Distilled Water

What is it?
Distilled water is water that has had many of its impurities (dissolved minerals and biological matter) removed through distillation. Distillation involves boiling the water and then condensing the steam into a clean container.

Myth Time
Firstly lets dispel a HUGE myth. It is not unsafe to drink.
It doesn’t strip minerals from the body, it just doesn’t supply them.
Some call these important trace elements ‘electrolytes” and they are easily topped up using with a commercial powder mix, by making oral rehydration drinks, or by eating the correct foods.

An example of a common field expedient ‘mix’

1/2 teaspoon of TABLE or SEA salt, (Not salt substitutes)
6 teaspoons of sugar (Not sweeteners), and
A liter of water.
If possible, add 1/2 cup orange juice or some mashed banana to add some potassium.

You can also keep your electrolyte balance up by eating the correct foods i.e.
Sports drinks, milk, nuts, and many fruits and vegetables (whole or juiced).
Plus my favorite, bananas.

What is it used for in survival? That would be everything!
If made and stored correctly, it remains pure and sterile.
So that’s good for wound and eye wash, mixing powdered medicines, drinking and washing. As vehicle coolant, battery top ups, and it makes a better cup of tea and coffee!

Outwardly it’s simple to produce.
Boil it, condense the steam, and there you go, distilled water.
EXCEPT IN A CBRN scenario.
Some water-soluble chemicals have lower boiling points than water.
So you making “steam” may contain the very chemicals you are trying to filter out.
Biologicals aren’t a problem and boiling the suckers usually does the trick.
Yet radiological material is difficult to deal with when dissolved in water.
Take Cesium-137 that boils at 28.4 Celsius.
Way lower than the temperature of boiling water.

Anyway here’s a thought.
Providing there are NO airborne contaminates, rain is distilled water.
So provided you can collect it without it touching anything contaminated, pure H2O is what you’ll get. Which brings about an interesting question.
If the skeptics say drinking distilled water is bad for you, what’s their position on rain?

Finally, a quick cartoon of DIY distilled water machinery.
One billy with lid, a mug, fire, and yueky water. Enjoy!
Water gets hot, steam hits the lid, drips down the handle, into the mug.
It helps if you stand something cold in the lid, only don’t let it over flow!
It will also help to let things cool down before you try to extract the water filled mug.
Funny enough the water (and mug) will be hot!


Practical Notes (from when I got it wrong).
That crackling spitting tinny sound you might hear?
The REALLY hot smell and sizzling / frying noise.
That’s no more water left in the billy and it’s melting!


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5 Responses to Distilled Water

  1. equippedcat says:

    Re using distilled water for cleaning wounds, it is not the best choice. Distilled water is hypotonic (has a lower solute concentration than do cells) and can cause hemolysis (rupturing of red blood cells). Better than contaminated water of course, but sterile saline is the best choice and even potable water is better.

    If you boil “water” which has things in it with a lower boiling point, then won’t those elements boil off before the water itself starts to boil? Of course, make sure the pre-boiling steam is safely vented, cause all those low boiling point things will now be “airborne”.

    • I thought the idea of distilling as described wouldn’t work too, but it does. The boiling point of distilled and plain water is the same.

      As for the chemicals?
      Nope, you can’t boil away some iodines, and petro-products as they ‘film’ on hte cooler lid.

      As for venting, over an open fire, then cleaning any residue that may have formed on the billy lid?
      I consider myself lucky to even reach a rolling boil on a camp fire in bad weather so as to playing around?
      No, I’ll just take a “safe” non chemed source of water everytime.

      As for using it for wound wash? It has never caused that “hemolysis” for me.
      If anything it works better than saline which is loaded (surprisingly enough) with salt.
      When washing out wounds and it’s kinda important (I was told by our doc) that blood flows.
      The worse wounds being those that don’t bleed AT ALL.

      Way I see it too is come whatever, the local chemist (now looted) may not have an in date supply of steriles and having had a wound washed out with 110% back yard Slivovitsa, I’ll take distilled anytime. Having said that, it’s an excellent local (and internal ) anaesthetic.

      • equippedcat says:

        You’ve never noticed a bit of hemolysis. Its not like every cell in your body explodes, just a few of them. It’s not harmful to use distilled for wound cleaning, and it is better than some things. It might slow down the healing just a little bit.

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