How to Make Distilled Water using a Solar Desalinator

Solar power is an incredible force of nature. Not only does it drive the winds and churn up the atmosphere, creating weather and the much hated precipitation, it can also be used directly to create electricity. Direct impact on our daily lives, harnessing solar power may be the long-term key to ridding ourselves of our dependence on Fossil Fuels in Agriculture as noted in Solar Powered Organic Farming – Sustainable Agricultural Development and Jamaica’s Food Security.

But for more practical uses, its direct Radiation Energy can be used for cooking, via concentration using Reflective concave mirrors and Desalination i.e. removing dissolved salt from water. The end product: Distilled Water. First off the bat for a single, West Indies Cricket Style, Distilled Water’s not bottled Water. Distilled Water is Water that’s completely free from any dissolved minerals, including Fluoride salts, and Calcium Carbonate and Aluminium Chlorides that’s usually found dissolved in Tap Water and gives it its fizziness and funny taste.


The principle behind a Solar Desalinator is very simple. Aside from sounding like one of the failed take-over-the-Tri State Area gadgets made by Dr. Heinz Doofenshmirtz in Phineas and Ferb (2007-), it’s really boiling water but at a slower rate using Solar power effectively evaporation.

It combines the same principles used in a Solar Cooker with a Solar Desalinator to basically evaporate water much faster, which is collected as the main product with the salts as the byproduct you can throw away. Simple, but without the wasted use of LPG Cooking Gas to boil Water, which is really Pasteurized water that still has the salts dissolved.

Best of all it’s got some great uses:

  • Refill lead-acid batteries, which last longer using Distilled Water
  • Plants like orchids need Distilled Water, as they’re sensitive to dissolved Salts
    Replacement for Radiator Fluid, as it’s got no dissolved salts
  • Steam Irons have a longer life when you use Distilled Water, as its steam outlets are less likely to get clogged with dissolved Salts
  • Use it in chemical experiments such as extractions e.g. THC (Tetra Hydro Cannabinol) from Marijuana (Cannabis Sativa) or just making cleaning fluid as described in How to make your own Cleaning Fluid and Cleaning Tips for your Smartphone or Tablet

Did I forget to mention it’s good for you?

So for those of you who’re getting health conscious and are trying to reduce your intake of the above salts, this DIY Project’s for y’all. First, assemble the following:

  • Glass or stainless steel Container
  • Black silicone caulk (look for one approved for use with food)
  • 3/4 ” BC-grade plywood
  • Black Paint
  • 1″ Stainless steel Tubing
  • Circular Table Saw and Woodworking tools
  • Contact Cement
  • Glass Mirrors
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Reflective Foil
  • Weather Seal
  • Very sharp Utility Knife
  • Pencil
  • Plans for the Solar Desalinator

The instructions for building the Solar Desalinator are not for the faint of heart and will test your woodworking skills[2]. If you not up to it, just give the Plans for the Solar Desalinator to a certified Carpenter and let him follow the instructions below:

  1. Mark and cut plywood pieces according to the cutting list. Use a Circular Table Saw to cut the Angles pieces
  2. Cut the insulation the same size as the plywood base, then screw both to the 2 x 4 supports with 2 1/2″ screws.
  3. Screw the first layer of front and side pieces to the base and to each other, then add the back piece. Pre-drill the screws with a countersink bit.
  4. Glue and screw the remaining front and side pieces on, using clamps to hold them together as you pre-drill and screw. Use 1 1/4″ screws to laminate the pieces together and 2″ screws to join the corners.
  5. Glue and screw the hinged door pieces together, aligning the bottom and side edges, then set the door in position and screw on the hinges. Add a pull or knob at the center.
  6. Paint the inside of the box with black high-temperature paint. Cover the back and the door with reflective foil glued with contact cement. Let the paint dry for several days so that all the solvents evaporate off.
  7. Apply weather seal around the edges of the hinged door to make the door airtight.
  8. Drill a hole for the Stainless Steel Pipe drain. The top of the Stainless Steel Pipe drain is 1/2″ down from the top edge. Clamp a scrap piece to the inside so the drill bit doesn’t splinter the wood when it goes through.
  9. Mark the first 19″ of Stainless Steel Pipe drain, then cut it in half with a Rotary Saw. Score it lightly at first to establish the cut lines.
  10. Drill three 1/8″ holes in the side of the Stainless Steel Pipe drain for screws, then insert the Stainless Steel Pipe drain through the hole. But it tight against the other side, then screw it in place, sloping it about 1/4″.
  11. Wipe a thick bead of silicone caulk along the top edge of the Stainless Steel Pipe drain to seal it against the plywood.
  12. Shim the box level and tack a temporary stop to the top edge to make it easy to place the glass without smearing the caulk. Spread a generous bead of caulk on all the edges, then lay the glass in place. Tape it down around the edges with painter’s tape, then let it set up overnight.
  13. Once dry, place the Stainless Steel or Glass Container cut to fit the Inside of the Solar Desalinator. This will be the receptacle to hold the water you wish to Desalinate
  14. Install the mirrors on the edges of the Box. They’ll act to reflect and concentrate sunlight into the Solar Desalinator, thereby increasing the rate of Evaporation and production of Distilled Water

That’s it! If you’re reading this last line, your Solar Desalinator should either be up or you’re still nursing cuts from wood splinters and thinking this is a mistake, Phineas and Ferb Style. Still, I did tell you to get a Certified Carpenter to build it for you.

Enjoy drinking Distilled Water to your fill!

Here’s the Link:

Plans for the Solar Desalinator

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.