How to Make a Steam Distillation Condenser

Written by finn mccuhil
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How to Make a Steam Distillation Condenser
Turn tap water into distilled water with simple equipment. (faucet image by Laura Dynan from

To distil water, you must first raise its temperature to the boiling point to create steam. A tube containing the steam captured from the boiler is passed through a cooling jacket, causing the water vapour to condense. This cooling jacket, for obvious reasons, is referred to as the condenser. Many elaborate designs are available for condenser construction. But making one yourself can be as simple as the principle sounds.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Wallpaper tray
  • Boiler with steam collection tube
  • 2.27kg. crushed ice
  • Container

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  1. 1

    Fill the wallpaper tray half full of crushed ice.

  2. 2

    Place the steam collection tube lengthwise in the tray.

  3. 3

    Pour crushed ice over the top of the collection tube until the tray is full.

  4. 4

    Place your collection container underneath the end of the collection tube.

  5. 5

    Fill your boiler with water and heat it to the boiling point. When the water begins to boil, distilled water will begin dripping into your collection container within a few minutes.

Tips and warnings

  • Five lbs. of ice will last long enough to distil about 2 qts. of water.
  • For best results, do not overheat the water. A rapid boil will cause the steam to travel through the condensing tray too quickly to efficiently capture the water vapour.
  • Any long, shallow vessel can be used as a substitute for a wallpaper tray. These are suggested because they are inexpensive and can be found at most home improvement stores.
  • The boiler and tubing will be hot. Do not handle the pot or tubing with your bare hands during the distillation process.

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