How to Build a Home Steam Distillation System

By Sean Butner

The process of steam distillation separates the components of a solution by boiling and condensing the substance in the solution at the lowest boiling point. Steam distillation systems can extract pure water from contaminants and pathogens such as bacteria, parasites and heavy metals. Perfume and spirit makers extract essential oils and alcohols from various grains through steam distillation as well. Building a home steam distillation system allows you to produce your own distilled water and essential oils.

A still can extract essential oils and alcohol from water and grains.

Step 1

Assemble the kettle system. Obtain a glass Erlenmeyer flask and a rubber stopper. Drill a hole through the stopper large enough for a length of copper piping.

Step 2

Solder an obtuse-angled joint onto a length of narrow copper piping approximately two-thirds the height of the flask. Solder a short length of copper piping into the other end of the joint. Attach another joint to the open end of the short length of pipe so that the joint opens downward.

Step 3

Bend a length of copper piping into a coil with five to ten loops. Thread the end of the coil out through the side of a water-tight container (such as a plastic milk jug cut in half). Seal the port through which the copper pipe exits the container. Fill the container with cold water.

Step 4

Connect the top of the copper coil to the open joint. Insert the copper piping stem into the rubber stopper.

Step 5

Fill the flask and insert the stopper. Apply heat to the flask and allow the contents to boil off. Monitor the temperature of the water in the container as steam passes through the copper coils. Refresh with cold water as necessary.