My water distiller - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 11:12 PM Thread Starter
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My water distiller

The missus and I bought a foreclosed home about a year and a half ago. In the corner of the garage, I found this thing:




It was in really bad shape. I doubt the previous owners bothered to even attempt to run it. I had no idea how it worked, or what to do with it. I let it sit for months while I researched. I discovered that this is quite an expensive machine; definitely worth repairing if possible, so I turned it into a project. Here are a few 'before' pics:

The guts:


Below the main frame:


The boiler reservoir:



As you can see, it's filthy. It took 3+ months just to clean it, and several more months in repairs. Finally, after about half a year, I got to turn it on, and it actually worked! I honestly wasn't expecting that. Here are some 'after' pics.








There was a pump on the bottom to carry water through my house. Unfortunately, it's toast. I need a new one, but they're not cheap. Also, since the last pics, I replaced the CPVC faucet I stuck on the boiler. I didn't trust plastic here.

It's been in operation for about a month now. I've distilled about 40 gallons through it. The water is still not 100% pure, and I'm not sure why. My first batch came out to 60 ppm TDS. It is currently measuring 5 ppm. This is good, but I want zero. Hopefully it will reach zero soon.
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-10-2011, 11:54 PM
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Pretty cool. Not sure if it'll get to 0ppm. Even the distilled water sold through the grocery store has some tds.


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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-11-2011, 12:40 AM
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Very cool. You could mod it into one mamma of a moonshine still lol........


As a side note, the amount of energy this thing will hog just to produce clean water will eventually vastly outweigh the cost of a reasonable RO unit, if you need water purification.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-11-2011, 12:42 AM Thread Starter
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I don't know how accurate my meter is, but I have tested some store bought water. Most do read about 5 ppm. I've tested a few that were 0 ppm. The techs from the store I bought parts from said that it should read 0. As long as it's clean, I don't see any reason why not. I'm assuming that there's some lingering debris somewhere I couldn't reach (maybe the coils?), and hoping it will all flush out eventually.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-11-2011, 12:48 AM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by redfishsc View Post
Very cool. You could mod it into one mamma of a moonshine still lol........


As a side note, the amount of energy this thing will hog just to produce clean water will eventually vastly outweigh the cost of a reasonable RO unit, if you need water purification.
Don't think I haven't considered that

I calculated the cost per gallon a while back, and it came out to around 33/gal. That's cheaper than the store. How much does it cost to produce RO water?
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-11-2011, 02:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jflng View Post
Don't think I haven't considered that

I calculated the cost per gallon a while back, and it came out to around 33/gal. That's cheaper than the store. How much does it cost to produce RO water?
I'd say the cost of a gallon of RO depends on the quality of the starting water - hard water will use up the resins quicker, costing more.

That unit looks like one we had at Georgia Tech when I was there - definitely a scientific-grade system.

Kevin

72g bowfront planted, CO2, 4x - T5HO, Eheim 2213 and 2217, 2 angels, pristella tetras, blue tetras, betta, albino bristlenose pleco, albino cories. Sword, vals, hygros, ludwigias, java moss and fern, anubias

2g Mac-quarium. Clown gravel, fluorescent plastic plants, and 2 guppies.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-11-2011, 04:26 AM Thread Starter
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It is an impressive machine. I don't understand why the previous owners left it behind, and let it go to waste. Since they had their home foreclosed on them, you'd think they would have at least tried to sell it. It's worth a lot broken. It's a nice score for me though. It's mine now
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-11-2011, 04:47 PM
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33 cent per gallon is reasonable unless you have an enormous amount of tankage in your house.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KevinC View Post
I'd say the cost of a gallon of RO depends on the quality of the starting water - hard water will use up the resins quicker, costing more.

100% agreed. The more polluted tap/well water sources will use up cartridges much quicker.


Also, it depends on the time of year you are making RO water. In summer, my (and most other) units exhaust MUCH less waste water since it's warmer.

In winter, it has much higher amounts of waste water, so I tend to use it less. Not critical on my tanks anyhow since I'm always dosing phosphate/nitrate anyway, and my tap water is somewhat soft.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-13-2011, 12:10 AM Thread Starter
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Anybody have any good links on reconstituting water for various purposes?
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-30-2011, 11:11 AM
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Hello. First of all, let me tell you that I have been lurking here for about 4 months now, and I've learned so much that it's mind blowing. This is my favorite subcategory by far but this site in general is just a fantastic place. So thanks right up front for all the innovations I have incorporated into my little 12 gallon planted tank (which I will get pix soon) and thanks to you folks for being kind and enthused enough to share your insights with the world. You collectively have enhanced my enjoyment of this hobby by a huge factor!

My dad was a photographer by trade, and used a fair amount of distilled water. We live in hard water territory (upstate NY) so his solution was to run a dehumidifier in the basement rigged with a simple "water sensor" he built in his ham shack, connected to a 110v solenoid power cutoff switch. Would that suffice for your needs possibly? It netted a fair bit of water as I recall. The purity wouldn't be 0 ppm, as it would depend on contaminants in the air, but would it be adequate for the aquarium? Just a thought.
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-30-2011, 01:24 PM
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any chance you could start making whiskey and distilling it? haha


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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-30-2011, 09:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m00se View Post
My dad was a photographer by trade, and used a fair amount of distilled water. We live in hard water territory (upstate NY) so his solution was to run a dehumidifier in the basement rigged with a simple "water sensor" he built in his ham shack, connected to a 110v solenoid power cutoff switch. Would that suffice for your needs possibly? It netted a fair bit of water as I recall. The purity wouldn't be 0 ppm, as it would depend on contaminants in the air, but would it be adequate for the aquarium? Just a thought.
I read an article a while back about a guy using dehumidifiers in his house where he had several indoor koi ponds, and they dumped their water straight back into the ponds. No problems.


BUT you have to be sure that the coils of the dehumidifier are not copper. A *think* aluminum would be safe but I'm not sure. I would not use dehumidifier water unless I had checked it a couple times for copper content. It could be risky, or it could work wonderfully.

I have a dehumidifier, and since it works on the same principle (and mechanism) that an air conditioner works, they suck a HUGE amount of electricity, but it sure makes the house feel nice.
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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-31-2011, 02:06 AM
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I'm pretty sure the coils on his were aluminum. Indeed any compressor takes a bit of electricity, but I don't think a dehumidifier comes to the level of an air conditioner. This unit was nothing fancy to look at. Our basement was half dirt and we had something resembling a dirt cistern (depression/ditch) that collected seepage with a sump pump in it. There was no shortage of moisture down there, that's for sure.

With the cost of water these days, at least around here, I wonder why more people don't use dehumidifiers instead of RO units.
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-04-2011, 01:42 AM Thread Starter
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I was looking at some of my old threads, and noticed I missed a few replies here. It's probably a little late now, but it gives me a chance to ask my question again:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Me View Post
Anybody have any good links on reconstituting water for various purposes?
m00se:
This is a fantastic place for information and inspiration. That's why I stick around.

A dehumidifier could be a good alternative; provided there are no copper parts, as redfishsc described. Honestly though, I haven't really needed this distiller much, but that is about to change.

It actually tested at 0ppm a month ago. It may have raised some by now. I haven't replaced the prefilter, or cleaned the boiler lately. It seems to be working as it should. I'm pretty happy about that.

redfishsc (or anyone else with a dehumidifier):
Can you test the dehumidifier's water? For curiosity's sake, I'd like to know just how suitable the water could be. Maybe people should look more into those.

scapegoat:
That idea is certainly on the table, but probably with a different DIY unit and bit more research.
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-04-2011, 03:17 AM
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I do not have a copper test kit, but I do have an LG brand de-humi.

I do have a good friend who is a chemist who might be able to check it "fo-real" for copper (ie, a very thorough test).

I have a cherry shrimp prop tank I'd sure hate to kill off using dehumi water.


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