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Diagram of simple distillation set-up without a fractionating column often used by chemists. Shown in use.
1. heat source (a Bunsen burner here)
2. distilling flask (a round bottom flask)
3. distilling head
4. thermometer
5. condenser
6. cooling water in
7. cooling water out
8. receiving flask collecting dripping distillate

Distillation is a chemical process where a mixture made of two or more liquids (called "components") with different boiling points can be separated from each other. The mixture is heated until one of the components boils (turns to a vapor). The vapor is then fed into a condenser, which cools the vapour and changes it back into a liquid that is called distillate'. What remains in the original container is called the "residue". A fractionating column (that is a distillation column with more than two outlets) can be used to improve the separation. An oil refinery uses fractional distillation to purify crude oil so that it can become useful and can be used for various things.

This has been used for a long time, to distil alcohol and produce distilled beverages. Distillation is a commonly used operation in many industries.

Distillation can be done anywhere, whether it's in a house or a laboratory, but in most countries it is illegal to distil alcohol without a license. Illegally distilled alcoholic drinks are called moonshine.[1]

Sometimes the desalination of water is done by "distillation". This is a different process that separate a liquid (water) from solids (salts). Alcohol distillation or petroleum distillation is used to separate two or more liquids.

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