Chemguide: Core Chemistry 14 - 16

Simple distillation

Simple distillation is what you would use to get, for example, pure water from sea water. There is only one liquid present.

Getting pure water from sea water

If you boil sea water, the water would boil off leaving the dissolved solids (mainly salt) behind. What you need to do is not let the steam escape, but condense it back to water again, but away from the salt.

This piece of video looks a bit old-fashioned, but contains exactly what you need to know with no distractions.

Water always runs through a condenser by being passed into the physically lower side-arm, and out of the higher one. That means that there will always be water in the condenser even if the flow from the tap is interrupted.

Out of interest, we often put some pieces of broken porcelain in the boiling flask. This makes the boiling smoother.

The thermometer isn't strictly necessary for simple distillation, but we often put one in. It is very necessary for fractional distillation coming up on the next page.

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