After trying several methods, this is the best method I found for heating up a small quantity of water for rehydrating freeze-dried backpacking food using just the sun as an energy source. My goals were to make a simple but light solar still. This project is inexpensive (<$20), efficient and light. Several options for its construction are offered.
I have heated water to 196 F in the matter of just a few hours.
Step 1: Materials Needed
1 HDPE (Nalgene) Bottle 500 ml size
1 Flexible reflector auto shade (the shinier, the better)
1 Large plastic bottle with a screwable mid-section (This is hard to find. I got mine at a dollar store and it contained a lot of small bungees. This is convenient, but not necessary. You can use a 1 liter soda bottle, a half gallon square water bottle or a large jerky container.)
Metal duct tape.
Regular Ducting Tape.
Self-stick Velcro strips.
Step 2: Notes on Bottle Types and Hazards
There are five major types of bottles that can be used for this project, but the inner bottle that actually touches the water should always be HDPE (Nalgene), which is cloudy semi- hard plastic. Soda bottles are made of PET. When PET gets hot, it may leach DEHP, a potential carcinogen. Lexan containers, the clear plastic that is often brightly colored, may contain traces of BPA which may interfere with your hormones (It is an estrogen-like compound. Doesn't sound good to me.) Then there are PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and polystyrene bottles, which can also produce carcinogens. Polypropylene or LDPE may be safe choices.
The photo shows the alternate outer bottle - a 1 liter PET soda bottle with the bottom cut off about 2 inches from the bottom and attached on just one side with duct tape. This allows you to hinge the bottom to load the black-painted HDPE bottle.