The History of Distilled Water and Distilling Water

According to reliable sources, the water distillation process has been used as a means for producing pure water for over two thousand years. One of the first proponents of distilling water was none other than Julius Caesar, who was believed to have used solar distillation in order to produce drinking water for his Roman legions as they conquered the world. Whenever they set up camp the Romans would rapidly install a solar distillation plant that was highly efficient and capable of producing large quantities fresh water from the sea.


Other disciples of water distillation during this historical times was famously Greek general Alexander of Aphrodisias and another famous Greek from ancient times, the visionary Aristotle even described the basic process of distillation in his Meteorologica encyclopedia.


However, it was only during World War 2 that distilling sea water to fresh water began to reach some form of commercial proportions. Beforehand the practice regarded by most as both time consuming and used fuel levels that were totally out of proportion to the results that the process achieved. A famous saying of these times was that it would "take a gallon of fuel to produce a single gallon of fresh distilled water".


However during the early days of the war, with fuel already becoming scarce a short while before the war, a prolific German born inventor by the name of Dr. Kleinschmidt completed the development of his compression still that was capable of extracting fresh water from either sea water or even water that was contaminated to levels that it was readily drinkable. The doctor's invention, that is known to this day as the Kleinschmidt Still through a process that would compress the steam produced by boiling water was found to be capable of producing close to two hundred gallons of fresh water from sea or sub standard quality water for every gallon of fuel used. Fortunately for the allied troops who fought in World War Two, the young Kleinschmitt’s parents emigrated to the US in 1884 when the prodigy was only eight years old and had not quite got into invention mode.


During World War 2 the Kleinschmidt Still became a much cherished and well utilized piece of standard equipment on all Allied vessels as well as on trucks and trailers used to transport ground forces. As in the days of the Romans whenever a unit would stop to rest even for a few hours, a source of water would be found and rapidly purified through distillation to provide pure drinking water for the thirsty troops as well as allowing them a well earned shave and an opportunity to wash up.


When peace broke out in 1945, the Kleinschmidt Still was not cast aside instead remaining in use till well into the nineteen sixties on naval craft as well as in the merchant navies of the World to provide constant sources of fresh water for those onboard. Since then, condensed water has found uses in industry, science and medicine. While the process being constantly updated over the years, it still bears some remarkable consistencies to the process used by Julius Cesar more than two millennia ago.