How to Make Distilled Water at Home. Water distillers produce almost pure drinking water. Here’s how to choose a distiller for home use.
Distillers are used to purify tap or well water. They provide a cheap, convenient and eco-friendly alternative to bottled water:
- No throwing away disposable plastic bottles.
- No worrying about chemicals from plastic bottles leaching into the water.
- No carrying heavy bottles of water from the shop every week.
Water distillers are a good alternative to reverse osmosis and other home water filters. While electricity is needed to boil the water, using a water distiller is still usually cheaper than buying bottled water.
Water distillers soften hard water, reducing scale build-up in home appliances such as:
- Coffee makers
- Steam cleaners
The scale build-up will instead occur in the water distiller, which might or might not be easier to clean than the other devices.
Distilled water can also be used for fish aquariums or anywhere clean, pure water is required. Cleaning glass with distilled water means no water streaks when the water dries. However the FDA warns that distilled water is not sterile and should not be used to clean contact lenses (http://www.fda.gov/medicaldevices/productsandmedicalprocedures/homehealthandconsumer/consumerproducts/contactlenses/ucm062584.htm).
Popular brands include Genesis, Love and Water Wise. Prices range from a hundred to a few hundred dollars.
How Electric Water Distillers Work
To make distilled water, simply pour tap water into the water distiller, then switch it on. The distiller will drip distilled water into a collection container.
The distiller boils the water to generate steam. The steam is cooled in a condenser and condenses back into water. An electric fan is used to cool the condenser (loud fan noise is a common complaint, but the fan shouldn’t be louder than other kitchen appliances).
The condensed steam is purified water. Minerals and contaminants are left behind in the boiler or escape as gas. Some chemicals can condense back with the water, which is why manufacturers claim that distillers remove 99 percent of impurities, not 100 percent.
A replaceable carbon filter is used to remove the remaining chemicals. Instead of using the distiller’s carbon filter, the water can be poured (after cooling down) into a standard pitcher water filter (example: Brita) instead.
Electric Home Water Distillers
Home water distillers have rather similar specifications. Most electric distillers:
- Distill 1 gallon (4 liters) of water at a time.
- Distill 1 gallon of water in 3 to 6 hours.
- Are rated at 500 to 1000 watts (this heats up the room, good in winter, not so good in summer).
- Automatically switch off after all the water has been boiled off.
- Have stainless steel boilers and condensers.
Useful features include:
- A removable boiling tank for easy refilling and cleaning.
- A timer to automatically switch off the distiller before all the water has boiled off. This makes cleaning the boiling tank easier. A third-party electrical timer can also be used.
Some distillers have a removable built-in container to collect the distilled water. These are neat and convenient but finding replacement containers (because of breakage or other reasons) that fit may be difficult. Other distillers simply drip out the distilled water from a spout, requiring a separate external container to collect the water.
Anyone health-conscious enough to distill their own water will prefer a glass or stainless steel container to a plastic container (because of possible health concerns, no matter how slight). Unfortunately the containers provided by distiller manufacturers are often plastic.
The boiling tank will need to be descaled regularly. Scale build-up reduces the boiler efficiency and can affect the taste of the distilled water. Special descaling chemical packets can be purchased. White vinegar can also be used to descale. Stopping the distiller before all the water has boiled off will reduce scale build-up.
The Best Home Water Distiller
Homeowners concerned about the safety of their drinking water should seriously consider getting a water distiller. Operating costs aren’t high. A Water Distillers web page on the Government of Alberta Agriculture and Rural Development website, says that it takes about 1 kilowatt hour of electricity to distill one liter of water (http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$department/deptdocs.nsf/all/agdex715). This works out to about 4 kilowatt hours of electricity to distill one gallon of water. Depending on the electricity rates, this is usually less than a dollar for one gallon.
A water distiller is basically an electric kettle with a condenser to cool and collect steam. Complex or sophisticated components are not required. While there are some differences between models and brands, a one hundred dollar distiller can give comparable service to one costing a few times more.