Dead Water vs Living Water: What’s the Difference, Anyway?

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If you’re looking into different water treatment techniques, you might have come across the terms “dead water” and “living water” to describe certain water types.

Here, we’ve outlined the differences between these two water types – and busted some of the myths we’ve read about dead and living waters.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • Dead water lacks minerals, salts, and other anions and cations.
  • Living water contains these ions in varying concentrations (depending on the water source).
  • The main differences between these two water types are their properties, taste, health properties, and alkalinity.

🤔 What Is Dead Water?

We’ve seen a lot of confusion and misinformation on the topic of dead water. Some sources take the term “dead water” literally, as if water is actually alive, and could possibly die.

This is a myth – “dead water” actually refers to water with a lack of minerals, salts, and ions, not the fact that the water (which was never alive in the first place) has somehow died.

Why is dead water so-called? It’s not completely clear, but we think it’s because dead water has a bland or flat taste due to its lack of beneficial minerals, plus the fact that the water isn’t “alive” (we’re using this word descriptively, not literally) with nutrients that are healthy to humans.

We’ve also read some articles that suggest that water can be “destroyed” or “killed” by pollution and contamination, but this isn’t true. Remember, water isn’t a living thing, and while pollutants and contaminants do have a significant effect on water quality, they can’t kill it.

Dead water in a glass on a table

Types Of Dead Water

There are three water types that may be considered “dead”:

These water types have been made with purification processes that either remove all total dissolved solids or remove all positive and negative ions. As a result of these processes, the water that’s produced has no salts, minerals, or other ions.

Note: Basic filtration won’t produce dead water. While filtered water contains fewer contaminants, most water filtration techniques don’t affect the concentration of water’s anions or cations.

🔎 What Is Living Water?

Living water is the opposite of dead water: it contains minerals, ions, and salts, in varying concentrations (depending on the water source).

All water supplies, aside from those that have been treated with water purification methods, are living. When water flows over rocks and soils in its natural environment, these leach minerals and other ions into the water. Water obtained from surface or groundwater sources should have a natural mineral content.

Again, we want to reiterate that living water doesn’t actually mean that it’s alive and breathing. We read one source that said living water is “healthy energetic water” and has “natural energy”, but scientifically, that has no meaning.

Live water with lots of dissolved minerals

Types Of Living Water

There are numerous water sources that are considered living water. These include the tap water delivered to our homes and certain water products sold by bottled water companies.

Common types of living water are:

  • Municipal or city water
  • Spring water
  • Glacier water
  • Bottled tap water
  • Sparkling water (with added carbon dioxide)

Different living waters have different ion concentrations. Spring water and well water tend to have a higher ion concentration because they come from groundwater sources, which have higher natural mineral concentrations.

🆚 Living Water Vs Dead Water: Key Differences

Here are the four key differences between dead and living water:


Dead water is lacking in all positively- and negatively-charged ions, while living water contains alkaline minerals, salts, and other ions, such as calcium and magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride, bicarbonate, and sulfate.

Plus, certain methods that produce dead water, like water distillation and reverse osmosis, don’t just remove ions from water – they remove all total dissolved solids.

So, the properties of these two water types is different.


Drinking dead water is a less pleasant experience than drinking living water due to the difference in the water’s mineral content.

Calcium, magnesium, and other alkaline minerals give water a pleasant alkaline taste. If you’ve drank bottled spring water before, you’ll know the taste of mineral-rich water – it’s slightly sweet and crisp.

A lack of these minerals gives dead water a “flat” taste that you probably won’t enjoy as much. But on a positive note, some purified dead water supplies (like reverse osmosis water) are free from contaminants that give water an unpleasant taste or smell, like chlorine and hydrogen sulfide.

Flat-tasting water dead water

Health Properties

Living water contains healthy minerals that are needed by the human body which, in theory, makes it healthier than dead water. Some of the healthful properties of these minerals include their ability to regulate blood pressure, support the development of muscles and bones, and maintain a healthy immune system.

However, dead water isn’t considered unhealthy since you should get plenty of these vital minerals much more abundantly in your diet anyway.

There’s also a lot more that goes into the health properties of a water type than its mineral content. You could argue that certain dead waters, like purified water from reverse osmosis devices, are actually healthier than living water because they’re free from all harmful substances, such as heavy metals and chemicals.


Since many of the minerals in a tap water supply contribute to its alkalinity and pH, dead water with no minerals or ions is likely to have a lower pH than living water with lots of dissolved solids and minerals.

There isn’t a major difference in pH between dead and living water. If we look at reverse osmosis water as a common example of dead water, the average pH of RO water is 5-7. 7 is neutral, and most living tap water supplies have a pH of around 6.5-8.5. So, it’s not like dead water is very acidic and living water is very alkaline.

Taking water ph reading of water with handheld ph meter

📑 Final Word

Now you’ve reached our conclusion, you should be aware of the difference between dead water and living water.

But keep in mind that these two terms simply describe the water’s mineral and ion content. “Dead water” might sound a bit dramatic, but it just refers to a water supply that’s lacking in minerals. This water isn’t inherently bad for you – it’s simply helpful to know the difference between dead water and living water, especially if you’re looking at different drinking water treatment methods for use at home.

Ultimately, drinking water supports life functions equally, whether it’s considered “living” or “dead”. Water hydrates cells, and staying hydrated is more important than ingesting trace minerals while you drink.

As long as you’re drinking safe, clean water, and you’re getting plenty of potassium, sodium, calcium, and magnesium in your diet, you’ve got nothing to worry about.

  • Brian Campbell
    President & CEO, CWS, CWR

    Brian Campbell, a WQA Certified Water Specialist (CWS) and Certified Water Treatment Representative (CWR) with 5+ years of experience, helps homeowners navigate the world of water treatment. After honing his skills at Hach Company, he founded his business to empower homeowners with the knowledge and tools to achieve safe, healthy water. Brian's tested countless devices, from simple pitchers to complex systems, helping his readers find the perfect fit for their unique needs.

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