Introduction: Uncle John's Portable Solar Water Distiller ( for Survival )

This is something I made on a whim.
Its very simple to do and the pictures pretty much self-describe the directions to make it. Any old 2 liter plastic soda bottle will work. I made a 2 liter small one and a larger jumbo 3 liter.. But you can even use a 1 pint plastic soda bottle or even a larger water bottle of some type. The options are endless. ( elongated design ) The key with this is the flip back catch edge trough that collects the water.

Materials:
2 liter soda bottle
utility knife
lighter
Black rag

Step 1 - cut the bottle in half using the utility knife

Step 2 - fold a 1" or 2" lip back into the inside of the bottle ( this is the trough ) Use the lighter if you need some heat to help it bend back in. Sometimes, you can do it without the lighter.

Step 3 - wet down the black rag with the nastiest water ( urine? ) you can find and set it in the sun. The nasty water will evaporate and condense on the inside sides of the bottle and find its way down into the trough.

Step 4 - when you notice enough water has collected in the trough, carefully remove the bottle from the nasty black rag and flip it over quickly.. The water now flows the other way and ends up in the cap.. Carefully remove the cap and drink the water.

Step 1: Cut the Bottle in Half

Remove the labeling and mark the bottle about halfway. Next, cut the bottle in half using the utility knife or scissors.

Step 2: Creating the Trough

Fold a 1" or 2" lip back into the inside of the bottle ( this is the water trough ) Use the lighter if you need some heat to help it bend back and in. Sometimes, you can do it without the lighter. The lighter isnt always necessary.

Step 3: Making Clean Water

Wet down the black rag with the nastiest water ( urine? ) you can find and set it in the sun. The nasty water will evaporate and condense on the inside sides of the bottle and find its way down into the trough. When you notice enough water has collected in the trough, carefully pickup the bottle from the nasty black rag and flip it over quickly.. The water in the trough now flows the other way and ends up in the cap.. Carefully remove the cap and drink the water.

Comments

author
JeffL51 made it! (author)2015-12-03

Great idea. A possible improvement: Get a large black shallow pan with an inch or 2 of bad water and float one or more of those on top of the water.

author
Thistley made it! (author)2015-06-18

However, I must admit, your idea to use a soda bottle is genius! Such bottles are readily available, and they don't cost a thing.

author
Thistley made it! (author)2015-06-18

I first saw this idea from Stephen Augustin, a designer in Germany, I think he's from. He makes huge ones called a "Solarcone". Unfortunately, I've not seen any for sale (I'd love to buy one). BTW, this should also work if you just put it on damp ground.

author
milododds made it! (author)2015-01-09

This is a wonderful idea for sure. You could add a hole in the bottom of the trough that connects to a piece of tubing that feeds into a larger holding container (something shaded from the heat) for the clean (distilled) water as well as a narrow bucket for the "dirty water" below the dome to create a system that produces larger quantities without having to be maintained so often. I could also see a larger clear plastic bag being added to the top of the dome to create a "super dome" for water condensation. You could do so much in terms of expanding upon this idea into creating a much larger solar distillation system...perhaps some mirrors or magnified sunlight focused on the dirty water to increase the water vapor....something to help cool the trough. However if this is all you have in a survival situation - knowing how to do this could save your life for sure.

author
terrynight made it! (author)2014-02-09

this one is bluddy brilliant, Hermoine!

author
twohawks made it! (author)2013-10-08

I have seen all kinds of solar stills. This one is freaking brilliant. Thanks so much for posting.

author
skippingrocks made it! (author)2010-04-28

 Do you know if there is any concern about the plastic leaking chemicals into the distilled water? This is a fantastic idea. I guess I am just paranoid with all the talk about chemicals being leaked from plastics into food and water when the plastics are heated.

author
scouttster made it! (author)scouttster2010-04-29

There could be a concern for that.. I really dont know.
 I think if it was being used in an emergency situatuon and people were desperate for water -  BPA ( Bisphenol ) would be the last worry.

You could try to make one out of glass

author
emccartney1 made it! (author)emccartney12011-10-16

I think if you're using food grad plastic, which is what a 2-liter coke bottle is you should be ok. I'm not sure if cutting it or heating it with a lighter to bend it will compromise its integrity though.

author
solarbipolar made it! (author)solarbipolar2013-05-31

If you're desperate or in a survival situation, the last thing one would worry about is integrity.

author
skaterchater made it! (author)2013-02-12

how long does it take on average? thanks, great post!

author
motopsyco1961 made it! (author)2012-10-20

this is a practical idea I'm impressed, thx for sharing

author
Bobblob made it! (author)2012-06-24

Excellent concept!

You could even use the discarded bottom cut off section of the bottle to collect the water to be evaporated and condensed. Cut slits into the bottom part and then Press it back in to make it fit and put the black cloth inside that to act as a light absorber.

author
Bobblob made it! (author)2012-06-24

Excellent concept!  

You could even use the discarded bottom cut off section of the bottle to collect the water to be evaporate and condense. (press it back in to make it fit and put the black cloth inside it to act as a light absorber.

author
marcellahella made it! (author)2012-05-27

this is too smart!!!!

author
bethg761 made it! (author)2009-10-27

great instructable, seems like a very good idea

author
bears0 made it! (author)2009-09-25

I can't believe it would actually distill pee

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scouttster made it! (author)scouttster2009-09-28

Maybe you could WIKI " urine " and read all about what urine actually is..... FYI, urine is 95% water

author
jtobako made it! (author)2009-09-08

So...how many are you going to need per person when you really need to distill water?

author
scouttster made it! (author)scouttster2009-09-09

I think it was Steve Callahan that said he survived an ordeal at sea on 4 or 5 oz of water a day for 50 or 60 days before he spotted land and was rescued. He mixed about 3 oz of fresh water ( sometimes from a solar distiller ) with an oz of sea water and sometimes an oz of urine and drank away. Sure, his body slowly withered away, but this small amount sustained him and kept him holding on another day longer.. Without any water, most die in 3 or 4 days. I think the larger unit could easily produce 4 or 5oz of water in a 10 hour day in the tropics.

author
maxman made it! (author)2009-09-07

Excellent Instructable ! Thank you.

author
ac1D made it! (author)2009-09-07

Genius! Really good idea, really good instruction. Was able to do it on my own after I seen the introduction. Good job on this instructables!

author
fegundez1 made it! (author)2009-09-07

living in hurricane Florida I have built distiller type devices for kits for a long time. But this is a great idea that even the most tool/diy challenged can make good use of! Great idea!

author
Transquesta made it! (author)2009-09-06

No kidding, dude. This is the kind of thing which will get you honorable mention in the bye and bye if nothing else. The bigger the bottle, the better the idea!

author
srohwer made it! (author)2009-09-06

Utterly, freakin' brilliant. You could even put a small can painted black in it.

author
Megax29 made it! (author)2009-09-06

good Instructable and just think that you might save a life someday in an emergency

author
IdahoDavid made it! (author)2009-09-06

very clever.

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