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The Good: Water is one of the top priorities in bad situations and this well-made distiller allows you to purify water in almost any situation.
The Bad: It does require two pots which are not provided and the cost for the Survival Still is pretty high.
My Summary: When it comes to water, this device will provide some of the cleanest in almost any situation. The cost is certainly a factor though.
Detailed Review: Survival Still – Non-electric, Stainless Steel Emergency Water Purifier
What is the Survival Still?
The Survival Still is one of the few products on the market that allow you to distill water without electricity. This is done by putting the Survival Still on top of a pot of contaminated water over a heat source (fire in the case of electrical outage), and allowing the water vapor to re-condense on the bottom of another pot. It then runs out a spout into your collection vessel. To see what comes in the box, check out our Survival Still Unboxing.
Who is the Survival Still For?
The Survival Still is for the prepping community. It’s use is primarily based on the idea that electricity, for one reason or another, is not readily available.
Using The Survival Still
To see the Survival Still in use, watch the video below. Before you use the Survival Still, read the whole user’s manual front-to-back. There is a lot of important and useful information in it. One of the most important things to keep in mind when using the Survival Still in an actual emergency is this from the manual (Page 11):
3. Bring the water in the Bottom Pot to a rolling boil. Allow the water to boil until any strong smells are gone from the water, at least 5 to 7 minutes. IMPORTANT NOTE: This operation should be done in a well ventilated area.
This is called “Off-gassing”. The purpose for it is to allow any chemicals or volatile compounds that would have evaporated into your distilled water to evaporate into the air instead. This is similar to how alcohol distillers will throw out the first couple of ounces of their distillate as it contains methanol, which causes blindness.
Video of Our Survival Still Test
Manufacturer’s Video of Explaining the Survival Still’s Use
What Can You Distill with the Survival Still?
The Survival Still is very versatile in what you can process through it. In my video above, I used apple juice in place of soiled water. You could also process salt water, pond water, pool water, urine and just about any other liquid containing water. It is worth noting that the user’s manual only advises that you distill potable water.
It is intended only for water distillation. In fact, the user’s manual is quite clear that you aren’t to use it for any other purposes. I imagine this has a lot to do with alcohol distillation laws. While it is only intended to distill water, I see no technical reason why it couldn’t also distill alcohol. Obviously, this would need to be done in accordance with all laws in your location and most likely would void any warranty that you have.
Another Note on Alcohol Distillation
In addition to voiding your warranty and the need to follow all laws, alcohol distillation can be very dangerous. Think about it, you’re exposing flammable liquid to heat! On top of that, you can be poisoned if you distill alcohol improperly. I won’t go into all of the details, all I’m trying to say is that alcohol distillation requires knowledge and shouldn’t just be undertaken without that knowledge.
How Much Water Can You Distill with the Survival Still?
Based on my testing, running the Survival Still around the clock, you should be able to produce 8 quarts of water per day which is enough water to support 4 or more adults depending on their water needs. Again, this isn’t me theorizing, my video above shows you my results.
The manufacturer claims that when you learn how to use the tool correctly, you can probably get around 14 to 16 gallons in a 24 hour period. I’m not sure if that is possible, but I’m sure with enough understanding, someone can get much higher yields than I accomplished. I just threw everything together on the stove and started recording.
Where is the Survival Still Made?
The Survival Still is made in the United States of America.
My Personal Complaints
I really don’t have much in the way of complaints. That is most likely because there isn’t a ton of competition in the non-electric water distilling business. There’s only one other primary competitor that I came across which was the WaterWise 1000. I didn’t like the WaterWise 1000 because it looked a lot more breakable and cost around $100-$150 more.
Without much to compare it to, I think the Survival Still is one of the best options for non-electric water distillation. I was happy with the results of my testing and think that it will serve me well in the future.
Other Peoples’ Complaints
The Survival Still is Too Expensive
This is the primary complaint I come across. I understand that people have budgets. The funny thing about this complaint though is that people always talk about things not being made in America, but then in the next breath complain that something is too expensive when it is made in America.
It’s expensive creating a product and bringing it to market. Not only do you have the costs of filing for a Patent which typically costs 5 figures, but you have the costs to get the device manufactured in the United States. Labor in the United States is not cheap. There are a lot of costs for labor beyond payroll. Next, you have to consider that this is not a mainstream device, which means a smaller market to sell to.
If you want made in America, be prepared to pay for it, and that’s coming from a guy who bought 2 Survival Stills at the full price. The way that I think of it goes like this: How much would you be willing to pay for clean, drinkable water if none were available? If your answer is a high number, then this device is probably for you.How much would you be willing to pay for clean, drinkable water if none were available? Click To Tweet
It Doesn’t Distill Fast Enough
In one of the complaints, a guy states that after 5-6 hours on a propane burner, he only yielded a quart (4 cups) of water. In my video above, I distilled 1 cup in 40 minutes. If I run it for 5.5 hours, I will yield over 8 cups, or 2 quarts of water, which is more than many adults drink in a day, even though it is the recommended amount.
In a survival situation, I imagine we could survive off of much less. I’m not sure what that guy was doing, but my test was done on an electric burner. A propane flame can get much hotter than my electric burner which would evaporate water at a faster speed. The fact that I was able to double his output leads me to believe he must have done something very wrong.
Don’t just take my word for it, watch my video higher up in this article. I’m not just making claims, my video shows a time lapse of the distiller at work. One Survival Still can absolutely process enough water for 2 or more adults just running it partly throughout the day. It just depends on each person’s water needs.
It Doesn’t Work As Well As My Electric Water Distiller
This is something that I plan to test, but I surely would hope for an electric distiller to work better. An electric distiller is a well-insulated system. It will work with far more efficiency than a campfire, or even boiling water on an electric range.
The Survival Still does not exist to replace electric distillers at home. It exists to cleanse water during bad times. If you have no electricity, the Survival Still will work better than your electric still, that’s a promise.
It’s Just 2 Dog Bowls Put Together / I Can Make This In My Workshop
People, generally, say these thing in jest. It’s a longer way of saying “it’s too expensive for me.” There’s nothing wrong with this product being too expensive for someone, but to suggest you can simply whip one up is a bit of a stretch for me to believe.
Firstly, any person who values their time will determine that the cost of their time far out-weighs the cost of buying one of these guys. Even if a person did it, I would want to see a side-by-side comparison of the efficiency.
Secondly, someone can only copy the Survival Still because someone was clever enough to think of it in the first place. Where were these workshop gurus before the Survival Still was made? I’d love to see the inventions they’ve made and successfully marketed. I’ll never discourage a person from DIY solutions that can save hundreds of dollars, but I think it’s unfair to junk a product simply because you possess the skills that many other people don’t.
Do these people also give Zippo lighters low ratings because they can start a fire with a bowdrill?
Closing Thoughts on my Review of the Survival Still
The Survival Still is not a budget friendly piece of gear, but I greatly respect what they’ve accomplished with it. Water is a primary core to survival, which is why I spend more money in this area of my preparedness plan. I could have spent just as much on a filtration system, but I think the Survival Still gives more versatility.