Yes, it is safe to drink distilled water. Distilled water results from the distillation process where 99.9% of impurities such as dangerous chemicals and dissolved inorganic minerals are eliminated. Pathogens and microbes are also eliminated because the process involves heating water at high temperatures., Simply put, microorganisms cannot survive distillation.

The effectiveness of the distillation process, however, also introduces some concerns. Distilled water may present health problems if it’s the only water you consume. The process removes all the dissolved minerals. This affects the PH and electrolyte balance in the body system.

Individuals who are fasting, athletes, and cancer patients are advised to avoid demineralized water. Continuous drinking of distilled water results in electrolyte imbalance which may cause adverse health problems.

The Distillation Process

When done properly and under the right condition, distillation arguably provides the best method to purify water. First, water is heated until it evaporates, forming water vapor. This steam is then cooled in a separate chamber and stored. Proper storage is necessary to avoid leaching toxic content back to the water.

This video explains how a simple distillation works:

A simpler way of achieving this is using a water distiller. Home distillation units are also available and can provide you with distilled drinking water.

What Is Distilled Water?

Distilled water comes from the distillation process. The process is much like the earth’s hydrological cycle, a natural process where water evaporates in the atmosphere condenses and falls back as precipitation. It involves removing contaminants, inorganic minerals, and harmful chemicals.

The distillation process entails boiling water which evaporates before condensing back to a liquid form. Doing this at home is complicated; however, the use of a water distiller makes it easier.

Risks Involved in Drinking and Using Distilled Water

Distilled water lacks essential minerals such as magnesium and calcium. Drinking waters that lack essential nutrients can cause negative health effects on certain groups of people. Some of the standout risks involved in drinking distilled water include:

Failure to Maintain Mineral Balance After Excretion

Essential minerals such as sodium are lost during sweating or in urine. Drinking water is a sure way to replace these essential minerals.

Sustained intake of distilled water will result in mineral deficiencies in the body. This is because distilling water eliminates any minerals in the water. Such a scenario would pose health risks.

Changes to the Mineral Balance of the Body System

Continuously drinking distilled water for long periods may result in a condition known as acidosis. Although the condition is rare, it happens when a person is not getting any other nutrients from another source.

The condition results from an imbalance in the PH and electrolytes in the human body. Sustained drinking distilled water causes the body’s PH to fall to 7.35. The human body reacts by retaining water, cramping, high blood pressure, fatigue, and headaches.

Environmental Effects

Distilling water leaves behind hard water and water that is highly salinated. This raises an environmental problem in the surrounding ecosystem, the water supply, and sources. Other notable risks include:

  1. Distilled water has a bland and flat taste that discourages people from drinking water, leading to dehydration. The taste is a cause of low oxygen content in the water.
  2. Reducing the metabolic function of the body.
  3. The distillation process is energy inefficient. It approximately takes 3 hours to distill a gallon of water.

How Distilled Water Affects Home Appliances

Many coffee enthusiasts seem to believe that using distilled water will prolong the life of their coffee machines. This is partly due to the absence of minerals that cause scale buildup in the appliances.

Since distilled water lacks ions such as magnesium and calcium, there is often a leaching effect from the coffee appliance. Remember that coffee machines are made of brass, stainless steel, brass, and nickel. The leaching effect on these metal elements may cause negative health issues in the long run.

Benefits of Drinking Distilled Water

Drinking distilled water comes with several benefits. Here are some that stand out:

Elimination of Harmful Contaminants

Distilling water guarantees the elimination of heavy metals, pesticides, and other harmful contaminants. The level of contaminants in public water sources that supply tap water to households depends on the local regulations. It is important to do a water analysis to determine your water quality. If the level of contaminants is high, you may need to purify water for drinking.

Contaminated water is dangerous to those that have compromised immunities. Those living with HIV/AIDs are at a higher risk after consuming impure water. Distilling water is a sure way of water purification for such groups.

Tap water from the utility companies is chlorinated. Distilling water will remove the chlorine making your drinking water safer. There is also no extra sodium in the water.

Distillation Reduces the Risk of Getting Diseases

This is especially true in private wells or rural areas where the water contains high levels of pathogens.

Drinking distilled water is a sure way to cleanse your bloodstream with pure water. The blood acts as a transport fluid transporting minerals and oxygen throughout your body while eliminating waste like carbon dioxide. Although supporting data is limited, some groups of people believe in the cleansing properties of pure water.

Uses of Distilled Water

Apart from consumption, distilled water is useful in a variety of ways. This comes about due to the absence of minerals in the water

  • Fish aquariums
  • Cooling systems in vehicles

distilled water for cooling vehicle

  • For experiments in labs
  • In selected medical devices and services – CPAP machines, cleaning wounds and scrubbing
  • Cosmetics
  • Canned goods

What to Consider Before Distilled Water Is Safe to Drink

Drinking distilled water may be influenced by the following factors:

  1. The quality of your tap water
  2. Access to clean drinking water. Some people who do not have access to clean water prefer to distill their drinking water.
  3. Higher levels of vitamins and minerals in a diet. If you are getting enough from other sources, you can drink distilled water.
  4. The taste – Some individuals report that distilled drinking water is not palatable.
  5. Cost factor – Distilling water is expensive. There are cheaper alternatives to purifying water.
  6. Availability of other sources of water such as bottled water.

Distilled Water Vs. Purified Water

Reverse osmosis is the most effective method of purifying water. Water is passed through extremely thin membranes, which trap most contaminants. That is considered purified water.

Distillation is considered a method of purifying water, with the only difference in the absolute elimination of mineral content in the water.

Distilled Water Vs. Filtered Water

Filtered water refers to water passed through filtration systems such as carbon filters. Filtration removes unwanted chemicals and microorganisms from drinking water.

Filtered water has a better taste than distilled water. This is as a result of mineral content retained in filtered water.

Different filters work on different contaminants. Filtering water is the most common method of cleaning contaminated water. For instance, manufacturers filter water and package it in plastic bottles, and sell it as ready-to-drink.

The packaging of distilled water is also different from filtered water. Due to the high absorption rates of distilled water, packaging it in plastic bottles is not recommended.

Distilled water can easily leach undesirable compounds from plastic, metal pipes, or other containers. Filtered water is easily packaged in bottles and distributed as bottled water.

Distilled Water Vs. Tap Water

Some regions have tap water that is considered “hard.” This means that it contains high levels of dissolved minerals.

Hard water easily causes mineral buildup in pipes resulting in scaling. The same effect is also replicated in our bodies with continuous consumption of hard water.

Hard water containing sodium bicarbonate is especially troublesome as it is deposited along the arteries resulting in the hardening of the blood vessels.

Distilled water, due to the absence of minerals, does not deposit any minerals into the bloodstream. Residents in areas with hard water can use distilled water for consumption.

What Do Water Distillers Remove From Drinking Water?

A water distiller works to eliminate all dissolved minerals in the water. As water moves from the water supply to your faucets, there might be an unwanted buildup of minerals in the pipes.

A water distiller will eliminate heavy metals like lead and arsenic from the water. Pathogens and microbes will also be removed. When combined with a carbon postfilter, the distiller can completely eliminate volatile organic compounds.

Water distillers can eliminate up to 99.9% of dissolved mineral substances and convert seawater, making it possible to consume.

Compared to the set maximum level of contaminants set by the environmental protection agency, a distillery can fulfill these regulations.

Many homes use distilleries as a form of water treatment due to dealing with any chemical leaching in old pipes.

For water that has excessive mineral content and high levels of harmful contaminants, water distillation is recommended.

Some contaminants removed by distillers include fluoride, chlorine, arsenic, viruses, nitrates, and rust. Electrolytes removed include phosphate, sodium, and chloride.

Alternatives to Distilled Water

There are other alternatives to distilled water that are safe to drink. Other than using water distillers, use the following filtration methods to get quality mineral water:

Using Carbon Filter

Like distillers, carbon filters are capable of removing contaminants, including chlorine. If there are only trace amounts of dissolved minerals in your water, you may not need a water distiller.

Distillation may be a better option for water purification, where water supply carries higher degrees of viruses, bacteria, and algae.

Essential minerals are retained in carbon filtration systems. For precise elimination of contaminants and retention of mineral salts, the use of activated carbon.

An Ultrafiltration(UV) System

The main difference between a water distiller and a UV system is the retention of dissolved minerals. Both systems process the water removing all levels of contaminants and unwanted chemicals.

Reverse Osmosis (RO) System

safe drinking water with ro system

Reverse osmosis systems also do remove some level of minerals dissolved in the water. If you wish to prevent this, combine the RO system with a re-mineralizer.

World Health Organization (WHO) Recommendations

The WHO recognizes several methods of demineralizing water, chief among them distillation. Distilled water was first used for industrial, technological, and technical purposes.

Later on, WHO recognized distilled water as good for drinking, especially for sea fearers who had limited access to bottled or tap water. The organization also notes environmental research studies on consuming demineralized water purified through methods of desalination may result in pro-carcinogenic effects. The body recommends continued research in this aspect.

WHO points to health risks when distilled water is not mixed with other sources of nutrients. Distilled water is slightly more acidic, which can distort the balance in PH levels in the blood.

The lack of nutrients in distilled water affects the electrolyte balance, including destabilizing sodium, zinc, calcium, and magnesium levels in the body.

The PH of blood is about 7.35 and 7.45. Distilled water PH stands at 7.0. When a lot of distilled water is consumed, the PH of the blood may fall to around below 7.35, which may lead to dire health consequences.

Electrolytes are essential minerals useful in our bodies’ transport fluids, which are affected by a high intake of water and food that lacks minerals.

The organization also recommends the need to have standardized levels of mineral content in water. This is partly due to the corrosive nature of demineralized water and issues concerning the health of people who consume it due to nutrient deficiencies.

WHO recommends the demineralization of distilled water. Based on data from academic research institutions, levels of nutrients (magnesium and calcium) should be as follows:

  1. A minimum of 10m/L and a maximum of 30m/L for magnesium
  2. A minimum of 20m/L and 50m/L for optimum levels for sodium.

Our Final Thoughts

Distilled water is safe to drink. The distillation process guarantees the removal of microbial contaminants, organic compounds, radioactive contaminants, and pesticides from your water.

Compared to tap water and bottled water, distilled water comes out on top as the purest form of water. Unlike bottled water, distilled water needs to be conserved in food-grade containers that ensure no leaching occurs.

Due to the imbalance between the water particles and requisite minerals for our bodies to operate, we recommend that you mix distilled water with other nutrient sources.

About the Author

Lucas Greer

Lucas vs. Wild - Lucas is a true nature lover and survivalist. When he's not teaching biology at school, he can be found in nature, hiking, climbing, camping, and rafting. He knows all the tricks and DIYs for making unclean water drinkable with simple means in an emergency. At school, his students love him for his exciting water filtration projects.

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