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

While some locations offer water that’s safe for consumption, polluted water is a major problem worldwide. Depending on where you live, the water may be contaminated with various chemicals. This is when water purification comes into play.

There are a few different ways to purify water, distillation and basic purification being among them. Distillation refers to the process of boiling water and collecting steam, whereas purification is a broader term that describes how impurities, contaminants, and other particles are removed from the water.

The main differences between distilled and purified water are associated with the purification techniques used and the level of water purity achieved. 

However, there are a few more distinctions that make purified and distilled water suitable for different applications. Keep reading to learn more!

What Is Distilled Water?

Distilled water is a type of purified water in which both contaminants and minerals have been removed. These include chemicals that can make your water taste bitter.

To understand the differences between distilled and purified water, let’s first take a closer look at the characteristics of distilled water.

How Is Distilled Water Made?

Distilled water is made through a process called distillation.

Regular water is heated to its boiling point, allowing the liquid to turn into vapor. As the vapor condenses, it turns back into water with no minerals or chemical impurities.

That being said, the distillation process separates the components of water through evaporation and condensation.

Methods to Make Distilled Water at Home

Buying distilled water over and over again can be pretty expensive. Luckily, you can make your own distilled water at home without using fancy equipment.

To make distilled water at home, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Get a large pot and fill it with ½ to ⅔ water.
  • Step 2: Place a bowl inside the pot so that it floats or you can use a metal rack to keep the bowl in place.
  • Step 3: Turn the heat on and let the water boil.
  • Step 4: Place the lid upside down and fill it with ice cubes to create condensation.
  • Step 5: Observe how hot steam hits the cold lid as this is the process through which you collect distilled water in the bowl.
  • Step 6: Continue the distillation process until you have the needed amount of distilled water in the bowl.
  • Step 7: Pour distilled water into a container of choice once it cools down.

When using this method to make distilled water, ensure that the water that is being collected in the bowl doesn’t boil. Simply adjust the heat if you notice that it begins to boil.

To visualize the water distillation process, check out this video guide by Columbia Water Gardens.

Alternatively, you can make distilled water at home by using a countertop water distiller machine. CO-Z Water Distiller is a device that gives you 0.3 gallons of distilled water per hour. It’s suitable for kitchen, office, dental clinic, and laboratory applications.

Uses of Distilled Water

Distilled water has numerous household and industrial uses:

  • Distilled water can be used for drinking as it has no impurities and is safe for consumption.
  • It’s recommended to use distilled water in steam irons to prevent mineral build-up and increase its lifespan.
  • Distilled water can be used in aquariums, but you may need to provide your fish with mineral supplements.
  • Distilled water can be helpful for watering plants to prevent various diseases due to contaminants found in tap water.
  • Distilled water is widely used in cooling systems, preventing mineral deposits.
  • Distilled water is suitable for humidifiers as it prevents the release of impurities in the air.
  • In chemistry, distilled water is commonly used when performing experiments or quantitative analsysis.
  • Distilled water can be used as a solvent for reagent preparation in the synthesis of pharmaceuticals.

Pros of Distilled Water

Distilled water can be useful for various applications and even offers health-related benefits.

The pros of using distilled water include:

  • Distilled water is free of contaminants.
  • Drinking distilled water can be beneficial for individuals with weak immune systems or those suffering from HIV and cancer.
  • Drinking distilled water is a safer choice if you live in an area with low-quality tap water.
  • Distilled water is free of chlorine, meaning that it has enhanced smell and taste.
  • Consuming or using distilled water ensures consistent quality.
  • Distilled water is beneficial for cleaning delicate items, such as electronics and optical devices.
  • Distilled water doesn’t leave mineral residue or spots on newly-washed items.
  • Distilled water is ideal for fish and aquatic plants that require low mineral content to thrive.
  • It’s easy to make distilled water at home.

Cons of Distilled Water

Although distilled water has some obvious advantages, we should also mention some of its drawbacks.

The cons of using distilled water include:

  • Buying distilled water can be expensive.
  • Buying distilled water in plastic bottles has a significant impact on environmental pollution.
  • Distillation removes not only contaminants but also electrolytes and minerals your body needs. Read more about the health risks of drinking demineralized water.
  • You won’t be getting enough magnesium and calcium when drinking distilled water for too long.
  • Distilled water is free of fluoride, meaning that it can cause dental health issues.
  • You may need to take mineral supplements when drinking distilled water.

What Is Purified Water?

Water purification is the process of removing major impurities, such as chemicals and contaminants. Purified water is a broader concept and, unless specified, it doesn’t involve the removal of minerals.

Below is everything you need to know about purified water and the purification process itself.

How Is Purified Water Made?

Oftentimes, purified water is made by removing impurities and contaminants, such as bacteria, fungi, algae, parasites, chemical pollutants, and traces of metals (usually copper and lead).

Some common water purification techniques are:

  • Filtration: Water passes through filters that remove dissolved particles, chemical pollutants, and organic contaminants.
  • Sedimentation: Solid pollutants are removed from water using gravity.
  • Disinfection: Chlorine or chloramine is added to water as a disinfectant to kill disease-causing germs.
  • Coagulation and Flocculation: The addition of positively charged chemicals to neutralize and remove negatively charged particles.
  • Reverse Osmosis: Pressure is used to force water molecules to go through a semipermeable membrane, which filters out the contaminants.
  • Distillation: Water is boiled, allowing it to evaporate and condense, giving distilled water.
  • Deionization: The removal of ions through the process called ion exchange.
  • UV Radiation: UV light is used to get rid of living organisms that contaminate water.

Ways to Purify Water at Home

Purifying water at home is as easy as pie. Depending on what level of purity you’re aiming for, you can choose from a few techniques.

3 methods to purify water at home include boiling, filtration, and chlorination. 

Boiling is the cheapest and safest way to purify water. It makes the water pure enough for it to be safe for consumption.

If you want to turn your tap water into pure water, you should use a home filtration system. Pur Plus Water Filtration System is a horizontal faucet mount that purifies your tap water and gives it a better taste.

Last but not least, if you want to purify your pool water, chlorination is the way to go. By adding the right amount of chlorine to the swimming pool, you can keep it safe for summertime fun.

Uses of Purified Water

Depending on the degree of purity, purified water can be used for various applications:

  • Purified water can be used for drinking, especially in areas with contaminated tap water.
  • Purified water can be poured into marine aquariums to keep fish and plants healthy.
  • You can water your plants with purified water to prevent chlorine and other chemicals from damaging them.
  • You can use purified water for food preparation to minimize exposure to chlorine, heavy metals, and other pollutants.
  • Taking pharmaceuticals with purified water can increase their effectiveness.
  • You can make coffee and tea with purified water for a better taste.

Pros of Purified Water

Utilizing purified water at home or for commercial purposes has its benefits.

The pros of using purified water are:

  • Purified water is free of pollutants.
  • Purified water is free of chlorine.
  • Purified water still has essential minerals that your body needs to stay healthy.
  • When consuming purified water, you may not need to take additional mineral supplements.
  • You can get purified water by installing a purification system at home.

Cons of Purified Water

Purified water has its ups but we should also keep in mind the disadvantages it comes with.

The cons of using purified water are:

  • Purified water may still contain some contaminants.
  • Purification doesn’t always get rid of minerals, such as magnesium and calcium.
  • Purified water may lack fluoride, which in turn could potentially cause dental health issues.
  • If purified water is free of minerals, you may need to create a well-balanced diet to get enough minerals.
  • Water purification systems can be expensive.
  • You may need professional help when installing a water purification system, which increases its cost.
  • Water filtration systems require regular maintenance.

The Summary of Differences between Distilled and Purified Water

As we’ve discussed the characteristics, uses, pros, and cons of distilled and purified water, let’s highlight some key differences.

Distilled Water Purified Water
Usually purer than purified water. Usually not as pure as distilled water.
Free of contaminants and minerals. Free of contaminants. Minerals may still be present.
Is made through distillation only. Several methods can be used to make purified water, including filtration, reverse osmosis, distillation, and more.
Is a preferred option when performing quantitative analysis in labs. May not be pure enough to give accurate results or be used in certain lab experiments.
Has a flat taste due to the lack of minerals. May have a better taste than distilled water due to the minerals that have been retained.
Typically more expensive. Usually more affordable.
Requires high energy input. Consumes moderate energy.
Produces more waste. Produces less waste.

Choosing between Distilled and Purified Water

When it comes to choosing the right type of water for you, it’s not really about selecting the best. This is because distilled water is not better than purified water and vice versa.

In fact, distilled and purified water have their ups and downs you should consider to determine which one is suitable for you.

Besides, it also depends on what you’re going to use the water for.

Is it for drinking or ironing clothes with a steam iron?

Do you need water to fill up your aquarium or you’re more into watering your plants?

Are you looking for the right type of water to perform lab experiments and quantitative analysis that yield accurate results?

Whatever the case is, determine the level of purity you need before choosing between distilled and purified water.

If you need water free of contaminants and minerals, go for distilled water. If you need minerals but the water still has to be pure, then use purified water instead.

Final Thoughts

Summing up, purified water is a broad term that includes a few different types of water. Distilled water can also be considered purified water that has been obtained through distillation.

While distillation is the only process that gives us distilled water, purified water can be made through a few different purification techniques.

Apart from being made in different ways, you can distinguish distilled water from purified water by looking at its content. Generally speaking, distilled water lacks contaminants and minerals, whereas purified water still has some mineral content.


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