Distilled water is used in pharmacies and laboratories due to its purity. In fact, a water distiller can effectively eradicate 99.9% of bacteria, dissolved organics, and chemicals from water. However, along with the removal of harmful contaminants is the removal of essential minerals as well such as magnesium, calcium, and sodium. So the big question is: is distilled water safe to drink?

The short answer is, yes.

It is safe to drink distilled water. Distillation is a natural process that cleanses water in a manner comparable to the earth’s hydrologic cycle. There are no harmful chemicals or disinfectants added to the water. What’s left out of the water is the source of concern.

Why we need water

We all know that consuming water is vital to our health due to several reasons:

  • Lubricates the joints
  • Serves as protection for cells and organs
  • Aids in waste removal
  • Dissolves nutrients
  • Prevents body overheating

While our body can get essential minerals from water, it should never be the primary source because it won’t be enough. One of its main jobs is to dissolve the food we consume for easier digestion. Water also balances the concentration of solutes and maintains homeostasis within the body. As a matter of fact, every cell in our body contains water! 

  • Intracellular fluid (ICF): ⅔ of water inside the body
  • Extracellular fluid (ECF): ⅓ of water inside the body
human body water

Minerals

Electrolytes are vital to our health as these are essential minerals that transport fluids into your muscles and carry signals between cells. Fruits and vegetables are an effective source to get our minerals. 

As per the World Health Organization, “Individuals who would receive the greatest benefit from the presence of minerals in drinking water are those individuals with marginal intakes from food sources. In the United States, the 50th percentile dietary intakes from food appear to be adequate in most cases, with the exception of iron intakes by women”.

In the U.S., lack of minerals is not the problem but the excess of it. A lot of people consume up to 130-160 mmol/day of sodium when our bodies only need 1-2 mmol daily. This excess in sodium can pave the way for hypertension or high blood pressure. 

Now what happens with these excess minerals? The kidneys flush them out. To help your kidneys, you have to drink more water because hydration prevents the kidneys from being exhausted. Let’s say you had way too much chips on a family day out, here’s what takes place:

  1. Sodium gathers in the ECF.
  2. The ECF takes water from the ICF.
  3. The brain receptors find out that there’s too much sodium concentration.
  4. You start to feel thirsty!

To our point, you’d want to drink distilled water since you don’t need any more sodium in your body.

Distilled water

Distilled water is water treated using a water distiller. A water distiller first turns water into steam to leave the contaminants and minerals behind. Once the steam cools, it undergoes condensation to go back to liquid state. This is similar to how nature recycles water through a hydrologic cycle. 

So yes, distilled water is safe to drink since there are no any added chemicals or disinfectants during the distillation process that can potentially harm you. Just consider if you need that extra minerals in other types of water or if you can just source them from whole foods instead. 

Uses of distilled water

Since it’s almost mineral-free, distilled water is great for household appliances and other device processes:

  • Steam irons
  • Watering of plants
  • Aquariums
  • Car cooling systems
  • Laboratory experiments
  • Medical devices such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) for sleep apnea

What can a water distiller remove?

The distillation process eradicates total dissolved solids (TDS) from water just like reverse osmosis (RO) and deionization (DI). To remove volatile organic compounds (VOCs), a carbon postfilter is added to a water distiller. 

Contaminants taken out

  • Algae
  • Arsenic
  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Chlorine
  • Copper
  • Cryptosporidium (crypto)
  • Fluoride
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Nitrates
  • Pesticides
  • Rust
  • Salt
  • Sulfates
  • Foul tastes and odors

Electrolytes removed

  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Chloride
  • Bicarbonate
  • Phosphate

You don’t have to worry since the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the maximum level of contaminants to keep drinking water safe. Too much contaminants may harm your body so distilled water is always a good idea as it cleans your drinking water without changing what water is. However, mineral-free water can be more soluble and may absorb metals from old pipes. For that very reason, distillation is not recommended for city water treatment. 

Benefits of distilled water

  • Removes 99.99% of dissolved solids and bacteria
  • No extra sodium
  • Prevents development of scales on appliances
  • Reduces waterborne diseases from occurring
  • Reduces the risk of consumption of harmful chemicals

Risks of distilled water

  • Lack of essential dissolved minerals like calcium and magnesium
  • Flat taste leading to reduced consumption
  • Decrease in the body’s metabolic function
  • Increase in urine output leading to electrolyte imbalance when too much
  • Cannot replace minerals lost through sweat 
  • Distilled water fasting can be dangerous since it has no minerals and may lead to acidosis 
  • Leaves behind highly salinated or hard water which may disrupt our environment

Other water types

Tap water

Tap water is basically the untreated water that comes out of the faucet. In some cases, it may have been disinfected using chlorine and filtered to get rid of the sediments. Fluoride may also be present which helps prevent tooth decay.

Filtered water

This is your tap water that has run through filters to take chlorine, bacteria, and chemicals out of the way. 

Purified water

There are different means to have purified water: reverse osmosis, ozonization, or distillation. The EPA has required that all purified water should not contain more than 10 ppm of TDS. In other words, purified water is one that’s free of chemicals and microbes.

Distilled water

As discussed, this is a type of purified water with no presence of salt, minerals and other organic substances.

Alternatives 

Of course there are other options other than distilled water!

Carbon filter

If your tap water does not have a lot of TDS, an activated carbon filtration system should do you enough. It removes chlorine, chemicals, and contaminants that may otherwise give you bad tasting and smelling water. There are also filter types that have the capability to remove cysts or lead. 

Reverse osmosis system

While reverse osmosis system can’t remove minerals from tap water, it requires no extra energy. It  has the capability to eradicate VOCs and dissolved solids. You can opt for systems with a remineralizing filter to put in minerals that were lost. You can also buy one with a permeate pump to increase efficiency by up to 85%!

Ultrafiltration system

An ultrafiltration system eradicates microscopic contaminants while keeping the dissolved minerals in. It can effectively block particles that are 5,000 times smaller than human hair. However, the pores are not big enough to get rid of the dissolved solids. This system does not produce any waste water which is a great thing!

FAQs

Can distilled water go bad?

If you plan on drinking distilled water, it’s safe to discard a jug after five years. But for other purposes, such as for appliances, you should be okay using one that’s quite old.

Is it safe for babies to drink distilled water?

Of course! In fact, we recommend it. It’s free of nasty chemicals so mixing it with baby formula will ensure that they’re only getting their minerals from the milk they’re drinking.

Can distillation remove volatile organics?

Some models may not have enough capability to remove volatile organics. But to make sure that these are being removed, there are units with patented twin volatile gas vents on the condensing coil to help remove virtually all contaminants present in water. 

Can I distill water at home?

There are distillation kits available for you and you can find some online. In fact, if you’re feeling extra resourceful, you don’t even need any kit! All you need are:

  • Large pot of boiling water
  • Bowl
  • Ice cubes

There are various tutorial videos online you can try to come up with your own distilled water at home!

Conclusion

Yes, distilled water is safe to drink! If you get enough minerals from your diet, then consuming this should not be a problem. It will give you water that’s pure and free of any bad smell or taste. You can even use it around your home to ensure that your appliances stay in their best shape.