Watertechadvice.com is supported by readers. If you purchase through referral links on our site, we make a commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.

Distilled vs Purified Water

By: Craig Smith
Last Updated:
Distilled VS Purified Water

After doing some reading on the subject, you may have decided that it would be healthier for you to drink something other than straight well or tap water.

Many people like you that have come to this conclusion often choose between either distilled or purified water to obtain the higher-quality drinking water that they desire.

You may also be wondering when it comes down to distilled vs purified water, which one is the better choice?

That’s a hard question to answer because both of these water enhancement methods produce better quality drinking water.

There are, however, some subtle differences between them that are worth taking a closer look at and that’s exactly what I will do in this article.

Once you learn the differences between purified and distilled water, you can then make an informed choice as to which one is right for you and your family.

What is Purified Water?

water softener

Purified water is water from any source that has been processed or filtered in such a way that its purity has been improved and impurities have been removed.

There are several different methods that an individual can use to make purified water.

These include:

  • Reverse osmosis
  • Boiling
  • Mechanical filtration
  • Ultraviolet light treatment
  • Water softening
  • Ionization
  • Ozone treatment
  • Chemical Disinfection (Many municipalities use chlorine or fluoride for this)
  • Electrodialysis Reversal (EDR)
  • Flocculation
  • Nanofiltration

Please note that all of these different water purification methods do not achieve the same water purity results. Some are also not practical to use in certain water purification situations or are not always cost-effective when doing large- or small-scale water purification tasks.

Water purification devices typically remove such unwanted substances in water as:

  • Chloride
  • Sulfates
  • Heavy metals
  • Calcium
  • Pesticides
  • Sediment
  • Algae
  • Lead
  • Ammonia
  • Chemicals
  • Mercury
  • Viruses
  • Fungi
  • Toxins
  • Bacteria
  • Arsenic
  • Protozoa
  • And more

You must also take note of the fact that each water purification method may not remove all of the above-mentioned contaminants and they vary in the percentages of these contaminants that they do remove.

Common water purification methods include:

  • Reverse osmosis
  • UV light purification
  • Ion exchange
  • Carbon filtration

Benefits of Purified Water

A glance at the above-mentioned contaminants that water purification devices can remove shows some substances that no one would willingly ingest into their body.

These include arsenic, viruses, bacteria, lead, and ammonia.

The importance of removing such harmful organisms as bacteria and viruses from your home’s water supply should never be underestimated.

So right away, it’s obvious that purified water has some excellent health benefits for those that drink it.

Purifying your home’s water will also leave it smelling and tasting better.

Less noticeable scale and soap scum buildup around water fixtures, faucets, and spigots is also a benefit of water purification that many enjoy.

Clothes will also look whiter when washed and less noticeable amounts of film will be left behind on surfaces after cleaning them with water that has been purified.

Disadvantages of Purified Water

After reading about all of the harmful contaminants in water that the above-mentioned purification methods remove, you may already be walking to your car to go to the nearest home improvement center to purchase one of them.

But hold on for a second. Although there are not many drawbacks to purifying your home’s water, there are a few things to consider.

One of them is that when purifying water some beneficial minerals are removed along with the bad stuff. This may lead you to turn to supplements to get the essential minerals that your body needs.

Removed chemicals such as fluoride are also thought to be good for your teeth.

Other than that, and some of the expenses involved to set up a home water purification system, there is no good reason for you not to be proactive when it comes to installing equipment that will increase your home drinking water’s purity.

What is Distilled Water?

distilled-water-bottle

To be fair, you might suggest that distilled water is purified water. You would be correct. It is, however, such a unique method of water purification that it gets its own category.

The first time I was made aware of distilled water was when I was a child. My mother used it in a spray bottle when ironing. That’s a testament to its purity because it has no minerals or contaminants that cause stains on white clothing when ironing them.

But what exactly is distilled water?

Distillation is one of the oldest and most impactful water purification methods.

It works on the simple principle. When a heat source is applied to water and that water subsequently turns into steam, any contaminants that are in that water that do not vaporize at the same or a lower boiling point than water will get left behind.

These are the steps that take place in the water distillation process described in layman’s terms:

  1. Source water enters into a collection vessel
  2. That water is then super-heated until it becomes steam
  3. The water vapors then travel to another collection vessel leaving the impurities behind
  4. The 2nd collection vessel is a pressurized chamber that condenses the H2O back into a now much purer liquid form
  5. Any contaminants that are left behind are then flushed out of the source water collection vessel

Benefits of Distilled Water

Distilled water use offers many of the same benefits that water produced by high-quality water purification systems does.

You would be hard-pressed to find any type of water that is safer to drink than distilled water.

It’s also widely used in hospitals and other healthcare settings because of how pure it is. That makes it perfect for use during such medical procedures as surgeries and cleaning wounds.

Distilled water is also great for spot-free cleaning purposes. 

Disadvantages of Distilled Water

Few forms of water purifying do a better job at this than distillation, but once again some drawbacks go along with using distilled water.

One of them is, just like purified water, many of the beneficial minerals and some beneficial chemicals have been removed from the water.

Some also find the taste of distilled water to be extremely bland because of how pure it is.

By far the biggest drawback with preferring to drink distilled water is the fact that setting up a system for making your own distilled water simply is not practical for most people.

So, while economically purchasing enough distilled water for your family to drink is certainly doable, setting up a home-based water distillation system is not. Not to mention, getting some of the healthy minerals that other types of filters leave in is good too.

Distilled vs Purified Water Comparison

Here is a side by side comparison of distilled vs purified water:

TraitPurified WaterDistilled Water
Contaminants RemovedReverse osmosis removes up to 99% of contaminants in water. UV light works great against germs, bacteria, and viruses. Ion exchange gets rid of most minerals. Carbon filtration removes chlorine, pesticides, and nitrates very well. Distillation removes any contaminants found in water that have a higher boiling point than water - this includes sodium, calcium, magnesium, iron, fluoride, and nitrates.
SourcePractical for home setupNeeds to be purchased
Healthy Water to DrinkYes in most casesA++
Major AdvantageDifferent purification methods can be combined for increased water purityIt’s relatively inexpensive when purchased for drinking purposes
Major DrawbackInitial setup can be costlyDoes not eliminate low boiling point contaminants
Can Be Used for Other Purposes Besides DrinkingAbsolutelyYes but not practical for large scale use

Is Purified or Distilled Water Better?

As far as drinking water is concerned, there is not much difference between the purity of the water that’s produced by a well-designed water purification system and distilled water.

Both distillation and say a water purification device that uses a combination of reverse osmosis and UV light will produce water that is very safe to drink.

The biggest difference occurs when you want to enhance the quality of all of the water that you use around your home. Adding a water distillation set up at your home for large-scale use is something that simply is not practical to do.

While at the same time, many home water purification devices are specifically made with that very purpose in mind.

Due to these reasons, purified water is better for your home water needs.

How to Know If You Need to Purify Your Water?

purify-water

Some obvious and not so obvious reasons may compel you to take steps to purify your home’s drinking water.

Obvious reasons include the presence of sediment in your drinking water and bad odor, coloring, and taste.

Less obvious reasons are the harmful substances that may be lurking in your drinking water that you are unaware of. These can only be detected through advanced testing. This is something I strongly encourage you to do.

Here is some good information on water testing kits that will help you determine the current purity level of your home’s drinking water.

A Few Final Thoughts on Distilled vs Purified Water

Very few wells and municipal water sources deliver water to you that is free of impurities. That’s why you should be proactive when it comes to enhancing the quality and purity of the water that you drink.

It does not matter whether you choose to drink distilled water you bought at the store or water that’s treated by a good water purification system installed at your home. Either one will provide you with much purer water than that which is supplied to your home.

I have a combination UV light and reverse osmosis water purification set up in my home and I love the taste and quality of my water.

If you want to learn more about the different types of water filtration devices that are available, click here for some great information on them. Or you can learn more about the best water distillers here.

Photo of author
AUTHOR
Craig Smith
Craig got his start in water working in the swimming pool and spa industry. He didn’t realize at the time that water treatment would grow into his main career but he ended up working in the pool industry for over 26 years where much of his time was spent balancing the water in customers swimming pools and installing water filtration equipment. Craig offers an abundance of water treatment knowledge after helping homeowners get pure water for 26 years and he’s excited to share his wisdom to help other homeowners select the right water filtration devices.