Save Money by Making Your Own Distilled Water: 5 Easy Steps


Distilled water is the purest form of water you can find: simple hydrogen and oxygen with 99.9% of all other minerals, chemicals and pollutants removed. It is used for a variety of things in medical institutions and at home.

For people suffering from sleep apnea who use CPAP machines or any other type of humidifier, distilled water is essential. It’s also useful if you don’t want extra minerals in your water. (For example, distilled water won’t corrode parts on car engines or form limescale 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 while washing. However, because it lacks minerals like calcium and magnesium, distilled water tastes bland and isn’t the best to drink.

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

I’ll walk you through the five steps. I also go over the different types of water you may not be familiar with and the differences between any water types you will encounter in the store. You can find more home tips here Get rid of mold and bacteria in your washing machine and the best way to free a clogged sink.

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What different types of water are there?

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

tap water is the easy one. Turn on your kitchen faucet. Water comes out of the tap. Voila! Tap water. Tap water quality varies by location and may contain traces of minerals typical of your area’s geology and traces of chemicals used in municipal water treatment. Hopefully your tap water is safe to drink, but that’s not the case for up to 45 million Americans. Filtered water is a solution.

Filtered water starts out as plain tap water. You may already have water in your home through a whole house filtration system, faucet filter, or water filter jug ​​(you can even get one Bottle of filtered water). Most filtered water goes through a combination of carbon and micron filters that help remove chemicals like chlorine (commonly added to municipal tap water as a disinfectant) and pesticides, as well as metals like copper or lead. Filters can also eliminate foul smells and tastes.

Purified water also usually begins as tap water. It will go through many purification processes including those used for water filtration. Purified water goes one step further than filtering, with a process that removes chemical pollutants, bacteria, fungi and algae. You can often find purified bottled water at your local grocery store.

Distilled water is a more specialized type of purified water, but much easier and cheaper to make at home. As with purified water, it meets the classification requirement of 10 ppm (parts per million of all dissolved solids, also known as contaminants) or less. The process of distilling is simple: heat tap water to the point where it turns to steam. When the vapor condenses back into water, it leaves behind mineral residue. The resulting condensed liquid is distilled water.

Is Distilled Water Drinkable?

Distilled water is perfectly safe to use, but the downside to distilling is that it removes all of the helpful minerals naturally found in tap water, such as calcium and magnesium. 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 also need to carefully choose any storage container you use for distilled water. The lack of nutrients in distilled water can cause chemicals to leach from the container in which it is stored. If you plan on using the water right away, most containers will do, but for long-term storage, it’s best to use glass or high-quality stainless steel.

Water from a bowl is poured into a pot

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How to make your own distilled water

Not to get too scientific here, but this is exciting to me. We use water in all three known states – solid, liquid and gas.

The gist is: you heat water (liquid), turn it into water vapor (gas), and then collect the condensed water with the help of ice (solid). It’s like middle school science class again. You can probably find everything you need in your kitchen. A large saucepan with a lid, a small saucepan, water, ice, and oven mitts for handling the hot cookware.

It takes time for all of 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 cup of distilled water. To recreate a gallon jug you find at the grocery store takes about 13 hours of distillation time.

If you follow these steps you should get a yield close to 100%, but no matter how much distilled water you want to end up with, make sure you add extra water so you don’t end up heating up an empty pot or pots process, which can damage the cookware.

Ice cream in an upside down lid on a saucepan

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1. First, place the large saucepan over a stovetop and add 8 cups of water. Then place the smaller pot in the large pot. At this point, the smaller pot should be floating on the water. The key to circulating water vapor in the large pot is airflow. Make sure there is plenty of space around the smaller pot, both on the sides and between it and the top of the larger pot.

2. Next, turn the burner down to between medium and medium-high heat. I tried to keep the heat at a steady simmer – somewhere between 180 and 200 degrees Fahrenheit – and not boil it up. Using a higher temperature won’t give you a higher yield, but it will warm up the cold side of the lid faster and make general equipment handling more difficult.

3. After turning on the burner, place the lid upside down on the large pot. Lids are usually higher in the center than at the edges. Inverting the lid allows the condensed distilled water to drip into the center of the lid and into the smaller pot. Once that’s done, go to your ice cream maker (or tray) and fill the top of the inverted lid with ice. The temperature difference on the two sides of the lid accelerates the condensation process.

Lid upside down on pot

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4. At this point you can sit back and wait. I ended up refilling the ice supply twice within an hour, once after 30 minutes and once after 45 minutes. You’ll need the oven mitts for that – that lid gets hot! Be careful when dumping the now hot melted ice cream.

small pot sitting in a larger pot

Steve Conaway/CNET

5. Any water that dripped into the smaller pot is now 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.

Keep in mind that 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 relying on a device that requires it, or maybe you just want to keep your fish healthy, you might want to try making it yourself.

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