How to Distill Your Own Water at Home

How to Distill Your Own Water at Home
Photo: David Tran Photo, Shutterstock

Though it’s not difficult to find distilled water in stores, if you find yourself in a situation where you need (or want) to make it at home, you can do so pretty easily. The good news is that you don’t need any fancy equipment to get the job done. The bad news is that it takes some time. Here’s what to know.

What is distilled water?

The distillation process removes contaminants, chemicals, minerals, or other substances from water, making it exceptionally pure. And, as you may have learned in science class, that process involves heating water until it turns into steam, then capturing that steam and cooling it so it returns to its liquid form.

The lack of minerals — like those commonly found in the groundwater in many areas — is why some small appliances like humidifiers and steam irons recommend using distilled water, instead of water straight from the tap. So if, for example, the tap water contains calcium, over time, using it in the appliance could result in limescale. Using distilled water, that wouldn’t be an issue.

How to make your own distilled water

Let’s get started. To distill your own water at home, you’ll need:

  • A large pot with a lid (ideally one that is concave when upside down, so it makes a little bowl)
  • A smaller pot or other heatproof container (like a metal or glass bowl) that fits inside the larger pot
  • Some pot holders (or whatever you’d normally use to handle a hot pan without burning yourself)
  • Ice
  • 8 cups of water

In addition to that, you’ll also need some time and patience. It’s best knowing that going into it.

Anyway, here’s what to do:

  1. Fill the large pot with eight cups of water, then place it on the stovetop.
  2. Put the smaller pot or bowl inside the larger one, ensuring that none of the water is able to get in. (It’s fine if the smaller pot is floating.)
  3. Bring the water to a boil, and then turn it down to a simmer.
  4. Place the lid on the larger pot upside down, and fill it with ice. (Note: Don’t try to speed up the process by putting the lid on while the water in the pot is still boiling — the lid will get too hot and melt the ice immediately.)
  5. The water droplets that form on the underside of the lid and drop into the smaller pot/bowl are the distilled water.
  6. Keep adding ice to the lid as needed, making sure to use pot holders when you pick up the lid to dump the melted ice (it will be hot).

It should take roughly an hour to get around one cup of distilled water out of eight cups of tap water.

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