Drink Safely: Make Inverted Solar Still

Distilled water is impure water processed and purified either through water vapor or condensed steam. Distillation happens when this impure water is heated until it reaches its boiling point. It is important to know that different types of water such as water coming from the stream, rock, sea, well, etc. have different boiling points and boiling points are also influenced by atmospheric pressures.  When the water reaches its boiling point during the process, all the residue (solid particles) and distillate (gas form) will be removed. The water that comes out of the process will be the water used for drinking which is considered to be of its highest purity.

distillation of water

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Introduction to Solar Still

Solar still came from the term ‘Solar Distillation’, which basically remodels the distillation process. In this process, the steam or heat needed is from the sun that is trapped into the still. The heat will destroy all the harmful chemicals and organisms in the water. When the water evaporates, the remaining water which is now a condensed water vapor and purified, will be collected in a container.

There are many varieties of solar stills and they are undeniably efficient. However, when one goes to camping or is lost in the woods and is in dire need of a drinking water, there’s a fight for survival. Worst case is when there is no access to any electrical resources and is confronted by the risk of getting diseases. Fortunately, making solar stills is not that hard. The following are the requirements you need to accomplish to make a still.

Know the area

Are you in an area full of trees or in a dessert? You have to ask yourself about this because there are two ways of building a ‘do-it-yourself’ water purifying system. Look for an area where there is a flat surface and is directly exposed to sun and without wind, because strong winds might destroy your still. If you are in a forest, start getting sticks that are six to seven feet tall or even taller (it depends on you). If you are in a dessert, start digging a circular hole at least two feet deep.

Prepare the materials

All you need is plastic, container, weights and supports. Plastic must be bigger, wider and transparent. This will be used to trap the heat of the sun as well as the moisture or the accumulated water vapor. The container functions as a trough that will collect the purified or distilled water from the plastic sheet. Weights will protect the solar still setup from the passing winds. They can be rocks or anything that can hold the plastic sheet together and are used to ensure that no moisture could go out. They should be not sharp enough to create holes or scratches in the sheet. Supports keep your setup intact and may also help in the framework (in the case of solar still built at the forest). They could be long sticks or even more rocks (in the dessert area’s case).


With the ideal area and required materials, now is the time to assemble your setup. In forest area, the long sticks will serve as a tripod and the plastic sheet will be tied at its vertex or the assembly point of the three sticks. A container, preferably wider, is placed inside the plastic and the rocks will circle around at the sides of the container to weigh the plastic down.

In dessert area, after digging a small crater on the ground, dig another crater inside and put the container inside it. Cover the setup with plastic and secure and tighten the sheet with rocks. Put a handful of sand at the middle of the plastic, aligned with the container. This is to help in giving direction of the vapor flow.

solar still

Photo source: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/237283474087604197/

Collect your purified water

At long last, your thirst will finally be quenched! Collect the vapor and store them in containers that are also clean.

Even though the use of solar still is widely accepted, one must not simply overlook the existence of pathogens that are not easily killed by sun’s heat alone. When you finally collected your purified water, you do not know how purified it is until you test the water in a laboratory. Thus, in order to survive, be vigilant always.

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