Is distilled water safe to drink? What about purified water – what exactly is that? What factors are involved in the distilled water vs. purified water debate? These questions arise because people are unsure of the difference between distilled water and purified water – and why they might need them at all!
Here, we shall answer the following questions:
- What is distilled water and is it safe to drink?
- What is purified water and how is it different from distilled water?
- Ultimately, which of these options is most healthy for me to drink?
First, let’s look at the difference between distilled water and purified water.
What is Distilled Water
Distilled water is generated by heating water to boiling point. This water vapor, or steam, is passed through a cooled pipe that condenses it back to liquid water. In the case of commercial production of distilled water, there may be many such pipes that maximize the production. The source of the water is irrelevant – sea water and tap water both end up in the same drinkable form once distilled.
In fact, the source of the water makes no difference to its quality once distilled. You can distill water from any source – even poop! If you don’t believe that water can be distilled from human feces, then check out this video showing Bill Gates drinking poop! This is definitive proof of the purity of distilled water. It was also published in the UK BBC News Here.
Normal tap water, water from springs and streams and even sea water contain dissolved solids such as salt and other minerals. They are also likely to contain solids that may or may not be visible to the human eye. These solids can take the form of algae, bacteria or even viruses.
Such water sources may also contain volatile substances with lower boiling points than water. Chlorine is one of these – intrinsically a dissolved gas, it can pass through the distillation process and end up in the distilled water. Commercial water distillation processes generally remove such dissolved contaminants by means of ‘scrubbers’ and filters.
What is Purified Water?
Firstly, purified water is not the same as filtered water as many people believe. Filtration can generate purified water free of solid contamination and other contaminants. However, filtration does not necessarily provide water as pure as purified water. All purified water meets the standards of filtered water, but the reverse is not the case. Distilled water is the ultimate form of purified water and was also the original way of purifying water. But there are other ways!
Other Ways of Purifying Water
Among these ’other ways’ are reverse osmosis, capacitive deionization, micro- and ultra-filtration, ultraviolet oxidation and even ionizing the water using electrodes. Not only that, but the term ‘purified water’ is not simply a generic name for water made purer by any of these means. It also has a regulatory meaning.
For water to be legally classified as ‘purified’ it must contain no more than 10 parts per million (ppm) of dissolved solids. Such purified water contains less dissolved solids than filtered water, tap water or spring water. 10 ppm is the same as one part of contaminant to one hundred thousand parts of water (0.001%). There is no such legal definition for distilled water. However, if carried out efficiently, distilled water would contain 0% solids or 0 ppm.
Distilled Water vs. Purified Water
When it comes to comparing distilled water and purified water, much depends on why you are comparing them. Is it for the purity of the water (distilled water wins) or the water with most mineral content (purified water wins.) Unlike distilled water that can originate from any source, purified water originates from a spring, a surface water source or even a tap.
Purification removes almost all impurities so the source doesn’t matter. That said, many purified water suppliers ensure that the water they use meets the EPA statutory drinking water standards before passing it through the purification process. After purification, over 99.5% of all impurities within the water are removed. In many cases, purified water is the benchmark for the purity of other forms of drinking water. Distilled water meets these standards easily, although purified water is more natural.
Prod and Cons of Distilled Water
Here are some of the positive and negative aspects of drinking distilled water as opposed to purified water,
- Free from parasites, bacteria, viruses and other pathogens.
- Free from heavy metals, herbicides, pesticides and other organic and inorganic contaminants.
- Generally tasteless and chlorine-free unlike tap water.
- Recommended for detoxification: distilled water absorbs toxic substances and eliminates them via urine.
- Distillation removed minerals beneficial to health.
- Distilled water is generally tasteless and less palatable than spring water.
- Distilled water is slightly acidic, as opposed to the body’s need for neutral or slightly alkaline water.
- Unless your diet provides sufficient inorganic minerals, you may have to take a mineral supplement to make up for those lacking in distilled water.
- Distillation uses a lot of energy for the amount of water produced: it is not an energy efficient process.
- Water purified by reverse osmosis, ion exchange or other physical chemical means is purer than filtered water.
- Purified water is as free from the same bacterial and parasitical contamination as distilled water is.
- Purified water is also free from heavy metals, pesticides and other toxic components.
- While perhaps not as free from all dissolved solids as distilled water should be, purified water is still a very healthy way to drink water – or even to use it for cooking as some people do.
- Purified water can be a continuous process, using a minimum of energy to generate pure water.
- As with distilled water, purified water lacks the minerals essential for good health.
- Purified water is also slightly acidic due to the alkaline salts being removed during the purification process.
- You may also require a mineral supplement if you rely on purified water for all the water you regularly consume.
- The level of ‘purification’ in this type of water may not be the same over different brands.
- Relies on removing impurities from water, than removing the water from the impurities.
Distilled Water vs. Purified Water Which is the Better?
There is little difference between the two, although with purified water you are relying on the various processes (reverse osmosis, ion exchange and others) to remove contaminants effectively. Distillation works the opposite way. It removes the water from the contaminants and then condenses it back into the pure liquid water.
Which is best? That is very much a matter of personal preference. Many people are happy with ‘purified water’ while others prefer the apparent security of distilled water. They feel that boiling water into steam, and then cooling the steam back into the water, is the safer and healthier way of removing contamination.
Water Vapor and Steam: Water vapor is colorless and you cannot see it. Steam is water vapor that is condensing back into water: it is a mixture of water vapor and tiny condensed water droplets. Steam is just as pure as the evaporated water that created it.
Negative Aspects of Drinking Distilled Water
By definition, distilled water contains no minerals. When you drink distilled water, it is sure to dissolve some of the minerals you take in your diet and pass it out in urine. What this means is that drinking distilled water will result in partial loss of your mineral intake, although only a very small one.
Many pollutants are added by an industry to our water supply every year and are leached from rocks and mountains by rainwater into rivers and reservoirs. Some of these are radioactive substances and others are harmful heavy metal salts (e.g. lead, mercury, cadmium and chromium). You can avoid ingesting such harmful chemicals by drinking distilled or purified water.
Purified water might be safer to drink since it contains essential electrolytes that are missing from distilled water. This depends a great deal on the manufacturer! Not all are the same. Distilled water is ideal if you need to drink water to wash out toxins from your body. If you are detoxing, then distilled water will help you to flush away the toxins in your blood and digestive system.
Distilled Water is Not Perfect
Despite all of the above, distilled water is not perfect. It has some issues. It is safe to drink, sure – no matter its source as you have just seen on the Bill Gates video. There are no health risks involved in drinking distilled water. The only drawback is that distilled water contains no dissolved solids. No poop for sure, but also no minerals.
Tap water and bottled water contain minerals such as calcium, sodium, potassium and magnesium. You should also get all these minerals from a normal healthy diet. Few people would use distilled water for boiling their vegetables or making coffee or tea – although some do.
So let’s get back to the original question: Is distilled water safe to drink? Yes, it sure is! There are no significant health risks involved in drinking distilled water. This is particularly true if you eat an otherwise healthy diet to ensure you get the necessary minerals that tap water and bottled spring water would normally contain. In fact, distilled water is likely more healthy than the water from your tap. Purified water can be just the same, and it may boil down to a matter of personal preference.
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Safety of Distilled Water
We re often asked questions regarding the benefits of distilled water and if distilled water is safe to drink. Here are some of these FAQs and our answers to the question “Is distilled water safe to drink?”
1. Why is distilled water better than filtered water?
Water filters can only remove a certain amount of pollutants and contaminants. Any soluble pollutants will pass through the filter, as will bacteria and other organic pollutants that are smaller than the filter pores. Distilled water leaves all of these behind when the water boils and is condensed into pure water. Not only that, but bacteria can thrive in the filters and pass through into your drinking water.
2. If distilled water removes all dissolved solids, doesn’t it make this waterless nutritious?
Perhaps, but that is not an issue. Very little of the minerals you consume actually comes from water. Around 95% comes from the food you eat. You should not regard water as a source of nutrition but as a source of hydration.
3. Why not use the reverse osmosis system?
Reverse osmosis is a form of filtration but on a smaller scale. It is unable to purify your water to the same extent as distillation does. Osmosis systems can get clogged with bacteria, and make them more dangerous to health than tap water.
4. I have read that distilled water leaches healthy minerals from my body. Is this true?
NO WAY is this true! Water filter companies and companies promoting other forms of ‘purifying’ water likely make such claims in order to take people’s eyes away from their own shortcomings! There have been no scientific publications or studies that have verified that drinking distilled water leaches minerals from your body.
5. Why does distilled water taste flat?
It doesn’t! Distilled water does not taste flat, other than in the sense that it is not sparkling. Supermarket water that has been lying around for weeks or even months before being purchased might taste flat. Distilled water tastes no more flat than tap water.
6. Distilled water contains no fluoride. Is that not bad for our children’s teeth?
Certainly not. You should not need fluoridated water to keep your children’s teeth healthy. You get plenty of fluoride in toothpaste and in the food you eat. Added fluoride is a subject of controversy, and drinking distilled water is one way to keep out of this argument.
7. What is the difference between Distilled and Deionized water?
You may have heard about deionized water, but it is not suitable for drinking. Unlike distilled water, deionized water is corrosive and can rot your teeth. It damages tooth enamel and does not protect you from infectious diseases as distilled water does.
8. How Pure is Distilled Water
Distilled water is the purest water you can get. As explained earlier, it is generated by boiling the water, then passing the water vapor into a condenser that condenses the water vapor back into liquid water. The solid contaminants are left behind and you are left with pure water that is safe for anybody to drink. Scientists use distilled water as the purest water they can use for vital tests.
Finally: So, Is distilled water safe to drink? Of course, it is. Distilled water contains no impurities whereas purified water can. The ultimate purification of water is to boil it then condense the steam: in other words, distilled water is the purest form of water.