The last time you heard of distilled water was probably in your high school chemistry lab. Distilled water is often used in hospital environments with sterilized equipment to avoid contamination. Because distilled water has had its dissolved impurities and minerals removed, you can also use distilled water for watering plants, car air conditioning servicing, steam irons, and fish tanks.
You probably like the idea of drinking water that’s 100% what it is – water. No impurities or contaminants? It sounds like the type of water we should all be drinking. But can you drink distilled water safely? I’ll be covering everything you need to know in this guide.
Table of Contents
- 💡 What Is Distilled Water?
- 🤔 Can You Drink Distilled Water?
- ⚠️ Risks With Drinking Distilled Water
- ✔️ Benefits of Drinking Distilled Water
- 🩺 Is Distilled Water Good For You?
- ❗️ Considerations Before Drinking Only Distilled Water
- 🧂 Should I Remineralize My Water?
- 🔠 Alternative Water Purification Options
- ❔ Distilled Water FAQ
💡 What Is Distilled Water?
Distilled water, or water that has been purified by the process of distillation, is completely free of any trace amounts of minerals, salts (sodium), chemicals, metals or other impurities. The drinking water that comes out of our faucets, in comparison, contains traces of all of these contaminants. In large quantities, these contaminants could pose a health hazard.
To produce distilled water, water would undergo a boiling and condensing process. When water is boiled in a distillation system, the liquid water evaporates to the point of converting to gaseous form, or steam. Most minerals and contaminants are unable to change state to steam when heated to the temperature that causes water to evaporate, and as a result, they’re left behind as liquid in the boiling chamber during the distillation process.
Some contaminants, including certain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), chemicals and pesticides, have boiling points similar to or below water’s boiling point, which enables them to evaporate and condense to liquid with water. For this reason, most distillers use an activated carbon filter to remove these impurities from condensed water before it collects in a clean container, ensuring the most thorough purification.
The end result of distillation is water that is almost 100% comprised of H20 – hydrogen and oxygen – with no dissolved minerals or harmful substances. Distilled water, alongside reverse osmosis water, is considered the “cleanest” water out there. There is no other water source – not mineral water or natural spring water, filtered water or ionized water – that’s quite as “empty” of impurities as water produced by distillation. But is it safe to drink distilled water?
Related: Learn about the difference between Purified vs Distilled water
🤔 Can You Drink Distilled Water?
We know that distilled water is about as pure as it gets, but can you drink distilled water as a healthy, developing human being?
The answer to this is yes, it’s completely safe to drink distilled water.
Your body certainly isn’t going to reject the combination of oxygen and hydrogen your blood and tissues need to survive, especially when you’re only providing it with these compounds, without the distraction of trace amounts of minerals and impurities.
But the reason why drinking distilled water isn’t very popular, and why you’re unlikely to see bottled distilled water flying off the shelves at your local supermarket, is because this type of water is “flat” or “boring” in taste. Think about it – all the minerals that give water a fresh, alkaline taste have been taken away, leaving behind something that’s slightly acidic, and far less interesting for your taste buds.
Related: Is distilled water good for babies?
⚠️ Risks With Drinking Distilled Water
Generally, with it being safe to drink distilled water, there aren’t many risks to worry about. However, because distillation removes healthy nutrients, it’s worth being aware of the following medical concerns of drinking distilled water:
Unappealing Taste Linked to Reduced Water Consumption
Can you drink distilled water? Yes. Will you enjoy drinking distilled water? Probably not. You’re much more likely to reach for a glass of water if you’re looking forward to getting hydrated with its refreshing taste. It’s possible that you may feel so disinclined to drink distilled water that you end up limiting your water intake as a result, which could, in a worst-case scenario, result in dehydration.
May Affect Electrolyte Balance
As human beings, we need electrolytes to survive. Many of the processes that take place in the body require a tiny electric current for proper functioning, and it’s electrolytes that offer this charge. Increased urine output can result in an imbalance of electrolytes in the body. Drinking distilled water may result in increase in urine production, which means there’s a small risk of electrolyte imbalance as a result of consuming this type of pure water.
Decreased Metabolic Function
Medical research documented by the World Health Organization linked a lack of minerals in drinking water to decreased metabolic function. Interestingly, in a medical rat study, rats that consumed demineralized water while following a standardized diet didn’t get their essential minerals compensated by their diet, which suggests that our bodies need the minerals that are present in water more than we might assume. However, more research is needed to confirm the evidence suggested from these findings.
✔️ Benefits of Drinking Distilled Water
There are several benefits of drinking distilled water that may ultimately convince you to switch, even in part, to consuming this type of purified water on a daily basis.
100% Clean Water
Distilled water is safe, healthy, and 100% clean to drink. Because it’s free from harmful substances and bacteria, it’s the ideal drinking water choice for you if you know that your tap water is full of trace amounts of dangerous impurities such as lead, nitrates and bacteria.
Dental Health Protection
Many states in the US now add fluoride to their public drinking water supplies as this mineral is said to be important for dental health. However, overconsumption of this mineral in children can lead to an aesthetic dental condition called fluorosis, which affects the teeth. Data also suggests that the mineral may be dangerous when consumed, which has led to controversy around the decision to add fluorides to water sources. Distilled water is safe to drink from a dental perspective if you’re concerned about fluorosis as it doesn’t contain fluoride.
I’ve produced an in-depth guide on fluoride in US home water sources here. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a handy Q&A to look at, too.
Improves Some Bodily Functions
While emerging data suggests that distilled water may decrease certain functioning in the human body, there’s also evidence to suggest that contaminant-free water consumption has its benefits in this area. When water is distilled, it should contain no hardness minerals, which, in excess, can result in calcification of the arteries. Equally, drinking water that’s distilled may reduce your risk of getting kidney stones, which is also caused by abnormal levels of calcification in the body.
Save Money – No More Bottled Water
If you currently drink from bottled mineral water sources because you’re keen to avoid the dangerous particles in your tap water, water distillation could help you to save hundreds of dollars per year. Distilled water may taste a little flat, but it’s still tastier than water that’s contaminated with the likes of iron and sulfur. Plus, it’s 100% contaminant-free, so there’s no requirement to continue buying bottled water if you’ve been doing so for the sake of your health and wellness.
🩺 Is Distilled Water Good For You?
So, can you drink distilled water instead of your usual contaminant-laden tap water, and will it prove beneficial in the long run? Yes – but whether or not you would consider this type of drinking water “good for you” is probably a matter of opinion.
It’s certainly not bad for you, but you need to decide whether the health benefits of drinking purified water that contains no harmful chemicals, heavy metals, bacteria, inorganic compounds and hard water minerals outweigh the negative connotations associated with drinking water that lacks healthy dissolved minerals and has a flat taste.
❗️ Considerations Before Drinking Only Distilled Water
Can I drink distilled water all the time? It’s a great question. If you’re planning to switch exclusively to distilled water going forward, good for you! You’ll be minimizing the health risks to your body by only drinking water that’s free of the bad stuff. But remember, water distillers also remove water’s healthy mineral content, so you need to make sure you’re getting plenty of minerals in your diet so you won’t fall victim to nutrient deficiencies.
Most minerals found in tap water can also be found, much more abundantly, in the food we eat. The plus side of getting your minerals from food is that it only contains a high mineral content, without the harmful inorganic and organic compounds that may be linked to health problems. You also get to benefit from a whole host of other nutrients in food that you may not find in water.
Is distilled water safe to drink exclusively going forward? Of course – but if you think you’re going to be short on magnesium, calcium, potassium, sodium iron, zinc or any other types of water minerals that the human body needs to survive, you know what to do. Some of the best natural mineral-rich foods include berries, sardines, yogurt, starchy vegetables, tropical fruits, ancient grains and leafy greens. Add these to your daily diet and you won’t have to worry about being mineral-deficient.
🧂 Should I Remineralize My Water?
Remineralizing your water after using distillation is an option if you want to benefit from a lack of harmful particles in your tap water supply while still enjoying water’s healthful mineral content.
There are a number of remineralization filters available online, but they tend to require installation at your water line. This is no good if you’re using a countertop water distiller, which would need to be filled with tap water that you then couldn’t add back into your water supply purely for remineralization. You’ll likely find that the easiest way to reintroduce healthy minerals to your water is to use remineralizing drops.
Remineralization drops are available in most health and wellness stores and online, and can add essential minerals like calcium and magnesium to water. Make sure you read your product instructions before using these drops, as usage may vary from brand to brand. Most drops simply require adding to a pitcher or a glass of water.
👉 Check out this product Quinton – some of the best remineralization drops I’ve come across!
There are also a few alkaline water filters cropping up in today’s market. These filtration solutions are typically in pitcher form, which means you can use them to remineralize your water after distilling it. This will add time onto the (already lengthy) distillation process, though, and you’ll need to remember to change the alkaline filter as and when instructed by the manufacturer.
🔠 Alternative Water Purification Options
If you love the idea of pure water, or water that’s at least cleaner than the stuff you consume now, there are many types of water treatment that offer similar results to distillation.
The reverse osmosis process achieves the most similar outcome to distillation, but uses a completely different technique to get there. RO consists of several water filtering cartridges – a pre-filter, a carbon filter, and a post-filter – which removes everything from chemical particles and lead to large sediment and suspended solids, ensuring the highest quality water remains.
The most important feature of an RO system is the semi-permeable membrane, which has tiny pores that allows only the smallest water particles to filter through. The leftover substances, which are too large to pass through the system, are flushed down a drain with waste water.
RO has a lot going for it, but, as with distilled water, RO water has had all of its healthy minerals removed. However, many RO systems now come with an included remineralization filter that reintroduces these minerals before drinking, which is a great low-fuss method that gives you the benefits of pure water without having to miss out on the essential minerals.
Unlike distilled water machines, RO units are typically connected to your main water line, so they clean water before it comes out of your faucet. This has the benefit of offering immediate results, but it comes at a cost – RO is, on average, the most expensive filtered treatment option currently available.
Activated Carbon Filters
If you think distillation might actually be too effective in impurity removal, you’ll want to consider activated carbon water filters. These filtering cartridges use the process of adsorption to trap unhealthy substances in their filtering pores, allowing smaller water particles to pass through.
The AC process is particularly effective in treating water that contains chlorine chemicals, lead, and other aesthetic contaminants that affect water flavor and odor. So, if nice-tasting water is important to you, you’ll love that the AC method doesn’t actually remove minerals such as calcium, which give water a pleasant taste – but it removes substances like chlorine chemicals, which can negatively affect water flavor.
AC filters come in a number of different forms. Sometimes you’ll find them in whole-home filtering cartridges, and you’ll usually always find them in RO units. They’re also a common material to use in faucet filtering solutions, as well as countertop systems such as water filtering pitchers.
Ultrafiltration is a process that involves sending water at a high pressure through a semi-permeable membrane. As with distillation, ultrafiltration removes more than 99.9% of all contaminants.
During ultrafiltration, larger particles are trapped in the membrane material, while smaller water particles are able to fit through. This process is effective in removing contaminants like plastics, chemicals, heavy metals, proteins, silt, and bacteria from water.
Ultrafiltration is very similar to RO systems, but ultrafiltration membranes typically have larger pore sizes (usually around 1 to 100 nanometers). Ultrafiltration is better for removing larger particles from water, and may not be able to remove smaller particles like viruses – this treatment method typically also removes essential minerals, as with a distiller.
❔ Distilled Water FAQ
Is It Expensive To Produce Distilled Water?
No. Most distillers only use about 3 KWH to make a gallon of drinking water, which equates to around 30 cents. The biggest price you’ll have to pay is for the distiller itself – but distilled water solutions still tend to be one of the cheapest filtration options available.
Is A Distiller Worth It For A Large Family?
Of course – but you’ll have to establish a good routine for making distilled water if you plan to exclusively drink it. As distilled waters take up to 4 hours to produce one batch of water, you’ll need to get into the habit of making batches ahead of time to make sure you always have distilled water available when you want to consume it. You may be able to find a distiller with a high capacity in your search, but no matter what size the system, it’ll still take several hours to provide you with the clean water you need.
Can Distilled Water Become Recontaminated?
In most cases, no. If you store your water in a glass container in the fridge, it’ll have a shelf life of up to 12 months, and it shouldn’t become contaminated. Just make sure to keep your water at a distance from food particles, and don’t store it in a plastic container that could leach microplastics and PFOAs into your water.