Clean drinking water is crucial for the survival of plants, animals, and humans.
If your area’s water isn’t pure and healthy to drink, you will need to find other sources for quality water like bottled, filtered, or purified.
Distilled water is one type of purified water that you boil to remove any contaminants.
It is often used in laboratory experiments, as car coolant, and in steam irons.
If you’ve ever been curious about distilled water and if it’s safe to be used as a drinking water source, you’ve come to the right place.
In short, yes distilled water is safe to drink although it will not contain any minerals and the process of distillation is a bit cumbersome compared to other water treatment options.
So let’s understand what distilled water is and how it’s made.
Table of Contents
What Is Distilled Water?
Distilled water is water that has gone through the process of distillation to remove potential contaminants.
It’s ultra pure and without any minerals.
On the other hand, tap water can contain small quantities of minerals, metals, chemicals, sodium, and potentially other contaminants.
It can be fine to drink tap water if you’re not consuming too much, but consuming large amounts can make you ill if your tap water is contaminated.
Contaminants found in drinking water include:
- microorganisms and bacteria, which occur naturally and in animal waste
- disinfectants like chlorine, which treatment plants add to water to eliminate microbes
- inorganic chemicals like arsenic, asbestos, and copper, which leach into water systems from the ground
- organic chemicals like herbicides that come from crop runoff
So, how does the process of distillation actually work?
How Distillation Works
In the process of distillation, when the water boils, it evaporates into steam.
When this happens, only pure water without impurities is in the form of steam.
Minerals and impurities can’t convert to steam at the boiling temperature of the water, so they remain in the vessel as a liquid.
This is how distillation acts as a water filtration method.
Boiling water also kills any bacteria and viruses in the water and as the steam cools, it condenses back into water. It’s now purified, containing only hydrogen and oxygen.
Some oxygen is also removed in this process, which makes it taste flat.
It’s also important to note that some chemicals can convert to steam at the same boiling point as water so many distilling systems have a carbon filter in place to strain out these contaminants from the condensed water.
After that carbon filtration, the water is finally purified.
This method of water treatment is very effective at reducing a wide range of water contaminants and many countries also use it for desalination, which makes saltwater safe to drink.
Other uses of distilled water are healthcare, fish tanks, and watering plants where there is a need for sterilized water as well as for drinking in some cases.
Is It Safe to Drink Distilled Water?
The short answer is yes, distilled water is safe to drink.
It might taste flat when compared to tap water or filtered water because you have removed all of the minerals, but it’s safe.
Let’s review the basics of different types of water and how distilled water fits into the mix.
Tap water is what comes right out of the faucet. Water treatment plants add chlorine to the water to disinfect it and kill off some of the bacteria. They also add fluoride to prevent cavities and tooth decay. Tap water is usually safe to drink but not as pure as distilled water.
Filtered water is tap water that you run through a filter to remove chlorine and other chemicals. Different types of filters can remove different contaminants. Manufacturers filter bottled water before it’s sold. You can also buy filters to put on your faucet or under your sink. Filtered water is safe, and not as pure as distilled water in some cases, but one of the best options to use at home due to the efficiency.
Purified water is free of any contaminants. There are different ways to purify water, and distillation is one of them. Purified water must meet certain requirements before manufacturers can label it as such. Purified water is usually free of all contaminants.
Distilled water which is purified water, might be safer than tap water in your area if your local water supply is contaminated since it is without any contaminants. It’s simply pure h20.
So basically, distilled water is safe, and much safer than water with contaminants but it’s also not as efficient as most of the home water filters on the market that can get rid of the contaminants causing problems but leave in some healthy minerals.
Distilled water is usually used in medical settings where they need the purest water possible without any possible contaminants.
If you’re looking for the purest water out there, distilling water might be a great solution for your needs.
You might find the initial cost of the distiller to be pricey, but after that, the main expense is heating the water into steam. Since you get pure water as a result, it is worth the investment.
Pros and Cons of Drinking Distilled Water
Some people think that your body needs small amounts of minerals to function naturally.
If you’re solely drinking distilled water, you won’t get those minerals.
Other people think that it’s healthier to only drink purified or distilled water, since you’re putting just pure water into your body.
The truth is that neither of these thoughts is completely correct.
Tap water does give you beneficial minerals like magnesium and calcium, but it’s not absolutely necessary to get minerals from your water.
On the other hand, if you’re drinking only distilled water over a long enough time and you don’t eat healthy, this could cause some issues due to a low amount of minerals.
If you plan to drink distilled water, make sure you’re eating plenty of fruits and vegetables so you’ll naturally get the minerals you need.
When It’s Best Not to Rely on Distilled Water:
If you’re fasting, you should not drink distilled water because you won’t be replacing the missing minerals with food.
Also, athletes shouldn’t drink distilled water because they need to keep their electrolytes balanced.
Lastly, Babies and small children shouldn’t drink distilled water, either.
Distilled water may also absorb elements from the container it’s stored in so if you intend to keep distilled water at home, use a glass container.
If you use a plastic jug, then your water might have plastic or other related chemicals in it by the time you consume it.
- lowers your risk of disease from contaminated water
- reduces the chance of ingesting dangerous chemicals
- promotes healthy kidneys
- tastes flat
- lacks healthy minerals
- may pull minerals from your body
- can absorb plastic if you store it
In summary, there’s no harm in drinking distilled water, but it likely won’t improve your health either. If you eat a balanced diet and don’t mind the flat taste, you can drink distilled water with no problem.
Uses for Distilled Water
Distilled water is safe to drink, but if you’re investing in a distilling system for your home, you might want to use this water for multiple purposes.
Since all of the minerals and contaminants get filtered from distilled water, it is sterile. You can use it to clean wounds and rinse your mouth to eliminate bacteria. You can also use it to wash your skin and sterilize equipment.
You can use distilled water in the kitchen for canning fruits and vegetables. It will help preserve the food and won’t change their taste since there are no minerals or salts for the food to absorb over time.
Distilled water can also be used in CPAP machines.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machines help people with sleep apnea breathe while they’re asleep. These machines have a small water tank that adds moisture to the air that pushes into the user’s lungs.
Distilled water will prevent mineral build-up from damaging this expensive piece of medical equipment.
For this same reason, it’s good to use in humidifiers.
Other Ways to Purify Your Water
If you have contaminated water at home, you can distill your water for personal use but it can be costly and inefficient compared to other water filters.
Distillation also isn’t the most environmentally friendly process, so it’s better to find an alternative filtration option if you’re looking for a long term drinking water solution.
Instead of distilling your water at home, there are other methods to purify your water which are more efficient if you just need drinking water.
Reverse osmosis uses a different process, but the results are like distillation. You’ll run your water through a pre-filter, a carbon filter, and a post-filter. Multiple filters will remove everything from large sediments to small chemical particles.
If you’re worried about missing out on necessary minerals with this process, you can also buy a remineralization filter for your reverse osmosis system. Remineralization adds the beneficial minerals back into your drinking water. You’ll still get pure water, but you won’t miss out on the health benefits of tap water.
You will install a reverse osmosis system under your sink, so filtered water comes right out of your tap. You can flush away the elements the system extracts from your drinking water with your other wastewater.
Deionization is an affordable way to remove salt from water. You can get deionization filter sets that install under your sink or a kit that includes a faucet and tank for external use.
This water is safe to drink, but it may cause you to urinate more often, which can throw off the balance of electrolytes in your body. For domestic use, you’ll usually need deionized water for aquariums and hydroponics.
Because deionized water doesn’t contain any impurities, scientists use it in the biotech industry as a neutral baseline. Deionized water takes on the qualities of what is added to it. Manufacturers use it for cleaning products like glass because it doesn’t leave behind any sediment on the surface.
There are different types of water filters available if you’d rather keep some minerals in your water and remove only the larger impurities.
Activated carbon filters trap impurities and allow water molecules to pass through. Since the filter only captures chlorine and larger contaminates, you’ll still experience the minerals that add a nice taste to your water.
You can add these filters to your faucet, or you can get a pitcher or countertop system with a filter installed.
Sediment filters are often used as pre-filters in activated carbon systems, but you can install them separately as well. They have varying micron ratings, which is the size of the pores in the filter. If you get a lower micron rating, your filter can trap smaller particles effectively.
Fluoride Activated alumina filters treat tap water high in fluoride. The porous aluminum oxide filter has activated alumina granules that absorb the fluoride. It can also remove selenium, arsenic, and thallium from water, but you want to use it with other water filters to ensure you get safe drinking water.
You can see the best fluoride filters here.
Ultrafiltration removes over 99% of contaminants from water. It has membranes that trap large particles while allowing water to flow through. This method does not extract small bacteria and viruses, but it does remove minerals. Your result will taste flat like distilled water but might be more contaminated.
In summary, it is safe to drink distilled water, but make sure you’re eating a healthy diet so you won’t miss out on crucial minerals.
You can check out some of the best water distillers here.
Also, keep in mind that if you’re just looking for clean drinking water then investing in a water filter is probably a better option than a water distiller since they are much more efficient.