Home stills aren't just for making alcohol. You can use a still to purify tap or rain water or separate oils from herbs. Stills vaporise water and oils away from solid matter and push them into a condenser where the gases become liquid again. The liquid then travels through the condenser and into a clean container. It sounds complicated, but creating a still at home doesn't even take electricity. All the things you'll need are right in your kitchen.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Large stewpot with lid
- Large glass jar
- Dirty water
Place your large stewpot on your largest stove burner. Set a large glass jar down into the centre of the stewpot. The jar's mouth should sit at least 4 inches below the mouth of the pot. A 1-gallon jar inside a 2- or 3-gallon pot should work perfectly.
Pour your dirty water into the bottom of your stewpot. Make sure not to get any in your jar; the jar must remain clean. The water level in the pot should not reach further than halfway up the outside of the jar.
Place the lid on your stewpot upside-down. This works especially well if your lid is curved or tapered. Fill the overturned lid with ice.
Turn the stove up to its highest setting, bringing the water to a boil. After it boils, turn the heat down to medium high to keep it at a simmer. Simmer the water steadily as the water distils.
Check on the still every 30 minutes. When the jar is full and only solids remain in the pot, turn off the heat and move the pot to a cool burner. Once cool, remove the jar from the pot.
Tips and warnings
- Replace the lid with a glass or metal bowl if your stewpot doesn't have a lid.
- Fill the lid or bowl with snow or cold water if you don't have access to ice.
- The same principles work on a woodstove or on a rack over a wood fire.
- Make sure your pot and the jar are cold when you begin to heat the water. Always let the entire still cool down on the stove. This prevents cracks in the jar.
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