distilled water. That is why it's necessary to use a carbon post-filter to get really clean distilled water. I'm not even sure that would remove things like some forms of Fluoride...Fl takes special filters to remove.

SamuelR127 (author)jwkiv2017-02-28

Chlorine does not EVAP slow. Poison gas, poison chem.

DoggyMANIA6105 (author)JR362016-03-17

yes try to avoid water with lots of chlorine in it (i.e pool water).

Yes you can distill urine but for health don't drink pure urine(not distilled).

SpencerW (author)DoggyMANIA61052017-11-28

Urine actually has over 2500 nutrients. It depends if you eat like the average slob out there guzzling processed foods, fats and sweets. Then urine would be awful. Garbage in, garbage out. But when you're eating unprocessed foods urine is very beneficial to your health and well being. Google Uropathy or Urine Therapy to see the thousands of testimonials. its also fantastic for skin problems. Fresh urine is more sterile than your chlorinated tap water thanks to the filtering of your kidneys. The stink of urine (that is older which you would NEVER drink) is that those 2500 nutrients attract many other forms of tiny life that thrive in it. You can bathe in urine (if you live alone!) that has aged and it feels so good on the skin. Burns, abrasions are well treated with fresh urine. Never put aged urine like your eyes, mouth or open skin injuries. Only healthy closed skin. People even fast on their own fresh urine for up to 60 days with miraculous results still maintaining a reasonable level of energy. Urine is awesome AFTER your diet is pure.

aaser1 (author)JR362017-11-02

Distillation won't get rid of chlorine. But it will get rid of most everything else. For chlorine modern water distillers use a simple charcoal filter. One could bring that along with you if you want.

dallibella.70 (author)aaser12017-11-03

You just spoke of the people in Mexico that they seem to have far less problems with their teeth. You're associating the trouble with water it's causing the trouble with peoples teeth. What's causing the problem with people having tooth decay you have to get rid of the toothpaste which contains GLYCERIN and when you have glycerin in your toothpaste it puts a coating on your teeth that will not allow the minerals from the water to keep your teeth healthy. get rid of the glycerin make your own toothpaste. toothpaste manufactures aren't out to help us they're out to make money. I live in the country so I don't deal with chlorine I deal with contaminants from farmers around me. This is why I own and IONIZER that removes the pesticides herbicides and the contaminants in my water distillation doesn't do all of that but I can run water through my ionizer and then distillate and it's a bacteria free water. My water is alkaline which if you test the water that you drink anywhere it's more acid your bodies organs don't like acid water they like alkaline water. Do your research check out ionizers. Ionizers are the best thing to do for your body, I have owned mine for seven years and have never been sick since I bought it. Please do check out the Ingredients in toothpaste and you will see there's a lot of things in there that are not good for you.

aaser1 (author)2017-11-02

For an "in the wild situation" when its snowy/icy out, and one can make a fire and one has that bowl that floats and a pot to cook water in, this is great. Unfortunately this is rarely the case. Ideal solution is to sterilize the water with bleach/iodine, then filter the bleach/iodine out.

; D

Chimonger (author)2017-05-21

This is a fun demonstration, but it's using energy not only to boil the water, but also to make the ice. OTH, if one has snow or ice nature makes, that might be more energy efficient.

One can more easily use a common pressure cooker as a distiller, by connecting a length of loosely coiled copper tubing to the steam escape spigot on the lid. Then if one wants to enhance the condensation, can place the coiled tubing in a bowl of ice water, mid-length to where the tubing needs to drip into a container. We had one in the school's chem lab, which routed the tubing a few feet straight up above the cooker, then down-turned to make it's loops...perhaps about 10' or more of tubing directed to a 5-gal bottle to collect it. The copper tubing was connected to the steam escape valve using brass plumbing pressure fittings. Others have used medical-grade rubber hose to connect the pan lid spigot to the tubing cheap and easy.

IF one collects methane from a compost pile in a container, that will stink to burn, though I understand that by placing fine steel wool packed into the pipe directing it to the appliance burning the gas, will remove most of the stench from the methane. That would be some decent recycle of naturally occurring fuel to make the distilled water.

SamuelR127 (author)2017-02-28

The easiest method is knowing that the water is rich in small amounts of chlorine is to allow your cute goldfish to swim an hour within. Belly up, bad water .

susielsd (author)2016-07-29

Hi, I just want to know if this finished "product" would read 0 - 2 TDS on my TDS meter, so it would be safe enough to use on my Carnivorous Plants? Because I am sick and tired of buying it from the store and then having to lug it into my home, I have health issues that make having to do this hard on me...

Does anyone know the answer to this?

Thank you

DanielV278 (author)susielsd2017-01-08

The ideal for those is rain water but yes this should do

TJLee089 (author)susielsd2016-11-14

Install an under-the-sink reverse osmosis unit. Much simpler long term than this tedious method.

LindaM308 (author)2016-12-04

It would be nice to have some sort of 'lifter' to get the bowl out of the
pot. Something similar to the basket with handles that you use to take out your
canning jars. Or one of those new pasta baskets.

Any ideas?

yeo274 (author)LindaM3082017-01-02

Maybe use a big pot and a crawfish boil basket

NickM96 (author)LindaM3082017-01-01

Put a baking rack at the bottom of your pot which will keep your bowl from touching the bottom of the pot.

mestardigital (author)2017-01-01

Happy new year for everyone. This is great to know, thanks for the post. I will try it and see the results.

PearlG1 (author)2016-03-21

Seems as if someone has opened a big cans of worms with the distilled/fluoridated water is good/bad for you. I am going to use this technique because I never have distilled water for my steam iron when I need it. Personally, I don't care for the taste of distilled water, but thats just me. However, Dr. Andrew Weil says that properly distilled water which is water turned to steam and condensed back to water, is lacking virtually all bacteria, viruses, heavy metals and organic and inorganic contaminants. Distilling makes water as PURE as it possibly can be. Distilled water is nearly neutral in pH; it does not effect the bodies acid/base balance. AND, he says, we get our minerals from the food we eat, not water. See and his article, Water, the Essential Nutrient

Reading some of the arguments over what's good or bad and having at least one commenter claiming there are studies to show drinking fluoridated water is not hazardous for us but did not cite these studies is no way to win a debate. Those of you who did cite articles, kudos, but the first rule of taking research as valid is to consider the source. "Studies" by the Dental Association or any group with interest in making money from the manufacturing of fluoride cannot be taken as scientific. They are heavily biased and should be read with a skeptical eye. Would we buy Goodyear tires because Goodyear says they are the best and safest tires available? No, but we might if unbiased, independent studies show that claim is true.

Please, check out these two studies: "Exposure to fluoridated water and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder prevalence among children and adolescents in the United States: an ecological association" by Ashley J. Malin and Christina Till published in Environmental Health 2015. The results of their study are eye-opening: "State prevalence of artificial water fluoridation in 1992 significantly positively predicted state prevalence of ADHD in 2003, 2007 and 2011, even after controlling for socioeconomic status. A multivariate regression analysis showed that after socioeconomic status was controlled each 1% increase in artificial fluoridation prevalence in 1992 was associated with approximately 67,000 to 131,000 additional ADHD diagnoses from 2003 to 2011. Overall state water fluoridation prevalence (not distinguishing between fluoridation types) was also significantly positively correlated with state prevalence of ADHD for all but one year examined."

"Chronic fluoride toxicity decreases the number of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in rat brain" from 2002 shows that fluoride toxicity effects neurodevelopment.

As intriguing as both studies are, the authors of both say that more research needs to be done and until that happens, we will not know the truth of the effects of fluoride. Let's remember that before we tell others they do not know what they are talking about.

hydranix (author)PearlG12016-12-02

Flourine is very important for our teeth. We have a layer of stuff protecting our teeth and it's called apatite. This stuff is easily dissolved by acids, like in carbonated drinks and in a lot of candy and other things we indulge in too often.

Flouride ions bind with the apatite on the surface of our teeth and create Fluorapatite.

Fluorapatite is much more resistant to acids, and also naturally kills bacteria it comes into contact with.

This is exactly what allows us to keep our teeth beyond our 20s or 30s (which they were evolutionarily never intended to last beyond).

If fluoridating water actually showed links to health problems, and the science was real and reproducible, then there would be no reason to continue adding it. Conspiracy theories aside...

mosmond (author)PearlG12016-03-28

That was a very thoughtful and well-balanced comment. Thank you for making it. It's nice to see positive contributions like this rather than bitter polemics (which are pointless no matter what side they support).

robthebrew (author)2016-08-23

I sprinkle chlorine on my food every day. The solid version. I just wish they didn’t have to mix it with sodium, which is bad for me

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