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An evaporator, distiller or distilling apparatus is a piece of ship's equipment used to produce fresh drinking water from sea water by distillation. As fresh water is bulky, may spoil in storage, and is an essential supply for any long voyage, the ability to produce more fresh water in mid-ocean is important for any ship.

Basic schema of a still.

Although distillers are often associated with steam ships, their use pre-dates this. Obtaining fresh water from seawater is a theoretically simple system that, in practice, presented many difficulties. While there are numerous effective methods today, early desalination efforts had low yields and often could not produce potable water.[1]

At first, only larger warships and some exploratory ships were fitted with distilling apparatus: a warship's large crew naturally needed a large supply of water, more than they could stow on board in advance. Cargo ships, with their smaller crews, merely carried their supplies with them. A selection of documented systems is as follows: