How to make your own distilled water in 5 easy steps


Two saucepans, water, ice and a heat source are enough to make distilled water.

Steve Conaway/CNET

Distilled water has many uses, both in medical settings and in the home. It’s the purest form of water you can find – simple hydrogen and oxygen with 99.9% of other minerals, chemicals and pollutants removed.

For people with sleep apnea who use CPAP devices or any other type of humidifiers, distilled water is essential. It’s also great anytime you don’t want extra materials in your water. For example, distilled water will not corrode automotive engine parts or cause lime buildup in aquariums.

If you live in a place with “hard” water, or water with lots of chemicals, you can even use distilled water to protect your hair when washing. Distilled water is generally used in all cosmetics. However, since it doesn’t contain minerals like calcium and magnesium, distilled water tastes bland and isn’t the best to drink.

With the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasing use of distilled water in home medical devices like CPAP machines, shortages have emerged in the United States in 2022 – North Dakota, Utah, Idaho , Michigan and Washington, DC, all reported empty shelves recently.

If you often use distilled water, it is useful to know how to make your own. All you need are two pots, water, a stove and a few minutes of your time. Believe me, it’s a game changer.

I’ll walk you through the five steps, as well as the different types of water you may not be familiar with and the big differences between all the water types you come across in the store. To learn more, here’s how clean mold and bacteria from your washing machine and the best way to unclog a clogged sink. We recently updated this story.

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What are the different types of water?

If you don’t know the difference between tap, filtered, purified and distilled water, don’t feel bad. It can be confusing.

Tap water is the easiest. Open your kitchen faucet. Water comes out of the tap. So ! Tap water. Tap water quality varies by location and may contain trace minerals specific to the geology of your area, as well as traces of chemicals used in municipal water treatment. I hope your tap water is safe to drink, but 45 million Americans aren’t. Filtered water is a solution.

Filtered water starts out like regular tap water. You may already have filtered water in your home through a whole house filtration system, faucet filter, or water filtration pitcher (you can even get a bottle of filtered water). Most filtered water passes through a combination of carbon and micron filters, which help remove chemicals such as chlorine (typically added to municipal tap water as a disinfectant) and pesticides, as well as metals like copper or lead. Filters can also remove foul odors and tastes.

Purified water usually also starts with tap water. It will go through many purification processes, including those used for water filtration. Purified water goes beyond filtering, with a process that removes chemical pollutants, bacteria, fungi and algae. You can often find purified water in bottles at your local grocery store.

Distilled water is a more specialized type of purified water, but much easier and cheaper to produce at home. As with purified water, it meets the classification requirement of 10 ppm (parts per million total dissolved solids, aka contaminants) or less. The distillation process is simple: heat tap water until it turns to steam. When the steam condenses into water, it leaves behind any mineral residue. The resulting condensed liquid is distilled water.

Is distilled water safe to drink?

Distilled water is completely safe to use, but the downside of distillation is that it removes all of the helpful minerals like calcium and magnesium that are naturally found in tap water. For this reason, it is generally not recommended to use distilled water as your daily drinking water, and you may find it lacking in flavor.

You should also carefully choose the storage container you use for distilled water. Distilled water’s lack of nutrients can cause chemicals to leach out of the container in which it is stored. If you plan to use the water immediately, most containers will do, but for long-term storage, it’s best to use high-quality glass or stainless steel. .


Steve Conaway/CNET

How to make your own distilled water

Not to get too scientific here, but it’s exciting to me. We will use water in its three known states: solid, liquid and gaseous.

The bottom line is this: you heat water (liquid), turn it into water vapor (gas), then collect the condensation using ice (solid). It’s like college science class again. You will probably find everything you need in your kitchen. A large saucepan with a lid, a small saucepan, water, ice, and oven mitts for handling hot cooking utensils.

It takes time for all this science to happen, so be prepared. In my example below, I started with 8 cups of water in the large pot. After 1 hour I had produced about 1 1/4 cups of distilled water. To recreate a one-gallon jug you would find at the supermarket, you would need about 13 hours of distillation time.

If you follow these steps you should get close to 100% yield, but however much distilled water you want to end up with, be sure to add extra water so you don’t end up heat one or more empty pans at the end. process, which can damage cookware.


Steve Conaway/CNET

1. First, place the large pot on a stovetop burner and add 8 cups of water. Then place the small pot inside the large pot. At this point, the smaller pot should be floating above the water. The key to the circulation of water vapor inside the large pot is airflow. Make sure there is enough space around the smaller pot, both on its sides and between it and the top of the larger pot.

2. Then, turn the burner to somewhere between medium and medium-high heat. I tried to keep the heat level at a constant simmer – somewhere between 180 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit – not boiling. Running a higher temperature won’t give you a higher output, but it will warm up the cold side of the lid faster and make general handling of the equipment more difficult to manage.

3. After lighting the burner, place the lid upside down on the large pot. The eyelids are usually higher in the middle than around the edges. Flipping the lid will allow the condensed distilled water to flow through the middle of the lid and into the smaller pot. Once that’s all done, head to your ice maker (or tray) and load the top of the inverted lid with ice. The temperature difference on both sides of the lid will speed up the condensation process.


Steve Conaway/CNET

4. At this point, you can sit back and wait. I ended up replenishing the ice supply twice within an hour, once at 30 minutes and once after 45 minutes. That’s what you need the oven mitts for – that lid will be hot! Be careful when emptying that now hot melted ice.


Steve Conaway/CNET

5. Any water that flowed into the smaller pot has now been distilled. Again, I was able to make about 1 1/4 cups of distilled water from 8 cups of tap water in about an hour.

Remember, making your own distilled water is easy (and fun!), but the lack of nutrients makes it a poor choice for everyday drinking water. But if you’re stuck at home and rely on a device that needs it, or maybe you just want to keep your fish healthy, you might want to try making it yourself.

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