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Purified vs Distilled Water: The All-You-Need-To-Know Guide

purified vs distilled water

Most people know that drinking enough water is essential to staying healthy, however there is sometimes confusion about which type of water is best to drink.

In this article, we examine the differences between purified and distilled water to understand which is the best option.

What is Purified Water?

Purified water is water that is free of contaminants and impurities which have been removed through filtration or a similar process.

Usually its made either:

  1. When raw water first enters a water treatment plant, or
  2. At home coming out of your tap

Common physical, chemical, and biological contaminants that are removed through purification include:

  • Heavy metals (lead, copper, etc.)
  • Viruses, parasites & pathologic bacteria
  • Pesticides & herbicides
  • Pharmaceuticals

In most countries, municipal water treatment plants are responsible for meeting specific drinking water quality standards before releasing that water to the public. However there are various methods for purifying water at home at home as well, including:

  • Whole house water filters
  • Reverse osmosis systems
  • Water distillers
  • And more

While it isn’t always necessary to purify your tap water that comes from a treatment plant, many people prefer the added peace of mind and improved taste. Additionally, for homes with a private well water source, a water purification system essential.

water purification process

Benefits of Purified Water

Contaminant free

Filtration techniques, and especially reverse osmosis, remove up to 99.9% of all total dissolved solids in drinking water, making it almost completely pure. If you’re concerned about the health implications of drinking water, pure water is far cleaner and safer for drinking than standard tap water.

Remineralization

Many purification units come with a built-in remineralization filter, which add healthy calcium and magnesium minerals back into water.

Immediate results

Many purification techniques offer an incredibly speedy process, so drinking purified water is just as easy as turning on your tap.

Disadvantages of Purified Water

Can be costly

If you’re considering purchasing a water filter or reverse osmosis system, remember also that you’ll need to factor in costs for regular filter changes in addition to the upfront cost of the system.

Installation

Household water filters are complex by nature, and although most systems are designed for at-home set-up and come partially assembled, there’s still a fair bit of complex installation you’ll be expected to do at the beginning. The biggest task is to connect the unit up to the cold water line underneath your sink or at the point of entry into your house. If you have little to no plumbing experience, this might take a bit of extra effort.

Removes healthy minerals from water

It’s part of the package of purified water: sometimes the beneficial minerals are removed with the bad impurities, depending on how water is purified.

Requires high water pressure

All households have slightly different water pressures, and if yours is too low, your water filter may not be as efficient.

what is purified water

What is Distilled Water?

Distilled water, as we mentioned earlier, is actually just a form of purified water.

The biggest difference between distilled water and purified water is the method used to produce the end result. While purified water is made through various methods of filtration, distilled water is made in an age-old process of distillation that has become modernized to what it is today.

In the process of distillation, water is boiled and turned into steam. Because impurities found in water are unable to also turn into steam, they are left behind. Then the steam is then collected and condensed, turning it back into extremely pure water.

home water distiller

Benefits of Distilled Water

Completely contaminant-free water

Distillation is highly efficient at the removal of all contaminants from water, vastly reducing your risk of consuming any harmful chemicals.

Lower cost

Compared to other methods of water purification, water distillers are a lot cheaper to buy upfront and don’t require frequent filter changes.

Simple installation

Most distillers come almost completely assembled, and you’ll just need to plug them in, add the filter, switch them on, and they’re ready to go.

You might also like our article about the 10 best water distillers

Disadvantages of Distilled Water

Lengthy process

The distillation process is by far the longest water filtration process of them all. When water condenses from steam, it does so literally droplet by droplet. This means you’ll need to wait for your storage tank to fill by water drips, which can take several hours.

Consumes a high amount of energy

The water needs to be boiled until there’s nothing left in the boiling chamber (apart from the contaminants), which takes a lot of energy to do.

Removes healthy minerals from water

The water distillation process is so effective, it removes almost all impurities from water – including removing healthy minerals like potassium, calcium and magnesium. If you like drinking these minerals in your water, you’ll need to find your own means of adding them back in, or purchase a remineralization filter.

Requires regular upkeep

With every batch of distilled water produced, a variety of contaminants are left behind in the boiling chamber, which may lead to a build-up of bacteria and other harmful microorganisms. Calcium and magnesium will also leave limescale deposits on the inside of the boiling chamber, which become more difficult to clean the longer you leave it.

Distilled vs Purified Water Compared

There is virtually no difference between distilled water and purified water that has been produced using reverse osmosis or other filtration methods. Both methods of purification effectively remove almost every single contaminant from water, producing water at its purest form.

It’s difficult to compare the actual water product, as both are so similar. Ultimately, choosing whether you’d prefer to drink distilled or purified water is a decision you’d make based on the purification method.

For some people, waiting for several hours for a water distiller to complete one distillation cycle wouldn’t be an issue. It may be that you’re prepared to wait longer for your water if it means paying far less for the distillation machine.

On the other hand, you might prefer to pay more for a reverse osmosis unit, which produces purified water immediately, on demand. The end result is exactly the same, but it can be produced more quickly.

Is Purified or Distilled Water Better?

Again, determining which type of water is better comes down to the methods used to produce water. As both reverse osmosis and distillation have their plus points and negative points, determining an ultimate favorite of the two is up to personal preference.

Reverse osmosis is a costlier process, while distillation takes longer. Ultimately, though, both methods result in a thorough purification that removes up to 99.9% of all contaminants from water. If you’re looking for clean, pure, safe drinking water for your home, you can’t go wrong with any of these water purification methods.

Note that other filtration methods, like under sink and countertop water filters, may also be considered to produce purified water. While these filters are incredibly efficient, they’re not thorough enough to remove contaminants to the same level as reverse osmosis units and water distillation machines.

If you’re comparing distillation to standard water filtration, distillation produces the cleanest and purest water.

How to tell if you need to purify your water?

It’s not always easy to tell when you need to purify your water. Water from your faucet might look clean enough, smell okay, and taste fairly normal. This is because it’s been treated beforehand at your water treatment center, where harmful contaminants, microorganisms and chemicals are reduced.

You might wonder, then, why so many people choose to purify their water, if it’s already clean enough.

The problem is that although measures have been taken to make your drinking water as safe for consumption as possible, these harmful contaminants and chemicals may remain in your water in traces. Some evidence suggests that over time, contaminants in public drinking water can cause irreversible health problems.

The easiest way to tell when you need to purify your water is to find out exactly what your water contains. You can do this by either requesting a water quality report from your local authority or testing your water with a home testing kit.

Signs your water needs purifying

There are several signs you can look out for particularly in the water you use in your home that indicate the need for purification.

You have a limescale issue

If you currently use hard water in your water-based appliances like your kettle, you might notice that limescale builds up frequently inside these appliances despite your efforts to prevent it. This is because hard water contains calcium and magnesium minerals, which leave a sticky deposit on surfaces that’s incredibly difficult to remove.

A water distiller or purifier can resolve this issue by eliminating the limescale-causing minerals from your water, which you can then use in your home’s appliances as you please. This will help you to save money on replacement appliances and time spent cleaning them.

Wondering what the difference is between hard water vs soft water? Check out this article!

hard water stains

Your water tastes or smells unpleasant

An unpleasant taste is one of the most obvious signs that your water contains traces of contaminants. If water smells of rotten eggs, for example, it’s high in sulfur. If it’s taken on a more metallic smell, it contains a higher concentration of iron. While these elements won’t harm you when you drink them in small amounts, they can substantially worsen the taste and smell of water.

You can easily improve the taste of your water by running it through a distiller or filtration system. In the long run, drinking purified water should help you save money on bulk-buying bottled water to drink instead.

Your water doesn’t run clear

If your water is running dirty, you should contact your water supplier immediately. If it’s running clear enough, but it has a brown-ish tinge to it, it’s likely that it contains one of several contaminants.

Iron and manganese, which may leach into your water from plumbing pipes, cause water to produce an orangey-brown color, while lead may cause it to take on a darker color. You might also notice tiny particles in your water that are caused by metal deposits.

You can’t prevent these contaminants from polluting your water, but you can remove them through distillation or purification. Purified water is entirely contaminant free, and should run completely clear.

You’re scrubbing the dishes too much

Aside from limescale, hard water minerals can also prevent your soaps from lathering properly, which can make it more difficult to wash your dishes. You might find that not only does it take a long time to get your dishes clean, the hard water calcium and magnesium minerals also leave cloudy deposits on your “washed” kitchenware. This is particularly obvious on glassware.

Instead of using hard water to wash your dishes, switching to purified or distilled water will help you to get the job done faster. When the hard water-causing minerals are removed from water, you’re left with clean, soft water that lathers well with soap well and doesn’t leave deposits on your kitchenware.

You have babies or young children

If you have a baby on the way, or you already have young children in your family, drinking distilled or purified water is one of the best things for their health. Babies in particular should only drink decontaminated water, as the fluoride, lead and nitrates in normal tap water might compromise their immune systems.

Metals like iron and manganese have also been found to cause development issues in babies and young children.

Purified and distilled water are the safest drinking options for babies and children as they are completely free from harmful contaminants. Many people are unaware that babies don’t need to get their minerals from drinking water, as their formula contains all the minerals they need, so removing calcium and magnesium from water is not a health issue.

How to purify your water

Despite your drinking water being safe for consumption, you might want to take the cleanliness of your water into your own hands. There are many at-home methods of filtering your water to make it more pure, some of which are more effective than others.

As we’ve mentioned in detail earlier in this guide, the two best ways to purify your water are:

  1. Distillation
  2. Reverse osmosis filtration

It’s best to consider purchasing either a water distiller or a reverse osmosis system for your home if you want to get easy access to professionally purified water. However, if you just want to try purified water on a one-off basis before you make a more permanent purchase, you can distill it using a few components from your kitchen.

At Home Purification Systems

Unsurprisingly, the more favored methods of water purification are those that do the hard work for us.

Reverse osmosis and countertop distillation are the best ways to produce contaminant-free drinking water. All you’ll need to do is set your unit up and perform the required maintenance from time to time, and you’ll have access to purified water whenever you want it.

Less efficient methods of purifying water are those that use just water filters, like activated carbon filters made from charcoal or coconut, which trap contaminants in water and prevent them from passing through. In many filtration systems, water passes through a number of filters, each with different pore sizes that are designed for catching the widest spread of particles. They’re effective at greatly reducing the contaminants in water, but not completely removing them.

One final method of water purification that’s sometimes used in filtration or reverse osmosis systems is a UV light. UV lights aren’t designed to remove a broad rage of contaminants on water, but are particularly efficient at removing microorganisms like bacteria and viruses.

When water passes through a UV light filter, electromagnetic energy is used to kill the harmful pathogens inside the water. It does this by altering the DNA of microorganisms and preventing them from being able to reproduce.

A UV filter is an effective method of water purification, but only when used alongside other purification techniques. As UV filters can’t remove chemicals, metals and other impurities from water, they can only assist in the water purification process.

Key takeaways

If you’ve found yourself wondering about the difference between distilled water and purified water, this guide has hopefully given you a clearer understanding of the two. Essentially, distilled water and purified water are the same thing. The only clear distinction between the water types is the way they’re produced.

Ultimately, regardless of the filtration model you go for, make sure that it is certified by a trusted third-party product testing and inspection organization, like NSF International or the Water Quality Association. These independent bodies test water quality improvement systems and determine whether they comply with specific safety and performance standards. You can trust that a product with certification performs exactly how the manufacturer claims it does.

Replacing a system’s filters and subjecting it to regular cleaning are essential for helping it to perform at its best and produce the best quality product every time. Always follow the guidelines provided by the manufacturer to know exactly how to look after your purification unit.