Is distilled water safe to drink?

Distilled water is not a panacea, but neither is it an evil liquid. Although there is not enough research on this, it is known that its consumption has pros and cons.

Last update: November 16, 2021

No one can deny the benefits of drinking water. Likewise, we know that no matter how good it is, water must be subjected to a purification process for human consumption. But what about distilled water?

In front of her there are a number of myths. Some think that due to its high degree of purity it is much healthier. Others, on the contrary, believe that drinking it causes cells to explode.

None of those myths is true. The fact is that there is not enough research on the matter either and therefore some doubts remain.

What is distilled water?

In a very general way, distilled water It is a type of purified water that is obtained through a process called distillation. This process removes up to 99.9% of the impurities and contaminants that are usually in raw water.

Thus, distilled water is free of bacteria, dissolved inorganic compounds, and chemicals. Therefore, this type of liquid lacks minerals such as sodium, calcium and magnesium.

Distillation is a very old procedure, to the point that Aristotle made reference to it. Currently, distilled water is used in laboratory experiments, to make pharmaceutical products or as an input for humidifiers.

Distillation can be done in a home or industrial way. Sometimes craft stills can contaminate this type of water. Currently, there are still distillers that add minerals during the process to enrich it and improve its flavor.

Some humidifiers only support charging with distilled water, as directed by the manufacturers.

How is it obtained?

There are different types of distillation, but they all share the same principle. It consists of heating the water and bringing it to a boil, so that it evaporates. The resulting vapor is captured and cooled. By doing this, the vapor again becomes liquid. This last process is called condensation.

By heating water and turning it into steam, it is possible to collect substances that boil at a lower temperature. Also, there is debris left in the container after the water evaporates.

Distillation can be done at home, with a pot and a cup, or with an artisan alembic. Likewise, this process is carried out on an industrial scale with machines that control each step and offer high precision.

Possible risks of drinking distilled water

Controversy persists in the face of the benefits and risks of distilled water. It has to be said that not enough research has been done in this regard, so there are still unclear topics.

However, it can be said that this type of water is not dangerous to health, but it does not generate a specific benefit either.

Do cells explode?

There is a myth that when drinking distilled water, cells can explode. In theory, it is possible, but it is basically unlikely to occur. The reason that this may happen has to do with the osmotic pressure.

In simple terms, what is suggested is that distilled water could penetrate the cell membrane and accumulate within them, in such a way that this high concentration leads them to burst.

What fails in this reasoning is the fact that distilled water does not reach the cells as such.. When it reaches the stomach, it mixes with gastric juices and food, so that it is combined with mineral substances. Therefore, it is no longer distilled strictly speaking.

The acidity of distilled water

Distilled water is more acidic than in its natural state. Its composition means that more carbon dioxide (CO2) can dissolve in it. The result is that it acquires a lower pH, but that does not mean that it is more corrosive to the teeth or the esophagus.

In general, the acidity of distilled water is harmless. However, if consumed exclusively, there is a risk of acidosis over time, which is excess acid in the blood.

Mineral deficiency

In a conventional way we speak of water as a compound of oxygen and hydrogen, represented in the formula H2O. Nevertheless, water in its natural state contains much more than these two elements. There are various minerals and microorganisms in it.

When it is distilled, pure water is obtained, with two hydrogen molecules for each one of oxygen. However, minerals that are important to the body are also lost. Therefore, one of the myths says that distilled water can lead to anemia.

That’s not true. Although several minerals are not present, the point is that these are obtained more from ordinary food than from the water itself. The only thing that happens is that this type of water is going to taste more flat.

Exclusive use is discouraged

As such, there is no evidence that distilled water causes health problems. Nor is there the slightest proof that it is profitable. It should not be used exclusively for drinking or preparing food.

Low nutrient content could eventually unbalance the nutritional value of food products. There is a potential for depletion or deprivation of potassium and sodium ions, which can lead to an electrolyte imbalance in the body.

Tips for using distilled water

There is no obvious reason to suggest drinking distilled water. Nor is there to not do it. The indicated, in any case, is not to do it exclusively.

That said, distilled water does do very well in several uses such as the following:

  • Infant milk formulas: If your baby is on infant formula and his immunity is compromised, it is a good idea to make such formula with distilled water.
  • Humidifier: In general, manufacturers point out that this type of water makes humidifiers do their job better and last longer.
  • Cooking pot neti: this is a device to clean the sinuses. Doing it with distilled water is safer.
  • Vapor irons: It has been suggested that this type of water preserves steam irons better and prevents scale build-up.
  • Wash the hair: It can benefit the mane by the absence of additional chemicals to hydrogen and oxygen.

On the other hand, it should not be forgotten that distilled water can take chemicals from the container in which it is stored. Likewise, it should not be left in direct sunlight.

The containers we use for distilled water can supply you with substances that had been removed by the distillation process.

Distilled water for risk areas

Distilled water may be a good option for those who live in places where tap water is not safe. If there is a suspicion that the local water is contaminated with pesticides or heavy metals, it is worth distilling it.

The important thing for health is to drink a lot of water in general. In any case, a sudden or dramatic improvement in health status should not be expected from the mere consumption of a distilled liquid.

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