The Distillation of Rainwater for Many Processes
The practicing herbal worker will need plenty of high-quality water from a quality, reliable, known source. Whether submersion of ash to realize our salts for our remedies to washing flasks and lab equipment, good water needs to be inadequate supply as our works progress.
We may also use water as a solvent in our extractions. We can water down solvents like ethyl alcohol, creating the necessary ratio for essences. The list increases for the need for good quality purified water. Of course, we could choose to use tap water. Still, the quality will always be questionable, not to mention added chemicals and constant re-processing. Tap water is not conducive to remedies for health and well-being.
I personally only believe in the use of collected rainwater that has not been in contact with metal or the ground. For this, we are going to need the correct setup for collection. More on this topic I wish to share in future posts. We distill our collected rainwater under low heat; steam distillation is always best. This way, we have complete control of procuring pure water for our processes.
The collected rainwater should pass, which tests no EC on an Electro Conductivity meter, which means no heavy metals or contaminants. Should we wish to drink distilled rainwater for health reasons, it is wise to remember that our distilled rainwater, or any distilled water for that matter, will strip the body of essential minerals. So should we use distilled water for drinking we balance it with a pinch of good quality sea salt?
We'll be coming across many uses for good quality distilled water again and again as we explore more workings.
The initial collection of rainwater
The collection of the rainwater is as simple as setting up a tarpaulin and a collection vessel. If we can we collect this water on thundery days. It is said to contain a materia a secret fire ". In saying that normal rainy days are excellent. If possible coupling this collection with astrology, collects more power to our work as astrological timings are said to put much favour in gathering the necessary energies " allies " aid toward our workings.
Using candles for heating
We fill the flask and place an Alembic head on. Filling the bath with water I use candles for heat. We begin a very slow distillation which takes many days. We keep the temperatures purposely low as the Alchemists say all things have life and all things have a volatile, most subtle, subtle, gross and grosser. We want to keep the volatile because sometimes we will use this in tinctures, essences etc.
The distillation setup with Alembic head Baine Marie, condenser and receiving flask.
The Baine Marie has a jacket which keeps the heat in. This ensures we use fewer candles. After much experimentation we found 3 candles delivering the best heat. I need to modify this setup somewhat. I find that I am always looking for safer, more efficient ways to work in the lab.
The receiver that collects the distillate.
We place a receiver on the end of the condenser. This collects the distillate safely. It needs constant monitoring as some fractions come over quicker than others. Water can be an entire working in itself. Maybe later we will explore that and create a post. In summer we will place the receiver into a water bath too with some ice. This is because the temperature at the Alembic head is higher, so too the condenser and hence the receiver.
The balloon effectively seals the system.
We run a sealed system. Water can be used as a solvent the Alchemists say. That being the case some fractions will be more volatile than others. A sealed system prevents any escape of such volatiles. It has other practical uses like keeping small beings out too.
The sealed baine Marie omits any evaporation of the water.
The seal around the baine Marie keeps the heated water in and from evaporating out. This would mean I would be having more work to do also it would raise the humidity in my lab and cause mold growth.
The condensation collects inside the Alembic head.
Condensation in the Alembic head. Watching distillations of solvents including water can be mesmerising process. Especially if the spirits are extremely volatile. But that's for another post. When I switched to Alembics I promised I would never work without one again. Truly I don't know what it is but I feel they really connect one to the work.
The unprocessed rainwater settles an earth.
The unprocessed rainwater is kept in a brown demijohn and kept out of sunlight and warmth. We don't want the volatiles evaporating. After a short time if we shake the vessel we see a sediment has formed. This is an earth a fixed aspect.There are also other fractions called earth. Water as has been shown by Japanese researcher Masaru Emoto. Research to come.
We distill 4 litres at one time.
I go through a lot of distilled rainwater in my lab. So I am always putting away the space and equipment to keep a constant supply going. In the work with salt good quality distilled rainwater is essential so we are not adding elements foreign to the original matter, as best we can. Water holds much minerals in the form of salts. We can see this when at the end of the distillations we see a fixed salt in the bottom of our flasks.
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