Would you want your child drinking that water?
An ever-increasing number of the world’s population don’t have clean water to drink. Many of these people live in areas with high sunlight levels and building a simple solar still could ease the burden of risking a drink of water that may be carrying typhoid, cholera or a number of other disease that still kill tens of thousands of people each year.
It would be a huge mistake to believe that we in the west will always have safe, clean drinking water.
Anything that affects the infrastructure will ultimately will affect the water supply, and even a naturally occurring even like a flood can close down a water plant.
A solar still quite simple uses the power of the sun to produce clean, drinkable water…and they are surprisingly simple to make using readily available materials.
- The simplest form of solar still is literally a hole in the ground with clear plastic over the top. Grass clipping, leaves, or even a bowl of dirty water is placed in the hole and then a collection container put in the centre. A stone is placed in the centre of the weighted down plastic to form a dip. Condensation forms on the inside of the plastic and drips down into the collection bowl in the bottom of the hole.
2. Use plastic bottles. Take a large and a small plastic bottle, water bottles and soda bottles are ideal. You can use a drinks can for the inner container but they are only suitable for distilling liquids not leaves, grass etc.
- Cut the small bottle off at the shoulder and discard the top, capped end. Cut the large bottle at the shoulder, you need both sections of the large bottle.
- Make four vertical slits about two inches long in the cut off shoulder section of the large bottle. They need to be longer than the diagram shows.
- Put dirty water, leaves foliage or even urine in the base of the small bottle. If you are using dirty water or urine only half fill the container.
- Put the filled small base into the bottom of the large bottle.
- Squeeze the cut off shoulder of the large bottle gently so the slits overlap and slide it back into the open end of the large bottle.
- You have made a solar still.
The sun will heat up the bottle and evaporate the organic matter in the inner container. Condensation will run down the inside of the large bottle and collect in the bottom. this is potable water and is safe to drink without further treatment.
Before the collected condensation rises above the level of the inner container gently remove the top shoulder section of the large bottle, remove the inner container and either drink or store the clean water you have ‘made’
You can make a lot of these, standing them in a shallow trench in the ground to prevent them toppling over works well. In hot climates with plenty of sunshine its surprising how much condensation you can collect from a row of bottle stills.
Getting clean drinking water is something we take for granted, but for many it’s a luxury they simply cannot afford. Solar stills could make a huge difference to the lives of so many.
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