What is Distilled Water? (Everything You Need to Know)

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What is distilled water, how is it made, what does it contain, and what is it used for?

If you’re asking these questions, you’ll find all the answers in this introduction to distilled water.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • Distilled water is made by boiling water until it evaporates and condenses into a separate container, leaving the impurities behind in the boiling chamber.
  • Distillation removes all impurities, including minerals, salts, metals, microorganisms, and chemicals.
  • Drinking water from a distiller is safe, and there’s no risk of ingesting harmful contaminants, but it lacks healthy alkaline minerals.

💧 What Is Distilled Water?

Distilled water is water that has been treated in a water distiller. The water is free from almost all impurities, making it safe to drink, fill appliances, sterilize medical equipment, and more.

The distillation process involves boiling water until it vaporizes. This vapor condenses into a separate container, leaving the impurities in the boiling chamber.

How does distilled water compare to normal drinking water? The big difference is that it doesn’t contain any impurities.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that most contaminants are safe at trace levels, which is why they’re often found in municipal drinking water supplies. Distilled water has been processed to remove these contaminants.

Distilled water safe to drink

🔬 What Does Distilled Water Contain?

Distilled water contains pure water particles – H20.

That means all the trace contaminants that are present in most tap water supplies, like salts, heavy metals, chlorine, chemicals, nitrates, and most other organic and inorganic minerals, are removed.

Some contaminants, like volatile organic compounds, are able to evaporate and condense with water during the distillation process.

However, most water distillers have a final carbon filter stage that removes these contaminants, ensuring the purest end result.

When the purest water is required, double distilled water – water that has been distilled twice over – may be used.

⚗️ How Is Distilled Water Made?

Distilled water is made in a water distiller.

This unit heats water in a boiling tank until it evaporates. The steam travels through a cooling corridor and condenses into its liquid state, drop-by-drop, out of the distiller spout. Inside the spout is an activated carbon filter, which traps the remaining contaminants as water drips through.

The majority of contaminants can’t vaporize at the same boiling point as water. That means they remain in the boiling chamber when water evaporates.

After distillation, you can clean out the boiling chamber to remove the dissolved solids and prepare the machine to distill another batch of water.

There are countertop water distillers that you can use to treat water at home, and large distillation machines that are used for manufacturing and other large-scale applications.

Illustration of the distillation process

🤔 Is Distilled Water Safe To Drink?

Yes, distilled water is safe to drink. It doesn’t contain any impurities, which means it can’t possibly have any health effects.

However, we don’t recommend drinking distilled water as the very best, healthiest water type.

Distilled water is free from all impurities, including dissolved minerals, which are beneficial to our health.

While drinking mineral-free water shouldn’t be detrimental to your health (the majority of these minerals come from the foods in your diet anyway), you might not enjoy the “flat” taste of water that lacks salts, minerals, and other nutrients.

We think it’s better to drink filtered water, which lacks contaminants with health risks but still contains calcium, magnesium, and other minerals that contribute to water’s health properties and pleasant alkaline taste.

🥤 Bottled Distilled Water Vs Water Distiller

You have two options if you want to use distilled water at home: you can buy bottled water distilled by the manufacturer, or you can distill your water at home.

Both end products are the same: pure water that’s free from all total dissolved solids.

Buying bottled water brands of distilled water is the best choice if you only need this water type for one-off or occasional uses, such as to fill your steam iron every few months.

But if you want to use distilled water on a daily basis, such as for sterilizing baby formula or for everyday drinking, making your own distilled water with a water distiller is better value in the long run than continuing to buy bottled water week after week. You can store distilled water for as long as you need before you use it around your home.

Bottled water also poses the problem of single-use plastic waste, and you have to keep buying it to replenish your stock, so it’s not as convenient as being able to access filtered water at home from a distiller whenever you need it.

Related: Can I Use Bottled Water Instead of Distilled Water?

Getting bottled distilled water from shelves

🚰 Distilled Water vs Filtered Water

Distilled water is often listed as filtered water, but this isn’t technically true.

Distilled water is purified water, meaning that all its impurities have been removed with a purification process. Another example of purified water is reverse osmosis water because the RO process also removes all water’s impurities.

Filtered water, on the other hand, is NOT purified water because it still contains certain minerals and impurities. A capable water filtration system can remove tens, even hundreds, of harmful contaminants, but water typically retains its naturally occurring minerals and any particularly tiny impurities that can slip through the filter’s pores.

So, if you need one of the purest forms of tap water, filtered drinking water doesn’t fit this description. Regardless, we think it’s better for drinking because it still contains healthy salts and minerals.

Water filter does not remove all impurities in water

📥 Distilled Water Uses

There are a few different ways that filtered water can be used today.

These uses include:

  • Sterilizing medical equipment
  • Laboratory use
  • Making products that need purified water, such as cosmetics
  • Filling steam irons and other home appliances that could be damaged by impurities
  • In medical equipment, like continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines
  • Adding to an aquarium
  • Topping up car cooling systems

Essentially, on any occasion where contaminated water could be damaging or harmful, distilled water is used instead.

Related: Top alternatives to distilled water for different uses

⚖️ Pros & Cons Of Distilled Water

Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of distilled water.


Clean, Pure Water Source

Distilled water is clean, purified water that’s guaranteed to be free from all impurities.

A distiller removes more impurities than standard water filters. For instance, fluoride is a contaminant that most water filters can’t remove, but it’s removed completely in a water distiller.

So, whether you’re concerned about a particular drinking water contaminant or you need to purify water for a specific use, distilled water is a better alternative to tap water.

Filling the water distiller with water

Better Cleaning Results

You can use distilled water for better cleaning results because the water is free from calcium and magnesium, which leave mineral deposits on surfaces and are detrimental to your cleaning efforts.

Distilled water is entirely free from all impurities, so it lathers better with soaps and detergents, and is more effective when combined with cleaning products.

You can save money on cleaning supplies and see better results with less effort when you clean with distilled tap water.

Versatile Household Uses

Aside from drinking distilled water, there are a whole lot of uses for this water type. At home, you can use it to fill steam irons, water your plants, top up your car cooling system, and fill your home aquarium.

Distilled water can be used in any situation that calls for purified water, so it’s a handy water type to have in your cupboards for when the occasion arises.


Bland Taste

While drinking water that has been distilled is guaranteed to be safe, that doesn’t mean it tastes great.

Distilled water has a bland taste due to its lack of minerals. Many people claim distilled water tastes “flat”. If you love the taste of mineral water, you’ll likely find distilled water unappealing, and you’ll probably drink less – possibly affecting your hydration.

Lacks Healthy Minerals

Distilled water also isn’t as healthy as filtered tap water because it lacks healthy minerals.

Distilled water is free from chemicals, metals, and other contaminants, which is undoubtedly a good thing But some impurities, like calcium, sodium, magnesium, and potassium, are good for our health.

If you exclusively drink water that has been distilled, you’ll need to make sure you’re getting these minerals from your foods.

Woman drinking flat-tasting water from glass

Expensive To Buy

If you prefer not to distill water at home, your only option will be to buy this water type from the store.

Bottled distilled water is pretty expensive, especially if you’re buying enough water for daily drinking and cooking purposes, and other uses around your home.

🔚 Final Word

Distilled water has been made with a water purification method, so it’s ideal for purposes that call for impurity-free water.

Continue Reading: Choosing the right water distiller: Our in-depth guide has you covered


Can you drink distilled water?

Yes, you can drink distilled water. However, there are a couple of things to be aware of:

  • Distilled water has a “flat” taste due to its lack of impurities. You might find this taste offputting.
  • Distilled water lacks healthy minerals, like calcium, magnesium, and sodium. Make sure you get plenty of these minerals from your diet (as you should be anyway).

While distilled water is safer than tap water because it contains no harmful contaminants, you don’t have to treat your water this thoroughly to make it safe. There are other filtration methods that remove harmful contaminants without affecting water’s mineral content.

Is boiled water the same as distilled water?

No, boiled water isn’t the same as distilled water. Boiled water has simply been boiled, which kills microorganisms and dissipates chlorine but retains all other impurities. Distilled water has been boiled until it evaporates. The water vapor travels into a separate container, where it condenses, and all the impurities are left behind in the boiling chamber. That means distilled water is much purer and cleaner than boiled water.

What is distilled water used for?

There are several distilled water uses, including topping up car cooling systems, sterilizing medical equipment, and filling home appliances (such as irons and steamers) that would become damaged by hard water. You can also drink distilled water.

Can I use deionized water instead of distilled?

You might be able to use deionized water instead of distilled water, but it depends on what you need the water for. Deionized water has had all of its charged ions removed, but contaminants with no charge remain in the water. Distilled water, on the other hand, is entirely pure. That means distilled water is suitable for sterilization purposes, while deionized water isn’t guaranteed to be safe.

Are distilled and purified water different?

No, distilled and purified water aren’t different. Distilled water is simply a type of purified water, alongside reverse osmosis water. Purified water is any type of water that has been thoroughly treated to remove all its impurities – both the harmful contaminants and the healthy salts, minerals, and ions.

  • 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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