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Swede

Home made still

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When its winter and freezing rain outside and your bored this is what you can do.

 

I took a plastic tube that something came in (its my favorite toy when watching tv) and tied it to the handle of a pan. I put in bad water (OK it came out of the tap) and Im trying to get distilled drinking water>

 

still011rg1.jpg

 

WOO HOO its dripping.    scared011.gif    I hope your not in a hurry for a drink.    :'(        :P

 

still016yd9.jpg

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OK swede....if you have one of the old pressure cookers with the spout that had a weight that sat on it?  Get some vinyl tubing that will fit over that, about 10 feet of it.  Then, using your plastic sleeve you have there, cut some corks so that they fit in the ends of the tube and seal it.  Drill so that your 10 foot of tubing will go through the ends and make a crude what's called a Leibig Condenser.  Then using some smaller tubing cut another hole in each end for the cooling water to run through the outer jacket of the condenser.  My suggestion is to use a siphon arrangement to run cold water through the condenser outer jacket while the pressure cooker is set on simmer on the stove.  You may need to use glass if the vinyl tubing won't stand up to boiling temperatures.

 

The other way to do this is to actually use the laboratory glassware.  You need a:

 

Erlenmeyer flask, fitted ground joint

 

"Y"  fitted ground joint

 

Leibig condenser, fitted ground joint

 

 

 

You take the "Y" and put it in the top of the erlenmeyer flask, connect it with the condenser, and what drips out the end of the condenser is distilled water.  A variant is to mount a thermo and run the still at 190 degrees fahrenheit to strip off the maximum amount of volatile contaminants.

 

180px-Fractional_distillation_lab_apparatus.png

 

This is the basic idea, though you don't need a fractionating column as this diagram shows, and an erlenmeyer flask has a flat bottom.

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Im sure that is the best Nuker but you may not have access to this much gear in a survival situation. Try to come up with something more available.

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Here's a better picture:

 

waterstill.jpg

 

I realize that you won't have the real thing in a survival situation, but you may be able to scrounge the equipment from a lab, and after scrupulous cleaning, you may be able to use it.  But even more importantly if you know how this works from using one before the situation happens, you can much more easily find what you need to do it in a jury-rigged fashion.

 

A siphon set up so that the water can siphon through the condenser should do the job of cooling the condenser.  I'd say a 55 gallon drum would be enough, and a pinch clamp at the bottom would allow you to control the cooling water flow through the condenser.

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The very important part is to realize that the system cannot be sealed, or as it heats up it will build pressure and explode.  A 50 foot coil of copper tubing of any size is what you actually want to set up a jury rigged system.

 

Another method:  Big pot with raw water.  Tarp set up over boiling pot.  Fire built such that it won't melt the tarp.  Rock on one end of tarp to allow condensate on tarp to run to collection point.  Some experimentation will be needed to set up tarp proper distance over the boiling pan.  Also to find out what is the optimum size tarp.

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Actually any alcohol raw stock will distill over at 190 proof using this same still set up.  Water and alcohol form an azeotropic mixture at 95% alcohol and 5% water.  I don't remember the temp to distill at right off hand.

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If you look here, you will see the resemblance to the more generalized apparatus I showed in my second drawing.

 

http://www.coppermoonshinestills.com/

 

These stills would very handily distill water.

 

I think something that would work well for the cooling water is one of those little pumps that they put in the small rock fountains for on an executive's desk.  Normally in the lab, we'd just use tap water and run it through once.  These copper stills are going to leave copper traces in the distilled water, which will not harm a human, but may be toxic to plants.  When we needed ultra pure water, we distilled it in an all borosilicate glass (pyrex) still at precise temperatures for the maximum reduction of the volatile compounds that might have been in the raw water.

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Completely automatic systems are available to distill water for drinking or for laboratory purposes.  Be aware that they are very expensive and require extensive maintenance.  Usually the less maintenance they require, the more expensive they are.  Distillation is also an energy intensive process and will cost significant amounts of electricity.  One can minimize this by using a woodstove during the wintertime or any other process that has waste excess heat to do the heavy lifting of converting water from liquid to gaseous form.

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Im trying to build one out of stuff I can find in case I have to make drinking water out of bad water. This is likely to be done over a campfire where boiling the water isnt enough..

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Anything will work as long as you can get hot steam to a cool, non toxic surface.  It's that non toxic surface that's going to be hard to find.  You also have to have some way to collect the water off the cool surface.  The tarp method will work that I described below.  You could also use a large sheet of glass or plexiglass.  The good thing about the tarp is that you can fold it up and take it with you if you are moving.  I still think that one might be better off with a huge solar still, set up to be semi-permanent.  With the tube running from the collection vessel underneath, and the ability to dump your raw water around the perimeter of the still, or even if you have another tube to run raw water under the still, it should follow the rule we use for gathering food, a snare or trap will work unattended.  In the wilderness, no boiling system will be able to run unattended.  I've spent a lot of lab time distilling various fluids...it is not a fast process.

 

I think next summer I'm going to set up an 8 foot by 8 foot solar still and see just how much pure water that thing puts off.  And how long it takes to dig it.  Thinking about it, one needs to dig in the center, and throw the dirt around the edge.  As you build up a ring of hilled up dirt, you might not have to excavate all of it, since a big still like this won't need much of an angle to get the water moving towards the center.  If you were in the wild, I think you'd look for a natural depression in full sunlight.

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Now that you mention it Ive got a solar panel in my Mother-in-laws garage that the roofers took off her house. It basically a wooden structure shaped in a triangle with glass panels in the open side. Ill have to check it out more carefully the next time Im up there.

 

We set up a small palstic tank about 12 ft accross and 4 ft. deep (if you can call that small) and I built a deck around it. I laid a roll of inch black plastic pipe in the yard with garden hose connections on it. I left the water on to keep the pipe filled. I would open the end and put the water in the pool. It would run really hot water for quite a while.

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Now there's an idea.  You know those pools that have a 2 foot high outer wall, and then the liner goes down in and you fill with water?  One of those would work dandy for a huge solar still.  All you need is to put a 5 gallon bucket cut off in the center, clear plastic stretched across the top, with a rock on top, centered over the 5 gallon bucket.  Hose should work for a suction line to suck water out of the center bucket and to add water to the pool, however, if you started with say 150 gallons in the pool, that'd be drinking water for quite a bit.  I think I'd set it up next to an easy source of raw water.

 

12' wide clear plastic sheeting is available everywhere, and I'd bet wider is as well, although maybe not as readily.

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For $100 you could have one of these, still in the box ready to run with you or set up at your house:

 

12' x 36" Easy Set Swimming Pool

 

0007825730029_500X500.jpg

 

HUSKY CF0220-200C 20' X 200' X 2 Mil Clear Plastic Sheeting

Contractor's choice. Recyclable. Uses include equipment covers, vapor barrier, insulation, paint protection and moisture barrier.

 

$38.07 EACH

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The wife and I live in an area with extremely hard water.  So we drink bottled distilled water as the larger part of our daily water intake.  If it was all we drank, it wouldn't be healthy, as distilled will strip minerals and vitamins.

 

However, I've toyed with the idea of an outside permanent, glass, solar, distiller.  My thought design so far has been for an A-frame with some angled catch troughs at the bottom to catch the condensate.  The ends of the structure would be 4 inches of the pink rigid foam.  I also need a way of dumping or constantly supplying the raw water (rainwater) and a method of storing the distilled water without it degrading.  If it is stored for more than say a couple of months, I've thought about bringing it to a boil just as a precaution against bacterial growth.  I kind of keep waiting until I see the perfect glass for this at either a rummage sale or auction.  I also plan on sending a sample of the water produced to one of the top drinking water labs to have it run for organic and inorganic contaminants before drinking.

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Swede if you have a lid larger than your pan you could arrange the lid an inch or so from the top of the pan. This will catch the condensation, if you tilt the lid a bit then the condensation will run to the lowest point and drip into your mug.

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Darn I was hoping for an alcohol still   happy097.gif

 

Me too!  I though Swede would be shipping a few mason jars around with the Wild Survive logo on them!  Darn!

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