How to make a homemade solar still with recycled materials

The sun is a practically inexhaustible source of energy which, in addition, can have a multitude of applications: solar cookers, electric bicycles powered by the sun or, why not, stills that operate using radiation. If you are interested in the idea and also want to get your own scents or essences, find out how to build your own solar still. Before you get to work, we tell you that this home system is not very efficient at distilling water, but it is for the described uses and even at distilling ethanol for use as fuel.


1. Build the reflector.

The first thing you will need is to acquire mirrors of about half a square meter with which to create the reflector. Join three of them with industrial tape, so that they form three sides of a cube. To secure the parts, apply silicone to the joints.

As you can see in the picture, it is recommended that the mirrors rest on a more firm structure to ensure the safety when transporting the equipment. You can choose from cardboard or wood. In the latter case, apply a good coat of varnish to protect it from the elements.

2. Make the container for the distillate.

The distillate container will be made up of several pieces. The external will be a bottle which serves as an insulator and which can be made of glass or PET plastic. A glass bottle will be placed inside. Remember to make a hole of about two and a half centimeters in the lid of the jar that matches the head of the bottle.

With another 0.33 liter bottle of any type, which will serve as a collecting container; a few plugs with holes and about 40 centimeters of copper pipe that you will need to bend in a U shape, you have everything you need to shape the container, as you can see in the picture.

3. Turn on the equipment.

When you put your gear to work, remember not to overfill the inner container because, if you do, there will be no room for the mixture to expand. If you are going to distill ethanol, you need to add a pinch of gasoline or alcohol.

When the alcohol begins to boil, most of the ethanol has passed into the collecting vessel. The lower the ethanol content, the higher the boiling point. When the system is working, alcohol boils less easily.

The good thing about this house design is that the mirrored structure does not produce the energy required to distill the water. Therefore, when the alcohol evaporates, it automatically stops working.

With this you can now turn on your solar still which, once oriented a little south of where the sun is setting, will not need you to pay more attention to it. On the other hand, keep in mind that after the process is complete, you can take advantage of the excess mass and throw it in a compost bin or your own plants.

Another model in case you are interested:

Original project in Instructables.