Purified, distilled, and tap water can all offer different health benefits and potential downfalls. Here’s what you should know about the differences between these types of water.
Optimal water intake is essential for your health.
Every cell in your body needs water to function properly, which is why you must continuously hydrate throughout the day.
Most people know how important water intake is, but some are confused over the best type of water to drink.
This article investigates the differences between purified, distilled and regular water to find out which one is the best choice for hydration.
Purified water is water that has been filtered or processed to remove impurities like chemicals and other contaminants.
It is usually produced using groundwater or tap water.
Through purification, many types of impurities are removed, including (
like copper and lead
- Chemical pollutants
Several methods are used to purify water commercially and in the home.
In most Western countries, public drinking water is purified to make water safe for human consumption.
However, standards for drinking water around the world vary and are typically based on governmental regulations or international standards.
In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that over 2.1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water (
In countries that purify public drinking water, various treatment methods are used to make water safe, including (
and flocculation: Positively charged chemicals
are added to water to bind with negatively charged particles so they can
be filtered out. This forms larger particles called floc.
Due to its larger size, floc settles to the
bottom of the water supply, separated from the clean water.
The clean water on top of the supply then flows
through numerous filtration systems made of sand, charcoal and gravel.
This removes contaminants like dust, bacteria, chemicals and viruses.
- Disinfection: During this step, chemical disinfectants like chlorine are added to
the water to kill any remaining bacteria or viruses that may have survived
the first few steps.
It’s important to note that water may be treated differently depending on the area and quality of the local water.
Purified water is water that has been processed to remove contaminants like dirt and
chemicals. In many countries, tap water is purified to make it safe for human
While tap water is safe to drink in many areas, it may still contain trace contaminants.
For example, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sets legal limits that are considered safe for consumers for over 90 contaminants in drinking water (4).
However, the Safe Water Drinking Act gives individual states the ability to regulate their own drinking water standards, as long as they meet the EPA’s minimum requirements for contaminants (5).
This means that some states have more stringent drinking water regulations than others.
Although measures are taken to ensure that public drinking water is safe for consumption, it can contain trace amounts of contaminants that could negatively impact health.
These heavy metals have been known to leach into drinking water, even in countries where public water sources are closely regulated (
By using in-home water filters or drinking purified bottled water, drinking water undergoes another level of purification that can remove metals, chemicals and other contaminants, depending on the type of purification system used.
Water purification systems like charcoal filters remove chlorine, a common chemical added to the public water supply as a disinfectant.
Another benefit of water purification is that it removes unpleasant tastes associated with chemical treatments, organic matter or metal plumbing, leaving you with fresh, pure-tasting drinking water.
Summary: Water purification
removes contaminants that may remain in drinking water and improves water
quality and taste.
While purified water has many health benefits, it also has some potential drawbacks.
For example, fluoride is a mineral that is added to public drinking water supplies in some countries to improve dental health and reduce dental decay (
Although this practice has led to decreased tooth decay in children, especially in at-risk areas, some argue that fluoridated water is not worth the potential health risks associated with its use.
Excessive fluoride levels can be toxic to both brain and nerve cells, and long-term exposure to high levels of fluoride has been linked to learning, memory and cognitive deficits (
However, experts argue that the level of fluoride found in drinking water is safe and beneficial in reducing tooth decay, especially in children who are only exposed to fluoride through drinking water (
Research on the safety and efficacy of fluoridated water is ongoing, but those who drink purified water should be aware that some purification systems remove fluoride from drinking water.
Some other disadvantages of purified water include:
- Upkeep: Water purification systems must be maintained regularly. If not
properly maintained, contaminants can build up in old filters and leach
into your drinking water.
- May not
remove some contaminants: Although
water purification systems remove many contaminants, certain pesticides
and chemicals may remain in purified water depending on the type of
- Cost: Both installing an in-home water purification system and buying
purified bottled water can be expensive, with some systems costing
hundreds of dollars.
- Waste: Buying purified water in plastic bottles leads to a large amount of
waste, as does disposing of used filters from in-home purification
Summary: Water purification may
not remove all contaminants from drinking water, and certain purification
systems can be costly and involve upkeep. Certain purification methods remove
fluoride, a mineral added to drinking water to improve dental health.
Distilled water has gone through the process of distillation to remove impurities.
Distillation involves boiling water and collecting the steam, which returns to water upon cooling.
This process is very effective at removing contaminants like bacteria, viruses, protozoa like giardia and chemicals like lead and sulfate (14).
Due to the fact that distilled water is exceptionally pure, it is commonly used in medical facilities and laboratories.
Though 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.
Benefits of Distilled Water
Water distillation is an effective way to remove contaminants from drinking water.
Levels of pesticides and other chemicals in public water sources like tap water will depend on your geographic location and the agencies that regulate drinking water safety in your country.
Distilled water is essentially free of contaminants like pesticides and bacteria, which could be especially helpful to those with weakened immune systems.
For example, those with HIV/AIDS and certain cancers are at an increased risk of becoming sick from impurities in food and water and may benefit from drinking distilled water (
What’s more, like some other purification methods, distilled water effectively removes chlorine from drinking water, which can improve the taste of water while decreasing your exposure to chlorine.
Potential Risks of Distilled Water
While distilled water is the purest type of water, it’s not necessarily healthiest.
The distillation process is very effective at removing potentially harmful contaminants, but it also removes the natural minerals and electrolytes found in water.
Along with unwanted impurities, beneficial minerals like calcium and magnesium are also left behind as the steam rises during the distillation process.
In fact, distillation typically removes around 99.9% of all minerals found in tap water (16).
Though water is not typically thought of as a source of minerals, any factor that leads to a decreased intake of essential micronutrients could negatively impact your health.
However, it’s important to note that tap water is not a major source of mineral intake for most people, and drinking distilled water should be relatively safe as long as a well-balanced diet is followed.
Like other methods of purification, distillation removes fluoride from drinking water, which may put those who choose to drink distilled water at an increased risk of cavities.
This makes it important for those who drink distilled water to maintain proper dental hygiene.
Summary: Distilled water is a
type of purified water that is essentially free from contaminants. The
distillation process removes fluoride and natural minerals found in drinking
In most cases, public drinking water sources like tap water are safe due to the strict contaminant limits set by regulatory agencies.
However, drinking water can become contaminated from natural sources or human activity, affecting water quality (19).
For this reason, it may be a good idea to invest in an in-home water purification system, especially those who are immunocompromised and more susceptible to becoming ill from contaminated water.
In countries where water contamination is an issue, especially in developing countries with lack of proper sanitation, choosing bottled or purified water is always the safest option.
Many types of purification systems are available, including charcoal and UV filters, which remove impurities that may survive the initial, large-scale purification process that most tap water goes through.
That being said, in countries where public drinking water is regulated for quality and safety, drinking tap water is relatively safe.
If you question the quality of your tap water, you can test the water by purchasing a home test kit or contacting a water testing agency in your area.
Summary: Though consuming tap
water is safe in countries where drinking water is regulated, water purification
may be necessary in areas where water contamination is an issue.
Most public sources of drinking water are regulated for safety, but some people choose to use home water purifiers to further improve water quality.
Household water treatment units can improve the taste or odor of tap water and remove specific contaminants.
Point-of-use (POU) treatment systems purify only the water that is used for consumption (drinking and cooking). Point-of-entry (PUE) treatment systems typically treat all of the water entering a home (20).
POU systems are less expensive and therefore more commonly used in households.
These filtration systems attach to the faucet or sit under the sink and also come in free-standing water pitchers with built-in filters like the popular Brita water filter.
Some refrigerators also come with built-in water purification systems.
Most in-home water filtration systems use the following purification techniques (
- Filtration: Filtration systems trap unwanted impurities in the surface or
pores of an absorbent medium. Charcoal filters fall into this category.
osmosis: These systems use a semipermeable membrane that
- UV light: UV light filtration systems use ultraviolet light to disinfect
water by killing potentially harmful bacteria and viruses.
Depending on the type and model, prices can range from $20 to hundreds of dollars.
No matter what type of filter you choose, be sure to look for brands with certifications from regulatory agencies like the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and NSF International.
These agencies certify that home water purification systems meet or exceed national drinking water standards (22).
Home water purification systems must be maintained properly. As a result, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for upkeep, including filter replacement, to ensure that your water is being properly purified.
Summary: There are many ways to
purify your drinking water, including charcoal filters, UV light filtration
systems and reverse osmosis systems.
Access to clean drinking water is vital to health.
While most sources of public drinking water are closely regulated and safe to drink, many prefer to drink purified water.
Purified water is relatively safe and may reduce exposure to certain contaminants that can be found in tap water.
Remember that water quality can vary depending on where you live. This should be the determining factor when choosing to drink purified water or tap water.
Distilled water is a type of purified water that has had both contaminants and minerals removed. Purified water has had chemicals and contaminants removed, but it may still contain minerals.Which is better purified or distilled water? ›
When you want the cleanest water that you can find, it's recommended that you opt for distilled water. If, however, you want to drink clean water that's somewhat healthier, you should choose purified water. Both types of water are healthy for you as long as you maintain a balanced diet.What's the healthiest water to drink? ›
Spring water contains unique minerals and organic compounds that offer several health benefits. Drinking two liters of spring water per day provides 10% to 15% of our daily calcium intake and about 33% of our required magnesium intake.Which water is best to drink purified spring or distilled? ›
Without a doubt, spring water is the winner. It is considered the best water to drink, providing vital nutrients as it moves through the body. This is, of course, spring water that is bottled at the source and proven to be actual living spring water.Is purified water good for drinking? ›
Both purified water and natural spring water are considered safe for consumption. The type of water you choose to drink depends on your personal preference and accessibility.Can I drink distilled water? ›
Distilled water is safe to drink. But you'll probably find it flat or bland. That's because it's stripped of important minerals like calcium, sodium, and magnesium that give tap water its familiar flavor. What's left is just hydrogen and oxygen and nothing else.Can you drink distilled water everyday? ›
If you maintain a healthy and balanced diet, drinking distilled water will not leave a major impact since you're getting vital minerals from other sources, according to Healthline. But if you plan to drink distilled water consistently, it is important to keep up your daily intake of fruits and vegetables.What is the best water for kidneys? ›
Pure, naturally-filtered water is the best thing you can drink for good kidney health. And installing a cost-effective, energy-efficient, and convenient bottled water cooler can be the best way to get it.What is the best bottled water for kidneys? ›
Like Evian, Voss contains a balanced potassium level of 1mg, which helps in the function of the kidneys. Voss is also low in total dissolved solids (TDS), and is as close to pure water as you can get! It is ideal for those monitoring their kidney health, as well as those prone to kidney stones.
About 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day for men. About 11.5 cups (2.7 liters) of fluids a day for women.
No, they aren't the same. Boiled water is simply water that has had the temperature increased until it reaches its boiling point. This kills a host of bacteria that can make a person sick. Distilled water is water that has been stripped of all impurities, including minerals and microorganisms.Should I buy distilled or spring water? ›
However, spring water is sourced from natural underground water sources. If you are looking for the best source of water to keep your family hydrated, spring water is the best choice for you. But, if you need water that is mineral-free for appliances or sensitive equipment, distilled water is the way to go.Is bottled water distilled or purified? ›
Bottled water usually undergoes filtration processes rather than distillation because it contains essential minerals that affect the taste and nutritional value of the water. Distilled water, on the other hand, is entirely pure H20 because distillation removes all of its impurities, including minerals.What are the side effects of drinking purified water? ›
- a flat taste that many people find unappealing, leading to reduced water consumption.
- a decrease in the body's metabolic function.
- an increase in urine output that could result in electrolyte imbalance.
Drinking plenty of water has its share of benefits, but only purified water can give you the biggest health benefits. This is because water that isn't free of microbiological pathogens and chemicals could actually mean a larger risk to your overall health. This is what makes water purifying systems so valuable.What are the disadvantages of purified water? ›
- It May Still Contain Pesticides. Purified water is good for you because it's largely free of contaminants. ...
- It Can Be Costly. Purified water is good to drink — but that often comes at a price. ...
- It Requires Maintenance. ...
- It Can Filter Out Fluoride.
Does Purified or Filtered Water Work as a Substitute for Distilled Water? Purified or filtered water can contain minerals that may lead to buildup in your CPAP machine, so it's best to use distilled water. The distilling process eliminates minerals, chemicals, and bacteria, leaving the purest possible water behind.Is purified water OK for sinus rinse? ›
To make your water safe for sinus rinsing and ritual nasal rinsing, it is safest to use boiled, sterile, or filtered water. If that is not possible, disinfect the water using chlorine; the cloudiness of the water can affect the ability to disinfect the water.Do you have to use distilled water for formula? ›
Use distilled or purified water in place of well water. You may use city water or regular bottled drinking water to make formula if you boil it first as outlined below.Is purified drinking the same as distilled? ›
The main difference between these water types is that distilled water will always remove the minerals and electrolytes and not all purification processes will have the same result: In particular, reverse osmosis filtration will also remove any minerals present, whereas boiling and deionization will not.