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Making the most of what you have. Project: backpack water/essential oil distiller.

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posted on Aug, 21 2011 @ 08:45 PM
Always being one to change or tweak the gear load, I was looking for another project this week. It came from a heavy drinking buddy of mine. I dont drink anymore so I was out of the loop until he clued me in.

I have an assortment of stainless water bottles. Here are just a few. The ones that are important have red dots on them. They came with vodka inside and have chemically tolerant plastic screw tops.

Having spent some time in the study of alchemy and the preparation of home medicines and elixirs everything clicked at once. They could be used to distill water.

You will need to sacrifice one of the small bottles.
1. Saw the threaded portion off the cap being careful to salvage the seal. I was certain I wouldnt' find a metric stainless threaded adapter. I never looked though.
2. I put dents in the plastic threads I sawed off, below the first one on half. This holds it tight in the small bottle.
3. Rather than order the correct stainless bulkhead fitting, I used brass and leached the lead from it. If you don't know how to do this then order a stainless fitting off the web.
4. Drilled the bottle and used high temp rtv sealer under the external sealing washer. (not inside) If you buy the correct fitting it will have high temp seals.
5. Got a roll of 10' copper 1/4" tubing and slowly and gently formed it on the outside of the bigger water bottle.

The finished unit looks like this:

1. You will need three longish sticks with a Y on the end. The unit it too tall to be very stable and the coil will drop it on its side. Use the three sticks pushed into the ground and nested in a tripod with Y ends around the bottle necks.
2. It would be helpful to have a cat food can to straddle a narrow cut at the end of a fire trench. You have to use coals to heat this one. A camp stove will probably take you over pressure and explode. Slowly push fresh coals underneath as needed.
3. Fill with water to about 3/4 full in the lower bottle. As with any distillation throw away the first 20-30 ml and then catch the in between. Then throw out the last part. You will see mineral scum in the last part. make sure to rinse that out.

A. It is illegal to distill alcohol in most parts of the world. Dont do it. You will likely get burned or poisoned long before you go to jail, or even all three if your lucky.
B. Your looking at someone's project. If you dont know what your doing dont try it. Your on your own. This is what I did. If you copy it you take full responsibility for your actions and hold ATS and myself harmless. I advise you not to believe everything you hear on the internet. Its just stupid to do so.
C. I used all 10 feet on the worm. In reality 6-7 coils is plenty. When I cut the worm down it will all weigh under 10oz for all the parts. The large bottle still has its cap and can be used normally. If you cut too much offe the worm you may have to add fabric strips and get them wet with cold water for the coils to condense.

All in all 10oz and a tiny bit of space, gives a huge amount of new options. Water medicines and oils as well as a field expedient autoclave for small straight instruments such as scalpel handles and tweezers and probes. I'm sure its still evolving as well.

Add on with your multi function creations.

posted on Aug, 22 2011 @ 01:12 PM
Here is one more image of the unit broken down. I will be extending the distance from unit to the worm to the length of the large bottle then cutting and adding a union so it packs flat. I carry stainless spits so I dont have to worry about poison sticks to cook with, so one of those will support the weight of the worm coil. I'm also cutting the coil down to 6.5 coils and the drop leg.

I'm still thinking about adding a thermometer port to the distiller head if I can find a small accurate and light weight one. The main tests are to keep a low boil and try to pull fresh water from saltwater and brackish swamp water. Two sources that will plug up and kill a filter really fast. I will follow up after both of those tests.

posted on Aug, 22 2011 @ 03:50 PM
so that is for distilling water and not making moonshine ?

not all stainless steel is created equal not to mention i remember a recall of some of those because the inside coating was contaminating the water thus making it not safe to drink.

i can see someone using that to make some home moonshine but give the pressue those would be prone to exploding.

nice idea tho.

posted on Aug, 22 2011 @ 05:17 PM
reply to post by neo96

Yes just for water lol or if you concentrating herbal preparations, or cleaning water out of herbal oils. I suppose you could but its so small it would certainly back flash and explode. This one is basically to clean up water that so laden with mineral and sludge it would kill your filter.

But the high points are its low nickle stainless and chem resistant so you wont get rot from herbals. Its also very small and for the extra 10oz give the ability to gain distilled water for wound cleaning and other purposes such as re firing old batteries etc. You also have need for distilled water for preparations that require ultra low ppm of dissolved solids. For a device that can go in your pack, for the long term though, its pretty hard to beat.

If someone knew what they were doing and had a long enough reach on the coil, you could distill a beer rotflmao.

Everyone knows if you want a still you get on the wait list with Col. Wilson.....let the song load.

posted on Aug, 22 2011 @ 06:04 PM
awesome thread!
I love home DIYs.
I have some experience with this and want to add some points to a great thread.

keep in mind some herbal extractions shouldnt be left in contact with the solvent more than a few seconds.
any longer, the moisture in the alcohol will leach chlorophyl into your extract, giving a nasty green aroma/taste to any essential oil.
do a trial and error run, or search for someone who has done the same extraction before and look for soak times.

( I made some aromatherapy oil from spearmint leaves, and the clorophyl made it smell like rotten cut grass..eww)
I just fill a glass jar halfway with the herbal leaves, flowers, petals, sap, whatever im extracting,
I add alcohol untill everything is saturated, shake for 30 seconds to 2 hours depending on the herb, strain through a paper coffee filter, and evaporate the alcohol.

all alcohol has water in it. 100% pure alch. bwill absorb water from the ambient air when opened.
the alcohol will evap before the water, so when it gets almost done you will see a cloudy effect ( oil+water).
after that, you can cool off and use the essential oils as you wish.
hope this helps.
I have family members that are very much into aromatherapy, candlemaking, incense making etc.. and have more knowledge than a grown man should have on the

for anything edible, use grain alchohol, it's safer but it has natural sugars, and when used in candles and burning oils it will carmelize and make a STRONG nasty burnt sugar smell.
But it isnt really noticed when eaten, such as fruit extracts. ( which they now use cold fluid extraction process and butane, not alcohol but that's another thread entirely)
But for candles, or anything NOT eaten, you can use Isopropyl alcohol.
It evaporates completely, and is very clean, and leaves no aroma in candles or even the mildest burning oil scents.

gahhh... I need to go build something or at least crank up a power tool.

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