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How to Make Distilled Water

Omkar Phatak Oct 30, 2018
Distillation is a water purification technique. In future decades, when drinking water sources will be scarce, distillation techniques will play an increasingly important role.
Water, the miraculous molecule, a combination of covalently bonded oxygen atom and two hydrogen atoms, the harbinger of life, is one of the most abundant resources on Earth.
The problem is that although, roughly 71% of the Earth's surface is covered with water, it is saline and undrinkable. That is where distillation comes into the picture, as a technique by which, highly pure drinking water can be obtained, from any impure source.
Distillation method is, in principle, the same method that makes rainfall possible. Seawater evaporates due to the heat generated by the Sun and forms clouds. Clouds condense to give us rain. So, if you want to understand what distillation is, understand how nature makes the phenomenon of rain possible.

The Procedure

The process is very simple, in principle. Firstly, heat the impure water in a container until it reaches boiling point (which is 100 degree Celsius or 211.73 degree Fahrenheit at sea level). Then, collect the vapor that is created and transport it through an appropriate arrangement, to another closed container, which is maintained at a lower temperature.
This second container should be cooled by placing it in ice or covering with a wet cloth. Use a tube to transport the vapor from one container to the other. Make sure that it does not diffuse. Clean the second container and connecting tube thoroughly and make sure that they are sterilized.
Just as dew forms on leaves from mist, similarly, the vapor that is transported will condense in that container due to the sudden drop in temperature. Thus, after separating the water component from the mixture, what remain, are the impurities.
For example, if you heat seawater, you will find salt left behind in the container, with other impurities. That is how salt is made on the seashore.
However, distillation cannot guarantee 100% removal of impurities. Some chemicals and impurities can vaporize with water and condense again. So, they cannot be removed by this process. Other techniques are required to separate these chemicals and ions. One thing the boiling process ensures, is the killing of most microbes that exist in the impure water.
This is the basic structure of distillation procedure. Now, in this procedure, you could change the heating and cooling mechanism, or the number of times you boil the water. Double distilled water is even more pure. One can always experiment with the heating mechanism.
A time will come, when pure water sources will be endangered and will become scarce. Drinking water, like crude oil, will become a costly commodity. At that time, distillation will be a life-saving process.
In many countries, plans are in place, to build distillation centers on the seashore, with solar power as the heating mechanism. They will convert seawater to drinking water, after treating them for other impurities. This is a great business opportunity for the future.

Distilled Drinking Water

Distilled water is safe for consumption. Although, it removes all the impurities, it also strips off the valuable minerals present in it.
A counterargument is that the amount of mineral dosage from water is very small and can be adequately supplemented by diet. It is also devoid of taste that we are used to, in water from natural sources, like rivers. The same is true for bottled water. This can be taken care of, by adding the requisite amount of minerals for taste and health.
Distilled water is devoid of impurities and is, therefore, ideal to be used in a variety of industrial applications, as a coolant, lubricant, and solvent. Do not use it for aquariums as it cannot sustain life unless enriched by certain chemicals and nutrients.
Distilled water can be easily made anywhere, anytime. All you need is a tube that transports heated vapor between two containers and a cooling mechanism for the second container. You can heat the water, for example, by using a convex lens or a magnifying glass, by focusing the sunlight on the container.
Try out different materials for the container, like transparent plastic that can withstand high temperatures. This way, you can experiment and build your own distillation kit, which can be used to distill water, when you are outdoors. Try it out.