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Solar Water Distiller

How to make a solar still…


What is a solar water distiller?

A solar distiller is basically a simple, waterproof, oblong “box” with a piece of glass on top that the sun shines through, which utilizes the sun’s energy to distill the water. The distilled water is then rendered safe for drinking and cooking, with absolutely no contaminants that are found in regular (potable) water.

solar still

Solar water distiller

How does it work?

Solar stills are JUST LIKE MAKING RAIN. In nature, the sun (solar energy) shines and heats the water in lakes, rivers, and the ocean, and causes the water to evaporate into the air as water vapor. Then it cools down and condenses in the sky as clouds and it finally falls as rain. You can catch this water in a container to use for plants or other purposes.Similarly, a solar still, also called a distiller, makes ultra-pure water the same way rain is made. The sun’s energy shines and heats the water inside the still causing the water to evaporate and condense on the cooler glass above (the glass acts like a cloud). The water then drains down into a water catching trough and out to a glass jug/container.This works passively, with no moving parts. You just need the still, a source of water (even raw sewage is purified completely), and the sun! The output will be pure H2O!

How good is the water?

The water that is made in these stills is a better quality than store-bought purified water because it is ultra-pure. It is some of the cleanest, most pure water you can get on the planet. Because the water is slowly evaporated (naturally distilled), instead of rapidly boiled (force-distilled), the water picks up a lot of oxygen and carbon dioxide from the air which makes it taste sweeter by raising the pH to above neutral.Contaminants such as salts, heavy metals, bacteria (e.g. fecal coliform), micro-organisms (e.g. E-coli, giardia, chryptosporidium), sediments, sand, rust, chlorine, fluoride, arsenic, lead, mercury, etc. are all completely removed (they are left behind in the basin and/or killed). Almost everything is removed from the original source water* because distillation is a physical process.
*see this page for details on removing additional contaminants via carbon filter


making rain

How a solar still works

What kind of applications are these stills good for?

For the homeowner, RVers/campers, people in rural areas, solar enthusiasts, survivalists, more. Grant projects, such as those implemented by the El Paso Solar Energy Association (EPSEA) helped people get solar stills, which I was the Project Manager for in the early 2000’s. I installed over 100 stills in west Texas and southern New Mexico, and Mexico, in rural border colonias (poor neighborhoods lacking infrastructure) that are challenged with water problems.

The stills are appropriate technology for these areas because they are site-specific, use no electricity to run, have a quick payback period, require no running water to work, get rid of all contaminants including E-coli, have a life expectancy of 20+ years, and are easy to use and maintain.

They are especially great for people with health problems, or those who live in remote areas where clean water is hard to get. Some folks place river water, or sea water, or other contaminated water into these stills in order to purify it, but simple tap water can be

Learn how to build a solar still

The great thing about solar stills is that you can “make your own rain” at any time on any sunny day. All you need is to build a single basin solar still–these are the most simple distillers to make, yet very effective and efficient. You can generally get about 5 liters of water per day out of a 2×4′ sized still. The cost to build it can run you from $200-350 depending on how many new or used materials you use.

Be sure and check out our workshops.

solar still

Constructing a still

Below is where you can download FREE PDF (version 1) of How to Make a Solar Water Distiller (v1 2012). It is not the newest version, nor nearly as long as my updated book, but I sold this copy for many years, so it should do the trick if your wallet is short this time around.



solar water distiller

How to Make a Solar Water Distiller

If you prefer the full version of my new version 2 book “DIY: How to Build a Solar Water Distiller” (greatly expanded upon compared to the free version 1) you can get that below.

DIY: How to Build a Solar Water Distiller  (this is version 2 and has been expanded upon greatly) and is also available on Amazon. Or if you would like to buy a distiller that is commercially made then keep reading below… in the meantime you can also get a copy of my version 2 book on Kindle version, or if you are an Amazon Prime or KindleUnlimited member it is FREE here.

Solar Still Construction Plans

You can also purchase a BOOK copy of the original EPSEA step-by step Solar Water Distiller Construction Plans can be bought through SolAqua as well ($27). I do not make any money if you buy from them.

That spiral bound book by SolAqua includes step-by-step solar water distiller construction plans so are not available as a freebie or through me; however, remember this How to make a solar water distiller v1 2012 is available at no cost to you to learn the basics of how to build a solar still! 🙂

solar distiller

Rainmaker still

Where you can buy a solar distiller

Single basin stills for an individual or families can be bought commercially at places like SolAqua or you can build the still yourself (SolAqua also has a kit for the hard-to-find items for around $249).

Large solar stills, or commercial or industrial-sized solar water distillers can also be purchased at Suns-River.


Please “like” my solar book Facebook page that includes “How to make a solar water distiller”:

Lastly, you can learn the basics of how to make a solar water distiller by reading my book for $15 Passive Solar Energy House Projects: A How-To Guide …

This book also covers earthtubes, passive solar home design, tornado-proofing your home, solar/wind energy, and solar ovens.

It is also FREE through Amazon Prime and KindleUnlimited.


Please join our newsletter on the right column of this page (near the top) so you can be updated by email on any upcoming free books (numerous topics)! Don’t miss out!

I hope you enjoy making your solar water distiller and drinking ultra-pure water from your own solar water purification unit that you have build yourself!

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