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What is Distilled Water and is it Safe to Drink?

The problem with tap water is that it contains a lot of chemicals, both known and unknown.

Distilled water is used in many industries because of its 99.9% purity. However, there are still debate about whether distilled water should be consumed directly as drinking water or not.

Read on to learn more about distilled water, when to use it, and the alternatives.

Is it safe to drink distilled water?

What is Distilled Water?

Distilled water is created by a simple procedure that has been around forever.

When you boil water to create steam (water vapor), then condense the steam back into liquid and cool it down, this leaves a highly purified form of H2O called distilled water.

Any harmful compounds from the source water are left behind, but this includes minerals (like calcium and magnesium) that are considered beneficial to your health.

Like filtered water, distilled water is a higher quality water that does not contain high levels of impurities.

What are the Uses of Distilled Water?

Distilled water has many different uses, including:

  • Clothing irons – Steam irons require water without minerals to avoid contaminating the clothes and damaging the iron.
  • Aquariums – Some minerals and contaminants like pesticides are toxic to sensitive fish and marine animals so pure, distilled water is often better than tap in your aquarium.
  • Watering plants – Pure water without minerals and chemicals can be perfect for plants.
  • Car cooling system – It is often recommended to use distilled water for car cooling systems.
  • Lab experiments – Due to the purity of distilled water, laboratories often use it to create ideal conditions and prevent impurities from compromising the experiments.
  • Water for medical procedures – Kidney dialysis (for example) and other medical devices for various health problems require distilled water that does not contain any minerals.
  • Cosmetics like shampoo, deodorant and moisturizer – Microorganisms and minerals can compromise the quality of cosmetics so distilled water is the only suitable water to use.
  • Food production – when food manufacturers want to prevent taste or contamination issues from their ingredients, distilled water may be used.
  • Drinking water – since it is so pure, some people believe it is the ideal water to drink.
Distilled water for ironing

Can You Drink Distilled Water?

A lot of people are wary of drinking distilled water because it lacks nutrients and minerals that are beneficial to the body.

However, distilled water is pure and safe. Drinking it can protect one’s health by removing toxic chemicals, pollutants, and microorganisms from entering the body that could negatively affect your well-being.

The main drawback of distilled water compared to spring water is its bland taste. Nonetheless, it passes the drinking water standards set by the government because it is so pure.

What are the Benefits of Drinking Distilled Water?

According to health experts, drinking distilled water is healthy for the body. There are several benefits of drinking distilled water.

Immediate Benefits

  • Toxic chemicals, bacteria, and contamination are removed. Since anything that could be toxic to the human body are removed during the purification processes, drinking distilled water is a good way to avoid being poisoned by these chemicals.
  • Guaranteed potable for a long time – Microorganisms and other contaminants can spoil water over time, making it undrinkable. Distilled water does not have any of these contaminants so you can keep it for a long time as long as it is stored properly.
  • Ideal water people weak immune systems – Babies or those with weak immunity are prone to get sick even with minimal impurities, so their water must be as pure as possible.

Long-Term Benefits

  • Promotes healthy kidney function – Unlike tap water that can contain minerals that will accumulate in the kidneys, distilled water keeps the kidney cleaner.
  • Reduces the risk of arteries hardening – Mineral deposits in the water can cause build up in the arteries just like fat.
  • Minimizes blood vessels calcification – The rate of mineral buildup in the blood vessels is not as high when your drinking water does not contain mineral particles.
  • Promotes functions of most organs such as lungs, stomach and liver – Aside from the kidneys, distilled water also promotes healthy function of your other important organs.

What are the Risks of Drinking Distilled Water?

Nothing is perfect and this includes drinking distilled water.

Health information from medical experts like the (World Health Organization) say that there can be negative health effects of drinking distilled water if done without the taking precautions.

Mild Risks

  • Mineral deficiency – Tap water and mineral water contain natural minerals which are beneficial to the body. Since this is not the case with distilled water, you might experience mineral deficiency if you don’t get these essential elements elsewhere.
  • Dehydration – You might experience dehydration faster than when you are drinking tap water.

Serious Risks

  • Health issues due to mineral deficiency – If your body continues to suffer from mineral deficiency, it could lead to several health issues which can be serious and fatal to your health if not treated properly.
  • Tiredness – People who are not used to this water could experience increased tiredness.
  • Muscle cramps – Without the necessary minerals, you could experience more muscles cramps.
  • Weakness – There are people who feel noticeable weakness in their body after not getting the necessary vitamins and minerals.
  • Heart disease – Although distilled water can prevent hardening in the arteries and blood vessels, it can also lead to heart disease if you are not cautious.

How to Get Distilled Water at Home

Distilled water comes from steam

Home water distillers are available which you can install on your own for high quality water. A water distiller will cost you from about $100 to a few hundred dollars.

If you only want to distill your drinking water, a low cost home water distiller is a good solution.

However, if you want to purify a lot of water for other purposes, there are better methods to get filtered water since distilling has it’s drawbacks.

First of all, a water distiller will take several hours to produce distilled water. This is not ideal if you want to have water anytime you like.

The distillation process also requires a lot of source water to produce a small amount of distilled water compared to other types of water filtration systems.

Its very low efficiency and long distillation process makes a water distiller less desirable compared to a reverse osmosis water filter system which can provide purified water anytime you need.

The other option is to buy distilled water. You can buy water that has been distilled in large batches in bottles or jugs. The trade-off here is the cost to buy, the effort to bring it home, and the waste generated from the empty containers.

How to Make Distilled Water

The distilling purification process may take several hours to complete but it only has three basic stages.

Boiling

Water is heated to reach its boiling point around 100 degrees Celsius. You can do this in a clean pot.

Turning Water into Steam or Evaporation

Once water boils, its molecules will be released into the air as steam. This water vapor is constantly being produced leaving some liquid water and all the contaminants in it.

Collecting Water Through Condensation

The steam is collected and cooled down so it can turn back to its liquid state. The liquid produced from the steam is the distilled water.

Without a water distiller machine, this process is difficult to achieve with DIY parts at home.

Distilled Water vs. Boiled Tap Water vs. Filtered Water

There are people who might confuse boiled water, filtered water, purified water, and distilled water because they are all trying to do the same thing.

However, there are distinct differences between these types of water in the end.

Boiling water is part of distillation

Boiled Water

Boiled water is basically what is left in the pot or container when water is heated to its boiling point temperature and then left to cool down. This is considered the earliest method of processing water known to man.

So what are the pros and cons of boiled water?

  • Pro: Removes microorganisms – When water is boiled, 99.9 percent of microorganisms are killed during the process. This is an effective method to improve water that is contaminated with bacteria. People living in places where processed water is not available often boil the water to make it safe to drink.
  • Pro: Process is faster- The entire process of boiling water is faster than distilling water. Even a thoroughly processed boiled water that removes microorganisms takes less than an hour.
  • Con: Not purified – Although boiled water kills 99.9 percent of living microorganisms present, it is not considered a purified water. Any other impurities, contaminants, chemicals, and other toxic substances will be left behind and may even be more concentrated now that some water was lost through steam.
  • Con: Increased mineral content – Boiling only releases pure H2O and leaves the mineral content in the liquid. This means that the mineral concentration of boiled water is much higher than in regular tap water straight from your kitchen faucet.

Filtered Water

Purified water has gone through a series of filters to remove chemicals and impurities. Like the other methods, it has pros and cons.

  • Pro: Removes microorganisms – A good water filtration system (that includes a reverse osmosis stage) will remove most microorganisms. With an optional UV filter, it will destroy the same 99.9% as boiling or distillation.
  • Pro: Very fast – most filtration systems will process water very fast and at a higher volume than other alternatives.
  • Pro: Purified – the various stages in a water filtration system will remove up to 99% of 1000s of chemicals and impurities.
  • Con: Not 100% pure – unlike distillation, not 100% of impurities are removed. Better water filters (with reverse osmosis) will get closer, but “pure” water is not possible and trace amounts of some contaminants could remain.

Distilled Water

Distillation is a great way to secure drinkable water when you do not have a fresh water source.

Let us examine how distilled water differs from other methods:

  • Pro: Removes microorganisms – This process involves turning the water into vapor and leaving all other contaminants (including 99.9 percent microorganisms) behind.
  • Pro: Purified – Many experts consider distilled water as a product of complete purification removing 99.9 percent of impurities. It does not contain any other substances aside from pure water.
  • Con: Remove ions, minerals and heavy metal salts – Unlike boiled water which experiences an increase of mineral content, distilled water is devoid of all beneficial minerals like magnesium and calcium.
  • Con: Slow – Boiling is just the first step and water has to be boiled for hours to create a significant amount of water vapor to collect.

Spring Water

Spring water is added to this list just to clarify that spring water is not the same as any of the others above.

Spring water is water that has come up from the ground and often has high levels of naturally occuring natural minerals in it. Spring water may even be filtered before it is bottled to ensure safety.

Should I Drink Distilled Water?

Can I drink distilled water?

When want to drink distilled water, you must determine if it is ideal for your situation. Consider each of these questions:

  1. Is your water source compromised? – No tap water is perfect but some are worse than others. Compare the different water purification types to see if distillation is the option you prefer.
  2. Do you have a family member that has weak immunity? – If someone requires pure water, then distilled may be the only choice.
  3. Do you want to buy or make distilled water? Buying a home water distiller is the only option if don’t want to buy, transport, and store bottles of distilled water from the store.
  4. Can you supplement the necessary minerals in the body through other means? – Since your drinking water will not contain any minerals, you need to avoid mineral deficiency through your food or by taking supplements.

While distilled water reaches 99.9% purity and is safe to drink, the decision to drink it all the time requires some considerations.

Other water purification processes are more efficient and can be almost as effective as distillation.

However, if you want or need pure H2O for drinking or another purpose, then distilled water is the way to go.