Desalination is the process of removing salts and minerals from a medium, such as water or soil.

Around 97% of the water on planet earth is salt water, making it unsuitable for human consumption or irrigation. Desalinization can make this water usable, but the process is usually not cost efficient due to the energy required.

This article will focus on some ways to desalinate water that are cheap and available to just about anybody. They are often used to supply the poor in ocean front communities with safe water to drink.


The most common technique used to desalinate water is the process of distillation. Distillation is the separation of water molecules from other particles and pollutants, including salt and minerals. This is often done using to heat, to bring the water to boiling point. It can also be done using a vacuum chamber to reduce the pressure and bring the water to boiling point at lower temperatures. In both instances, the vapor is separated and condensed, resulting in fresh water, free of any salt or pollution.

Sometimes excess heat produced in places like power plants is used to desalinate water, creating a more efficient, dual purpose production process.

The excess salt produced for distillation can be used to make Epsom Salt, a common organic fertilizer. In industrial productions, it is often returned to the sea.

Some extra reading:

How to Distill Water at Home

What is Distilled Water?

Is Distilled Water Safe to Drink?


In this section we will cover some simple homemade ways to desalinate water. They can be used in emergencies as a secondary water source, and can be used to purify water of all pollutants, not just salts and minerals.

 image057Distillation Using Heat

The most common way water is distilled is by using heat. Here’s how it’s done:

  1. Store the water you wish to distill in a container that can be heated.
  2. Seal the top of this container, with the only opening being a tube that connects to a lower point.
  3. Connect this tube to a second container, and seal any openings so that no vapor can escape.
  4. Heat the first container so that the water inside reaches boiling point.

The water vapor will rise to the top of the first container, move through the tube, and collect in the second container. Here it will cool down and condense, returning to liquid form. This water has been distilled, with all salts, minerals and pollutants left behind in the first container.

Distillation Using Solar Energy

Solar energy can be harnessed to produce the energy needed to desalinate water. This article includes two designs for building solar water distillers.

Distillation Using a Vacuum Chamber

A vacuum chamber can also be used to distill water. In a vacuum, there is no environmental pressure holding the water molecules in a liquid state, and they convert to vapor. This vapor is collected and condensed like in the previous methods.

Read this article to learn more about vacuum chambers, and this one to learn how to build your own.

Good luck and stay prepared!

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