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Solar water distillation is the process of using the energy from sunlight to separate freshwater from salts or other contaminants. The untreated water is placed into a still basin which absorbs heat, eventually reaching high temperatures, causing the water to evaporate, cool and condense into vapour, leaving the contaminants in the underlying basin. The vapour forms as drops on an overlying cover (usually glass) that are channelled and collected in a separate basin as freshwater.
Solar water distillers are simple and relatively cheap technologies that provide alternative sources of freshwater in water stressed areas. Saltwater or soft water (surface water with few ions) can be used to produce safe drinking water, while more heavily polluted water such as waste water should only be used for non-drinking purposes such as industrial water reuse, unless additionally treated. Small and simple solar water distillers are usually built for single households, though larger systems can also be set up for shared use.