Introduction: Salt Water Purifier

Picture of Salt Water Purifier

In this Instructable I will show you how to build a salt water purifier. When using this it will produce about a third of a cup of drinkable water an hour.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

  • Metal can
  • Empty soda can
  • Aluminum foil
  • 2-3 ft of tubing
  • Rubber band
  • Towel / paper towel
  • Hot glue gun
  • Sizzors

Step 2: Now We Will Make the Canister for the Salt Water

Picture of Now We Will Make the Canister for the Salt Water

  1. Remove the label from the coffee can
  2. Next cut a piece of aluminum foil about 12" x 12"
  3. Now cut it in to four squares
  4. Now remove the lid of the Coffee can
  5. Now take 3 of the sheets and place them on top of the metal can
  6. Now fold the sheets down over the edge like in picture 4
  7. Now put the Rubber band around the tin foil
  8. Next place the fourth sheet of aluminum foil over top of the rubber band

Step 3: Attaching the Tubing

Picture of Attaching the Tubing

  1. The first thing you need to do is take the tip of the scissors and place it near the edge of the can
  2. After you place the scissors near the edge of the can you need to spin it until there is a hole about the size of the tubing
  3. Next insert the tubing into the hole about 1/3 of an inch down
  4. Now thoroughly apply hot glue around the tubing

Step 4: Now We Will Make the Collector

Picture of Now We Will Make the Collector

  1. First cut a piece of tin foil a little bit bigger than the top of the can
  2. Now place the aluminum foil on top and fold the sides down
  3. Now make a hole by twisting the scissors over where the hole in the can is
  4. You are now done In the next step I will show you how to use it

Step 5: Using the Purifier

Picture of Using the Purifier

  1. First you need to pour salt water into the metal can until it is about halfway full
  2. Now you need to take the tube and put it into the hole in the soda can
  3. Next you need to make a small fire you could also use a back pack stove
  4. Now you need set the can on the fire being care full the flames do not come two high
  5. Now you need to wet the paper towel or towel with cool water
  6. Now place the paper towel/towel over the tube check this often and make sure it is cool and damp
  7. Your purifier should now start to produce water in about 5 to 10 minutes

This purifier works because when you boil water it creates steam. The steam rises to the top of the can then goes through the tubing. Because of the paper towel the steam cools and turns back into water. Which then collects in the can free from impurities.


Luna10064 (author)2016-08-16

how would the hot glue not melt under the heat

mrsnone (author)2016-02-25

I don't think the hot glue step could be used in a survival setting.. where would you plug in your hot glue gun? lol.

kekker70 (author)mrsnone2016-05-29

Use Strike Any ware Wood Matches, go back of match head 3/8 " and put a mid to large gob of HOT GLUE on the stick, let Fully cool. to use, Strike the Match, hold it out striate and let the flame burn back and Slowly melt the hot.. use as needed.

I have at least a Dozen in my Bug Out Gear, my truck, my car, even my Hunting and fishing geer.

dad_a_monk (author)mrsnone2016-02-26

Actually you can use hot glue without a hotglue gun. Take a hot glue stick and cut off about 1 inch...then use a drill bit or heated nail to create a hole through the middle. Place a long match inside the now created channel. Leave the head of the match and about 1/2 an inch of wood above the glue stick. Now, when you need hot light the match, and as it melts the hot glue.

Azmerelda (author)mrsnone2016-02-25

Yeah, I'm thinking maybe you could just use more fold and compress it down tight over the tube area? Or use some sort of putty, or mud even, if you are in a survival situ. Hose clamp?

jaybo2099 (author)2016-03-08

FYI, this has been the primary way that the U.S. Navy has created potable water onboard ships for years. They pump heated sea water into a vacuum chamber, it then flashes into steam, rises into another chamber to be cooled and condensed back to a liquid.

Solot01 (author)2016-03-07

Have used this in a survival situation in north west works....a little time consuming but u get water - and u live....I buried the tube in the ground and wet the ground with salt water to add in cooling....good post

JimG50 (author)2016-02-27

Interesting distillery. Paint the outside of the coffee can black. Set a couple mirrors to reflect sunlight on the black surface. If cool, running water is available immerse the tubing in it or maybe bury it. Keep the collector in the shade or even bury it too but be careful of a siphoning problem. Maybe this would avoid having to use a fire although that is quicker.

intresting idea I think I will try that

JoshuaW23 (author)2016-03-03

I will definitely do this for the zombie apocalypse.

swilliams79 (author)2016-02-28

Good job Eddie... This is a basic survival need. Let the naysayers make drinkable water so other way...

swilliams79 (author)swilliams792016-02-28

*some ;) just in case someone wants to correct my spelling or grammer

ronald.ferreira.39 (author)2016-02-27

only if you light a match it wi;ll blow up

I'm pretty sure that's only for H2..

Snidely70448 (author)2016-02-27

Dr Strangelove on why one should drink only distilled water:

TimothyJ999 (author)2016-02-25

This myth just keeps popping up--it won't die even though it's utterly wrong, and a modicum of common sense should tell you it's ridiculous.

There is NO RISK to drinking distilled water. Your body gets 99.99% of its minerals from the food you eat. Distilled water is just water with no dissolved impurities. Its pH is between 6 and 7 (about 10,000 times less acidic than soda, which has a pH between 3 and 4). Drinking distilled water is about as dangerous as breathing really clean air.

Snidely70448 (author)TimothyJ9992016-02-27

That would be no dissolved SOLID impurities. If the water contains liquid or gaseous impurities they could transfer with the distilled water.

Istarian (author)TimothyJ9992016-02-25

I wouldn't recommend solely drinking distilled water. I substantially doubt that there is "NO RISK". The human body requires salts, etc to work properly which is part of the reason people drink stuff like Gatorade after they have exerted themselves (generally results in lots of sweat). If the rest of your diet adequately provides the things you need, then it's probably okay, but that's very different from no risk. Anything that changes the balance of electrolytes, etc has potential risks, even if they are minor. Distillation or reverse osmosis is different than merely filtering the water. If you don't like the tap water, just get a filter.

^ not the best source perhaps, but a lot less biased in this case.

TeresaM7 (author)TimothyJ9992016-02-25

Thank you, TimothyJ999. Some idiot I used to work with, who would disagree with you if you said the sky was blue on a clear, sunny day (I am neither joking nor exaggerating - she was that bad), told me this nonsense when she saw me drinking distilled. I quit drinking tap water long ago and have felt much better for it as a result. She insisted it was dangerous and had all kinds of health problems. Thank goodness she retired several years ago. My office has been a MUCH nicer place!

ABLEMOOSE (author)2016-02-26

I have been drinking distilled water for over 40 years. I drive a truck for a living and I carry it in the truck. When exactly can the beneficiaries of my Estate plan on my death due to cell explosion? This Instructable is a great idea! Everyone should have something similar in their contingency kit. The first thing trucker's haul to any Disaster Area is water. The added minerals myth was created as a sales tool by water purification equipment companies. GOOD FOR YOU, EDDY! You may have contributed something that will save some lives of people intelligent enough to be prepared.

TimothyJ999 (author)2016-02-25

Wow. We're supposed to be positive and constructive in these comments, so I guess i can't say much about your comment. Generalizing the "water challenge" to everyday experience is, well, idiotic. That person would have had EXACTLY the same result if she had drunk tap water. She died because she did something stupid that caused an electrolyte imbalance--she diluted the amount of potassium in her body and

Normal tap water is hypotonic, almost as hypotonic as distilled water. It has only a few parts per million dissolved solids (in other words minerals), which doesn't make a bit of difference when you force yourself to drink gallons of it and die as a result of electrolyte dilution. The levels of electrolytes in tap water are simply too low to make any difference in such a bizarre case.

Regarding your advice to drink "isotonic water", now THAT's some bad advice. Sea water is isotonic. If you want to go into kidney failure, hallucinate, convulse, and die, drinking sea water is a great way to do it. Here's a comparison:

Distilled water: 0 parts per million total dissolved solids
Typical tap water: about 20 ppm TDS
Sea water: about 35,000 ppm TDS
Blood plasma: about 9000 ppm TDS

There is no practical physiological difference between drinking distilled water and tap water. This is not my opinion, and I'm not making it up--it is simply a medical fact. If you assert that there is a difference, THAT is your opinion and it is not supported by the evidence or by the science that underlies human physiology.

There's such a thing as being TOO open-minded, when it enables you to continue believing nonsense in the face of all evidence to the contrary.

Seawater is hypertonic to human cells not isotonic. Seawater is typically above 3%. The human cell is 0.9%.

Distilled water has not been found to be harmful. There was a WHO study in the 1980s, the only thing they found was increased urination, and demineralization. This means you need to take supplements and salts if you plan to drink distilled or de-ionized water on a permanent basis......btw, countries like Bahrain get all of their municipal water by distilling seawater. It is an expensive process for a municipality, but hey..they have a desert with little potable water.

One of Dean Kamen's companies provides water purification machines to poor villages with bacteria, protist, or helminth laden water. Bad water in...distilled water out....and Kamen is one of the most intelligent dudes on the planet...good enough for him, good enough for us. That's what I say, anyway.

Good easy -ible, by the way.

Don't listen to the vitriol...haters gonna hate.

ed-romes (author)2016-02-26

some funny statements made about drinking distilled water versuses tap water most tapwater have chlorine init disstilled does not minerals and extra salt can be found in your proccesed foods !! ie canned beans ,meat bbread hotdogs pizza !! You name it you won't get sick or die if you drink normal amount of any water !!! But drink 10gallons of any drink and you have trouble in more ways than you want to think about !!!

txadams (author)ed-romes2016-02-26

Agree. I don't know where that urban myth came from. You intake more than enough minerals from the foods you eat to compensate for those lacking in distilled water.

ed-romes (author)2016-02-26

some funny statements made about drinking distilled water versuses tap water most tapwater have chlorine init disstilled does not minerals and extra salt can be found in your proccesed foods !! ie canned beans ,meat bbread hotdogs pizza !! You name it you won't get sick or die if you drink normal amount of any water !!! But drink 10gallons of any drink and you have trouble in more ways than you want to think about !!!

chrimicho0613 (author)2016-02-26

did you misspell scissors on purpose? its cool looking.
and great instructable BTW!

pjk22 (author)2016-02-26

Sierra Alpha, how much electrolyte do you think is in normal drinking water. It is very low much lower than isotonic drinks. It is the function of the kidneys to control the concentration of your urine to maintain the correct tonicity of your blood/extracellular fluid. Drinking distilled water is in no way more dangerous than drinking tap water. But it is possible to exceed the capacity of the kidney to correct for excess water intake with distilled or tap water. The amount of water this takes will depend on your kidney function and other factors such as depletion of body sodium. The issue is that from a drinking point of view the difference between normal tap water and distilled water is minuscle.

mikkay. Isopropyl alcohol is not the alcohol people normally think about when you mention pure alcohol. Most people are thinking of ethanol. The difference is not the water content but the number of carbon atoms -


The strength is another matter.

mikaay (author)2016-02-26

And as has been said by others about this being effective to purify water, make moonshine (although moonshine isn't quite made by this process alone, and frankly, I'd appreciate someone making an instructable how to do it) etc. one could also separate iso-propyl alcohol using this method, should it be necessary to obtain pure alcohol as a solvent for whatever reason. In other words, Isopropyl is alcohol mixed with water (usually 30/70 or 10/90 % ratio of water to alcohol) and alcohol has a lower boiling point to become gaseous than does water (evaporates faster) so the process would take place even without fire, although it would take longer.

Of course, just to be clear here, I'm not talking about any kind of drinking alcohol here so don't anyone purify their isoproplyl with the idea of making it okay to drink or anything! I'm just stating that this method would be useful for many situations, but more likely at home or in a chemistry lab, not on Gilligan's Island! Just sayin'!

meswanson (author)2016-02-26

It always amazes me the need for "know it alls" to waste my screen space with either obvious observations or danger warnings via lengthy debates. A quick mention is fine if there is a danger perhaps the project author is not aware of that could cause a fire or bodily harm. Page after page of commentary is not needed honest! If you need to see your scribble on a screen, go to "The Facebook" and stretch your creative skills or lack there of. If I have offended anyone...............

I appreciate people taking the time to share projects or findings. Some put hours of effort out here. Congradulatory comments of any length are appretiated. To all of you past, present or future contributors I just say. Thank you! :-)

MutantB (author)2016-02-25

Simpel still, can u pee in it & get drinking water?

wheeets (author)2016-02-25

Cool Instructable... I'd probably switch out the aluminum foil (and can) for a can that has a metal detachable top (like these rolled chocolate waffer tin)... Definitely a good idea to have in the ol' prep bag

hyperfocused72 (author)2016-02-25

Any water drank in enough quantity quickly enough (we're usually talking gallons for an adult) can wash enough salt out of your body to cause death. It is extraordinarily difficult to do this by accident though. The only problem with normal amounts of distilled water would be if you were given it intravenously through an IV. Given contaminated water kills or infects millions of people each year in the world, the most dangerous thing about distilled water is *not* drinking it.

weinskar (author)2016-02-25

While there are cases of water toxicity they are rare and occur outside of normal dietary consumption, i.e. "water challenge", in particular they are drinking water when not thirsty. There are a lot of complex factors that are never explained around the, was the person dehydrated prior to the challenge to make it easier to consume that much water and thus make their electrolyte balance potentially unstable. The human body is an amazing processor of food and liquids and has amazing capabilities keep it's systems in balance as long as we listen to it's ques. I know a number of people who have been drinking primarily distilled water from a reverse osmosis system and there have been no health impacts to date.

BBC Has a great series call "Inside the Human Body" episode 4 has some relevance to this as it talks about the body's ability to pull nutrition out of the food we consume. It's not direct but not a lot of things in the science of the human body are as there are still a lot of questions.

jim0825 (author)2016-02-25

RE: the concerns of drinking distilled water... If all you ever took in was the distilled water generated by this still, you probably would experience health issues (it's called starvation.) In reality, the assumption would be that you are foraging for/finding other food (fruits, roots, berries and small game.) If you have access to salt water (an ocean, maybe?), you might even be catching and eating (salt water) fish and possibly eating kelp/sea weed. The additional intake should pretty well offset the lack of minerals/electrolytes in the distilled water. If need be, you can probably also use some of the salt/minerals left over from the distillation process to season some of the food.

Gadget93 (author)2016-02-25

That is the silliest thing I've ever heard. Pure water is pure water and all electrolytes do is carry charge. The lack of them will not cause a single ounce of harm. In fact, is even more cleansing.
I am a chemist. I've drunken pure distilled water many times. I assure you that I felt quite satisfied afterwards.

iamuke (author)2016-02-25

The comments are amusing. Good job, interwebs.

As an alternative, a clear plastic sheet placed over a hole in the sand requires much less equipment and significantly less 115VAC.

Or wrap a plastic bag over a bunch of leaves on the tree and leave it there for a day.

But there's still the issue of polluting your Precious Bodily Fluids with pure DiHidrogen Monoxide (shudder).

DougM2 (author)2016-02-25

Amazing comments! LOL - don't drink the water! Yeah - die of thirst instead of having a temporary imbalance in electrolytes!

I can't plug in my glue gun (like I brought it with me to the island). How about substituting tree sap, gum, candle wax, beeswax, heated and melted shoe rubber, etc.

People - this is just a still - you can make booze if you prefer.

alfon1917 (author)2016-02-25

You are probably referring to osmosis. However, osmosis only applies to non-electrolytic solutions. cells will NOT 'attempt to balance the electrolyte gradient' (there is no gradient here either, BTW).

Sierra Alpha (author)alfon19172016-02-25

Ha! Yes, this discussion belongs elsewhere... but unfortunately it is here. I cannot abide the careless spread of nonsense. Yes, im talking about osmosis... Really? "Osmosis only applies to a non-electrolyte soln"? That's simply false... Osmosis could be loosely defined as "water follows salt". But it really doesn't matter whether its electrolytes or otherwise... Osmosis is the movement of a solvent (h2o) across a semipermiable membrane (cell lipid bilayer) to a region of lower concentration of that solvent. The type of solute is not important, common ones in the body are the ions previously mentioned, electrolytes. So, if applying common (not actually that common) sense, it should make sense that a cell (which all have a semi-permiable membrane) is subject to osmotic pressure and subsequent swelling or shrinking depending on the concentrations of the solvent on either side of the membrane. Docs order IV saline for a good reason... its isotonic... meaning that the concentration of sonvent is equal to the body's intracellular/extracellular/blood fluids... no concentration gradient and therefore no swelling or shrinking of the cell... on the other hand, the IV fluid, D50W for hypoglycemia, is hypertonic. This would (if too much were administered) cause water to move from inside the cell into the blood stream to balance the concentration gradient... the cell shrinks... If were talking dogma and myths, the belief that distilled water does not affect the body any differently that tap water or filtered water doubtlessly must fall into these categories... Drink the Coolaid if you desire, or begin to think and gain understanding... The choice is one's own.

Eromanga (author)2016-02-25

If pure H2O is indeed a big problem you could always put a couple of drops of the sea water in your clean water. ;-)

pdavis19 (author)2016-02-25

It's perfectly safe to drink distilled water though it doesn't provide the minerals that regular water contains and those minerals have health benefits. But drinking distilled water won't hurt you. Yes, it can be slightly acidic (due to distilled water's ability to absorb a lot of CO2), but it's nothing compared to the acidity of a soda or vinegar. Nothing your body can't easily handle.

burnerjack01 (author)MutantB2016-02-25

To MutantB and Eddie the Intemtor, I just want to say "Bad spellers of the world! Untie!

Jack Rodgers (author)2016-02-25

Salt is essential in our bodies. Animals will use a salt lick if one is made available. Probably because tasting and liking salt is part of our tongue and not because some part of their intelligence says, aha, salt, I need that. (my guess).

In Florida and in the military, salt tablets are given to athletes and soldiers since sweating removes salt from the body (those white stains under the arm pits), especially in Texas and Oklahoma.

So, drinking distilled water fills the body but does not replace the lost salt and other minerals so take a vitamin pill and a salt pill or add salt.

Too much salt is bad (the ocean) , too little is bad.

Tap water can be bad for your health, Flint Michigan, etc.

I was told to take water pills, they remove the excess salt. I took them for too long and I shriveled up... :)

Pa1963 (author)2016-02-25

I only know that If I drink mostly distilled water I will suffer from horrible leg cramps. Usually drinking about a quart of tap water will alleviate the cramps.

tosomja (author)2016-02-25

TinaH23 where r u?? Brad Pitt is looking for u..

Need some water badly!!

BenTauer (author)Azmerelda2016-02-25

Mud is a good idea. This is just a mini still and if you look at historic alcohol stills they would seal the cracks with a paste made of ground corn or mud or whatever they had I suppose

spark master (author)2016-02-25

EGADS DRINK PURE DIHYDROGEN MONOXIDE!!!!! just add atouch of good kentucky burbon and it will cure the problems...bbrrr I shudder to thing a pure chemical and you want to drink it...quick add the koolaid mix or diet iced tea mix, or as previously stated pure Kentucky Bouron, of my fave, Knob Creek. Gotta break oiut the barrel later on, ok after I post this!!!


Chucknsc (author)2016-02-25

you can make moonshine about the same way

All water you drink is hypotonic. This comment section is reading like "The dangers of dihydrogen monoxide" website. LMAO!!

poopl (author)2016-02-19

Also useful to purify suspected unclean fresh water.

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