Tap Water vs Distilled Water (2024 Definitive Comparison)

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Want to know how tap water and distilled water are different? When should you use either water type? And which is best to drink?

We’ve answered all these questions and more in this guide.

📌 Key Takeaways:

  • Tap water is water from your faucet that has been treated at a treatment plant.
  • Distilled water is purified water that’s free from all impurities.
  • Distilled water is cleaner and safer than faucet water, but it’s lacking healthy minerals and has a flat taste.

🆚 Main Difference Between Tap Water And Distilled Water

💡 The main difference between tap water and distilled water is that tap water contains trace levels of contaminants and impurities like heavy metals, chemicals, and minerals, while distilled water is entirely free from all impurities and contains pure H2O.

🚰 What Is Tap Water?

Tap water is the water that comes out of our faucets.

Most people are on a municipal water system. That means their water is treated at a local treatment plant before being delivered to their homes.

The municipal water treatment process removes sediment and debris, kills microorganisms, and reduces harmful contaminants down to trace levels.

However, it doesn’t remove all impurities entirely, so tap water often contains small amounts of chemicals, metals, and other inorganic and organic materials.

Filling a glass with tap water

What Is Tap Water Used For?

Tap water is used for everything we do around our homes.

That includes washing clothes and dishes, cooking, drinking, showering and bathing, and running other water-using appliances and fixtures.

💧 What Is Distilled Water?

Distilled water is tap water that has been boiled and condensed, removing all dissolved ions and impurities.

Water is distilled in a distiller unit. The boiling chamber contains a heating element, which heats water until it vaporizes. The steam travels along a cooling corridor, where it condenses back into liquid form.

This purified water travels through a small carbon filter and out of the distiller spout, where it’s collected in a clean container.

The majority of impurities have different boiling points than water, which means they remain in the boiling chamber when water evaporates.

Pouring distilled water from glass container

What Is Distilled Water Used For?

Distilled water is typically used in situations where purified water is required.

For instance, you might use this water type to fill a fish tank, a steam iron, a car cooling system, or any other appliance or unit that could be harmed if used with ordinary tap water.

You can also drink distilled water, since it’s free from harmful contaminants and therefore safer than tap water. However, distilled water doesn’t have any specific health benefits, and it has a “flat” taste due to its lack of alkaline minerals.

🤔 How Are Tap Water And Distilled Water Different?

Let’s look in more detail at the differences between tap water and distilled water.

Water Purity

Distilled water is purer and cleaner than tap water.

A tap water supply typically contains chemicals, metals, and other contaminants that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deems to be safe in trace levels.

Distilled water has been treated to remove these impurities. It’s free from all harmful contaminants and all healthy minerals and salts.

Health Properties

Tap water is technically healthier than distilled water, despite containing impurities that pose health risks, because it still contains essential minerals.

While distilled water is impurity-free, it doesn’t have any health benefits because it doesn’t contain the trace elements that we need to survive.

That doesn’t necessarily mean distilled water is unhealthy, though – you should be getting all the nutrients you need in your diet anyway.

Healthy minerals found in water

Water Taste

Tap water has a better taste than distilled water because of its mineral content.

Tap water contains salts and minerals that give it a pleasant alkaline taste. However, it also contains chlorine, which has a chemical taste.

Distilled water is chlorine-free, but it’s also mineral-free, so it has a bland, “flat” taste that many people don’t enjoy. So, you’ll probably prefer drinking tap water compared to distilled water.

Treatment Method

Distilled water has been treated with a more thorough, comprehensive process than tap water.

The distillation process involves boiling water until it vaporizes, then directing the water vapor into a separate chamber to condense into pure distilled water that’s free from all total dissolved solids. Alongside reverse osmosis filters, water distillers are some of the most comprehensive water treatment technologies.

Tap water is treated at water treatment plants, which use several more basic filtration processes to disinfect water, remove sediment and debris, and reduce harmful contaminants down to trace levels. These processes don’t produce pure water, but water is deemed safe to drink according to EPA standards.

distilled water vs tap water treatment method

Water Safety

Distilled water is safer to drink than tap water because it contains only water molecules, with no potentially dangerous impurities.

The distillation purification process eliminates chemicals, metals, and other possibly health-harmful contaminants, like lead, chlorine, arsenic, fluoride, and nitrate.

Normal drinking water from the tap hasn’t been treated with a water purification method, so it’s likely to contain trace levels of these dangerous contaminants. You can still drink tap water as it’s legally safe, but it’s not as safe as distilled water.

🥤 Is Tap Water Or Distilled Water Better To Drink?

So, comparing distilled water vs tap water, which should you drink?

You might prefer distilled water if you’re concerned about contaminants in your drinking water and you want the reassurance of the purest water that’s guaranteed to be contaminant-free.

Drinking distilled water is also a good option if you’re immunocompromised and want to protect your health as much as possible with your drinking water choices.

Keep in mind that distilled water isn’t your only way to enjoy contaminant-free water. There are also water treatment systems, like activated carbon filters, sediment filters, and ion exchange filters, which produce filtered water that’s free from many harmful contaminants but still contains naturally occurring minerals.

Or, you might prefer to drink normal tap water if you don’t enjoy the taste of purified water or you can’t afford to purify water at home. You could always buy bottled distilled water occasionally if you only need this water type for specific other uses, like filling a fish tank.

🔚 Final Word

There’s no definite winner in this distilled water vs faucet water comparison.

We’re more inclined to recommend distilled water because it’s free from harmful contaminants.

But that doesn’t mean distilling your water is the best choice for you. Remember that you can use other water filters to remove impurities while retaining the healthy minerals that contribute to water’s pleasant alkaline taste.

👨‍🔧 Check out our guide to the best water distillers to find out which at-home distillation machines we recommend today.

  • Jennifer Byrd
    Water Treatment Specialist

    For 20+ years, Jennifer has championed clean water. From navigating operations to leading sales, she's tackled diverse industry challenges. Now, at Redbird Water, she crafts personalized solutions for homes, businesses, and factories. A past Chamber President and industry advocate, Jennifer leverages her expertise in cutting-edge filtration and custom design to transform water concerns into crystal-clear solutions.

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