Staying hydrated is important to maintaining good health. But is drinking distilled water, instead of other types of water, a healthy option?
Companies produce distilled water by boiling it and then condensing the collected vapor into a liquid. This process removes impurities and minerals from the water. Some sources claim that drinking this type of water will help detoxify the body and improve health. Others claim that distilled water leaches minerals from the body and could put your health at risk.
Distilled water is steam from boiled water that has been cooled and returned to its liquid state. Distillation removes all those impurities from the water. It also removes more than 99.9% of the dissolved minerals in the water.
However, this liquid is also known as ironing water . It is a highly concentrated liquid that can be added to the iron or steamer to give fabrics a good finish and freshness. It is a great addition to the ironing process as it gives the fabric a smooth, fresh finish and adds a fresh scent.
Regular tap water contains minerals, such as calcium, that will build up inside the iron. Even with a water softener, tap water will still contain trace amounts of minerals that will eventually clog the iron. For this reason, distilled water varieties are the best to use for irons.
Most of the time it is a scented water that can be alerted as “not suitable for steam generator irons”, although it is not recommended to use it with a normal iron either.
In essence, distilled water is not much different from other types of purified water. The only thing that differs is the way it is purified. Distillation is an ancient method and is relatively complicated and difficult to do at home without a distillation machine. Many municipalities in coastal communities use distillation facilities to treat ocean water, which is then used as drinking water by its residents.
Is it safe to drink?
There are some brands that have distilled waters suitable for drinking. However, we may find them bland. This is because it is devoid of important minerals like calcium, sodium, and magnesium that give tap water its familiar taste. What remains is just hydrogen and oxygen and nothing else.
Also, keep in mind that some contain perfume to give garments a scent when they are ironed. This makes them not drinkable or suitable for human or animal consumption. It is recommended to read the labeling of the container to know if it is possible to drink it.
In general, drinking distilled water is not dangerous. Many people in developed countries eat a varied diet and obtain their hydration and nutrition from a variety of sources. Healthy adults eating a balanced diet can drink distilled water if they prefer this method of water purification.
Distilled water storage could be a bigger problem. This water can extract minerals from any material it touches. This means that it can absorb small amounts of plastic or any substance that is in the container that contains it. Therefore, it is not recommended to take it, even if it is drinkable.
The main risks of drinking only distilled water are related to its lack of minerals, including magnesium and calcium.
According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), some of the adverse effects of drinking distilled or low-mineral water are a decrease in the body’s metabolic function and an increase in urine output, which could result in a electrolyte imbalance. According to the WHO, these and other associated health problems are due in part to the lack of minerals and electrolytes in distilled water. This deficiency causes harmful changes in the delicate balance of sodium, potassium, fluids, calcium, magnesium, zinc, phosphorous and other nutrients in the body.
When the body loses water through sweat and urine, it loses sodium and other minerals in addition to water. For the body to function properly, a person must replace those minerals. Drinking distilled water will not replace minerals lost through sweat, as all additives and minerals will have been removed during the distillation process.
Distilled water vs purified water
Distillation involves boiling water and collecting the vapour, which returns to the water as it cools. This process is very effective in removing contaminants such as bacteria, viruses, protozoa such as giardia, and chemicals such as lead and sulfate. Although drinking distilled water is not as common as drinking other types of purified water, some people choose to drink it because it is free of contaminants.
Purified water is filtered through one of these processes:
- Reverse osmosis filters water through a special material called a semi-permeable membrane. This material allows fluid to pass through, but removes salt and impurities.
- Distillation boils water and then recondenses the vapor back into a liquid to remove impurities and minerals.
- Deionization removes salt and other mineral ions (molecules) from the water.
Choosing one or the other comes down to personal choice. Distillation is super effective at getting rid of any extra junk in the water. Purification removes impurities and bacteria from the water but keeps the healthy minerals. Therefore it will depend on our tastes or the availability in the store.
Because distilled water has been stripped of its minerals, it is often used in cars and appliances. It is normally used in household cleaning tricks. Some of its most common uses are:
- Vapor irons
- Aquariums (mineral supplements should be added to fish food)
- Water plants
- clean old coins
- clean furniture
- car cooling systems
- laboratory experiments
- Certain medical devices, such as continuous positive airway pressure devices for sleep apnea