Introduction: Distillation Experiment: Distilling Water at Home (Minimal Materials)

***Students, do not use a stove without your parents permission/supervision.***

In Grade 7, students learn about pure substances and mixtures. They learn about the particle theory of matter and how it explains the properties of these pure substances and mixtures. In particular, we learn about solutions. A solution is a mixture made up of parts with very similar properties and characteristics. Salt water, coffee, alloy metals are all solutions. The parts of a solution are very difficult to separate. Though not impossible!

We begin to learn about different types of filtration that can be used to separate solutions. The most common strategies involve making the solute or solvent change state. (ie. changing the solute from a solid to a liquid)

In this experiment students will learn about the filtration process of distillation. This experiment is designed for my students to do at home with as little materials as possible. There are some much better water distilling Instructables available, such asthis one created by erbst. This instructbable is intended to be as simple as possible.


  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 Tablespoons of fine table salt
  • One metal pot and lid
  • One spatula (recommended)
  • One water glass

Step 1: Create a Salt Water Solution

Fill a glass with 1 cup of water. Then add one table spoon of salt. To make a proper solution you should stir until the salt as been absorbed and is no longer visible. Give it a taste! Just make sure there is a sink nearby!

Step 2: Add to Pot and Boil

Add your salt water solution to a pot (I chose a large pot with a large surface area) with a lid. Close the lid. On high heat bring the water to a boil. Let your water boil, you should see some steam escaping, let it continue to boil for a minute or two. Then reduce the heat to low.

Step 3: Lift the Lid

**Be careful! The pot will be hot! If your pot has an exposed metal handle use over mitts or a tea towel**

Carefully lift the lid and turn it over in one smooth motion. You should see many water droplets have formed on the lid of the pot.

Step 4: Pour Water Into a Cup

Bring your lid over to a new glass. With a spatula, wipe the water droplets into the cup.

You may not get enough water on your first try. If not, return the lid to the pot and reheat. Repeat these steps until you have collected enough water to drink.

Step 5: Bottom's Up!

Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

Take a drink of the water you have collected, distilled rather!

What do you notice? How has the salt water solution separated?