Improvised Distillation with a Solar Still

For distilling larger quantities of water at a time, you can build a solar still. Start by digging a 3×3- foot-square hole, preferably in damp soil or dirt. And, of course, it needs to be in a sunny location!

Place a large, clean container in the middle and add some green vegetation around it, as well as pouring your contaminated water into the hole. The ground will soak it all up, but that’s okay – the point is to have as much moisture trapped as possible. Again, be very careful not to get any dirty water into your catcher.

Now stretch a large (5×5 feet at a minimum) piece of clean, clear plastic over the hole. Milky-clear plastic will also work well, though it might take a little longer to work. Secure your cover in place with dirt around the edges of your hole, tamping it down to create a seal.

Finally, place a small rock or stone in the center of the plastic sheet.

Ideally, you want this to create a roughly 45-degree angle on all sides, with the tip of the cone over your container. This serves the same purpose as the pot lid in the previous method: providing a surface for condensation to drip into your catcher.

If you’re able, place a length of clean hose or drinking tube from the container and out the side of your solar still before sealing it off. This way, you can stay hydrated without needing to take everything apart.