Many people are taught that boiling water is a great way to make water clean. Quite frankly, this isn’t really true.
Boiling water works great for killing bacteria and viruses as the EPA link above mentions. However, it does not work particularly well for removing sediment, metal, or any other solid that is found in water (Source: Water Purification by Evaporation and Condensation, EPA).
On the other hand, evaporating the water and collecting the steam works extraordinarily well. This article will answer exactly why evaporating water works so well.
What is evaporated water?
We first must define evaporate water. This is easy because all elements and compounds have three states. Those states are solid, liquid, and gas.
Evaporated water is simply water in gaseous form. This is a result of heating liquid water.
Solid water is ice, which is a result of placing the liquid water at a temperature less than 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Liquid water, or just water, is water at any temperature between 32 degrees and 212 degrees.
Doesn’t boiling water make it clean?
Yes. Boiling water makes the water clean. However, it only makes the water clean from organisms that live in the water. These organisms could include bacteria, parasites, and viruses. The hot water basically causes those organisms to die.
However, it will not remove the harmful substances from water. Those substances include mercury, arsenic, and lead. Other contaminants that it won’t remove include dirt, cloudiness, and smell.
Basically, boiling water makes it good enough to drink if you suspect it might have organisms. It doesn’t make it safe if you suspect it might have heavy metals or something like that.
Why does evaporating water make it pure?
Evaporating water makes it pure because it separates the water from the contaminants. It does this because those heavy metals will not turn to gas. Instead, they stay in the liquid water as the gas water rises.
Now, some crafty inventors discovered that they could collect the steam. They then wait for the steam to turn into liquid water and collect it.
This formerly evaporated water is now much cleaner than just about any type of water you can find.
Does evaporating water remove all contaminants?
Not quite. It removes most contaminants, but some will still remain. Mainly those contaminants that have a boiling that is less than 212 degrees Fahrenheit. Fortunately, not many contaminants have a low boiling point. So this isn’t too big of a concern.
How can I collect evaporated water?
You can collect rain. Just joking, rain has dissolved chemicals in it. Hence the name “acid rain.”
The best way to collect evaporated water in your home is to use a water distiller. Distillation is the process of boiling water and collecting the condensed water after. You can buy a water distiller small enough to fit on your countertop and have pure water anytime you want.
Now, if you are in the wilderness and want a evaporated water, then you can make a device called a solar still. Basically, you dig a hole in the ground, put a bunch of green plants in that hole, cover the hole with a tarp, and place a rock in the middle of the tarp. You then place a water container underneath the part of the tarp with the rock.
The water in the plants will evaporate and collect on the low point of the tarp. It will eventually condense and drip down into the container.
This is a long process, but it does work for collecting pure water. Really, we only recommend this method if you are stuck in a survival situation. Otherwise we recommend a portable water filter if you are in the Great Outdoors.