Water Distillation – overview of the AquaNui brand distiller

Before you choose a water purification method, you need to find out what contaminants are in your water.  Please read this post to learn more about this.  
During distillation, when heated water transitions from a liquid to a vapor, the molecules “let go” of what is NOT water i.e. contaminants.  In the natural water (hydrologic) cycle outside, the vapor condenses into clouds, and from these clouds, we theoretically get pure fresh water rain. Unfortunately, in the Midwest during crop season, there is a high concentration of glyphosate coming down in the rain (another article here).
Ithe air is thick with contaminants (like glyphosate a.k.a. RoundUp) during the warmer agricultural months in the Midwest, the glyphosate will combine with the rain as it condenses and falls through the air.  If glyphosate has a much higher boiling point than water, how is the glyphosate rising with the vapor into the sky?  It doesn’t make sense to me that the glyphosate would rise with the water vapor outside, but wouldn’t rise with the vapor inside a distillation unit; however, I’ve read that while boiling is one way to vaporize substances, phase change from solid to gas only requires energy – some substances need more energy than others.  The sun adds energy to the earth’s surface all the time and causes various things to vaporize in small amounts.  There is such heavy glyphosate use in agricultural areas that this energy can put a lot of the substance into the air for rain to recombine with as its falling through the air.  All this to explain that yes, science and testing says that glyphosate is left behind during distillation.

Water distillers range in size from countertop models to floor models.  They typically consist of:

  • A boiling chamber, where the water enters, is heated and vaporized
  • Condensing coils or chamber, where the water is cooled and converted back to liquid water
  • A storage tank for purified water
If one has fluoride added to their water supply, and access to abundant and cheap energy, and if they feel that this is an energy use their conscience can justify, and a system with the least maintenance is desired, a distiller like the AquaNui might be an okay option: https://myaquanui.com/?a_aid=806874.  If you don’t mind putting in a litle more effort, there are a few other ways that fluoride can be removed — biochar carbon filtering media in particular.  If you don’t have fluoride added to your water supply, I believe water purification needs can be met with a carbon filter potentially combined with other media, perhaps in an under-counter system, or a gravity-fed system.
AquaNui’s distillers are made in the USA.  I would like to ask them where they source the materials as well.
Does Distillation Remove All of the Contaminants?

In a newsletter from Berkey New Millenium Concepts I received recently, I read that distillers can only effectively remove pesticides of the distiller is properly equipped with a gas vent — that distillers don’t remove chlorine, chlorine byproducts, some VOCs, certain herbicides and other chemicals with boiling points lower than or near that of water, and that contaminants that easily turn into gases (gasoline components or radon), may be retained in the water unless the system is specifically designed to remove them. 

AquaNui states that if a contaminant has a lower boiling point than water, it will indeed rise up with the steam into the cooling coil.  It is for this reason that AquaNui uses patented dual vents on the cooling coil to vent off these VOCs.  Any VOCs that get through this process are then removed by the post carbon filter, which is activated carbon, and does not contain silver.  AquaNui felt that they didn’t have bacterial growth in their storage tank nor the carbon filter, even after 5 weeks; however, they only tested for coliform bacteria.  The filter is placed at the very end of the system. 

The boiling point of water is 212 degrees Fahrenheit, or 100 degrees Celsius, but as there is always water covering the heating element (the tank never boils dry), the system does not heat over the boiling point of water.  Glyphosate (the active ingredient in RoundUp weedkiller) boils, or turns into a gas, at 368.6 degrees F (187 degrees C), which is much higher than the 212 F boiling point of water.  Therefore, glyphosate in the source water would never reach the temperature needed to turn into a gas and rise into the system and into the distilled finished product, but what about the hundreds or thousands of other ‘cides’ (pesticides, fungicides, herbicides, insecticides, etc)?  I searched the internet for a list of ‘cide’s and their associated boiling points, and couldn’t find one.  

There are thousands of different types of ‘cides’ and chemicals that we literally pour into the environment (water, air), on a daily basis.  I’ve read that we pour 250 pounds of over 200,000 different types of contaminants, per person, into the the environment each and every day, and that the number and types of contaminants grows each year.  When I asked AquaNui about these other ‘cides’ and chemicals, asking if they knew the boiling points associated with all of these chemicals, so we could know if the distiller was really working to remove all of them, but they said it is impossible to test for all of the thousands of chemicals, and that they did test for various chemicals which is shown in their test results.   They also said that hey generally they find that a lot of chemical ‘cides’ used in landscaping and agriculture, etc, have high boiling points (so that they chemicals won’t evaporate when sprayed in summer heart).

Fluoride
I asked AquaNui to confirm that their distiller can remove fluoride.  They confirmed that their tests results show a removal of over 99.9% of fluoride – see the test results here.  To further clarify, a representative told me:
“Our tests have shown an over 99.9% removal of fluoride and I have included our third party test results.  Fluorosilicic acid (FSA) has a boiling point of 226.4 F (108 C).  The distillers don’t boil dry, so the temp never rises above the boiling point of water, 212 F (100 C), so the FSA remains behind.  Sodium fluoride has a boiling point of 5,432 F (3000 C), so it also remains behind.”
Energy Costs of Distillation
The AquaNui units use 3 kilowatt hours per gallon distilled.  If you used the unit that can distill up to 8 gallons per day, and you used it to full capacity, during peak energy hours, the process would add about $1.60 to your energy bill per day, or approx. $48 per month.  To calculate this, I used my city’s utility electric rates.   The 8 gallon unit draws 8 amps.
On-Peak Energy Costs
Per Day: $1.60  /  Per Month: $48
Off-Peak Energy Costs
Per Day: $0.72  /  Per Month: $21.60
How Much Time Does it Take To Distill the Water?
Here are the distillation rates for their units:
  • Countertop –  produces .8 gallons in 5 ½ hours.
  • 8 gallon unit –  produces 1 gallon in 3 hours, or, 8 gallons in 24 hours
  • 10g gallon unit – produces 1 gallon in 2.5 hours, or, 10 gallons in 24 hours
  • 12 gallon unit – produces 1 gallon in 2 hours, or, 12 gallons in 24 hours
  • Mega 25 unit – produces 1 gallon in 2 hours, or, 12 gallons in 24 hours
How Does It Work In the Home / What is required for Installation?
AquaNui generally recommends one of their automatic units along with a pump run to a secondary faucet at the sink for drinking and cooking water, and a separate whole house filter for the rest of the home.  They also recommend hiring a plumber to complete the install and correctly connect several features to ensure that the tank does not boil dry – there should always be a little bit of water in the tank to keep the heating element covered.  Their pump is a demand pump – as the pressure drops, the pump turns on to bring in more water.  
Does Bacteria Grow in the Tank Which Holds the Distilled Water?
AquaNui tested distilled water, held storage tank, for coliform bacterial growth, and none was found into the 5th week of being in storage tank.  See the test results here.  The presence of coliform bactera may indicate that other pathogenic microorganisms could be present in the water system.  I still feel that bacteria could grow in the tank.  The water may be sterile, but the environment is not, and the storage tank is not hermetically sealed or anything!  I like that they tried to test, but I really feel like the tank would need be cleaned on a regular basis.
The boiling process kills any bacteria and viruses; bacteria need moisture and food to live and grow.  There is moisture in the storage tank, but because the contaminants have been removed, there is no food for bacteria to grow.  Distillation not only kills the bacteria  – it makes the water unsuitable for them to live in.”

Some argue that bacteria recolonizes in the cooling coil in a distillation sytsem.  AquaNui says that they leave an air gap from the boiling tank to the cooling coil so that no bacteria can get up to the cooling coil, and that the boiling process kills any bacteria, and that there is no way for bacteria to colonize or even recolonize the coil.

 

 What Cleaning or Maintenance is Required?
Leftover contaminants will build up in the boiling tank after each use.  In the counter-top AquaNui model, one should drain the tank before every batch to start with less contaminants in the water.  The larger automatic units should be drained once a month at minimum.
Hard inorganic minerals in the source tap water will cake on the sides of the heating element and the walls of the boiling tank.  To clean, fill the boiling tank with a 50/50 solution of warm water and white distilled vinegar and let it soak overnight.  The frequency needed depends on how often the unit is run, and how hard the tap water is.  Once a month is a good baseline for dislodging the inorganic minerals, but should be adjusted based on what is seen in the tank.  Once the tank soaks, the hard inorganic minerals will soften and should pour out alongside the vinegar/water solution.  The boiling tank is removable in the counter-top model, so it is pretty easy to rinse out.  For the larger automatic units, you may sometimes have to pour water into the top of the tank to rinse it out and then use the drain valve in the back of the unit.
Like I said above, AquaNui insists that no bacteria will grow in the storage tank, but I feel that this is impossible, and that it would need to be cleaned at least once a month, similar to how a Berkey water system storage tank must be cleaned with water and vinegar once a month.

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