How can I get a vector from a float?

I’m trying to find the vectors for the distance field so I can create a flowmap that pushes outward or inward for objects. The distance from surface outputs a float or white/black value. I’m not all that great with math but isn’t their some way to figure out the vectors using distance between two different distance to surface values or subtracting them? I want to have a range of colors that will push away or flow towards the object. Thanks for any help.

You are thinking the right way. To get a vector you would need to sample distance field twice.
There is a good forum thread about distance field water flow material, that can help you.