What You Should Know About Distilled vs. Purified Water
Water is the element that brings life to the planet and is an essential part of human health. Without water you will not last long and without a top-quality source of fresh clean water, free from any unhealthy particulate matter or other substances, your health can be adversely affected.
So, humans have applied their ingenuity and technical prowess to the development of a wide range of water treatment and filtration processes that seek to create healthy clean water for drinking, cooking, food preparation and an endless supply of other human needs. In our article today we will take a closer look at the final products of two of the more common water treatments in use today: purification and distillation.
What Is Purified Water?
Water can be purified through a variety of processes. The important idea is that as many impurities as possible are removed from the water and this can be done to a variety of degrees through distillation, ion exchange, reverse osmosis, simple filtration and many other techniques. The level of purity will depend on the process used and how many impurities can be removed. The lowest grade of pure water will have a minimum impurity reading of 10 Particles per Million, and is not really pure at all.
You will find many of the municipal water supplies available to the public are safe to drink. To create this potable water supply a variety of treatments may be applied. Some of these processes may include:
Flocculation and coagulation – in the science of removing substances from a water supply, the term “flocculation” refers to the natural process by which substances are brought together into clusters called “flocs”. These sometimes rise to the top of the liquid, like cream and milk, or sink to the bottom of the liquid, like cookie crumbs and milk. Either way, they can then be effectively removed with the proper filtration system.
By adding a positively charged element to the water supply, this flocculation can be initiated and better purification achieved.
Sedimentation – some of the floc will sink to the bottom of the liquid. This is because the size and weight of the particles are denser than the liquid itself and therefore become isolated
Filtration – with the undesirable substances settled to the bottom of the water tank, the rest of the cleaner water at the top is allowed to pass through further filtration systems that will further remove the finer bacteria and smaller particles that the water may still have.
Disinfection – finally, the waster must be disinfected before it can be safe for consumption. This is most commonly done with chemical additives like chlorine. This final step ensures that no harmful elements remain that can cause cholera and a wide variety of other diseases. But, the presence of chlorine in the water can make it somewhat unpleasant.
What Is Distilled Water?
Distilled water can be considered one of the most purified forms of water because of the process it undergoes to be stripped of minerals and impurities. The water is placed in a boiler that will begin to evaporate the water. The water in gas form will not be able to carry the same impurities that it held in liquid form and these are left behind. The vapor is collected in a still that condenses the water back into liquid form but is now completely free of foreign contaminants.
Because the water has absolutely no organism or chemical components the final distilled product is absolutely pure. Distilled water has a purity measure of close to 1 PPM depending on the methods and facilities used. To be rightfully classified as a pure water, the rating must be between 0 and 1 PPM.
Due to the high grade of distilled water, it is not always used in domestic or commercial use. Distilled water is best reserved for the medical profession where absolute sanitation is essential for avoiding infections.
What is the Difference between Distilled and Purified Water?
There is actually no difference between these terms, or better said, all distilled water is also purified water, but not all purified water has been distilled. Distilled water has been purified through a very specific process as mentioned above. However, water can also be purified by other methods such as reverse osmosis, sand and charcoal filtration and other methods.
The reason that distillation is not more widely used is because of the considerable amount of energy required to heat water to the evaporation point, for no other reason than to filter out impurities. Reverse osmosis accomplishes close to the same thing, but for much less energy expenditure.
There are rumors that only distilled water should be used with appliances like the steam iron or even the coffee maker. This is to prevent the highly-mineralized water from leaving scale deposits that can impact the functionality of these electronics. But, what should be said is that “highly mineralized water should not be used, but it is not always necessary to distill the water to remove these dissolved minerals.
Important Considerations when Considering Purified and Distilled Water for Your Home
The water that is provided to your home either from wells or municipal water supplies will be filled with all kinds of contaminants, substances and particles that can affect the way the body and many household items react to water.
A proper filtration system or water distillation unit can help to remove these contaminants. Of course, the level of purity you can expect will depend on the methods of filtration that you apply. A good filtration system will be able to remove the minerals and chemicals from your water supply and provide a source of water that tastes and smells better as well as feels better when used for washing or cleaning.
Then, there will be some situations where the increased purity levels offered by the distillation process will be preferred. This is especially true for those suffering from HIV/AIDS positive conditions as well as those with cancer. Because of the weakened conditions of the body, providing the purest and healthiest water supplies is very important.
Small children and infants have organs and constitutions that are not fully formed and are therefore more susceptible to the impurities that can be found in water supplies. As any parent knows, anything that will be used near or around a newborn baby should be sterilized. Experts often recommend providing the baby with distilled water until they have reached 6 months of age and can handle the impurities themselves. Of course, this will be for the use with formula as babies under 6 months don’t actually need water.
Older children and adults will not have the same needs for purified water as others, but a clean source of water is still very important to living a healthy life in optimal function. This is because almost 2/3s of our body’s is made of water and the quality of water provided for replenishing this supply will affect every part of your health and even hygiene. Top-quality water allows for better receptivity within the body and reduces the strain the body must undergo to neutralize the effects of harsh chemicals or properly eliminate unwanted minerals.
There is evidence that consuming water regularly is important to maintaining good digestion, optimal immune function and resistance to viral attacks. If water is not enjoyable and refreshing, or worse yet, laced with harsh chemicals and minerals, it is not pleasant to drink. Therefore, improving the water supplied to your home or commercial location will make your loved ones and valuable employees from dehydration.
Cons of Water Purification and Distillation Systems
If you don’t fully consider all the ways your investment can be a problem, there will be no way to prevent and plan for these eventualities. Here are some important downsides that should be understood about investing in these apparatus and how to get the most of your investment.
Maintenance – these devices are not your average set-it-and-forget-it apparatus and you will want to get to know your filtration or distillation device inside and out. HINT: buy a simple device, the kind you can love and understand. Learn how to prevent any obstructions, excessive strain of nth device or the sometimes delicate internal components. If maintenance is not carried out properly, the impurities will not be removed from the water and despite the sizable costs for a top-quality product, your value in the investment will plummet.
Filter – the most important component will be the filtration system, be sure to understand how that works, what it eliminates and what degree of purity is provided from the point of access. You should know that no filtration system known to humanity will provide you with 100% H2O and nothing else. The best filtration and distillations systems reach close to 99.99%.
Cost – the costs of your investment will be an important factor to balance out in your planning. You will find that the costs of getting a machine that will provide you with a worthwhile improvement don’t come cheap. If you would like longevity and durability, the costs will increase too. Make sure you calculate the costs of your investment against the costs you will pay to have this purified water delivered to your home for the rest of your life. Unless, you expect to be able to do without purified water at some point in the future – which is unlikely.
Waste – while some people may think that opting for the bottled water option is the most cost-effective route, and sometimes it might be, there are other reasons a long-lasting source of purified water is a better option. Primarily to avoid adding to the ever-increasing expanses of plastic garbage we see flooding across our somewhat less-than-pristine landscapes and beaches today.
Maybe a full-house filtration system is not convenient because you plan to move within the next few years. In this case, having a counter top purification system is just the thing for you. Not only are these much cheaper than the larger systems, but they can be relocated with you and continue providing you with healthy water for the rest of your life.
Particles – Distilled water is pure! I mean really, REALLY pure. So pure that a true coffee aficionado would never use this type of water for their favorite brew. The truth is that some particulate matter is important, especially when brewing a cup of coffee. The minerals calcium and magnesium, which also cause limescale build up, are essential for giving your coffee that full-bodied flavor. Distilled water can make for a flat tasting brew. Furthermore, your bones and teeth are made of calcium. Having essential minerals like magnesium and calcium in your water supply is also good for your health.
Do You Need Water Purification or Distillation?
You can find a more detailed readout on what you are finding in your water by checking any of the following sources.
Consumer Confidence Report – You will find that your municipal water supplier can provide you with a full read out of all the content in their water supply according to their regular records. They will typically post these readings on their website or preferred public channel. If you are not sure where or how to access this information, call them at their consumer hotline for more information. Obviously, this does not apply to those who get their water from a well on their property.
Check your Tap – The easiest way to tell would be if you serve yourself a glass of water from your taps and find anything but the sparkling clean elixir you’d expect to find in some lofty alpine spring. Water from ground sources and city mains is typically dead, flat and filled with other ingredients that can alter the experience.
You may not be a professional chemist, but you can use your finely tuned sense to determine if the water is less than pure. Fill a smooth surface glass with water from your tap and hold it up the light. Give it a swirl to see if the bubbles take a really long time to rise or if you see small particles afloat. The water may also be a rusty shade of brown, from ferrous iron, or blackened with manganese.
Smell the water too, if it smells of rotten eggs this could be evidence of a gas called hydrogen sulfide. This will be more evident in hot water than cold water. Taste the water, if it has a brackish, metallic or dull flavor of stagnant water these are also signs that your water supply is not up to par.
Try building a lather with cold water and washing a sock with regular body soap. Does the lather form easily and abundantly? If not you may have highly mineralized “hard” water. You can check this further by examining areas where this water has evaporated. Did it leave behind a chalky residue? Just throw a little on a clean warm window pane to find out.
Private System – if you receive water from a well, the National Ground Water Association (NGWA) suggests that you get your water sources professionally tested at least twice a year. It would be very difficult for the average person to detect the subtle changes in groundwater that can make your drinking water unsafe.
Tests must be performed for bacteria, arsenic, lead, nitrates and other compounds. You can check with your local environmental health department about the most important tests that should be done in your local area. They may even be able to provide you with information on free testing options. Otherwise, you can find an assortment of water testing kits available in online stores like Amazon.com. You may be able to find something suitable there.
How To Purify Water?
Even though the water that arrives at your home from the exterior water supplies is “potable” and most likely you would not die from drinking this water, at least not immediately. There are obviously many reasons to take control over the quality of your personal water supply. This can be done with a wide range of home water purifiers.
Here are some of the things you should know about the products available on the market.
POE and POU – there are two categories of domestic water treatment systems in use today. The Point of Use variety, POU, is geared toward providing purified water for consumption and food and beverage preparation. The POU can be set up on your counter top or neatly tucked away in a kitchen cabinet. There are also water pitchers that provide a larger amount of water available at one time.
As you may imagine, the POU is the most popular option as it targets the greatest need for improved quality in water, better health. It is also the more cost-effective of the two and generally easier to maintain and use.
The other option is the POE, or Point of Entry purification system. This impressive option targets the entire home and purifies the water coming in from the external source, be it the municipal water supply or a private well. When it comes to improving health and experience form your water supply there is nothing like it. From bathing and washing to drinking and food preparation, this unit will cover it all.
Water Distillers – you can find water distillers that will provide for the needs of a family unit. They operate as described above and provide the benefits of the highest grade of purified water.
UV-light – UV light filters bombard the water with powerful ultraviolet rays. This effectively neutralizes any microbes and organisms in the water supply.
Filtration – filters use a wide variety of media to pull contaminants from the water, some of these include sand, charcoal, activated charcoal, woven fabrics, etc. The efficacy and costs of your filtration system will depend on a variety of factors. Be sure to check the NHS labels associated with the product you intend to purchase to see exactly what that item will do for your water supply.
Final Notes on Water Purification or Water Distillation
Even though the water in your home may receive treatment and filtration and arrive relatively pure, it is still a far cry from clean water. To achieve the purified water that you need in your home, you will need to consider your goals and specific situation.
While distilled water does have a very high level of purity, it is not actually necessary in most situations. If you are unsure, you could speak with your health professional about your possible need for distilled water.
On the other hand, there are many ways to provide purified water that will suit the specific needs of your household and parameters of your budget.