Producing Distilled Water In The Laboratory (How Labs Do It And Why)

Importance of Distilled Water

Consumers want to drink clean water all the time. If you are parents of small children, you would want your precious little ones free from sickness due to contaminated water. It is difficult to land in the hospital because of stomach pains.

Plus, it would be an agonizing experience to see your children suffer from frequent injections and blood tests due to the sickness acquired from drinking unclean water.

To ensure that your family will not suffer, many doctors advise drinking distilled water. One doctor explains how clean distilled water is. Dr. David Williams, a world-renowned, leading authority in natural healing, explained why he prefer distilled water over other forms of water purifying and treatment.

He said that even if the water that people drink meets Environmental Protection (EPA) standards, there is still no assurance that the water is safe for drinking. He explained further that 75,000 chemical compounds used by industry and agriculture that has been unregulated together with the non-testing of chemicals for a long time.

EPA has evaluated a small percentage of these chemicals. In addition, 20 billion tons of chemicals and pollutants are added each year.

Furthermore, Dr. Williams explained that the only method that can remove all contaminants is distillation. The simple process of heating the water until it boils and turns into steam can kill bacteria and other pathogens leaving behind heavy contaminants.

Distillation in the Laboratory

Distillation is very important for laboratory purposes. Distillation has been known for thousands of years. It was probably used by Arab chemists to isolate perfumes.

forms a distillate

In modern laboratories, the process of distillation starts with heating a liquid to boil. After the liquid reaches the boiling point, the liquid evaporates, forming a gas. When the vapor cools down, the cooled gas condenses and forms a distillate. This process makes the water pure from contaminants. This process enables two liquids with different boiling points to separate cleanly.

If you want to know how distillation process is done, here is a basic procedure of how to produce distilled water in laboratory settings:

  • First, the calibration of the thermometer has to be checked by placing the thermometer in an ice bath of distilled water. The thermometer has to reach thermal equilibrium. If the measure of the temperature of the thermometer will reach more than two degrees, the thermometer has to be replaced by another and checked again.
  • Second, the distillation flask is filled with no more than two-thirds full of liquid to avoid propelling the liquid to the condenser. Boiling chips should be placed in the distillation flask to prevent superheating.
  • Third, the distillation flask is heated until the liquid boils and bring vapors. The vapors then eventually drip into the collection receiver. The average rate of distillation is 20 drops per minute.
  • Fourth, as soon as the temperature begins to change or stabilize, there should be a collection of drops using a new receiver. The process is repeated all over again until all of the distillate has been collected in discrete functions.
  • Last, before all the liquid is vaporized, the distillation flask is removed from the heat source to avoid igniting or exploding. It should be remembered that distilling to dryness is not allowed. All joints should be secured very tightly and heating in a closed system should not be done to avoid accidents.

The process mentioned above refers to simple distillation. With this illustration, simple distillation is effective when there is a separation of a volatile liquid to a non-volatile substance. It is also effective when separating two liquids will result to a difference of 50 degrees boiling point or more.

Fractional distillation in laboratories

In larger laboratories with larger water needs, they employ fractional distillation.

a simple distillation

To know more about complicated distillation process, fractional distillation is often done by chemical experts. Fractional distillation is almost the same as simple distillation but the only difference is its repetition of the process many times, according to Wired. Thus, this will ensure that your usage of substances due to fractional distillation has no contaminants or other substances.

In fractional distillation, the boiling mixture form vapors that rise into the fractionating column. This condensation is equivalent to a simple distillation. The repeated vapor procedure of the liquids thenresult in vapors that are higher in concentration in the more volatile substances.

The number of times the column will support this process is referred to as the number of theoretical plates of the column. The apparatus that is used in the procedures only differs with fractional distillation. The top of the distillation flask and the underside of the condenser is attached to the packed fractionating column.

This is the simplest form of fractional distillation that is done in labs. It’s still very dangerous and quite tedious. Let’s take a look at some more efficient systems in larger laboratories and plants.

Distillation in Bottler Companies

If you are wondering on how distillation is applied in your bottled drinking water, here is the answer. You may be surprised that only 15% of bottling companies produce distilled bottled waters because of its cost. The equipment is expensive and the process is time-consuming.

The only advantage is through usage of modern technology, the cost can be economical due to lesser waste in producing the water. In addition, any source of water can be produced. The source may come from the city supplies, wells, springs and lakes.

These bottlers companies use two basic types of distillation systems in producing bottled water:

  • Vapor Compression
  • Multiple Effect Vapor Compression

Since this is mechanized, the boiling process begins with both heating elements turned on. The compressor turns on with the liquid ring seal. The steam from the boiling water then flows through a baffling system. After this, it will flow into the compressor. In the compressor, the steam is pressurized.

preheated will enable the distilled water

Further, the pressurized steam transfers its heat to the boiling chamber causing this water to boil. At this stage the condensed steam is considered distilled water. This outgoing hot distilled water preheats the incoming new feed water that will soon be distilled. The incoming water that is preheated will enable the distilled water which is outgoing to cool within 20°F of the incoming feed water temperature.

One gallon of distilled water comes from Vapor Compression distillers which use about 0.12 Kw/H of electrical power. Depending on the electricity rates of your town, power costs could be reduced as little as one cent per gallon.

Another method of distillation in the bottle industry is the usage of Multiple Effect distillers. There is almost nothing that could wear out in this system because of the lack of moving parts. More than one boiler is used to produce distilled water.

With this technology, energy contained in the steam produced in the first boiling chamber is reused to boil more water in subsequent boiling chambers. Multiple Effect systems are very efficient for bottling plants requiring up to 500 gal of purified water a day. Vapor Compression systems are more efficient for larger applications”

Bruce Kucera
Vice President of a prominent water bottling company

Why use distilled water in laboratories?

There are many questions, such as, “Why is it important to use distilled water in laboratory experiments?” This is answered by many chemistry laboratory experiments that require the cleanest and purest water in order to be effective. But be cautious in performing these experiments in your home.

Chemical experts to avoid danger in the lab

Chemical experts to avoid danger in the lab with numerous safety protocols built into the laboratory. Does your home have the same safety measures?

In chemistry experiments, preparation of solutions from concentrated solution requires the usage of distilled water. For instance, producing a concentrated solution that starts out at 5 molar to 1 molar requires distilled water.

For analysis, volumetric analysis is used to determine the concentration of an unknown solution. In order for a volumetric analysis to be effective, there is a need that the glassware be very clean.

Two pieces of glassware are used: volumetric glassware and non-volumetric glassware.

The first contains an accurate volume of solution or deliver an accurate volume of solution, the second does not. Because the pieces of glassware need to be clean, distilled water is used to test its cleanliness and allowed to drain out. The clean glassware could result in an unbroken film. If not, it will form droplets and the thin film will have crinkly edges.

DNA sequencing in the lab with distilled water

If you are in a crime prevention facility or you want a person to be investigated on whether he is the true perpetrator of the crime or not, DNA sequencing is a solution for you.

DNA sequencing also requires the usage of distilled water. It is necessary that no error is found in the laboratory experiment to avoid pinpointing a different culprit. Distilled water is used because little contamination of impure water could affect the experiment.

water could affect the experiment

As an explanation, in the laboratory wherein DNA Sequencing Reactions and DNA sequencing gels are made to read sequencing information, distilled water is used as part of the success of the procedure.

In DNA Sequencing Reactions, after denaturing of the DNA is done, neutralizing the DNA requires the addition of sodium acetate, sterile and distilled water.

In DNA sequencing gels, to be effective in DNA sequence analysis, the first step is to clean the glass plates to be used in the analysis with detergent and water.

After this, to help in with cleanliness, the plates are washed with tap water and distilled water. Finally, to ensure utmost cleanliness, the glass plates are washed with ethanol.

In modern times, it is usable for identifying and purifying organic compounds. It is used by separating non-volatile or less-volatile material.

When a mixture is distilled, the components of compounds with different boiling points separate from the mixture. When there are enough compounds to perform distillation, the distillation method measures the temperature of the vapor above the liquid.

In addition, fractional distillation is use for those mixtures of liquid that have similar boiling points and cannot be separated by simple distillation. Vacuum distillation is used when compounds have high distillation.

Laboratories run on distilled water

There is safety in using distilled water especially for household needs. With the polluted world that you live in, it is always safe to choose the cleanest water suitable especially for those who have sensitive stomachs like patients and children. The process may be tedious but important.

distilled water for household needs

For laboratories, there is no replacement of distilled water to maintain the purity of results in experiments. Contaminants from dirty water could cause different results not suitable for experimental purposes.

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