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J-Sputter-Pole Water Distillers

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  • MikeL
    This new type of water distiller is made from pipes and fittings. The name comes from the compound J-shape (looking from the back side of the unit see
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 3, 2005
      This new type of water distiller is made from pipes and fittings. The
      name comes from the compound J-shape (looking from the back side of the
      unit see referenced picture) of the pipes at the end of a pole that
      sputters when in operation. The unit can be made for use with electric
      power or an open flame fire. There is a bit different construction
      depending on the heat source intended. The “Electric J-Sputter-Pole
      Water Distiller” will be described first then the “Open Fire
      J-Sputter-Pole Water Distiller” will be described. See electric at

      See open fire type at http://home1.gte.net/mikelob/JFpole-8.jpg.

      The basic principles of operation are the same for both. The electric
      version will be used to describe how it works. See

      Cold water from the bucket on the step ladder flows down hill by gravity
      and is controlled by the blue gate valve at the bottom of the heat
      exchanger. Cold water flow CW1 goes to CW2 getting hotter and hotter
      as it goes along the heat exchanger to become warm water WW3. At the
      top of the heat exchanger the now hot water begins downward to become
      flow HW4. When this reaches the overflow pipe it fills the lower larger
      1.5” pipe up to the water level indicated then the excess runs out the
      overflow pipe HW5 into a bucket.

      The bottom pipe has a hot water heater filament screwed into the end of
      it that heats the water to a boil. The steam is separated from the
      water by use of a longer large ascending pipe at a 45 degree angle
      (Steam-1). The steam turns the corner and enters the beginning of the
      heat exchanger (Steam-2) see above picture. The heat exchanger cools
      the steam and distilled water drips into the pan on the right.

      For water replenishment details see http://home1.gte.net/mikelob/Jpole-3.jpg

      Hot water from the heat exchanger leaves the exchanger on the side at
      the top and descends to point “A” in the above picture. At this point
      due the open air end of the “T” copper pipe fitting air is allowed to
      mix with the hot water. Between point “A” and “B” as the hot water
      drops air is mixed and some of the more volatile hydrocarbons (oils)
      will escape to the open air. Hot air and gases rise in this tube and
      exit at the top, water drops toward the bottom. At point “B” the water
      level is reached and the excess runs off and down the waste hot output
      pipe. In the process some amount of mixing new water with high
      concentration of salt water happens. This has a tendency to carry off
      some of the salts into the overflow and thus calcium deposits in the
      1.5” boiler pipe are minimized.

      Performance: The maximum rate of distillation for 1500 watts heat source
      is about 12 Oz/10 min when insulated and 11.5 Oz/10 min with no
      insulation. See http://home1.gte.net/mikelob/Jpole-8.jpg

      Use insulation like shown in the picture to keep the heat in. This adds
      about 5 percent to the efficiency of the unit.

      From a cold start it takes about 4 min 10 sec to start producing
      distilled water. From a hot start it takes less than 1-3 min to start
      producing again. The output water coming out of the overflow pipe that
      goes to the hose and then to the 5 gallon bucket is about 180 degree
      Fahrenheit. This cools to 150 to 160 degrees Fahrenheit in the bucket
      depending on how long it was setting in the bucket. Figure on producing
      about 4 Gallons of waste hot water per hour. This can be used for hot
      showers or hot baths or stored in an old insolated hot water heater
      until needed.

      The output distilled water is between room temperature and about 115
      degree F. If it is any hotter than this then not enough cooling water
      flow was used in the heat exchanger.

      In a test run of three hours of continuous running the inside of the
      boiler pipes did accumulate a small amount of deposited salts. I
      suspect this will need to be cleaned out at some long term interval
      depending on hardness of the water. It is interesting to note that the
      water dumped out after this time had only about twice the conductivity
      as local tap water. I measure about 30 ma current flow with the home
      made water tester described in an earlier e-mail made from a digital
      meter and two SS butter knifes.

      The first time used, it took about 30 min of operation before the output
      was measured to be low in resistance (about .15 ma) and the output
      pipes were some what self cleaned by the steam. It took about 2 hours
      of running before the oily taste was mostly gone from the result. I
      recommend using soap and water and cleaning the inside of the pipes as
      you assemble this unit. A heavy grease or oil residue results from the
      thread cutting process when these pipes and fittings were made. This is
      some what difficult to evaporate off during use. You can tell when the
      resulting distilled water has oil in it. Examine the surface of the
      output in a sampling container with a flashlight beam reflecting off the
      surface at an angle. Look for non-uniformity or an oily film. Any oily
      output can be improved by passing the result through an activated
      charcoal filter or a water-oil separating unit.

      The electric hot water heater element after a bit of use is shown in

      Warning: Running the eclectic heat element without water only lasts for
      a mater of seconds before the heater element burns out. It makes a
      popping nosed which is not all that laud. Changing out the heater
      element is the only thing that can be done to fix this. Cost is about
      $8 at Home Depot. You may want to stock up on as many spares as you can

      First rule of operation: Always see a flow coming out of the output
      cooling overflow pipe before turning the unit on. This insures the
      boiler chamber is full of water and the heater filament is covered with
      water and thus will not burn out.

      Construction and design notes: See circuit diagram and picture.

      See http://home1.gte.net/mikelob/J-Pole-Wiring.gif for wiring diagram of
      the electrical heat source and its automatic turn off circuitry.

      If the cooling flow stops then the temperature switch will turn off the
      current flow to the heater element. If the water flow stops totally
      then about 40 sec latter the 150 degree F temperature switch opens and
      shuts off the current to the heater element. The inline relay will keep
      the unit turned off until reset by togging the on-off switch. Looking
      at the circuit above when the temperature switch is opened then voltage
      is applied to the coil of the solenoid that then causes it to open
      circuit the current flow to the heater element.

      It is interesting to note that during operation the water level in the
      boiler area is about 1 inch lower than during non-operation. This is
      due to a back pressure in the steam that builds up due to the smaller .5
      inch copper heat exchanger output pipe. One should adjust the length
      of the pipe at “X” or block up (with wood or a brick) the right end of
      the unit up until the water level is well above the heater filament when
      in operation. See http://home1.gte.net/mikelob/Jpole-9.jpg

      The 1500 Watt filament screws in from the end at “Y” and extend most of
      the way along the 1.5” pipe. The blue gate valve “water flow control”
      is used to adjust the cooling water flow so that the lower end of the
      heat exchanger does not get warm to the touch during operation. This is
      normal about a quarter of a turn open from closed. The temperature of
      the lower end of the heat exchanger just above the gate valve is felt
      with ones hands at regular intervals until a good adjustment is arrived
      at for the cooling water flow.

      Heat exchanger construction one end shown see

      The heat exchanger is made up of two pipes one on the inside of the
      other. Steam flows down the center .5 inch inner pipe being cooled by
      water held around this by a 1 inch outer pipe. The end caps are 1” x
      .5” x .5” copper “T” fittings with the ridge filed off on the inside so
      the .5 inch pipe slips completely through it. The 1 inch pipe is 20
      inches long and the .5 inch is 25 inches long. This or longer will
      work fine.

      For construction of the steam or vapor separator see
      http://home1.gte.net/mikelob/Jpole-16.jpg and

      This sheet metal tube is made to fit the inside of the 1.5” x 1.5” x
      1.5” T. It has holes at the lower (closer to the ground) end so that
      water can enter the boiler chamber. It does not have holes at the other
      (upper) end so that any steam that is made from the electric filament
      will rise up and travel along the 45 degree 1.5” pipe and turn the 90
      degree corner and separate as steam in the longer pipe. The second
      picture shows the sheet metal steam directing tube, with the 1.5 inch by
      1inch reducing bushing and the heater element fully installed.

      Bumper guard see http://home1.gte.net/mikelob/Jpole-17.jpg

      This is what the heater element fully installed looks like and with a
      wood strip held on with a hose clamp for bump protection. The ground
      wire is put under the hose clamp to ground the pipe assembly.

      Construction of water-steam separator see

      During the construction process cut in half a heavy duty stainless steel
      scouring pad (the coarser the better) and stuff this into the end of the
      steam 1.5” pipe at the reducing coupler end (top). In operation this
      helps separate the water from the steam. Sometimes large bubbles of
      steam can form in the water and this causes a surge of both water and
      steam up the 12 inch 1.5” stand pipe. If this surge happens to make it
      to the top of the pipe the stainless steel scouring pad will keep the
      salt rich water from entering the heat exchanger.

      When smaller diameter pipes are used (for the steam separator pipe) or
      high amounts of input heat are used the surging of water and steam
      mixture tends to become more of a problem. Also, soap in the water can
      cause the same sort of problem. Bottom line adjust your pipe size and
      length and heat source to minimize surging effect.

      Waste salts drain see http://home1.gte.net/mikelob/Jpole-18.jpg

      This upside down “T” has two purposes. It helps hold the unit up and it
      allows salts to be drain off when the unit is turned off. Neither one
      are essential to operation. The unit designed for open fire use has a
      clean out plug at this point. The salts tend to deposit on the walls
      of the boiler tube with time. Frequency of cleaning will depend on the
      hardness of the water source.

      Use Teflon tape when assembling the threaded pipes. I don’t recommend
      using pipe dope. This could harden too much and not allow easy
      disassembly (especially for the fire version). When assembling the
      pipes, tight only enough to not leak and to hold its shape while in use.
      During operation there is not much pressure built up inside to cause
      it to leak.

      Parts list for the J-Sputter-Pole Electric Water Distiller: (from left
      to right)
      Quantity -- Price - Description

      Galvanized Steel
      2 -- $1.19 - .75” x 4” steel pipe nipple
      1 -- $0.99 - .75” end cap
      1 -- $1.26 - .75” Tee
      2 -- $0.84 - .75” x 1.5” steel pipe nipple
      1 -- $4.99 - .75” x .75” brass ball valve
      1 -- $1.19 - .75” x 4” steel pipe nipple
      2 -- $2.56 - 1.5” x .75” steel reducing bushing
      2 -- $3.98 - 1.5” x 1.5” x 1.5” Tee
      1 -- $5.47 - 1.5” x 12” steel pipe nipple
      1 -- $2.56 - 1.5” x .75” reducer coupling
      1 -- $0.99 - .75” 90 degree elbow
      1 -- $0.85 - .75” x .50” reducing bushing
      1 -- $0.48 - .50” x 1” steel pipe nipple
      1 -- $2.98 - .50” union
      1 -- $2.76 - 1.5” x 5” steel pipe nipple
      1 -- $2.56 - 1.5” x 1” reducer coupling
      1 -- $1.38 - .75” x 5” steel pipe nipple
      1 -- $1.78 - .75” x .5” x .5” Reducing Tee
      1 -- $0.98 - .5” 90 degree street elbow

      3 -- $0.59 - .5” adapter mail thread and sweat fitting
      1 -- $0.06 - .5” x 1” pipe
      1 -- $0.35 - .5” x 3.75” pipe
      1 -- $0.44 - .5” Tee
      3 -- $0.05 - .5” x .75” pipe
      2 -- $0.25 - .5” 90 degree elbow
      1 -- $0.08 - .5” x 1.25” pipe
      1 -- $2.79 - .5” union
      1 -- $0.49 - .5” 90 degree street elbow
      2 -- $3.94 - 1” x .5” x .5” Reducing Tee (get from a professional pipe
      supply house)
      1 -- $2.80 - 1” x 20” pipe (L-Blue Type $16.48/10 ft)
      1 -- $1.55 - .5” x 25” pipe (L-Blue Type $7.48/10 ft)
      1 -- $0.42 - 1” x 3” pipe slit length wise and flatten into a copper
      plate for mounting hot water heater maximum temperature SW
      1 -- $4.49 - .5” x .5” Gate Valve
      1 -- $1.79 - 3/8” x 3/8” Brass hose Barb and pipe adapter
      1 -- $0.19 - .5” x 3” pipe

      1 -- $8.50 - Relay SPDT 110 Volt AC 275 0217 Radio shack, contacts
      normal closed with no current wired in parallel to get 20 amp rating.
      1 -- $7.97 - Water Heater Thermostat – Lower – goes up to 150 degree F
      1 -- $7.97 - Screw-in Water Heater Element 1500 W – 120 V
      1 -- $7.17 - Number 14 gauge wire 6 ft extension cord with ground wire.
      1 -- $0.79 - Electrical box metal
      1 -- $0.39 - Box cover
      1 -- $0.78 - Light Switch single pole single throw
      2 -- $0.25 - Wire to box 3/8” clamp connectors

      1 -- $2.50 - 3/8” x 5 ft rubber air hose used to supply water from bucket
      1 -- $3.50 - 5/8” x 3 ft to 5 ft heater hose from car or garden hose
      3 -- $0.69 - SS Hose clamps
      1 -- $1.79 - 3/8” x 1/4” Brass hose Barb and pipe adapter (bucket feed
      2 -- $0.12 - .5” washers (one for each side of the bucket)
      1 -- $0.69 - .25” x .25” coupling (nut that holds the washers in place)
      2 -- $3.98 - 5 Gallon plastic bucket.

      Total cost of this approach is about $127.00.


      Open Fire J-Sputter-Pole Water Distiller

      See http://home1.gte.net/mikelob/JFpole-1.jpg

      The principal of operation is the same as the electric version except an
      open file is used as the heat source. Depending on the heat of the
      source the output is more or less than 4 Oz/10 min.

      Front view see http://home1.gte.net/mikelob/JFpole-6.jpg

      The above is a view looking at the front of the unit. A heat shield was
      made out of sheet metal. In this case it was a 3” vent pipe flatten out
      with holes cut for the pipes. The heat shield helps keep the heat
      exchanger and the operator from getting too hot.

      Back view see http://home1.gte.net/mikelob/JFpole-5.jpg

      This view is from the back looking forward toward the fire. The flow
      control for input cooling water and the output flows are all as far as
      possible from the fire.

      Back view of heat exchanger hot water output flow see

      Operates on the same principle as the electric version. Hot water from
      heat exchanger drops down by gravity and mixes with air to replenish the
      water level in the lower pipes and to allow the excess to run off as hot
      water waste.

      Looking down on the right end at the cold water input control valve and
      hot waste water output pipes attached to wooden block see

      This wooden block (two 2”x4” wood blocks glued together) stables and
      holds the unit up so that it stands vertically.

      The bottom 1.5” pipes are the boiler pipes that get hot in the fire see

      Notice the 1.5 inch clean out pipe plug on the right bottom. This is to
      be used to clean out the salts that accumulate at regular intervals.
      The time frame will depend on the hardness of the input water.

      This is a picture of the steam separator that helps direct vapor bubbles
      away from the hot water input pipe. See

      The insert is made of sheet metal. The hole and slot is positioned near
      the bottom.

      This is a view after partly assembling. See

      View from the top down see http://home1.gte.net/mikelob/Jpole-13.jpg

      Parts list for Open Fire J-Sputter-Pole Water Distiller: (from left to
      Quantity -- Price - Description

      1 -- $2.95 - 1.5” 90 degree elbow
      1 -- $2.56 - 1.5” x .75” steel reducing bushing
      1 -- $3.98 - 1.5” x 1.5” x 1.5” Tee
      1 -- $5.47 - 1.5” x 12” steel pipe nipple
      1 -- $2.26 - 1.5” x .75” reducer coupling
      1 -- $0.84 - .75” x 1.5” steel pipe nipple
      1 -- $1.44 - .75” x .5” 90 degree reducing elbow
      3 -- $0.44 - .50” x 1” steel pipe nipple
      2 -- $2.98 - .50” union
      1 -- $2.49 - 1.5” x 4” pipe nipple
      1 -- $1.99 - 1.5” Pipe Plug
      1 -- $0.66 - .75” x 3.5” steel pipe nipple
      1 -- $1.78 - .75” x .5” x .5” Reducing Tee
      3 -- $0.98 - .5” 90 degree street elbow
      1 -- $3.39 - .5” x 18” pipe
      2 -- $0.49 - .5” Tee
      1 -- $0.89 - .5” end cap
      1 -- $0.87 - .5” x 4.5” pipe nipple

      3 -- $0.59 - .5” Adapter mail thread and sweat fitting
      3 -- $0.05 - .5” x .75” pipe
      2 -- $0.25 - .5” 90 degree elbow
      1 -- $0.08 - .5” x 1.25” pipe
      2 -- $3.94 - 1” x .5” x .5” Reducing Tee (get from a professional pipe
      supply house)
      1 -- $2.80 - 1” x 20” pipe (L-Blue Type $16.48/10 ft)
      1 -- $1.55 - .5” x 25” pipe (L-Blue Type $7.48/10 ft)
      1 -- $4.49 - .5” x .5” Gate Valve
      1 -- $1.79 - 3/8” x 3/8” Brass hose Barb and pipe adapter
      1 -- $0.19 - .5” x 3” pipe

      1 -- $2.50 - 3/8” x 5 ft rubber air hose used to supply water from bucket
      1 -- $3.50 - 5/8” x 3 ft to 5 ft heater hose from car or garden hose
      3 -- $0.69 - SS Hose clamps
      1 -- $1.79 - 3/8” x 1/4” Brass hose Barb and pipe adapter (bucket feed
      2 -- $0.12 - .5” Washers (one for each side of the bucket)
      1 -- $0.69 - .25” x .25” Coupling (nut that holds the washers in place)

      Total cost of this approach is about $83.00

      Notes on operation of the open fire unit: I was able to get an average
      output rate of about 4 oz/10min or ½ cup/10min with coals half way up
      the side of the bottom 1.5” boiler pipe with a bit of cross wind
      blowing. More output may be possible with more coals or a hotter fire.
      If air was allowed to come in from the bottom to fuel the flame it
      would be hotter. This would be using the principles of a blacksmith forge.

      Orient the J-Sputter-Pole so that the output is up wind and a minimum of
      ash blows into the output container (found this out the hard way) or put
      a hose from the output it into a semi-closed collecting container. One
      can also block up the output end so that the pipe being heated is tilted
      more horizontal and closer to a low fire condition. If needed, shield
      from the wind the upright 1.5” pipe so it doesn’t cool the steam and
      cause it to drop the distilled water back to the bottom of the pipe and
      thus short circuit the heat exchanger output process. See

      During operation most of the attention is on the fire and keeping it hot
      around the boiler pipe. The second most attention is on the water flow
      adjustment. Besides that the unit is nearly automatic and low tech.

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