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Prepper projects: How to make a DIY compact desalination kit
By Virgilio Marin // Nov 18, 2020

Saltwater purifiers are essential survival tools for preppers. While it’s preferable to source your drinking water from lakes and streams, it’s best to be prepared when your only option is salt water.


Converting salt water into fresh water requires removing the dissolved salt from the former. This can be done through thermal distillation, where salt water is heated to produce vapor in a vessel that collects the salt. The following DIY desalination kit works under the same principle. (h/t to UrbanSurvivalSite.com)

How to make a DIY compact desalination kit

You’ll need the following tools and materials for this desalination kit:

  • 1 non-insulated, stainless steel water bottle with a metal lid
  • 4 feet of flexible copper tubing 1/4 of an inch thick
  • Right angle brass compression fitting with 1/4 inch openings
  • Lead-free plumbing solder
  • Soldering paste flux
  • Fine grit sandpaper
  • Butane torch
  • Drill
  • 1/4 inch drill bit
  • 1/16 inch drill bit
  • Pipe cutter

Follow the steps below to get started:

  1. Remove any rubber or plastic gasket from the metal lid so the gasket doesn’t get damaged.
  2. Drill a 1/4 inch hole through the top of the lid.
  3. Using the 1/16 inch drill bit, drill a second hole near the rim to let heat escape while soldering.
  4. Cut a length of copper tubing that will emerge 1/2 inch from both the top and bottom of the lid.
  5. Cut 2 small pieces of solder and wrap them around the tubing on the top and bottom of the lid.
  6. Coat the solder with flux and melt the solder to create a weld.
  7. Solder and seal the 1/16 inch hole.
  8. Re-attach the gasket after the lid has cooled and screw the lid back on the bottle.
  9. Attach the right-angle compression fitting to the tube at the top of the lid. Remove the little piece sticking out at the right end of the fitting and put a small piece of rubber onto the locknut to make a watertight seal.
  10. Take the copper tubing and wrap it tightly around the bottle 8 or 9 times. Bend the top of the tubing up along the bottle and the other end down.
  11. Remove the coiled tubing from the bottle and attach one end to the brass fitting. Tighten.

Follow the steps below to test your compact desalination kit:

  1. Remove the rubber from the locknut and fill the bottle with salt water. Suspend the bottle over an open fire or a fire contained in a can. You can also use a solar reflector oven to heat the bottle, although this apparatus will paint your bottle black.
  2. Set a container at the end of the tubing protruding away from the bottle. As the water begins to steam, it will condense as it travels through the tubing and drip as fresh water into your container.
  3. To better condense the water, wrap the coils with a wet rag or immerse half of the coiled tubing in a pan of cold water so the bottom is surrounded by water.
  4. Remove the bottle from over the fire before the bottle runs dry. Otherwise, the salts might harden on the bottom of your bottle.

Before drinking the distilled water, add a splash of the remaining salt water to enrich it with trace amounts of electrolytes. These are minerals that contribute to the normal functioning of your cells, such as sodium and magnesium. (Related: Safety first: Top 8 mistakes to avoid when harvesting rainwater.)

Add this portable desalination kit to your bugout bag so you’re prepared in case the only nearby source of water is the sea.

Sources include:



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