How to Make a Wood Stove Water Distiller

Written by megan shoop
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How to Make a Wood Stove Water Distiller
Homemade stills work well on wood stoves. (Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Whether you're roughing it for a weekend in a cabin or trying to live off the grid, clean water is one of your most important assets. Clean water means clean clothes and a clean body and water for drinking, cooking and making coffee and tea. Fortunately, all you need to make clean water is a supply of contaminated water and a wood stove with plenty of heat. As long as you can start a fire, you can make clean water for yourself.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Wood kindling
  • Matches
  • Large stew pot
  • Mason jar
  • Metal or glass bowl
  • Ice
  • Contaminated water

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  1. 1

    Stack wood inside your wood-burning stove in a tepee formation, starting with small twigs and graduating to branches about the size of your forearm. Light a match and hold it in the centre of the tepee. The smallest twigs should catch, allowing the fire to spread from the inside to the outside of the tepee. Close the stove door.

  2. 2

    Place a large stew pot on your wood stove's largest burner. Set a mason jar in the centre of the stew pot; the jar will catch the clean water during distillation.

  3. 3

    Pour your contaminated water into the pot around the base of the jar. Make sure no contaminated water gets into the jar.

  4. 4

    Set the glass or metal bowl on top of your stew pot. When the water in the pot comes to a boil, fill the bowl with ice. The heat will vaporise the contaminated water, causing it to condense on the underside of the cold bowl. It will run down to the bottom of the bowl and drip into the mason jar.

  5. 5

    Add wood every hour or so to keep the fire hot enough to boil the water. Once the water is evaporated, either add more or carefully move the stew pot to the counter to cool.

Tips and warnings

  • If you're distilling water with no freezer to make ice, use snow if it's winter. You can also fill the bowl with water and set it outside to solidify if it's below freezing. In other seasons, fill the bowl with water from a shaded source. It should be cold enough to do the job.

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