During my trip to Mexico, I noticed that supermarkets were mostly selling purified water, while in Europe we generally have mostly spring water, so I was wondering… What’s the difference between purified water vs distilled? I did a bit of research and here’s what I’ve found:
Purified water is safe to drink because any harmful contaminants have been removed while keeping the useful minerals such as calcium and magnesium that are good for your health. Distilled water is instead free from both the contaminants and the good minerals.
Table Of Contents
distilled water vs purified water – Comparison table
What’s the difference between distilled and purified water?
Here’s a quick comparison table between distilled vs purified water:
|Characteristic||Purified Water||Distilled Water|
|Safe To Drink?|
|Free Of Contaminants?|
As you can see, both distilled and purified water are safe to drink, even if distilled water has not a good taste.
Both purified water and distilled are without fluoride. If you are looking for some fluoride for your teeth, then you should choose a different type of water or get a fluoride toothpaste and regularly brush your teeth.
Luckily, chlorine is not present in both purified water and distilled. This is good news, especially considering that this chemical has been linked to an increased risk of colorectal cancer.
Distilled water is also lacking minerals that are good for your health, so, in general, purified water should be the preferred choice for drinking.
What is purified water?
Purified water is defined by law as water where the chemicals and other harmful contaminants are absent or reduced almost to zero. In purified water, the concentration of any dissolved solid impurity should be less than 10 PPM (parts-per-million)!
Purified water is good for drinking and it is mostly obtained by filtration and disinfection of tap water or groundwater to remove harmful impurities and contaminants such as:
- Traces of metals, such as lead or copper
- Bad chemicals
- Other parasites
Purified water is also good for your hair and skin by helping to keep out impurities.
How is the water purified?
The most used techniques to filter and purify water are:
- Reverse osmosis: the water is separated from salt and other contaminants thanks to a special semi-permeable membrane. Only the molecules of water are small enough to go through the membrane while the larger molecules and impurities, being too large, are stopped and filtered out by the membrane. Effectively, this technique is effectively removing the water from the contaminants.
- Deionization: removes salt and other impurities from the water. This method is more energy efficient compared to reverse osmosis, but it is effective for water that is not too salted.
Reverse osmosis water purification is also used on board of cruising yachts, so they can have access to a virtually unlimited supply of purified drinking water while at sea.
The most common water disinfection techniques are:
- UV light: it can disinfect the water very quickly, even while it is flowing into a pipe. This is very easy to perform (you just need a UV lamp) and it is usually applied as an additional step to the already filtered water, finalising the water purification process.
- Boiling the water: good but it is using much more energy compared to the UV light disinfection.
Less sophisticated systems can also be installed at home to purify the tap water and remove the need to continuously purchase bottled water.
In a few years a new generation of water purifier may become available thanks to new green technologies currently being researched.
What is the difference between drinking water and purified water?
Drinking water is a broad term referring to all types of water that are good for human consumption. Purified water is a type of drinking water that has been processed to remove all the potentially harmful impurities.
Another example of drinking water is spring water. While purified water has been purified by a machine, spring water is a type of drinking water that is naturally good enough to drink.
Can I use purified water for baby formula?
Purified water as well as all bottled water can be safely used for baby formula. Bottled water has also the advantage of being fluoride-free.
Doctors advise against using fluoridated water for babies because this can lead to dental fluorosis and other issues such as skeletal changes. So make sure to use bottled water to prepare the baby formula.
Can I use purified water in my humidifier?
Yes, purified water can be safely used for the humidifier. To ensure a healthy environment and promote good indoor air quality, it is best to use distilled, demineralised or purified water in your humidifier.
However, distilled water is the absolute best to use to extend the life of your humidifier because it doesn’t contain any minerals or impurities.
Purified water pros and cons
What are the pros and cons of purified water? Here’s a quick summary!
What are the disadvantages of purified water?
What is distilled water?
Distilled water is obtained through a process called distillation, during which the water is boiled and the vapor is then condensed in a separate container. Thanks to this process, the water is disinfected and purified from all the contaminants that don’t boil below 212°F (100°C), because they will simply remain in the original container.
The distillation process is very effective at removing harmful impurities from the water, such as:
- Viruses and bacteria, including parasites as giardia
- Dissolved metals like copper and lead
- Chemicals such as sulfate and chlorine
The distillation process works so well because the contaminants, chemicals and minerals that may be in the water have very high melting and boiling points, so when you boil it, the vapour will be pure H2O. This pure water vapour can then be captured, cooled and condensed into distilled water.
Unfortunately, distillation is also removing healthy minerals from the water.
Essentially, distilled water is the water of the highest purity, where everything else has been removed from it.
Rain is also a form of distilled water, because it comes from vapour condensation in the atmosphere. Unfortunately, due to the air pollution, it can be contaminated, so may not be safe to drink.
Is boiled water the same as distilled water?
Boiled water is not the same as distilled water, because the boiled water stays in the same container with all the contaminants. Distilled water is instead condensed vapour collected from boiling water and then condensed in a separate container, living all the impurities in the original tank.
Boiled water would be disinfected. However, it would still have eventual chemicals, metals and minerals that could be potentially harmful, depending on the quality of the original water.
Is drinking distilled water good for you?
Distilled water is safe to drink, however, being pure H2O, it lacks healthy minerals like calcium and magnesium found in purified or spring water. Distilled water will also have a very bland taste due to its extreme purity.
If you have some issues with your immunity, with diseases like cancer or HIV, distilled water may be a better choice of drinking water for you. This is because distillation is the most effective method of removing contaminants that can be especially harmful to immunocompromised people.
Drinking distilled water can in any case also lead to some health issues in the long run, so, as a general rule, it is better to drink it only every now and then.
Why can’t you drink distilled water?
While drinking distilled water is safe, it is best to do it in moderation, because being extremely pure, it may have the tendency to absorb good minerals from your body, including your teeth. On the other hand, this property of distilled water can also help you detox from harmful minerals, so it really depends on your condition and your reasons to drink this type of water.
Due to the lack of minerals and electrolytes, drinking distilled water for long periods of time can also lead to the following health issues:
- a reduction of the body’s metabolic function
- a more limited water consumption
- an electrolyte imbalance caused by sweating and urination
Our body is constantly losing some healthy minerals like sodium, potassium, magnesium, calcium, phosphorus, zinc and others, and if you drink only distilled water, those nutrients will not be replenished. So, while drinking distilled water can have some health benefits if you are immunocompromised, it is better to avoid its excessive consumption and alternate it with other types of drinking water.
If instead, you prefer to drink only distilled water, then it is better to follow a mineral-rich diet to compensate for the loss of minerals intake caused by this type of water.
How do I make distilled water at home EASY?
Making distilled water at home is very easy, just follow those simple steps:
- Take a large pot and make it half full of tap water
- Take a smaller ceramic bowl and make it float on the water inside the large pot
- Place the lid of the large pot and place it upside down on the large pot with the handle going inside the smaller bowl
- Switch on the fire and boil the water
- The vapour will start to condensate on the lid and it will slowly slide down the handle inside the ceramic bowl
- When finished, you will have distilled water inside the bowl
- Collect and store the distilled water you just made at home!
You can speed up the production of distilled water by putting some ice inside the upsidedown lid. This is because the vapour will condensate more quickly on the lid’s cold surface and will then flow more quickly into the bowl.
Can babies have distilled water with formula?
Yes, it is safe to use distilled water for the baby formula. Actually, paediatricians and formula makers are recommending to use of distilled water for babies on formula. This is because distilled water is free from any contaminants and your baby doesn’t risk having an overdose of minerals (that are already present in the baby formula).
Distilled water pros and cons
What are the pros and cons of distilled water? Here’s a quick summary!
What are the disadvantages of distilled water?
Which is better distilled or purified water?
Is it better distilled or purified water? They are both excellent types of water for drinking, so it really depends on your situation and preferences.
Here’s a quick comparison table to help you decide which one is better for you:
|Use||Purified Water||Distilled Water|
|Can you drink it all the time?|
Only if you follow a specific mineral-rich diet
|Is it good for immunocompromised people?||Yes, but less than distilled water|
|Can it be used for some forms of detoxing?|
|Can you make it at home?|
|Can you make it without special equipment?|
|Can it be used for the humidifier?||Yes, but distilled water is better|
|Can you mix it with baby formula?||Yes, but distilled water is better|
|Does it have good taste?|
bottled water sustainability issues & how to overcome them
Bottled water has a number of serious sustainability issues:
- 17 million barrels of oil are used every year in the United States just to produce the plastic needed for bottled water.
- Plastic waste: about 86% of the plastic water bottles in the United States is not recycled.
- Bottled water transport: water is heavy and moving it around the world is very energy-intensive, contributing to climate change and wasting valuable resources. Think about that the next time that you see that nice bottle of imported water at the supermarket.
The best alternative to bottled water is to drink tap water or if you don’t like it, you can make it much better by getting a water filter or a water purifier. A good water purifier can give you peace of mind that what you are drinking is safe, free of any eventual contaminants (especially chlorine) and has a great taste!
Home water purification, if used by everybody could become one of the great examples of sustainable development. Unfortunately, we are still quite far from that because of the still significant consumption of bottled water.
Having a simple water purification system is a wonderful way to improve sustainability and have a more sustainable lifestyle, reducing plastic waste and the emissions caused by the production and transport of bottled water.
Given the growing importance of sustainable development in our everyday life and for future generations, having a handy home filtration system to get amazing and healthy purified water is definitely something worth considering!
The good news is that a water purification system will also save you money in the long run, because you will not have to buy bottled water anymore and tap water is much cheaper (see table below). Good for your health, your pocket and the environment!
|Bottled Water Price||Tap Water Price|
|$0.64/gallon ($0.14/litre)||$0.02/gallon ($0.004/litre)|
But how long would it take for you to get back the money spent on the water purification machine? Have a look at the table below for a rough estimate:
|People In The Household||Cheap Water Filter ($50)||Medium Range Water Purifier ($400)||High-end Water Purifier ($2000)|
|Single||8 months||5 years||26 years|
|Couple||4 months||2.5 years||13 years|
|Family of 3||2.5 months||1.5 years||9 years|
|Family of 4||2 months||1 year and 2 months||6.5 years|
The table above gives you some ballpark figures about how long it would take to get back the investment made on a water purifier or filtration system.
While a cheap water filter may appeal more to a single person or to a couple, for families of 3, 4 or more it would be quite convenient to get a medium range water purifier, because the water quality would be better and in just over 1 year you would get back your investment.
Looking at the table above is also clear that going for a high-end purifier would make sense if you really want the very best quality of purified water for your family and are not very concerned about the cost of the machine.
What is clear is that there are good solutions for everybody and every pocket, so we have no excuses and we should stop using bottled water and start having a more sustainable lifestyle.
If instead, you prefer distilled water, you can always get a distiller or do it yourself at home. The cost of a distiller is around $150, then it will also use some electricity to function. Overall, it’s a quite affordable machine that can help to free the environment from some single-use plastic bottles.
Finally, we should not only be more sustainable with what we drink, there are many more examples of sustainability in everyday life that we can easily act upon.
I know that changing habits can be difficult, so if you need some motivation, you may like to read some powerful eco-friendly quotes inspiring sustainability. Saving the planet should be a priority for everybody, so we may very well start by simply stopping drinking bottled water and getting a water purifier or a distiller instead.
The choice between purified water vs distilled is very personal and it ultimately depends on your circumstances and preferences.
Maybe you prefer one or the other or maybe you could have a bit of both!
We truly can’t pick a clear winner between the two, because they serve different needs and the best drinking water can be different on a case by case basis.
For example, for babies on formula, distilled water would be the best. On the other hand, if you are an adult and you don’t want to have a mineral-rich diet, purified water would be best.
Just follow our comparison tables to get a better idea about which type of water would be better for you and if you have any medical condition or you are unsure, you should consult your doctor beforehand.