Distilled water or purified water? What’s the difference? Which is better? Well, it depends on what you’re using it for.
If you’re as serious as I am about having clean water in all areas of your life, you’ve searched high and low for the best water out there. You’ve probably come across all kinds of terms like “distilled” and “purified” water. And now you’re left scratching your head and wondering, “what’s the difference?”
Whether you’re comparing purified and distilled water to drink, cook with, or even make your own DIY products, we are about to lay it all out for you in the ultimate comparison between purified and distilled water!
The Difference Between Distilled Water and Purified Water
Remember the phrase, “all beans are legumes, but not all legumes are beans”? In this case, all distilled water is purified, but not all purified water is distilled.
Purified water is an “umbrella term” that includes all kinds of water that has been processed to remove impurities. Depending on the process, varying levels of impurities are left behind in the water.
Why Distilled Water is Different
Distilled water is a form of purified water that is considered to be about as pure as it gets.
Distillation involves boiling the water into steam to separate it from the impurities. The steam is then recondensed into water. The end result is water that is 99.99% free from minerals, bacteria, fungi, and other contaminants.
With distilled water, it doesn’t matter what kind of water you start off with. Once the water evaporates, it leaves behind all the impurities, leaving you with the consistent quality of pure steam. After all, steam is steam, right?
Purified Water May Not Be So Pure
Distilled water goes through a set process that produces the same results every time. Purified water is processed in a variety of ways which means the end result is not always the same.
Each of the processing methods leaves behind different types and amounts of impurities. In this case, you can only sometimes be sure how much of the bad stuff is still hanging around in your purified water. In fact, purified water may not be so “pure” after all.
Drawbacks of Distilled Water
As great as distilled water can be, there are a few drawbacks. Although most grocery stores sell distilled water, you may only be able to find it in gallon jugs. This can be tough to deal with, especially if you plan to use distilled water regularly.
There are other options available such as making your own distilled water at home or purchasing a distillation unit. You can find a great comparison chart of several units here. Again, both of these options will cost you either time or money, so it’s really up to you how much distilled water you want to incorporate into your routine.
Later in this article, we will explore the pros and cons of distilled versus purified water for some common ways you may want to use them. Based on how easily you can get your hands on distilled water, you can pick and choose which of the uses are most important to you.
Comparing Distilled Water to Other Types of Purified Water
If distilled water is just one type of purified water, what other types can we compare it to? Great question!
Other forms of purified water use different methods of purification. These methods can include the use of filters, chemical treatment, deionization, and other tactics to remove the impurities from the water.
Here are a few of the most common types of purified water…
Distilled Water vs. Reverse Osmosis Water
Reverse osmosis water – water is run through an excellent membrane where any particles other than water cannot pass through.
The only difference between distilled water and reverse osmosis water is the process. The end result is the same: reverse osmosis water can be substituted for distilled water. It can be like taking two different routes on a map to get to the same destination.
Distilled Water vs. Deionized Water
Deionized water – water is chemically processed to remove mineral ions that are either positively or negatively charged
Deionization is not effective at removing neutral ions or bacteria, viruses, etc.
What this means in simple terms is that some of the minerals and contaminants are still left behind in your water. For this reason, deionized water is not considered to be the same quality as distilled water.
Distilled Water vs. Demineralized Water
Demineralized water – water is processed almost the same way as deionized water, but demineralization also removes neutral mineral ions
Demineralization does not get rid of the bacteria, viruses, etc. You can think of demineralized water as one step up from deionized water, but it is still not as pure as distilled water.
When to Use Distilled Water vs. Purified Water
It’s good to have a general idea of the differences between distilled and purified water. But the more practical thing to be aware of is choosing the right one when you need it!
Let’s talk about some of the most common uses for purified and distilled water and why you might want to choose one over the other.
Drinking Water for Different Ages Groups
Choosing distilled vs. purified water to drink can have different pros and cons depending on the person. Your age group plays a big role in determining which may be best for you.
Adults and Kids
When it comes to which type of water is better for drinking, distilled water is best for limiting your body’s exposure to contaminants. But, drinking purified water in a pinch will do little harm for most kids and adults.
Even though the quality isn’t as high as it could be, drinking purified water from a bottle isn’t the end of the world. After all, it’s still better than drinking water from a puddle on the ground or a nearby stream!
In fact, some occasional exposure to the bacteria present in purified water can actually help to strengthen the immune system in kids.
Remember, this is something you want to avoid exposing yourself or your child to all the time. Drinking contaminated water can open the door for all kinds of sickness and disease, so it’s always best to stick with the best quality water you can find. Remember, it’s better to be safe than sorry!
Infants and Babies
When it comes to water for babies, it is much more important to stick to distilled water. It is always best to give your baby the purest water you can get your hands on because contaminants and bacteria can be much more dangerous for them.
Exposure to these impurities in drinking water may cause problems for babies that you might not expect. The consequences range from mineral imbalances and upset stomachs to seizures and even death.
Whether your baby is drinking formula or they are old enough to drink straight water, always be sure to play it safe. The way to do that is by using only distilled water for your baby.
Elderly and People with Health Conditions
Distilled water is considered extremely pure and a very safe option to drink for people with health conditions or weakened immune systems. In these cases, purified water is not recommended.
For the folks with compromised immune systems, you should be very cautious about the type of water you drink. Contaminants, pollutants, and abnormal amounts of certain minerals can all throw off your immune system. If your immune system is already weakened or compromised, then this can cause far worse effects for you than for others.
There are several groups of people who should be especially careful and stick to drinking distilled water. Some examples are people going through chemotherapy or cancer, people who have had organ transplants, those with immune disorders, and the elderly.
I like to think of the immune system as a cup. A cup can only hold so much water, just like your immune system can only fight off so much at one time. And just like a cup can overflow, the contaminants and other impurities can “overflow” in your body.
If your immune system is weaker, you can imagine your cup is smaller, and it can overflow much more quicker. Drinking distilled water won’t add any more junk to your immune system “cup”, so your body can focus its energy on other things.
Uses for Distilled vs. Purified Water
Distilled water is notorious for having a flat or bland taste. That is because all the minerals are removed, leaving you with just plain old water. For this reason alone, many folks aren’t a fan of drinking it, even if itmaybe purer than other types of purified water.
Purified water tends to have a much more desirable taste due to its mineral content. On the downside, not all forms of purified water remove the other junk you may not want to drink. While it may not be as big of a deal to drink purified water from time to time, it may not be ideal to drink purified water on a regular basis.
Some argue that distilled water isn’t healthy to drink because it doesn’t supply any vital nutrients our bodies need. So is it worth drinking purified water just to get the minerals? That’s up to you to decide.
If you think about it, nobody goes their whole life just drinking water! We can easily source all the essential vitamins and minerals we need from our food.
With this being the case, you can feel free to choose whether purity or mineral content is more important to you in your drinking water.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a little bit of a foodie! I can be pretty picky when it comes to the flavor and quality of the food I eat, so I can usually tell when something is “off”.
Now that I use high-quality water for everything in my home, I can say without a doubt that using cleaner water can affect the way your recipes taste.
Purified water can contain varying levels of sodium, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. These all contribute to the flavor of your water and eventually your food. A lot of these minerals can add an extra salty flavor that can easily throw off your recipe.
While distilled water might not have the best taste on its own, you might be surprised at how much more desirable it is for cooking! Distilled water offers a “clean slate” for you to create your own culinary masterpiece because it won’t directly interfere with the flavor.
Besides distilled water, one other type of purified water can deliver the same results. That is reverse osmosis water.
As we mentioned in the distilled and reverse osmosis water comparison, these two types of purified water are pretty much the same. In this case, it wouldn’t make a difference which one you choose.
There is one exception to the rule when it comes to the effect distilled water can have on the flavor of your food. If you use cast iron or aluminum cookware, you may notice that your food will take on a slightly metallic taste if you cook it with distilled water.
Because distilled water is free from metals, it naturally attracts some metal ions from your cookware and leeches them into your food. Over time, this can cause your cookware to corrode.
As long as you are careful with the type of cookware you use, distilled water is the best choice for cooking. If you use distilled water for cooking, you never have to worry about any unwanted junk creeping to mess up the flavor or quality of any dish you make.
Have you ever heard about the famous flavor of “New York” pizza? I promise you there is absolutely nothing like a fresh slice of pizza from a brick oven in New York. And I’m not just saying that because I was born in New York myself…
Long after I moved out of “the city that never sleeps”, I talked with a stranger who asked me if I knew why New York pizza was the best. I was stumped but guessed it was the dough. “Close,” he said smiling, “it’s the water in the dough.”
As it turns out, the stranger was right! With the perfect balance of minerals, New York city water is what gives their pizzas, bagels, and other baked goods their famous flavor.
As you bakers out there would know, baking is all about precision. The type of water you use in your baking recipes has an effect on the flavor and texture of your finished product. The proof is in the pudding – or in this case, the pizza!
When too many minerals are present in your water, your dough will become too tough. When there aren’t even minerals present in your water, the dough will become too soft and sticky.
Now that you know about this secret role that water plays in baking, you can choose for yourself which type of water is best for your recipe.
For firmer baked goods like pie crusts or crackers, purified water is the better choice. But for softer baked goods like banana bread or muffins, distilled water is the way to go.
If you’re into canning, you know that sterilization is the secret to successful canning. It is extremely important to clean your equipment and jars before you can your fruits, vegetables, or other tasty treats. But there is one secret you may not know that can help your canned foods last even longer…
Distilled water is considered sterile, so it is the best type of water to use for canning. You can be sure that no bacteria are making their way into your food, so the chances of it spoiling over time are much lower.
Using purified water for canning totally defeats the purpose of sterilizing because it adds bacteria and germs right back in. So, you are actually undoing all your hard work when you use purified water in your canning recipes!
DIY Beauty Products
Beauty products can be pretty pricey, especially natural ones. So making your own version at home can be a great way to keep the spa experience and save some bucks! Now the question is whether you should use purified water or distilled water in your DIY recipes.
Believe it or not, distilled water wins again – for more than one reason!
The bacteria and other microorganisms found in purified water can grow over time in small containers. So when you use purified water, your products will become a bacteria breeding ground.
So what I’m telling you here is DIY face lotion made with purified water equals a bacteria party on your face. Gross.
On top of it all, you may not get your money’s worth out of your product. The bacteria will cause your products to spoil a lot faster than they should. With that being the case, making your own beauty products with purified water won’t save you much money in the long run.
If you really want to save yourself time and money on your DIY beauty products, then reach for distilled water when you make your next round of product!
If you are having a hard time keeping houseplants alive and healthy, then it may be time to switch up the water. Distilled water is not just better for humans. It’s better for plants too!
I have to admit, I have more houseplants than I know what to do with. I took many of them in from friends who either couldn’t take care of them anymore or thought they were dying. I’m happy to say that each one has bounced back with the help of clean water.
If you think about it, plants are naturally designed to survive in rainwater. So, if you want to keep your plants happy and healthy, it makes sense to give them rainwater.
But who has a secret stash of rainwater in their house? Not me! But what I do have is the next best thing – distilled water!
Thinking back to elementary school, you may remember the water cycle. When water evaporates into the air, it then condenses into clouds in the sky and falls back to the ground as rain. This process of evaporating and condensing is exactly what happens during distillation!
Reverse osmosis water is very similar to distilled water, so you can substitute RO water if you can’t use distilled. RO water can also be an excellent option to keep your plants alive longer and keep them looking healthier.
If you are taking good care of your plants, but can’t figure out why they still get brown tips or are slowly declining over time, then it probably has to do with the water.
In fact, too many minerals can actually harm your houseplants. Plants get all the minerals they need from their soil or fertilizer. So they don’t need the extra dose that comes in certain forms of purified water.
To keep your plants healthy, the best bet is to stick with distilled water.
Small Household Appliances
Beyond the uses for humans and plants, there are a few other times you may need to choose between purified and distilled water.
From humidifiers and CPAP machines to irons and coffee pots, plenty of small household appliances use water! By now, you shouldn’t be surprised to find out that distilled water is better to use in this application.
If you’ve ever used purified water in a humidifier or CPAP machine, you’re no stranger to the white scale buildup in the water tank. It can be a serious pain to keep up with. But it doesn’t have to be if you use distilled water!
The scale you see is actually a residue of the minerals left behind by the water that your machine turned into steam. Because distilled water doesn’t have any minerals to leave behind, you won’t have to clean your humidifier or CPAP nearly as often.
There can be several metal components inside in other handy tools like irons or kitchen essentials such as coffee pots. These components can rust and corrode beyond repair when exposed to mineral buildup over time. Again, distilled water can prevent these mishaps and keep your small appliances running smoothly!
Distilled Water vs. Purified Water – The Winner?
Now you know the difference between distilled water and the other types of purified water and when to choose one over the other. So which is better – distilled water or purified water? If you’re still reading, then you probably figured out that it depends on what you’re using it for.
For the most part, distilled water is safer and better for keeping your bodies, plants, and even household appliances running the way they should.
But in certain situations, like making pizza dough or boiling water in an aluminum pot, it’s a good idea to use purified water.
At the end of the day, purified water can be used in a pinch. But I highly recommend having some distilled water at your fingertips if you want to work with the best!