Distilled vs Purified Water

Distilled vs Purified Water- What’s the Difference?

These terms both refer to water that has undergone some form of treatment to make it more palatable. The difference lies in the method that has been used and the end result. Your approach will be influenced by the amount of water you need, the resources at your disposal, and the condition of the water you are dealing with.

Distillation separates the water from contaminants by selective boiling and then collecting the steam to get pure water. The end product will be water that is devoid of both impurities and minerals. On the other hand, purification is a broad term used to refer to several methods used to rid the water of unwanted contaminants so that it is clean and safe for consumption.

We shall now break down the two to have a clearer picture of what they entail.


Distilled Water

This is water that has been harvested by condensing vapor from boiling water into a separate container, leaving impurities in the original container. Different water components have different boiling points, which may require you to repeat the distillation process multiple times. It can end up being a long and tedious task.

Water boils at approximately 212˚F, and many of the undesired elements found in it have a higher melting point and an even higher boiling point. Water will start evaporating while these elements are still stable. It, therefore, makes sense that we would harvest the steam from the boiling water and leave the elements in the original container.

Distillation produces some of the purest water, so medical practitioners prefer to use distilled water, despite the many resources at their disposal. It is also why it is used in laboratories to ensure impurities don’t unjustly influence the results of tests. It enables the removal of volatile organic compounds and fluoride from water; conventional filtration methods do not easily remove these.

It is not without challenges, however; some common contaminants have lower boiling points than water. Pesticides and herbicides fall in this category. They will start evaporating before the water does and will be present in the steam when harvesting water, condensing right along with it. They require a secondary purification process or method to dislodge them from the water.

Distillation removes some minerals that are actually nutritional to the body. Elements like magnesium and calcium protect against nutritional deficiency but will be absent from distilled water. This means you will need to supplement them in your diet if distilled water is your primary source of hydration.

Benefits of Drinking Distilled Water

  • It is safer if you live in an area with highly contaminated water because it kills pathogens and removes 100% of most contaminants.
  • It eliminates the probability of ingesting contaminants because it is clean water
  • It is ideal for people whose immunity is low or has been compromised, like cancer patients or people living with HIV, as they are susceptible to attacks
  • Distillation gets rid of that annoying chlorine odor and taste in the drinking water

Bonus Benefit

Distillation removes hardness ions from the water, especially if your water source is iron or manganese-rich. It will protect your appliances from the impact of hard water.

The Downside

  • It is extremely pure and has none of the beneficial mineral content like calcium and fluoride. This forces you to find alternative sources of essential minerals in your drinking water like fluoride, calcium, and magnesium that would otherwise be abundant in your water. The alternative is to get supplements.
  • It is highly reactive with a tendency to draw mineral content from whatever it comes into contact with, including the container you use to drink it and even your teeth (it will take out the calcium instead of providing it)
  • Substances with boiling points below pure water like herbicides and pesticides will be captured in the steam with the pure water and are therefore hard to remove using this process alone.
  • Distillation uses up a lot of energy which may not be sustainable if your distilled water demands are high. All the water has to get to a boil and maintain it enough to turn to vapor which is then condensed.

Common Applications of Distilled Water

  • In a steam iron because it will leave no sediments or stains, however hot the iron gets
  • In aquariums due to the assurance that nothing toxic to the fish is in the water. They are very sensitive. However, you will need to supplement their essential minerals as well.
  • For watering plants, making them the legitimate organic produce, unadulterated by minerals
  • In continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines help people with obstructive sleep apnea. These machines are highly sensitive and rely on the water being contaminant-free.
  • In laboratories and hospitals
  • In car cooling systems

Purified Water

The term means water that has been taken through a treatment process to get rid of impurities or contaminants such as bacteria, fungi, parasites, traces of metals like copper and lead, and chemicals.

They are either completely removed or reduced to very low levels, which is more realistic. The immunities and dissolved solids should not exceed ten parts per million for the water to be classified as purified.

Therefore, going by this description, distillation is one of how you can purify water, and distilled water is indeed purified water.

There are several other ways in which this water purification can be done:

Reverse Osmosis

This is a cost-effective method of removing water contaminants to provide safe water. It specializes in removing chemical contaminants like chromium, chloride, sodium, copper, and lead. It also removes sediments like rust and silt, and dissolved salts

The water is forced to pass through a semipermeable membrane where the contaminants are filtered out and flushed away, leaving you with crisp, clean, odorless water.

APEC Water Alkaline Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System

APEC Water Systems ROES-PH75

These are long-lasting filters that use carbon blocks for reverse osmosis purification that come highly recommended for the home

Deionization or Ion Exchange

Water is passed through the negatively charged resin to attract the contaminant ions to bond with the resin and disconnect from the water molecules. This is mostly used for water softening.

Other purification methods should accompany this method as it does nothing to organic contaminants and microorganisms. These can attach to the resin bed, preventing the resin from working and harbor bacterial growth.

Carbon Adsorption

This method hinges on the porous nature of carbon, enabling it to act as a form of adhesive or Velcro surface and trap contaminants as water passes through it.

The carbon is activated by heating or steaming to expand the pores, creating a larger surface area to accommodate more contaminants. The larger pores also function as docking areas for more impurities.

It takes care of many chemicals and gases and ensures your water is odorless and tastes nice. It is, however, not as effective with dissolved solids as they will pass right through the carbon. It should be used as part of a larger filtration system where these shortcomings will be taken care of.

Ultraviolet Radiation

UV radiation in filters is chiefly employed to treat germs that may not be manageable using regular filtration processes. UV light has high germicidal abilities and will get absorbed by proteins and DNA in microorganisms, killing them instantly. Enhancing water purity and health.

UV light has the disadvantage of shining in straight lines, meaning that some germs may be unaffected if other contaminants are blocking its path. This is the reason they are usually used in conjunction with other purification methods to maximize efficiency.

Express Water UV Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System has the right combination with UV light to ensure you get crisp, clean, great-tasting, and healthy drinking water.

Express Water UV Reverse Osmosis Water Filtration System


Bringing the water to a rolling boil and maintaining this for at least a minute is usually sufficient to kill pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and protozoa. It is the oldest trick in the book and is reliable to date as a water purifying method.

Benefits of Drinking Purified Water

  • The probability of ingesting contaminants is greatly reduced because purification gets rid of impurities and bacteria
  • Elimination of chlorine which is used to treat water before ingesting the water. It has been linked to colorectal cancer exposure.
  • Water purifiers remove harmful bacteria which cause stomach aches, nausea, and other illnesses
  • The water still has the essential minerals required to meet your nutritional targets
  • It improves the taste of the water and gets rid of any residual odor from treatment
  • Purification systems are easy to install at home
  • It is more sustainable than distillation for the home because it requires less energy
  • Purification eliminates metallic substances, chemicals, and organic matter, which negatively affect the taste and smell of water, leaving it better tasting.
  • It allows you to get rid of highly toxic heavy metals that are sometimes present in the water, like lead and copper

The Downside

  • Not all purification methods are guaranteed to get all the contaminants as effectively as distillation
  • Some purification methods will remove fluoride from the water. Fluoride reduces tooth decay and is vital for general dental health.
  • The water filtration systems used in purification need regular upkeep and maintenance; otherwise, the contaminants will take over the system
  • Getting a quality water filtration system may break the bank. A lot of thought needs to go into that decision.

Distilled vs Purified Water- Which One Is Safer?

Distilled water will definitely carry the day because most pathogens have been terminated once the water gets to a rolling boil. To further cement your confidence, the water evaporates, leaving any traces of the germs behind.

If your water happens to have concentrations of herbicides and pesticides, the narrative changes. These and other highly volatile organic compounds found in water have a lower boiling point than pure water. They will boil off first, followed by pure water, meaning there is a high likelihood you will still collect them along with your distilled water.

There are water purifiers formulated to take care of these contaminants specifically. You can always filter and distill if you need to be 100% certain you are covered. It is important to note that not all water sources will have this type of contaminant.

The other health consideration is the lack of essential minerals in distilled water. So basic requirements are usually catered for by the nutritional value of the minerals we drink with our water. Care should be taken to supplement the deficit through diet and supplements if you find yourself relying on distilled water as your primary hydration source.

Distilled water also has a chance of adversely affecting your teeth. Too much exposure to the mineral starved water can cause the minerals in your teeth to leach, leaving them sensitive and brittle.

Ultra purified water also lacks electrolytes which are important for the body. A deficiency of electrolytes in the body will make you susceptible to high blood pressure problems.

Water Jug with Refreshment Drink

What Is the Difference?

Having gone through their specific qualities is safe to conclude that there is no marked difference between distilled and purified water. Distilled water is actually one of the many forms of purified water. It can even be a stage in purification to be supported with other methods.

Distillation is a great way to protect yourself from pathogens and germs, especially if your local water is susceptible to fouling. Just bear in mind that you need to supplement the nutrients and electrolytes that you will lose from the water as you do it.

There are many ways to purify your water, and the best method will be dependent on the quality of your water and the available resources.

Amanda Perkins

Amanda began her career as a technical writer for a healthcare group in 2008. Years after getting married and starting a family, she joined her husband Joshua on the Water Filter Authority journey to educate other families and households about safe, affordable, and effective water filtration systems.