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Water Q & A - Distillation and the Sun

Water Drinking Glass, Nebraska Extension Acreage Insights February 2018.
Water in a Drinking Glass

Do you have questions about your private drinking water supply?  How about wellhead protection, including the management of your private sewage treatment system?  Send your questions using the Ask An Expert feature on this web site.  Questions will be addressed by Nebraska Extension Educator Meghan Sittler, Nebraska Extension Specialist Bruce Dvorak,  and/or  Nebraska Extension Educator Katie Pekarek. One question and answer will be featured each month in this section of the acreage web site.

Q: If I place a gallon jug full of water in the sun for several days will it result in distilled water?

Meghan: Distillation is a process that removes basically all impurities including most minerals and most contaminants from water.  Generally, It is a process that requires heating water to a boil to produce steam. The steam, and heat, rises into a condensing coil that works to return the steam back to a liquid state and collects in a separate chamber. Contaminants such as many minerals, bacteria, volatile organic compounds and others are either left behind during the heating process or are inactivated as a result of the heat.  The water that has been heated, gone through the condensing coil and into the second chamber is distilled water.  So simply setting a jug of water out in the sun will not complete the distillation process.  For more information on distillation and equipment options visit

Meghan Sittler
Meghan Sittler
Extension Educator - Domestic Water & Wastewater
Meghan's education includes a master's degree in natural resources with minors in political science and environmental planning. She also has a graduate certification in public policy analysis, as well as undergraduate degrees in environmental studies and anthropology from UNL. Her graduate project was focused on the development of collaborative and adaptive management for the Missouri River.

Sittler began as coordinator of the Lower Platte River Corridor Alliance in December 2008. Prior to that, Sittler worked for the National Park Service as an archaeological technician, an environmental educator with the Lincoln Lancaster County Health Department, an adviser and instructor with the UNL Environmental Studies program and School of Natural Resources and as a research and outreach specialist for the National Drought Mitigation Center. Meghan began her work as a Nebraska Extension Educator focussing on water in 2016.

Lancaster County Extension Office
444 Cherrycreek Rd
Lincoln NE 68528-1591