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A bit pricey....also must pay a high cost for energy, at 1500 watts. Is there a startup surge with this? If you are going to buy such a system you also need to include the cost and storage of fuel needed to operate the generator...or additional panels or batteries for your solar system. This machine will only run for 8 hours or so and then you must drain the tank - 4 gallon storage with 12 gallons in 24 hours. Is your present generator large enough to manage the load, or will you have to buy a larger one? What temperature does the water heat to? Also, in order to stay healthy in the long term you will have to add some of the minerals to the water that you distilled out. There are solar options, though they are much bigger than that. What things in the water are you trying to avoid. I am just now beginning to learn about distilling, but apparently not all of the nasties can be distilled out of the water...only a few (maybe rare), but it is worth checking into if you want to drop that much change on such a machine. Is there some reason why you are choosing distilling over filtration? This distiller will probably work much better if you do filter the water a little bit first - at least carbon. This will keep your internal tanks cleaner, reduce the mineral buildup that happens with the evaporation of the water. Another thing to consider - what will you use the water for? If it is for drinking and cooking, you can likely get a smaller machine and save on all of the aforementioned costs.
 

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One more thing (I feel like Columbo), even though these machines are simple, they still have parts that might break down or wear out. Do you have a plan for sourcing them? stock piling?
 

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Distillation with that machine, would not remove volatile compounds like gasoline.
Water filters can remove the same solid compounds, that distillation removes.
Plus filtration can remove most other nasty compounds, that distillation does not remove.
 

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yes, anything that has a boiling point or evaporating point lower than 212 degrees will also evaporate and end up in your "98% pure" water.
 

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yes, anything that has a boiling point or evaporating point lower than 212 degrees will also evaporate and end up in your "98% pure" water.
Or if you have half a brain you could bring your water to a boil in a pan before putting it in the machine which will evaporate out all volatiles before even placing it in the distillation machine.

Simple solutions to simple problems...
 

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I have a distiller (or a still, if you like. My old Dad enjoyed experimenting with home made "stuff".) It works well but I prefer the filters. More time and energy efficient. I would use the distiller for medicinal and disinfectant alcohol if needed, but even for sterile water a good boil after filtering will do the trick.

Yes, I know, medical people will scream that boiled water is not modern level of "sterile", but even that can be achieved in your pressure cooker or canner. Just can a few jars of water as if they are a meat product if you're going to use it during surgery.
 

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I am not so sure how much I would trust home distilled water unless it came from a reflux still or water that was already safe but I wanted remove something specific from it .

Alcohol boils a 173F and water at 212F. Almost a 40F difference. But with a simple still it is very hard/impossible to get a clean separation between the two. In fact I am pretty sure it is impossible to distill alcohol beyond 96% To get the last 4 percent requires filtering through some sort of moisture dryer.

All that is just to say, if you are distilling something known out of otherwise clean(ish)water distillation may be the way to go. If you are trying to get all unknowns out of unknown water distillation will help clean it up but depending on the source water may or may not be good enough .

With that said if I were ever in a situation where I had to drink known contaminated water and had a still I would put it to use to hopefully make the water safer while at the same time looking for a safer water source.


Here is a list of common chemicals that all boil at about the same same temp as water. The ones highlighted in red are less than the difference between water and alcohol which takes precise control to separate. The ones in orange are only 4 degrees which would be 10 times harder to separate and if you notice naphtha actually overlaps with water. Naphtha can be found at any industry that involves oil processing or natural gas and is quite common in household chemicals. Lantern fuel is mostly Naphtha.

Ethanol 173f
Alcohol - ethyl (grain, ethanol) C2H5OH 174f
2,2 - Dimethylpentane 175f
2-Butanon 175f
Isopropyl Alchol 177f
Benzene (Benzol) C6H6 177f
Cyclohexane 177f
Triptane 178f
Acentonitrile 179f
2-Propanol 180f
2 - Methylhexane 194f
3 - Methylhexane 197f
3 - Ethylpentane 200f
Petrol 203f
Alcohol - allyl 207f
Alcohol - propyl 208f
n-Heptane 209f
Isooctane 211f
Naphtha 212 - 320f
Water 212f
Water, sea 213f
Formic acid 214f
Methylcyclohexane 214f
1,4-Dioxane 214f
Alcohol - Isobutyl 226f
Saturated brine 226f
Diisobutyl 228f
Peroxyacetic acid 230f
Toluene 231f
Alcohol - butyl-n 243f
1-Butanol 244f
Nitric Acid 248f
Nitric Acid 248f
Paraldehyde 255f
n - Octane 258f
Chlorobenzene 269f
Ethylene bromide 269f

If you are at the headwaters of a pristine waterway none of these should be a problem but if you are farther down stream and there is any industry or shipping on that body of water there is a good chance the water will have some of these chemicals if you are in flood waters an there is any industry nearby you can almost guarantee there will be all sorts of these chemicals in your water.
 

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Distilling any amount of water also takes a larger amount of fuel. Using a wood fire with an oil dripper and forced air that makes a fires so hot it will cause 1x4" grader blades to glow white and slump down takes about 14 hours to boil of 160 gallons of water. That takes about 20 gallons of oil and 1 1/2 face cords of wood plus a few KWH's of electric to run the blower.

I will admit my set up isn't all that efficient.
 

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I was thinking of eventually getting something like this, as an alternative to having to store up so much water:

https://waterdistillers.com/collect...-water-distiller-220-240-volt-wd400506-400494

That one is expensive but there are distillers available that are far cheaper. If you intend to use one in a shtf scenario, which one have you decided to use, and why?
By learning the skill, you can spend less on a proper stainless distillation rig with fractionation tower so you can distill water, spirits, fuel, and essential oils. Your rig is push button easy, admittedly, but learning the manual way provides far more useful products, an entertaining hobby now, and a very real cottage industry for after SHTF.

Something worth consideration when losing the easy button gives so much versatility and value.

Or if you have half a brain you could bring your water to a boil in a pan before putting it in the machine which will evaporate out all volatiles before even placing it in the distillation machine.

Simple solutions to simple problems...
Boiling is not distilling. Lasers' post points out the clear difference. You can remove biological threats and *some* toxins by boiling, but not all. In fact, without skill or proper equipment you can potentially concentrate a toxin threat.

If you are at the headwaters of a pristine waterway none of these should be a problem but if you are farther down stream and there is any industry or shipping on that body of water there is a good chance the water will have some of these chemicals if you are in flood waters an there is any industry nearby you can almost guarantee there will be all sorts of these chemicals in your water.
I fully agree with everything in your post, but want to remind you that headwaters can first pass underground through natural deposits. In some cases that might be good minerals or aquifer barrier that filters the water, or it could be natural deposits of metal ore, arsenic, fluoride, or radiologicals. The good news is that the resulting water is likely static in component makeup and a one time test can identify any potential threats. Even if a threat is present, it being static means you have the potential for mitigation you can make plans for.
 

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Distilling any amount of water also takes a larger amount of fuel. Using a wood fire with an oil dripper and forced air that makes a fires so hot it will cause 1x4" grader blades to glow white and slump down takes about 14 hours to boil of 160 gallons of water. That takes about 20 gallons of oil and 1 1/2 face cords of wood plus a few KWH's of electric to run the blower.

I will admit my set up isn't all that efficient.
Do you have a jacket on your tank? That makes a huge difference.
 

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OP, unless a big water user, you don't need that. I distill a gallon at a time and finish 5 gallons in 1-1/2 days. I store it in glass 1 gallon jugs.

I've been distilling water for 10 years+. I have a whole website dedicated to distillation, filters, well water, snow water, water vending machines, many, many bottled water tests, charcoal filters, reverse O, much, much more. In short everything connected with water I have tested with photo results of the tests.

...but sadly I get banned whenever I post the link here.

Now, if you got a big family or are a big user, then get a plumbed-in distiller and you can distill water continually.

If you are in the Rustbelt and get your water from the river, you are probably drinking 'toilet to tap' water along with a multitude of chemicals that get dumped in the river along with all the pharmaceuticals that are in the human waste that you are drinking in river water.

Here is what is in 1 gallon of Cadiz Ohio tap water...

If you use tap water and want it super clean you will have to distill it 2 or 3 times. I use purified water to distill, pretty clean to start with then make it cleaner. Never buy bottled 'drinking water.' Dirty. Buy 'purified water' or 'purified drinking water.'

Never buy charcoal filtered bottled 'drinking water' water with no other filtration, it is terrible. Although they have a charcoal adapter for the distiller. Maybe it gets rid of some of the chemicals as was mentioned in a previous post. I don't use charcoal, I just distill and back mix with 25% Evian spring water to put some minerals back. Evian is the king and I've tested tons of commercial spring water.

PS...if you Google around and find a site with hundreds of water test photos you probably found my site. I've tested water from many, many states. I got into distilling because the bottled water I used to drink gave me heartburn. That is how bad some of the water is.
 

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I am not so sure how much I would trust home distilled water unless it came from a reflux still or water that was already safe but I wanted remove something specific from it .

Alcohol boils a 173F and water at 212F. Almost a 40F difference. But with a simple still it is very hard/impossible to get a clean separation between the two. In fact I am pretty sure it is impossible to distill alcohol beyond 96% To get the last 4 percent requires filtering through some sort of moisture dryer.

All that is just to say, if you are distilling something known out of otherwise clean(ish)water distillation may be the way to go. If you are trying to get all unknowns out of unknown water distillation will help clean it up but depending on the source water may or may not be good enough .

With that said if I were ever in a situation where I had to drink known contaminated water and had a still I would put it to use to hopefully make the water safer while at the same time looking for a safer water source.


Here is a list of common chemicals that all boil at about the same same temp as water. The ones highlighted in red are less than the difference between water and alcohol which takes precise control to separate. The ones in orange are only 4 degrees which would be 10 times harder to separate and if you notice naphtha actually overlaps with water. Naphtha can be found at any industry that involves oil processing or natural gas and is quite common in household chemicals. Lantern fuel is mostly Naphtha.

Ethanol 173f
Alcohol - ethyl (grain, ethanol) C2H5OH 174f
2,2 - Dimethylpentane 175f
2-Butanon 175f
Isopropyl Alchol 177f
Benzene (Benzol) C6H6 177f
Cyclohexane 177f
Triptane 178f
Acentonitrile 179f
2-Propanol 180f
2 - Methylhexane 194f
3 - Methylhexane 197f
3 - Ethylpentane 200f
Petrol 203f
Alcohol - allyl 207f
Alcohol - propyl 208f
n-Heptane 209f
Isooctane 211f
Naphtha 212 - 320f
Water 212f
Water, sea 213f
Formic acid 214f
Methylcyclohexane 214f
1,4-Dioxane 214f
Alcohol - Isobutyl 226f
Saturated brine 226f
Diisobutyl 228f
Peroxyacetic acid 230f
Toluene 231f
Alcohol - butyl-n 243f
1-Butanol 244f
Nitric Acid 248f
Nitric Acid 248f
Paraldehyde 255f
n - Octane 258f
Chlorobenzene 269f
Ethylene bromide 269f

If you are at the headwaters of a pristine waterway none of these should be a problem but if you are farther down stream and there is any industry or shipping on that body of water there is a good chance the water will have some of these chemicals if you are in flood waters an there is any industry nearby you can almost guarantee there will be all sorts of these chemicals in your water.
The point is this: is the distilled water better or worse than the water you started with?

Sometimes the boil pot has rainbow color left over in the bottom. Richardson, TX had a lot of that residue. Even some spring water had some. Rainbow colors generally are a clear sign of some sort of chemical or oily substance was in the water. It is amazing what is in perfectly clear water.
 

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The point is this: is the distilled water better or worse than the water you started with?
It depends on what was in the water to begin with. If you have clean sea water and want to remove the salt. It will be cleaner water. If the water you start with has any of the chemicals listed in orange or purple it is very possible for you to end up with finished water that larger parts per whatever than the water you started with. But in general if you start with clean water what comes out of the still should be cleaner(that is assuming an all stainless or glass still with on rubber or Teflon or copper parts that can ever come in contact with the steam or water.(Many homemade stills that I have seen use various types of rubber or Teflon to seal the lid or coil that puts those items in contact with the hot steam.



Sometimes the boil pot has rainbow color left over in the bottom. Richardson, TX had a lot of that residue. Even some spring water had some. Rainbow colors generally are a clear sign of some sort of chemical or oily substance was in the water. It is amazing what is in perfectly clear water.

Do you do any actual testing of your water before and after distilling? In the past, if I remember correctly your only test was to boil the pan dry and take a photo of the bottom of the pan then complain about how dirty the water was with no idea of what that residue was on the bottom of the pan.
 

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I was thinking of eventually getting something like this, as an alternative to having to store up so much water:

https://waterdistillers.com/collect...-water-distiller-220-240-volt-wd400506-400494

That one is expensive but there are distillers available that are far cheaper. If you intend to use one in a shtf scenario, which one have you decided to use, and why?
I just want to point out if you read the pdf manual for the distiller you linked to it is only intended to be used on clean well or municipal water. It is not for dirty or contaminated water.

It also has a "vent" for VOC's but by looking at how it appears to work that vent only works on batch mode rather than continuous mode.

It also gives no information on it's temp control. Since it includes no information and doesn't have a digital read out or set temps I assume it doesn't have a thermocouple nor a PID to control it. Also because of it's overall height it doesn't have any type of column or plates. It also doesn't have water cooling.

From what little information they offer it appears as if there is a heating element in a stainless water tank that is always on regardless of temp. And has no ability to hold a temp. I assume the VOC vent is just turning off the cooling fan for however long it takes for the heater to get the water to 212F. And I also assume that the part that turns it back into water is just a coil with a fan blowing on it possibly making it less efficient in warmer climates.

The float is also plastic which for a machine of that price I would personally expect it to be stainless. I am not a big fan of the idea of that plastic being boiled in water that I want to drink. I assume the heat will leach things out of the plastic that may make their way into the finished water.

In their intended role of taking more or less clean and safe water and removing unwanted minerals from it this thing probably works very well. As a survivalist tool I have my doubts.
 

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Do you do any actual testing of your water before and after distilling? In the past, if I remember correctly your only test was to boil the pan dry and take a photo of the bottom of the pan then complain about how dirty the water was with no idea of what that residue was on the bottom of the pan.
Exactly. He's just boiling it off and taking pictures of the residue, with no testing at all.

Heaven forbid that the evil crust turned out to be calcium or magnesium. I know, the horror of it all.....

People tend to see what it takes to do proper distillation and then rationalize some easy ad hoc boiling arrangement as just as good.

I'm quick to jump on distillation threads in general because way too many are looking to short cut the process.

Frankly, I get offended on behalf of the few who truly do it right. It's a precision science that deserves respect for those who do it right. A tradesman skill that rates recognition. If not for the Byzantine laws of booze production, many of these skilled people could be earning income tomorrow selling premium distilled spirits. But come that moment after people venture outdoors after SHTF that person will be an essential local resource for everyone. He won't be out on perimeter patrol or slogging in the gardens. He will have free armed security and not want for basic needs. The guy making pure water, antiseptics, fuel, drinking spirits, and several other essential products is going to be popular.

People who try to short cut the process and think all steam is the same would be wiser to stick with filtration instead.

You know that while distillation threads come and go with regularity here, there is no well crafted primer that is a natural counterpart to my Safe Water Theory thread that covers filtration. There really should be one posted next to mine. Something that includes all the misconceptions and puts a skewer in those faker threads. My weak skill set at using fractionation clearly precludes me from making it. But I offer my assistance in any form requested. I could likely ask Justme11 to pitch in as a chemical engineer, and maybe round up one of the licensed physicians and some other naturalists we have around too. If making a primer interests you I'll go round you up a support team. No pressure though. If the urge hits you at some point then just pm me and remind me of my offer.
 

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The problem with the idea of producing high quality spirits afterwards by skilled people is, a good still takes good parts. If you don't already have a good(and large)still what are the odds of being able to acquire one afterwards? Sure anyone one can make a pot still from a pressure cooker and copper freon lines from a fridge or a few sheets of plywood and an old dodge radiator but that isn't necessary going to produce something I want to drink. A quality, food grade still of any size is quite an investment or years of scrounging or access to a decent machine shop.

If you are referring to me on writing a primer on distilling safe water, that is way out of my league. I have next to no experience in distilling water. I also no longer have a reflux column or Controllers (gave them awat after ATF told me my permit wouldn't go through) so I couldn't even play around with it on anything other than a pot still. Nor would I know where to begin on getting the final product tested to see the results. I also wouldn't know where to begin on which things I want to remove from the water. Even with and extremely accurately controlled still and best practices I would assume there are some chemicals that would be nearly impossible to remove from water without introducing other chemicals into the water to bind with the original chemicals to make them easier to remove. All of that is way above my head.

The more I think about it, distilling quality drinking water is much more involved than distilling spirits, oils, fragrances or just about anything else I could imagine running through a still because temps and procedures would be totally dependent on knowing what contaminants a person is trying to remove. Because there are so many possible contaminants I doubt there is a single possible method of distillation that will remove them all. A specialized procedure would be needed for every chemical and that procedure may change depending on how much of that chemical is in the water. In fact if a person wanted to come up with a single guaranteed safe way to distill any source water they may have to start with breaking the water into hydrogen and oxygen, then recombining.
 

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The problem with the idea of producing high quality spirits afterwards by skilled people is, a good still takes good parts. If you don't already have a good(and large)still what are the odds of being able to acquire one afterwards? Sure anyone one can make a pot still from a pressure cooker and copper freon lines from a fridge or a few sheets of plywood and an old dodge radiator but that isn't necessary going to produce something I want to drink. A quality, food grade still of any size is quite an investment or years of scrounging or access to a decent machine shop.

If you are referring to me on writing a primer on distilling safe water, that is way out of my league. I have next to no experience in distilling water. I also no longer have a reflux column or Controllers (gave them awat after ATF told me my permit wouldn't go through) so I couldn't even play around with it on anything other than a pot still. Nor would I know where to begin on getting the final product tested to see the results. I also wouldn't know where to begin on which things I want to remove from the water. Even with and extremely accurately controlled still and best practices I would assume there are some chemicals that would be nearly impossible to remove from water without introducing other chemicals into the water to bind with the original chemicals to make them easier to remove. All of that is way above my head.

The more I think about it, distilling quality drinking water is much more involved than distilling spirits, oils, fragrances or just about anything else I could imagine running through a still because temps and procedures would be totally dependent on knowing what contaminants a person is trying to remove. Because there are so many possible contaminants I doubt there is a single possible method of distillation that will remove them all. A specialized procedure would be needed for every chemical and that procedure may change depending on how much of that chemical is in the water. In fact if a person wanted to come up with a single guaranteed safe way to distill any source water they may have to start with breaking the water into hydrogen and oxygen, then recombining.
I agree that those thinking about distilling after SHTF need to own and be comfortable using their rig before the crisis occurs.

Too many specialized parts that you can't cobble together from stuff found at the home centers.

I guess if your neighbor was a specialist art glass blower with lots of shape stock sitting in his garage and you had a handful of high quality rough service gauges and you were also a passable tinsmith then you could whip something up.

OK, you are taking a similar stance that I did about making the thread. Grasping the complexity of the effort doesn't directly confer the comfort of teaching it. Because we know more than many do also means we know we can't do it justice. So I guess the hunt continues for a writer and I'll put you on the mental list for support team help if we find someone up to the task.
 
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