Distilled Water vs. Purified Water: What’s the Difference?

You can have great-tasting water that’s better for you.

Are you searching for a way to drink more water every day? Having access to healthy, great-tasting water can make all the difference when it comes to wanting to drink more.

Should you get a filter? You may have wondered about the difference between kinds of waters, like distilled, purified or simple tap water. Let’s take a closer look so you can decide for yourself what makes sense for your life.

Distilled Water vs. Purified Water vs. Tap Water

All three can be fantastic options for getting better quality water into your system, but you should be aware of their differences, advantages, and downsides.

Distilled Water

Distilled water is a specific type of purified water that’s undergone an evaporation process. During the distillation process, the water in the initial chamber is heated and turns into steam.

The result is that all chemicals, minerals, and contaminants are left behind. Only the pure water travels through the distiller and into a collection chamber.

Budget-in Plenty Of Time

The entire procedure is time-consuming, and you can expect it to take several hours just to process a single gallon of water. If you plan ahead, this isn’t as bad as it first seems.

Benefits of Using Distilled Water

Here are some of the main reasons you’d want to reach for a water distiller.

  • Fantastic for unknown contaminants: Distilling your water makes it impossible for many contaminants to cling to water particles. It’s an excellent way to tackle bacteria and viruses that can survive other filtration options. If you have untreated well water or use a natural water source while camping, a water distiller is an excellent choice.
  • Successfully removes chlorine and pesticides: Some of the trickier-to-eliminate contaminants can stick around during other filtration methods. Fortunately, a distiller can successfully eradicate them.
  • Improved taste and removal of excessive minerals: Charcoal-based filtration can only do so much when it comes to attacking excess minerals, which can negatively impact the taste of your water. Water distillers remove the minerals and leave you with fresh water you’ll want to drink.
  • Perfect choice for a compromised immune system: Have someone in your family with an underperforming immune system? Distilled water is the purest form of water available, limiting any risk to your loved one (1).
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Drawbacks of Using Distilled Water

There are plenty of reasons to drink distilled water, but there are also a few notable drawbacks.

  • Distilling isn’t a fast process: Home water distillers usually provide a relatively small amount of water over an extended period. You can expect it to take between 5 and 6 hours to distill a single gallon of water. If you drink a lot of water in your household, that just might not be practical.
  • Can be more expensive: Other filtering options rely on the water moving through a stationary filter. The external housings and filtering systems vary in price, but the filters are generally affordable. Water distillers, on the other hand, require a specialized piece of equipment that’s more complicated and costly to manufacture.
  • Removes all the bad — but also the good: The distillation process leaves your water devoid of beneficial minerals like magnesium and calcium. This can undoubtedly be a good thing, but those building blocks are also critical to a healthy body. If you choose distilled water, you’ll want to make sure your diet is balanced and capable of providing those minerals.

How to Distill Water

If you’re looking to distill water in your own home, there are a couple of ways it can be done. The two basic distillation types are electric and non-electric water distillers.

Electric Water Distiller

These water distillers plug into an outlet and run similarly to a coffee maker. There’s an initial water chamber where you place your tap water. Start the distiller, and a heating element brings the water up to temperature so it can begin to turn into steam.

Since the unit is contained, this steam will look to “escape” the water chamber and is forced to travel through the chamber exit. On the other side of that exit, a collection carafe captures the steam, and it returns to liquid form, free from contaminants.

Always account for the electricity used with these models. It will impact both where and when you can use it, as well as the running cost. These units can run from affordable to quite expensive, and some may offer additional filtration as well.

Non-Electric Water Distillers

Like their electric counterparts, these water distillers need a heating element to work. Many are designed to work on a stove or even over an open fire. Plan on regularly being somewhere you may not have access to electricity and need distilled water? These models might be what you’re looking for.

Specialized distiller options are also available. These usually consist of a self-contained unit with multiple compartments, which can be a great option for camping. Like the electric water distillers, you can spend quite a bit of money on a non-electric model, but affordable options are available as well.

Purified Water

Depending on the purification process you go with, algae, bacteria, fungi, and parasites can be eliminated from your drinking water. Purified water frequently has chemicals, hard metals and even minerals removed from it as well.

Benefits of Using Purified Water

Are you wondering if purifying your water will be worth it? Here are some of the main reasons to take the extra step and purify your water.

  • Water will taste better: Normal, healthy minerals and water variants can change the taste of your water. Sometimes, you may find the chemicals used during the city’s treatment leaves your water with an odor or taste; purified water avoids this.
  • Healthier water can make for a healthier you: Using purified water can prevent ugly waterborne illnesses like giardia and E.Coli. Reducing chlorine levels in drinking water has even been linked to a decrease in cancer (2).
  • You’ll likely drink more water: Great-tasting water will have you reaching for another glass instead of other beverage options. This can lead to better-looking skin and may even help you lose a few vanity pounds. It’s well documented that people sometimes mistake thirst for hunger and eat extra calories instead of hydrating.

Drawbacks of Using Purified Water

When compared to the benefits of using purified water, the “negatives” can be seen as quite trivial. Here are some of the frequently cited drawbacks.

  • More expensive: Purchasing and installing a purification system (or buying water that’s already been purified) is more costly than drinking water straight out of the tap.
  • On-going maintenance: Whether you have a system that needs to be maintained, or you have to make water runs, there’s more maintenance involved when using purified water.
  • Created waste: Some feel that the use of filters (the packaging and production of them) produces too much additional waste. Disposable plastic water bottles are also a significant contributor to landfills (3).

How to Purify Water

Intend to purify your water at home? The type of purifying you opt for will depend on the water quality you have to begin with.

If your water has been previously treated, a light filtration approach may be more than enough. However, should you have access to untreated water (from a well on your property, for instance), you may need more heavy-duty filtration.

Here are some of the most common ways to filter your water:

  • Use a whole house filtration system: These systems can be more costly to install. But, once in place, maintenance is infrequent and straightforward. Being larger units, they’re an excellent option for water that needs more rigorous cleaning. Such filtration systems process all the water coming into your house, meaning your drinking, bathing, and laundry water will be purified.
  • Under sink water filters: Most of these systems are installed directly into a sink’s water line, usually in the kitchen. There are some more sophisticated reverse osmosis options that can be installed in your sink, but many are simple charcoal filters. Once installed, these require regular filter changes but are hooked up directly to your tap.
  • Water pitcher filters: Perfect for keeping in a refrigerator or bringing with you when you’re on the go, these pitchers are equipped with a charcoal filter. Add water into the reservoir, and it drips down through the filter. You’ll need to change the filter monthly — and refill the chamber as needed — but these are cost-efficient to buy and maintain.
  • Water distillers: Water distillers are usually designed to sit on your counter and operate similarly to coffee makers. They require minimal maintenance and are an excellent option for dealing with small quantities of water that need heavy filtration.

When it comes to the filtering process itself, you’ll usually see the following approaches used:

  • Reverse osmosis filters: A reverse osmosis system offers extensive filtering capabilities. They’re usually quite large but can be found in under sink styles as well. These systems remove all of the contaminants along with some healthy minerals. While other systems stop there, reverse osmosis filters have additional phases where the nutritious components are reintroduced to the water.
  • Carbon filters: An excellent choice for light filtration, carbon-based filters help remove impurities and sediment from your water. They’ll leave you with fresh-tasting, odorless water and can be had at an affordable price.
  • UV filters: UV light is capable of destroying bacteria and viruses. A UV filter provides easy and thorough disinfection to give you safe drinking water.

Tap Water

If you don’t have any form of filtration in your home, the water straight from your tap is regular tap water. The source of this may be a well or municipal water holding.

Benefits of Using Tap Water

Wondering why you should stick with tap water? Some people are more than happy to stick with tap water rather than invest in distillation or purification:

  • Little maintenance: Other than maintaining the pipes and plumbing system in your home, there isn’t much that goes into the maintenance of tap water. No recurring filter purchases or replacements keep things simple and low-cost.
  • Great for needing large quantities of water: Access to tap water is instantaneous. As long as your tap is open, you have water coming in. Both purified and distilled water processes require additional time, which can slow you down.
  • Tap water can have healthy minerals: Some water sources have healthy minerals for your body, like magnesium and calcium. These can sometimes be removed during both purification and distillation.

Drawbacks of Using Tap Water

Tap water can certainly be healthy for you. But, there are some good reasons people opt and use purified or distilled water instead:

  • What’s in your tap water? Does your water come from an untreated well? Does it travel a long route from its treatment spot to your home? You won’t always know if your water’s encountering harmful contaminants along the way.
  • Lead piping: Homes used to rely on lead piping for water supply. Although this is being phased out, some lead piping still exists (4). Lead is a well-known toxic metal, and lead consumption should be avoided (5).
  • Not all tap water has a pleasant taste or odor: Some of this will come down to preference, but not every tap water source has the same taste. You may find opting for purified or distilled water gives you the taste you’re looking for.

Distilled Water, Purified Water Or Tap Water — What’s Right for You?

Weighing the pros and cons of each type of water to determine which is best for your household? Here are a few things to consider while you sort through the options:

  • What’s in your water: Test your water and take a good look at the specific kinds of contaminants it has in it. Does your water supply run through old, lead piping? Factor in whether you’re on city water or well water. Knowing what you need to get rid of will help you select the perfect water for your home.
  • Consider your budget: Once you know the scope of your needs, turn to your budget. This will help you narrow down the field of options and make sure you end up with something you’re comfortable with.
  • Determine if you need portability: Having a large installed system can be fantastic, but that does mean you won’t be able to take it with you. If you frequently travel and want to bring your healthy water with you, consider a smaller, more portable option.

Finding the Right Purified Water for You

Knowing what you’re looking for in your water source will help you determine what kind of purified water is right for the job. Once you’ve weighed the differences between distilled, purified, and tap water, you’ll have a better idea of which choice is best.

We always recommend having as much information as possible about your water before you start shopping and suggest a water test.

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About the Author

Sylvia Jones

Sylvia Jones is a hands-on, DIY aficionado from Indiana. She is passionate about home improvement, gardening, and environmental conservation. In her spare time, you can find Sylvia getting involved in home improvement projects around the house with her husband, or spending quality time out in the yard.