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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
No I'm not running a still makin corn whiskey. Although the technology is very similar. In areas where the water might not be fit for human consumption could a still setup using a propane fired grill with either aluminum or stainless steel pot and chimney that has a copper coil to condense the water vapor that would result from boiling questionable water?. I have a 25,000 gallon pool out back that would serve as the primary source of water. Unfortunately the bayou that runs at the foot of my property also is used for run off of the cane fields, and septic system overflows. Not a good combination from which to drink from. In the event propane is unavailable then wood would be the primary source of heat. Any comments or suggestions are most welcome. Thanks, Frank
 

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In my concidered opinion "stills" are a bad idea. Let me explain. Just like the corn whiskey still you mention.. you don't get just water out the other end.. you get water and everything else in the water that is below the boiling point of water ( alcohol in the case of a whiskey still, Roundup in the case of agriculture run off).. including whatever chemicals are in the runoff that went into the water. Boiling is no better either, except with boiling in a pot it leaves everything with a higher boiling point than water. And to make matters worse , water boils at exactly 212 F. Water can not boil at any other temperature but 212F at sea level ( 154 degrees F on top of Mt Everest) .. The water in the pot can't get hotter than 212F due to the physical properties of water and the physics involved with change of state from liquid to gas ( steam) at standard temperature and pressure. You add more heat you get more steam, but the water stays at 212F. Using a still, you capture steam and everything that turns to vapor at a lower temp than boiling water, and left in the pot you boiled it in is the water you didn't heat long enough to boil and everything that turns to vapor at a higher temp than water.

Boiling or a still works okay if the water is only contaminated with bacteria.. cysts and viruses may survive if not boiled long enough ( boil at least 10 minutes).. and that is why boiling otherwise clean water from city water supplies works if there is some "germ" type contamination due to a line break or city water plant break down... but if you are suspecting a possiblity of industrial or agricultural chemical run off contamination, boiling or a still just sorts out the higher boiling point chemicals from the lower boiling point chemicals.

Clean safe water is too important to survival. Get yourself a certified filter rig that handles everything.. I recommend a Berkefeld water filter or similar http://www.pleasanthillgrain.com/be...lter_british_berkefeld_portable_purifier.aspx

Shop arround you might be able to beat the price of the one in the link and there are other brands. I have a Berkey, but others might be just as good.

I might also add, I am against anything that uses fuel I have to buy or chop myself in a survival situation if there is a way to avoid it... survival is hard enough work and logistically difficult enough that you don't want to add things that require work or resources to do if there is any other way. Just cooking and staying warm will require enough fuel one way or another that it will cut into time and resources enough to be a PITA as it is.

Also .. if you have otherwise good water except for bacterial/viral/cyst type contamination you don't actually need to boil, you can pasturize at 161 degrees F or higher for an hour... but keep the temps right is tricky, and again uses fuel unless you have a solar still, but then you need sunlight... You can use chlorox bleach as well guidelines here http://www.csgnetwork.com/h2oemergencypurifycalc.html

but again I must stress.. if you are dealing with possible chemical contamination neither bleach or boiling will do the job .. you need a proper filter.
 

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Filters are excellent choices, but they will wear out eventually. The British Berkefeld is the best and most practical unit I have ever seen. http://www.britishberkefeld.com/ I first saw one at friend's house. We went out into a pasture and got some of the nastiest water you can imagine out of a small, stagnant, scum-covered cow pond...and yes the cows were there, too. The water produced by the Berkefeld was odor free and tasted fine, and I didn't come down with the trots after drinking several glasses. Although a bit pricey, the amount of water that can be filtered through this unit on a single set of filter elements is immense.

I think the chemical contamination concern following distillation is overstated. Any volatiles that are likely to boil out with the water are unlikely to condense in the condenser coil. Distilled water tastes terrible, though.

The Expert
 

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Expert? Where else would they condense? Do you somehow think that the alcohol from a whiskey still doesn't condense with the water.... Shine only comes out arround 80-100 proof/ 40-50% alcohol the rest water and flavor esters... to do anything else you need a temp controled multi stage lab grade still with individuallty temp controled stages set by temp to seperately condense each fractional and to do that you need to know the proper temp for each fractional. Or alternately you need to know the exact temp of each compound and progressively boil off each fractional component at an exact controled temp and have the ability to determine when each fractional is eliminated from the main boiler....

If you have any concrens about agriclutural or industrial chemical run off contaminating the water you will not remove them by running them thru a single stage non temp contoled still.

But hey... it's your water good luck

GeeZe.
 

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Guys;
A still will kill living organisms but is really used to separate volatile distillates. Particulates will largely be left behind. But if you are trying to separate one type of molecule from another, it isn't easy, nor perfect, especially in volume, even if you really know what you are doing and with the right equipment. It also needs lots o'energy that may be at a premium. Works? Yes, in some repects, but it is no panacea. May be the only way to get potable water in some circumstances, but rarely...
Alden
 

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How about a solar still? Natural evaporation will condense the water on your cover.
Now I've tried the old plastic sheet over a hole in the desert and got about a mouthful over 12 hours but that is a very dry environment. Imagine a larger one like pool cover sized raised in the center with some kind of trough for water collection around the side, maybe several similar stills. No fuel required and I believe the water is relatively pure. It would also collect rain water. You could run it all through a filter to a storage tank.
Fog is also a good source for collecting water from.
 

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The life of a filter can be extended in two ways. Back-flushing and prefiltering
 

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Bill? how does changing from propane to solar as a heat source change the way or temperature at which various liquid compounds boil? And as to evaporation, how do liquids with a lower boiling point than water not evaporate and condense while the water is evaporating and condensing?
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I think you guys are confusing distilled water with potable water. Distilled water is just water with minerals removed.. to get potable distilled water you need to start with potable regular water.

And example.. your ship sinks at sea.. you are in a life raft... you are thirsty... you get out the life rafts solar still ... you fill it with sea water, unfortunately the sea water is contaminated with the sinking ships fuel.. you distill out the sea salt and drink the distilled water still polluted with the ships fuel that distilled out with the water because fuel oil evaporates faster than water.. you die... but your sodium count at death is at a safe healthy level and you blood pressure is , well, was, normal, right up till death due to fuel oil poisoning.

The OP asked about the bayou water behind his house... thought to be poluted with run off from cane fields and septic overflow... a Still will deal with the septic overflow thru boiling since it kils the bugs in the poop... it might or might not remove any prescription meds and it probably won't remove all pesticides or herbicides. The main point, with a tested and certified filter system you know what it will and won't remove and how much.. you know the carbon filter is good for some things, you know the fliter paper is good for some things... with distilation you would have to test what was left in the water to know if distillation removed what was in the water... with distilation you know it removes the minerals normally found in water..and you know the boiling process kills pathogens.. but thats all you know for sure.

Now, with a solar still you get the demineralization.. but to kill pathogens you need to at least pasturize to 161 degrees F for 30 minutes so you need to be able to monitor temps to do that... boiling you need 10 minutes minimum. Paper filters can deal with most particulates but will not remove anything in solution.. You need carbon fllters to remove chemicals or a fractional temp controlled still that only works if you know he exact chemical compound you want to remove.

If you simply MUST use a still.. then you have to boil the water first with all the steam and high volitivity chemicals escaping in the air.. then distill the boiled water leaving the low volitivity chemicals behind... however the low volitivity chemicals will evaporate in some quanity even though they are not heated to thier boiling point, the same way water evaportates below the temperature of boiling water.. so you will, in all likelyhood still have some chemical contamination in your distilled water.

look guys by the time you rig you pool sized solar still or build and fire up a moonshine type still and figure in materials and fuel and work ... you are going to be miles ahead and have safer water with a berky type filter system.

Especially if you don't have a working knowledge of water purification methods and techniques. Also what you don't know ay still harm you.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/08/business/energy-environment/08water.html?_r=2&ref=global
http://ag.arizona.edu/AZWATER/awr/july00/feature1.htm

So if you start getting a little flabby in the chest, or find you are gaining weight on your hips or are suffering from ED.. it's probably just the Premarin in the water supply feming you up just a little bit.... me, myself, my boobs are big enough.. I use a very high grade home water purification system... your mileage may vary.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks for all your information. Since this is all new to me how would one use the filter?. Assuming you had water pressure available to your home. Or lack of city water to your house?. Filter wtaer first and store in 5 gallon jugs and use as needed?. Thanks again, Frank
 

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Frank, nope you don't need water pressure... just look at the Berkey in the ad... you pour the bad water in the top section ... gravity runs it thru the fliters.... stores clean water in the bottom section.. you lift the faucet lever... clean water flows into your glass. No pumping.. no hassel..no problem
 

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And then boil some up and add the freeze-dried coffee I scored:
Taster's Choice regular for $5.99 the large size -- $5 off. 150 cups/container and it lasts. A month ago I was drinkin' the same stuff that was literally in a flood (vacuum sealed glass jar) but EXPIRED in 2001. It was like new. Not like fresh ground Columbian Arabica, but...

Its like buying dried Instant Potatoes -- just wait till the family sizes are on sale at Food Lion (or wherever) and grab 'em up! But whatever you buy, a Berkey filter or whatever, do it soon -- prices are going up.

Alden
 
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