Does Distillation Remove Lead from Water?

A water distiller is a popular method of water purification – but can it remove lead? We’ve answered this question, and provided handy information about the water distillation process, in this guide.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • Water distillers remove up to 99.9% of lead from drinking water.
  • A distiller works by boiling water until it evaporates, then condensing the water into a separate container, leaving the impurities behind.
  • Other contaminants removed by the distillation process include chemicals, microorganisms, other heavy metals, and water hardness.
  • Alternatives to a distiller unit for lead removal are some carbon filters, KDF filters, and reverse osmosis filtration systems.

✅ Does Water Distillation Remove Lead?

Yes, water distillers remove lead. In fact, the distillation process is one of the most effective ways to reduce lead in water.

Distilled water contains less than 0.1% of lead. That means you can rely on a water distiller to completely remove lead from your drinking water supply, no matter how contaminated the water.

Flling the imber isla water distiller

⚗️ How Does a Water Distiller Work?

A water distiller works by boiling a batch of water until it evaporates, then sending the water vapor into a separate container to condense.

The process of distillation is as follows:

  1. You add water to the boiling chamber with a heating element and switch the distiller on
  2. The water will be heated to boiling point (212 °F)
  3. The water begins to vaporize into steam, which travels into a cooling corridor
  4. The steam cools down and condenses back into liquid form
  5. The distilled water drips out of a spout and collects in a separate container

Learn how to make your own distilled water at home 👈

Distillation Process

🔎 Other Contaminants Removed By Water Distillation

Along with lead, distillation removes the following contaminants:

  • Other heavy metals, like copper, mercury, and iron
  • Dissolved chemicals like chlorine and chloramine, pesticides, and herbicides
  • Microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and protozoan cysts
  • Hardness compounds like magnesium and calcium
  • Radioactive elements like radium
  • Poor tastes and odors
  • Fluoride, benzene, arsenic, asbestos, nitrate, and more

🧫 Which Contaminants CAN’T Water Distillers Remove?

There are certain contaminants that water distillation can’t completely remove. These include:

Most water distillers include a small activated carbon post-filter that removes lingering contaminants after the distillation process.

❇️ Benefits of Distillation For Lead Removal

Virtually Eliminates Lead

Distillation is one of the most thorough, effective ways to remove lead.

Most water filters reduce 80-90% lead on average, but a water distiller virtually eliminates lead contamination, making your drinking water 100% safe for consumption.

Purifies Water

When you buy a water distiller, you don’t only pay for the perk of lead removal. This form of water treatment removes virtually all impurities, including chlorine, other metals, and microorganisms.

The pure water from a distiller is completely free from any impurities that have known health effects.

Affordable & Cost Effective

Most countertop distiller systems cost within the $100-$500 range upfront – but your purchase should last you a lifetime and maintenance costs are minimal, making distillation a cost-effective long-term lead removal solution.

home water distiller on countertop

Easy To Install

A water distilling unit is really easy to install. Unlike many drinking water filters, you don’t have to connect a distiller up to your water line.

Simply assemble the unit and plug it into a nearby power outlet. The unit will be ready to use immediately.

Low Maintenance

Distillation is one of the lowest-maintenance forms of drinking water purification.

You’ll just need to replace the activated carbon filter (if you choose to use it) and clean the boiling chamber occasionally to remove all the contaminants from the surfaces.

Portable Solution

Most at-home distillation units are small enough to sit on your kitchen countertop. Because these units don’t need to be connected to a water line, they can be transported and used anywhere (as long as there’s a nearby power outlet).

If you’re looking for a portable lead reduction solution that you can take with you to work or on vacation, distillers are a good option to consider.

⛔️ Setbacks of Water Distillers For Removing Lead

Distillation Takes Hours

The biggest setback of using a water distiller to remove lead from water is that distillation is an incredibly slow process.

It takes 4-6 hours for a water distiller to produce just 1 gallon of distilled drinking water. If you want a quick way to reduce lead in your water supply, distillation isn’t the right choice for you.

Distilled Water Tastes Flat

Because distillation is so effective at contaminant removal, it doesn’t only remove the bad stuff like lead – it also removes healthy alkaline minerals, natural trace elements, and dissolved gases that give water a pleasant taste.

As a result, distilled water has a flat, flavorless taste that you might find unpleasant. With that said, you can remineralize the water with mineral drops if you find the taste too offputting.

Distilled Water Is More Prone to Recontamination

Because distilled water contains virtually nothing but hydrogen and oxygen, it’s more likely to leach contaminants from its surroundings. It would be a shame to go to the effort to remove lead from water, only to contaminate the water with other metals after distillation.

📌 Make sure that you store your distilled water in a plastic and metal-free container, such as a glass pitcher, to avoid recontamination.

Distilled water safe to drink

Only Distills Batches of Water

A countertop distiller has a restricted capacity. The heating chamber can usually hold about 1 gallon of water – so you can only distill water in 1-gallon batches at a time.

Once all the distilled water has been collected, you’ll be able to refill the chamber – but this will probably be about 5 hours later. If you have a big family, you probably won’t be able to solely rely on a distiller unit for your drinking water.

Doesn’t Remove Everything

Like all forms of water treatment, the water distilling process has its limitations.

Some contaminants have boiling points that are similar to water. That means, when you bring water to boiling temperature, some contaminants are able to vaporize and condense with water particles. This may be a problem in some water supplies.

📊 Alternatives to Water Distillation

Looking for other ways to remove lead from water? There are several water treatment solutions to consider aside from distillation:

  • Some carbon-based water filters, found in under-sink systems, whole home filters, and water filter pitchers.
  • KDF and ion exchange filters, such as KDF 85, KDF 55 or KDF-C media and ion exchange resin in filter pitchers, under-sink systems, and whole home filters.
  • Reverse osmosis systems, which reduce more than 99.9% of lead and other contaminants with membrane separation, found in under-sink and countertop units.

All these methods are faster and more convenient than water distillation, and reverse osmosis produces purified water that’s a very similar quality to distilled water.

Usws defender whole house ro system after installation

🚱 How Does Lead Get Into Drinking Water?

We assume that you’re probably clued up on lead in your tap water if you’ve clicked on this guide.

But if you want a refresher, we’ve shared some handy information about lead in drinking water below.

💡 Lead is a tasteless, odorless heavy metal that gets into tap water from lead pipes. Many of the old service lines in the US are made from lead, even though Congress amended the Safe Drinking Water Act to ban the use of lead pipes in 1986.

When water travels through lead pipes, small amounts of lead leach into the water. Lead is especially likely to dissolve in warm water.

Even in pipes that are made from other materials (such as copper pipes), lead solder may still be present.

Lead is absorbed in the human body and stays there for many years, which is why even low levels of lead exposure are dangerous over a prolonged period.

Lead consumption has a number of serious health risks, including reproductive problems, kidney issues, cardiovascular problems, and lead poisoning. Pregnant women and children suffer the most serious effects of lead exposure.

Lead leaching into water from old plumbing fixtures

❔ Does a Distiller Remove Lead From Water? FAQ

What are the dangers of drinking lead contaminated water?

No amount of lead in water is considered safe, which is why the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a recommended lead level of 0 in drinking water. Lead exposure in tap water may lead to health effects including joint and muscle pain, headaches, constipation, weight loss and loss of appetite, vomiting, reproductive issues, high blood pressure, kidney problems, and more. Pregnant women and children are particularly at risk from lead exposure.

How does distillation remove lead?

Distillation removes lead by boiling a batch of water until it vaporizes, then sending the vapor through a cooling corridor to condense in a separate chamber. The contaminants that can’t vaporize at water’s boiling point, including lead, are left behind in the boiling chamber.

Can you remove lead from water by boiling it?

No, boiling water alone doesn’t reduce lead. The water vapor must be transported and condensed into a separate container, leaving the lead behind in the boiling chamber. This is why it’s possible to remove lead by distillation, but not boiling.

Is distilled water free of lead?

Yes, distilled water is free of lead. Water distillation reduces more than 99.9% of lead in tap water.

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