View Full Version : Experience with Water Distillation Units?

Jeff Dyck
9-Jan-2006, 08:15

Since moving earlier this year, I have found that the municipal water coming into my house is terrible. Does anyone have any experience with small water distillation units that would would appropriate for a home darkroom? I am looking for a recommendation on a relatively inexpensive (<$400) unit. I don't need a lot of capacity - just enough to produce the water to make up chemicals.


Dan Fromm
9-Jan-2006, 08:32
Have you considered a deionizer or a reverse osmosis unit?

Eric Brody
9-Jan-2006, 08:35
I use distilled water only for mixing my xtol, not for my entire darkroom water supply. I use a Sears unit that produces about 2-3 liters at a time, it takes a few hours. It looks like a slightly large drip coffee maker and cost in the neighborhood of $100. It works quite well for me. I used to buy water at my local supermarket at $0.89/gallon. At some point, the Sears unit will pay for itself. It does use fair amounts of electricity, of course.

I just checked the Sears site; it's the Kenmore Water Purifier, Sears item #03234480000, Mfr. model #34480, on sale for $99, regularly $140 and no I do not work for Sears, in fact, I don't work, I'm lucky enough to be retired... and not from Sears.

Hope this helps.


Jeff Dyck
9-Jan-2006, 08:47
Dan -

I have not looked at revere osmosis units, but am open to the idea if others have had good success with them. I was operating under the impression that these units do not completely remove disolved minerals from the water and do not produce the same quality of water obtained through distillation (is this not correct?). To be quite honest, I am not too thrilled about the notion of having to stock and regularly change filter cartridges either...


9-Jan-2006, 08:49
During the Summer I use the water from our dehumidifier. You just have to keep the coils and collector clean, which one should do anyway.

Aaron van de Sande
9-Jan-2006, 08:51
I don't know how good they are but the price is right-

Eric Woodbury
9-Jan-2006, 10:27
I understand the Sears unit is very popular as you can distill other products, too.

9-Jan-2006, 10:28
That's one way to pay for the electricity.

9-Jan-2006, 11:14
If you own your own place there's always water softeners at between $400-$500 and really easy to install. I use potassium chloride for backflushing instead of rock salt and I'm not bothered by water spots, and my film development times are shorter than a friend's time who uses tap water. The electricity usage is minimal and expense for the potassium chloride is about $7 month.

9-Jan-2006, 11:27
below is a pdf about deionisation:

deionisation pdf (http://www.coleparmer.com/catalog/0304_pdf/A-2053.pdf)

the website for their products is www.coleparmer.com (http://www.coleparmer.com)

Bruce Watson
9-Jan-2006, 12:04
Unless you are doing a pretty good volume, it's cheaper to just go to your local market and buy a few gallons of steam distilled water. I used to be able to get it for about $0.60/gal, but it's up to $0.95/gallon now. Are you using more than 400 gallons a year?

John Kasaian
9-Jan-2006, 12:12
Theres far more rewarding things to distill than water;-)

I get mine from the store and use it for mixing chemicals. Negatives and prints get a rinse to wash away the crud my local water district feels is acceptable for poisoning it's customers.

David Vickery
9-Jan-2006, 13:07
I installed a reverse osmosis unit for my kitchen sink, refrigerator and my darkroom. The unit that I installed reduced the Stuff in our tap water from between 500-600 ppm down to between 10-12 ppm. The RO water tastes great and I use it for all chemistry mixing and many working strength chemical baths. If you want good clean water for your kitchen and your darkroom then I would suggest the RO systems. I installed a second, extra large tank in mine so that there would be plenty of RO h2o available for both uses.

Scott Knowles
9-Jan-2006, 18:00
First, you can buy a lot of distilled water from the vending machines (you supply containers) or by the gallon before a home water treatment system pays for itself, including electricy and upkeep, unless you consume a lot of the water for other purposes. If you want a home unit, as suggested, read the details with the product. Only a reverse osmosis system will produce true distilled water, which should be less than 2-3 ppm total dissolved solids, and many organic and inorganic compounds. I personally wouldn't recommend water softeners as they simply replace one compound with another to soften the water, the total concentration won't really change, and worse yet, they dump very concentrated, backflushed saline water into the sewer system. This may help your laundry and such, but doesn't help the environment. If you have access to a Specific Conductance meter, you can test the water from the various products or outlet machines. You can save water samples, the concentration won't change over a moderate amount of time, such as days to a few weeks.

Caroline Matthews
9-Jan-2006, 19:13
I still get distilled water at WalMart for $ .58/gallon. You can buy a lot of water for the price of a still, and still (!) not take the risk of repairs.

Henry Ambrose
9-Jan-2006, 20:04
My story is similar to David Vickery's - mine's a GE from Home Depot, I think they're around $200 now. It hooks up under the kitchen sink and comes with its own small faucet. The "product water" tastes great and there's plenty of it for drinking, cooking and chemical mixing. I change the filters yearly, the RO membrane is self cleaning. RO units like this provide water that is plenty "pure" for darkroom work. Scientific units like the ones at Cole Parmer are overkill, which you may have figured out if you saw the prices.

Conrad Hoffman
9-Jan-2006, 22:01
Fortunately I have very good tap water, but my dad up in Maine uses a small cartridge type RO unit. It works great, but remember that they waste far more water down the drain, than they produce. Distilled from the store is probably more cost effective for most people, especially if you consider RO installation and maintenance.