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Your guide to making a solar still

by DrPrem Jagyasi

Having a water purifier at home is not a big deal but having one with you out in the wilderness, certainly is. Suppose you are in a place where there is no provision for clean drinking water, and those water purifiers that work with electricity in your homes are of no help, what do you do. Well, an environmentally friendly solution can come to your rescue in such situations. One of the most innovative solutions is a Solar still, which harnesses solar energy for providing potable water to its users.

Importance of Solar Still

Woman in toilet

Water is a necessity and clean drinking water is one’s need for a healthy survival. Microorganisms present in water can enter human body and make it sick. Especially when you are in a place where water quality is too bad, you must ensure you get to have clean drinking water, or else they might leave your system upset with some fatal health condition such as dysentery.

Besides microorganisms, numerous chemicals, salts, minerals, and radiation make water unfit for human consumption. If you use a normal filter, it might clean dust from water, may remove minerals from it but it would never be able to remove salt and chemical from it.

Then comes the activated charcoal, which might be of some help to remove some chemicals from water but not all. The final and the ultimate solution that can be of pure help is distillation. A process of heating water to the point that it evaporates quickly but it requires a lot of heat. To make distillation an eco-friendly process, you can make use of a solar still.

How to make a Solar Still

make a Solar Still

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For this environmentally friendly project, you require some plywood with which you will make a box. Later this box will be used to store a pan with water in it. You need to decide what sized pans you will be using to store water in it, as the box size will be in accordance to it.

There will be a length variation in the front and back of the box, as the front of the box will be lesser in height so that the condensed water easily flows down the slope into the catch tube. For the sides of the box you can use plywood of medium thickness, while for the base, make sure you use sturdy plywood.

Use silicone caulk to keep the glass collector in place. The aluminum surface of the box should face up and the inside of the box should be painted all black so that it absorbs maximum sunlight during the day that further is used as heat. Aluminum coating transfers heat to the water pans, so that water heats up and the distillation process completes.

Solar Still Usage


You can use solar still throughout a day, and it works well even when the sky is partially cloudy. It is better if you paint it entirely, as then you will be able to keep it out in the rain as well. All that it requires a solar still to work efficiently is its placement, as in wherever you decide to place it; it should get maximum sunlight all day. Keep it away from shady areas, or else it would not perform the way it is supposed to.

Place a suitable bottle, fug or any container beneath the drip tube to collect potable water. After placing Pyrex pans filled with water inside, close the door tight so that water vapor does not escape out into the atmosphere. No matter how dirty water you put in the pans, the water that is collected in jug or a bucket is all clean and drinkable.

Using a solar still can provide easy water storage and purification for water, which may not be as easily accessible in many regions.