Distillation can be very helpful in removing impurities and minerals from water or a solution. When a liquid is heated, it evaporates and rises. This process separates the water from mineral deposits that remain in liquid or solid water. When the steam cools, it condenses back into a liquid form and is freed of impurities so that it can be used and collected. Despite being a time-consuming process, it can be very useful when you need to purify a liquid.
Method 1 of 2: Distilling with Cookware
Step 1. Find a large pot with a lid
Use the largest pot you have to be able to distill large amounts of liquid. This should be at least large enough to hold another smaller container like a metal bowl.
- If you have a curved lid to cover the pot, use it instead of a flat lid. The curved shape of the lid allows it to collect condensation towards the center.
- If you can't find a curved lid, you can use aluminum foil and shape it with a large bowl so that it has the proper curvature, then place the foil curved side down over the pot and secure it with the lid. This will help direct the condensed water to the center where the collection container will be.
Step 2. Place a collection container inside the large pot
Choose a container that can withstand boiling temperatures.
- You can also raise the collection container towards the top of the pot. You can place a small rack in the bottom of the pot and place the container on top, or you can use a brick or similar object. Keep in mind that this will not be in contact with the distilled liquid.
- You can also drill a hole in the lid and use a tube to collect the distilled liquid into a separate container. However, you must be willing to poke holes in the cookware to proceed in this manner.
Step 3. Pour the dirty water into the large pot
Make sure the dirty liquid does not fall into the collection container.
You should only fill the pot so that the water level is a few inches below the height of the collection container. If the water is too close to the edge of the container, it could splash into the distilled water and contaminate it
Step 4. Turn the lid upside down on the pot
By turning the lid upside down, the curved side will direct the water vapor to the center so that it collects and falls back into the collection container. A transparent lid would be ideal since it would allow you to see what is going on inside.
You can also put some ice packs or cold water on top of the lid to help the steam cool faster and return to its liquid form
Step 5. Bring the water to a boil
Turn on the stove and heat the water while still controlling the temperature of the water that must be kept at a slow boil. You want to prevent the water from getting too hot and the dirty water from splashing into the collection container. Adjust the temperature according to need.
Step 6. Boil the contents until the liquid is almost completely gone
Do not boil the pot dry or you may cause permanent damage. Then let the distilled liquid cool.
It may take several hours of boiling to collect a significant amount of liquid, so be patient
Method 2 of 2: Distill with Lab Materials
Step 1. Know the boiling point of the substance you want to distill
In general, simple distillation (as described here) will work for substances that boil below 200 ° C (392 ° F). Above this temperature many compounds can decompose, so it is recommended to use vacuum distillation for these cases.
If you don't know the boiling point of the substance you want to distill, a "very rough" rule of thumb is that the boiling point of a compound increases by about 15 ° C (27 ° F) for every carbon added to the chain.. Find a compound that is structurally similar to the one you want to distill, and add 27 ° F (15 ° C) to it for each additional carbon
Step 2. Pour the liquid into a distillation flask
Take the liquid you want to purify and pour it into the distillation flask only up to half or two-thirds of its capacity so that the liquid doesn't take too long to evaporate.
Step 3. Place the distillation flask on the heat source
You can use a stand to hold the flask above the burner or heat source.
You can also use a container filled with sand to hold the distillation flask instead of placing it directly on the burner. This will prevent the liquid from boiling too quickly as the sand helps distribute the heat evenly
Step 4. Connect the capacitor
Connect one end of the condenser to the conduit at the top of the distillation flask. The condenser should be angled downward to help the water flow into the collection flask.
The condenser has 2 tubes, one inside the other. This will transfer the steam to the collection container and help cool it back down to liquid form
Step 5. Connect the manifold adapter if you are going to do a vacuum distillation
This is a piece of glass with a vacuum adapter, an inlet, and multiple outlets to connect multiple flasks. Make sure to grease the junction between the adapter and the capacitor so you can easily change the fractions.
Step 6. Place the collection container under the condenser
Place the beaker or flask under the opening at the end of the condenser so that the liquid drips as the vapor cools so that it collects in the bottom container.
You can also choose to connect the collection container directly to the condenser if you have the materials to do so (if you are going to do a vacuum distillation, you will have to do it this way to maintain the vacuum of the system)
Step 7. Turn on the heat source and connect the vacuum if this is the case
Bring the liquid to a boil and monitor the temperature. You may want to use a thermometer to monitor the temperature and to keep the liquid just a little above the boiling point so it doesn't heat up too quickly. Adjust the intensity of the burner if necessary.
Step 8. Control the temperature of the distillation with the help of the thermometer
For a while the temperature of the thermometer will not change, but once enough steam builds up the temperature should rise rapidly and then stabilize. This value is the boiling point of the compound under pressure.
Step 9. Collect the distilled liquid
Turn off the heat when the distillation flask is almost empty. Do not heat the flask until it is dry as this could damage the glass. Let the liquid cool in the collection flask.
If you want the collected liquid to cool down faster, you can place the collection container submerged in cold or ice water
Step 10. Observe the temperature
If this begins to rise again, change the collection vessels since it means that one of the compounds in the mixture has finished distilling and that another part, whose boiling point is higher, has started to come out. When the temperature evens out, swap the jars again for purer features.
When the temperature begins to drop and does not rise for a considerable period of time, the distillation is over. At this point you can turn off the heat source, depressurize the system (if applicable), and check the features
Step 11. Check the purity of the features
Use proton nuclear magnetic resonance and examine their spectra. Do the features look clean? If so, it means that you are done. Otherwise, you may have to re-distill or use an alternative purification method, such as column chromatography.
- Distilling a significant amount of water takes time, so be sure to take that into account when planning properly.
- Smell the water to see if the distillation has worked. Distilled water does not have any odor.
- Don't smell the chemicals you've distilled in the lab. Use spectroscopic methods to confirm the purity of the substance.
- Be careful when handling hot materials and liquids.
- When you heat liquids you must be careful with overheating as it can cause the formation of intense bubbles. It is recommended to continuously stir a substance when boiling so that it does not form excessively large bubbles.
- If you are going to perform the vacuum distillation, check if there are any cracks. A single crack can cause a flask to implode.