Sorry I didn't reply sooner but I was out boiling yesterday. Thankfully it was a small batch so I wasn't out all day.
Sugar is a natural antifreeze. Put the bucket in the freezer over night. Throw out the ice the next day. Repeat.
This is actually the reason I was done so early was that we had a cold snap and there was an inch of ice on all the sides of my pail so I was able to get rid of a lot of the boiling. Normally, I'm able to get rid of a lot of the water due to ice but this year it has been really warm. I do have a freezer available though and I may as well use it.
I would avoid a water heater for boiling for toxicity sake.
I'm not sure what the inside of a water heater is made of exactly. I think it is lined with a ceramic coating which may be a problem for cleaning but because it is household water I don't think I have to worry about toxicity. I think my biggest worries will be surface area, mounting it and making sure it doesn't scorch.
a reverse osmosis filter
I love this idea, I never thought of this. Now, being as frugal as I am, surely there's a way I can build my own. It may not be able to get as much water out, but there has to be a way to do this without paying the big bucks. I think this will make a good project for next year.
you really should look into getting a typical "commercial style" pan.
I have been looking around at different forums for ideas but I really hate to buy something I may be able to build. I'm not much of a welder but I saw sheets of stainless at the scrapyard so I was thinking of trying my hand at making my own. However, first I need to do some research to see how I would go about doing it.
Thanks everyone for your ideas. If you have pictures of your setup I would love to see them for inspiration.