Detox Learning Center

Distilled Water 101: Is It a Safe, Healthy Option?

The water you drink is more important to your body than any food you can eat.

That's a big, bold claim, but water is central to being human. You've probably heard how it makes up 60% of the body. Plus, you can only survive a few days without water. 

But it goes even beyond that. Eating healthy, whole foods is an important step to being well. But none of that matters if you are constantly poisoning your body each day with tainted water. 

According to the CDC, about 7.2 million Americans get sick every year from diseases spread through water. And a large part of this is due to the amount of toxins found within water, even after different filtering methods. (1)

Many of the contaminants and chemicals in water can cause you harm if you are exposed to them over a long period. The Environmental Protection Agency says that 86,607 chemicals are found in drinking water across the U.S., and most filters only remove a small fraction of those chemicals. (2)

If you are looking to improve your health, especially if you feel stuck in your wellness journey, often the best place to begin is with the water you drink. 

However, there are so many types of water to drink that it can be difficult to choose the healthiest one for you. The Internet is filled to the brim with information on water and the purest sources.

Let's dive more into water, how it can benefit your health journey, and the different options available — including distilled water. 

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Common Toxins We Consume in Drinking Water

Many different toxins can taint drinking water, even in a first world country like the United States and Canada. The dangerous chemicals and toxins commonly found in drinking water include: (3)

  • Aluminum
  • Ammonia
  • Arsenic
  • Barium
  • Cadmium
  • Chlorine
  • Chromium
  • Copper
  • Fluoride
  • Herbicides
  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Microorganisms, bacteria, and viruses
  • Nitrates
  • Pesticides
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Radioactive elements
  • Radium
  • Selenium
  • Silver
  • Uranium

A Consumer Reports water test says that drinking water from 118 of 120 locations tested across the U.S. had levels of polyfluoroalkyls (PFAS) above the recommended maximum, or detectable amounts of lead. (4)

Another research report found that more than 170 million Americans drink water that contains radioactive elements. Plus, 158 public water systems in 27 states reported radium amounts that exceeded the federal legal limit. (56)

Even more alarming, 98% of people in the U.S. have measurable levels of plastic in their systems. That's the vast majority of Americans! (7)

What Types of Drinking Water Are Available?

The most important factor when choosing your drinking water is that it's clean and pure, free of chemicals and toxins. Let's look at a few types of water available and some facts about each. 

Distilled water is water that has been boiled into vapor and condensed back into liquid in a separate container. Impurities in the original water remain in the container, leaving behind clean and pure water free of any contaminants. (8)

Filtered water is usually produced using groundwater or tap water. It is filtered or processed to remove impurities like chemicals and other contaminants, but still may contain inorganic minerals, which are dangerous to your health because the body can only utilize organic minerals. (9)

Plain tap water, even community water systems that meet national drinking water standards, can carry health risks, especially when you add up the health effects of the individual contaminants in the water.

The Safe Drinking Water Act was passed by the U.S. Congress in 1974 and sets limits on levels of harmful contaminants, such as lead and disinfectants. But the Safe Water Drinking Act only tests for 91 chemicals, so many go undetected and end up in drinking water. Your pipes, faucets, or other equipment may also expose you to some nasty chemicals that can negatively affect your health. (10)

Spring water is typically bottled from a natural source. Although the FDA requires bottled water to be free of E. coli and sets limits for numerous other contaminants, the agency generally doesn't test the water itself. Instead, it relies on bottlers to conduct tests periodically and keep those records on hand for FDA inspectors when they visit. 

Sherri Mason, the author of an extensive 2018 study on bottled water and a sustainability researcher at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, explains, "Based on all the data we have, you're going to be drinking significantly less plastic from tap water out of a glass than if you go and buy bottled water." (11, 12)

Well water can be contaminated with heavy metals through groundwater movement and surface water seepage and run-off. People who consume high heavy metals risk anemia, acute and chronic toxicity, and liver, kidney, and intestinal damage.

Private wells do not receive the same services that wells supplying the public do. Well owners are responsible for protecting their drinking water. To do so, a well owner must be aware of his well's potential for contamination and the possible health effects of those contaminants. (13)

What Is Distilled Water? Is It Safe?

Distilled water removes 99.999% of toxins and is completely safe to drink. Distilled water is the purest form of water you can get. The main risks of drinking only distilled water is linked to its lack of minerals, including calcium and magnesium. However, if you're eating healthy food high in minerals or taking minerals daily, this won't be a concern.

Some potential adverse effects of drinking just distilled water include: (1415)

  • A flat taste that some people find unappealing
  • An increase in urine output that could result in electrolyte imbalance

Drinking distilled water will not replace minerals lost through sweat, as additives and minerals are removed during the distillation process to ensure purity. Still, if you eat a balanced diet with the recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables, you should not become deficient.

An important note is that distilled water removes potential chemicals, pathogens, and toxins that can rob the body of essential nutrients. Even if you think you are receiving vital minerals and nutrients from your water, certain chemicals and pathogens also found in that water could be stealing them from you.  

For example, parasites are nasty little critters frequently found in water. They also have a habit of hijacking your nutrients and using it themselves. They are especially fond of iron, and so can often be the source or main contributor of iron deficiency and anemia. (16, 17, 18)

Another major example is glyphosate, a common pesticide often found in drinking water.  Not only can this sprayed weed killer pull out nutrients in growing food, it can have a similar effect when consumed through contaminated drinking water. Glyphosate may remove vital nutrients like calcium, iron, manganese, and magnesium from your body. (19, 20, 21)

The majority of potential contaminants listed earlier in this article can severely hinder the body, including triggering nutrient deficiencies. By consuming non-distilled water, you are playing with the chance of these chemicals and toxins entering your system and dismantling it from within. 

With a proper diet and lifestyle, you can receive the needed nutrients even while drinking distilled water. And more importantly, distilled water can help prevent an increase in toxicity, heavily associated with chronic illness and other health challenges. 

How Does the Distilling Process Work?

Distillation relies on evaporation to purify water. Contaminated water is heated to form steam. Inorganic compounds and large non-volatile organic molecules do not evaporate with the water and are left behind. The steam then cools and condenses to form purified water. (22, 23) 

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What Are the Benefits of Distilled Water? 

The distillation process, which we just covered, is different from the other water purification processes out there. Here are some benefits of this process and distilled drinking water: (24)

  • Contains virtually no solids, minerals, or trace elements, including the inorganic kind that harms the body
  • Helps protect your body and teeth from too much fluoride
  • Removes waterborne biological contaminants such as bacteria, chemicals, heavy metals, and volatile gases

It has all of these benefits, while still providing you with the general benefits that come from drinking water. This includes powering your metabolic and bodily functions, reducing your risk of disease, and preventing issues such as kidney stones.

Plus, distilled water can be a positive change beyond drinking water. You can use it in CPAP machines, infant formula, Neti pots, and for brushing your teeth. 

If your health could use some improvement and you've never considered drinking and using distilled water, that could be the reason. Water is, after all, the most important substance we can put inside our bodies. And thankfully, it's also something we can control.

Check out this video for a more in-depth look at distilled water and to see if it's right for you. It might just be the missing piece on your road back to health.