How to Build a Small Still

Purify water by building your own still.
••• water image by Maria Brzostowska from

Distillation is a process that you can use if you need to be sure that your drinking water is pure, or if you want to separate components of a liquid. You might be familiar with the idea of homemade stills that are built to make alcohol, but distilling alcohol, according to Monster Guide, is illegal in most countries, including the United States (the exceptions are Italy, Austria and New Zealand). You can build your own small still out of simple materials that you may already have around the house.

Stove-Top Still

    Place a 1-gallon metal cooking pot on a stove-top burner. Place a tempered glass in the very center of the pot. Put a small magnet in the glass so that it stays in place in the center.

    Pour the liquid that you want to separate into the pot. Make sure that you don't get any inside the collection glass. Submerge your thermometer in the liquid and turn the burner on high.

    Turn the burner down to lowest setting once the temperature of the liquid reaches 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Fill a large, round-bottomed bowl with ice and place it over the opening of the pot. The ice will cool the heated vapors and cause condensation in the bottom of the round bowl.

Solar-Powered Still

    Place a small bowl in the center of a larger bowl. Pour the impure water you've collected into the larger bowl. Make sure the smaller bowl doesn't begin to float. If it does, empty some of the water out of the larger bowl.

    Cover the opening of the larger bowl with plastic wrap. Secure it around the edges with a rubber band or a piece of string. Place a small rock on the center of the plastic so that it dips down toward the middle of the smaller bowl.

    Set the bowl in direct sunlight and leave it there for at least four hours. Check it when the time is up and you will see water collecting in the smaller bowl. The impure water has evaporated, collected on the plastic and dripped into the smaller bowl. Any dirt that was present in the water in the larger bowl will not be in the water in the smaller bowl.

    Things You'll Need

    • 1-gallon pot
    • Tempered glass
    • Magnet
    • Thermometer
    • Bowl with round bottom
    • Ice
    • Large bowl
    • Small bowl
    • Plastic wrap
    • Rubber band
    • Rock

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