Sustainability made simple

How to Distill Water: A Step by Step Guide

how to distill water
Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – PublicDomainPictures

We’ll show you how to distill water in a few simple steps. If you make it yourself, you won’t have to buy it at the store – and can save some time and money.

What Is Distilled Water, Anyway?

Distillation is a purification process that involves boiling a liquid and collecting it again as it condenses. By distilling ordinary tap water, all ions, trace elements and impurities are removed, leaving you with pure H2O. 

  • This pure water has household as well as industrial applications. It is often used to fill humidifiers or clothing irons. 
  • The advantage of distilled water is that it no longer contains any minerals like chalk, lime or gypsum, so it won’t leave behind any white deposits on your clothes or on cleaned surfaces. Also, it saves your electrical appliances from calcium buildup.

You can buy distilled water in the supermarket or drugstore. But learning how to distill water at home is so easy that you might decide to save yourself the trip after all. 

How to Make Distilled Water

how to make distilled water
All you need to make your own distilled water is a covered pot and a glass bowl. (Photo: CC0 Public Domain / Pixabay – Music4Life)

The Core Principle: Heat normal tap water until it begins to boil and become steam. Allow the steam to condense on a colder surface and collect the runoff in a clean container. 

How to make distilled water with a pot and a glass bowl:

  1. To make distilled water, you’ll need a large pot with a cover, a glass bowl that fits in the pot and a few ice cubes. 
  2. Fill the pot halfway with tap water. Place the glass bowl in the pot so that it is not touching the bottom of the pot. 
  3. Set the burner to medium heat. As soon as the water begins to steam, place the lid of the pot upside down on top of the floating bowl. The rising steam will condense on the lid and the distilled water will drop down into the bowl. 
  4. As soon as the bowl is full, pour the water into a separate, sterilized container. Warning: the bowl will be hot!

Tip: To accelerate the condensation, lay ice cubes on top of the lid. This will create a bigger temperature gap between the steam and the lower surface of the lid. 

How to Keep Distilled Water Pure

making distilled water bottle
Make sure that your container is sterile, to prevent contamination.  (Foto: Pixabay/ CC0/ heungsoon)

How to fill and store distilled water:

  • To keep it pure, always store the water in a sterilized container. 
  • Remember to sterilize the lids and caps, too. If you’re using a funnel to fill the water into your containers, remember that the funnel must be sterilized as well. 
  • In principle, distilled water has an unlimited shelf life. Be sure to keep the containers airtight, to protect the water from contamination. 
  • Check out our article on how to clean your water bottle for tips on keeping your container completely germ-free.

Can I Drink Pure H2O?

In short, yes, but not all the time.

Distilled water is completely pure, which might make you assume that it would be better for you than tap water or other kinds of filtered water. But that isn’t the case. Because water often contains minerals, like magnesium and calcium, as well as electrolytes. These are important for keeping our bodies in balance. So drinking distilled water is perfectly safe, but you won’t want to use it as a substitute for your normal drinking water all of the time. 

This article has been translated from German to English by Christie Sacco. You can read the original here: Destilliertes Wasser herstellen: So gelingt’s

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