Water (H2O) is a V-shaped molecule consisting of one oxygen and two hydrogen atoms. Due to its shape and chemistry, water molecules behave like magnets. When charged ions of sea salt (sodium and chloride) dissolve in water, the molecules rush to embrace them – give them a hug. Water holds on very tightly to fellow ions which makes it very hard to separate them again. When producing drinking water from sea water (desalination by reverse osmosis) you need special types of membranes, and a lot of energy to remove salt from surrounding water. A lot of energy means lots of emissions and money. That’s why we should try to purify and reuse fresh water resources, before turning to sea water desalination.
However, if there really is no other option, and you need to turn salt water into drinking water, here are two options to do it yourself:
- Using a pot and a stove
If you have access to a pot and a stove, there are six relatively easy steps to be followed to get drinking water:
- Place a heat-safe cup into a large pot.
Place the cup into the middle of the pot.
- Pour the salt water into the pot.
Make sure that you don’t spill any salt water in the cup.
- Place the lid of the stove upside down on the pot.
- Bring the water to a slow boil.
- Watch the pot as the water condenses.
- Use the water collected in the cup.
- Using solar desalination
In case you are out in the wilderness and have no access to a pot and a stove, then solar desalination is an option:
- Collect salt water in a bowl or container
- Place a cup or smaller container in the center
- Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap
- Place a rock or weight in the center of the plastic wrap
- Place the salt water bowl in directly sunlight
- This method takes significantly longer than the previous one, but if you’re patient enough, the cup will fill with water which is safe to drink and completely desalinated.