How to Make a Solar Still

Make your own distilled water and other liquids using these DIY solar still plans.

| September 17, 2012

  • Solar Still
    Turn undrinkable water into pure, crystal-clear distilled water with a home-built solar still.
    Photo Courtesy Creative Publishing International
  • DIY Solar Projects
    “DIY Solar Projects” by Eric Smith provides plans for a standalone solar water heater, wood kiln, battery charging station and other convenient sun-powered house projects.
    Cover Courtesy Creative Publishing International
  • Mark and Cut
    1. Mark and cut the plywood pieces according to the cutting list on the solar still plan. Cut the angled end pieces with a circular saw or tablesaw set to a 9 degree angle.  
    Photo Courtesy Creative Publishing International
  • Cut the Insulation
    2. Cut the insulation the same size as the plywood base, then screw both to the 2 x 4 supports with 2 1/2-inch screws. 
    Photo Courtesy Creative Publishing International
  • Screw the First Layer
    3. Screw the first layer of front and side pieces to the base and to each other, then add the back piece. Predrill the screws with a countersink bit. 
    Photo Courtesy Creative Publishing International
  • Paint the Inside of the Box
    6. Paint the inside of the box with black high-temperature paint. Cover the back and the door with reflective foil glued with contact cement. Let the paint dry for several days so that all the solvents evaporate off.
    Cover Courtesy Creative Publishing International
  • Glue and Screw
    4. Glue and screw the remaining front and side pieces on, using clamps to hold them together as you predrill and screw. Use 1 1/4-inch screws to laminate the pieces together and 2-inch screws to join the corners. 
    Photo Courtesy Creative Publishing International
  • Glue and Screw Again
    5. Glue and screw the hinged door pieces together, aligning the bottom and side edges, then set the door in position and screw on the hinges. Add a pull or knob at the center.
    Photo Courtesy Creative Publishing International
  • Drill a Hole
    8. Drill a hole for the PEX drain. The top of the PEX is 1/2-inch down from the top edge. Clamp a scrap piece to the inside so the drill bit doesn’t splinter the wood when it goes through.
    Cover Courtesy Creative Publishing International
  • Apply Weatherseal Around
    7. Apply weatherseal around the edges of the hinged door to make the door airtight.
    Cover Courtesy Creative Publishing International
  • Mark the First 19 Inches
    9. Mark the first 19 inches of PEX, then cut it in half with a utility knife. Score it lightly at first to establish the cut lines.
    Cover Courtesy Creative Publishing International
  • Wipe a Thick Bead of Silicone Caulk
    11. Wipe a thick bead of silicone caulk along the top edge of the PEX to seal it against the plywood.
    Cover Courtesy Creative Publishing International
  • Shim the Box Level
    12. Shim the box level and tack a temporary stop to the top edge to make it easy to place the glass without smearing the caulk. Spread a generous bead of caulk on all the edges, then lay the glass in place. Tape it down around the edges with painter’s tape, then let it set up overnight.
    Cover Courtesy Creative Publishing International
  • Drill Thre 1/8 Inch Holes
    10. Drill three 1/8-inch holes in the side of the PEX for screws, then insert the PEX through the hole. Butt it tight against the other side, then screw it in place, sloping it about 1/4 inches.
    Cover Courtesy Creative Publishing International

  • Solar Still
  • DIY Solar Projects
  • Mark and Cut
  • Cut the Insulation
  • Screw the First Layer
  • Paint the Inside of the Box
  • Glue and Screw
  • Glue and Screw Again
  • Drill a Hole
  • Apply Weatherseal Around
  • Mark the First 19 Inches
  • Wipe a Thick Bead of Silicone Caulk
  • Shim the Box Level
  • Drill Thre 1/8 Inch Holes

With high energy costs and a warming planet that needs cleaner fuel sources, the time has never been better to get involved with solar energy. DIY Solar Projects (Creative Publishing International, 2011) by Eric Smith contains how-to instructions for many achievable, clever projects you can make and install in order to create your own solar lifestyle. Hundreds of people are doing it, and you can too. The following excerpt is taken from the chapter, “Solar Still.” 

You can purchase this book from the MOTHER EARTH NEWS store: DIY Solar Projects.

Make Your Own Distilled Water

Make your own distilled water from stream or lake water, salt water, or even brackish, dirty water, using these DIY Solar Still Plans. With just a few basic building materials, a sheet of glass and some sunshine, you can purify your own water at no cost and with minimal effort.

Distilled water is not just for drinking, and it’s always worth keeping a few gallons of it on hand. Clean water free of chemicals and minerals has a number of valuable uses:



• Always refill the lead-acid batteries used for solar energy systems or automobiles with distilled water

• Water delicate plants like orchids with distilled water; minerals and additives like fluoride or chlorine that are present in most tap water can harm plants

Robert
5/5/2018 9:34:18 AM

Forty years ago I was an aircrew survival equipment technician in the Navy. We packed inflatable solar stills along with other items in the 20 man life rafts. I see such a still being sold online now called the aquamate in case anyone would like to check them out.


greenhousedesalinator
2/19/2018 9:29:23 PM

how do i read the rest of the article?


krystelgeee
11/26/2016 5:11:06 PM

Great read! Thanks for sharing. I love how detailed and clear the instructions are. I'd just like to highlight though that there are quite a few things that people should bear in mind when using solar distillers in general as there might be some benefits to it, there's also some downside to this device. My article on solar water distillation will explore more on that point. I'd love to share it to anyone interested in trying this one out. You can check it out here: http://all-about-water-filters.com/ultimate-guide-to-solar-water-distillation/







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