Is Distilled Water Safe to Drink (Know The Facts)
Let us start this by defining what distilled water is in a simple context.
There are two byproducts of this process - the impurities left behind when the water evaporated, and the pure distilled water yielded after condensation.
Despite the assurances of legitimate health sectors that are saying that it is safe to drink distilled water, people are still worried out of their minds. Here are some of the most common apprehensions that we may or may not be experiencing today.
Yes, it is all right to do so.
We have the following options when it comes to choosing the right drinking water for our families:
- water from the tap
- filtered water
- mineral water
- purified water
- distilled water
All of these four drinking water sources are relatively safe at varying levels depending on their water source, the process that it goes through to make them potable, how they are delivered into our homes and how they are contained.
Let us go to the next issue. Should you drink distilled water? Is distilled water good for drinking? It is safe, yes, but is distilled water good for you and your family? Is distilled water good to drink all the time? Let us all find out.
The distillation process takes the impurities out of the water. However, it also gets rid of the minerals that it naturally has. Some examples of these essential minerals are calcium, magnesium, iron and sodium.
Basically, distilled water is just pure water without anything in it. It is only good for hydrating the body, which is its primary purpose, and for keeping it functioning properly like a well-oiled ingenious machine.
As we all remember, the human body is made up of 75 percent water. So, keep hydrated always especially during hot summer days.
Yes, it is safe.
The water from the tap is filtered and checked, but physicians still wouldn’t recommend drinking from it because there can still be a chance that it may contain some trace amounts of harmful contaminants like bacteria, toxic substances and radiological wastes which can’t be thoroughly cleaned through filtration and chlorination.
Drinking from the tap is therefore done at your own risk.
Distilled water, however, went through the distillation process and is rid from most of its impurities, producing much cleaner, safer, and purer water. So, is drinking distilled water safe?
Yes, it is. It will not kill you. It does not harbor any bad bacteria that can harm your little ones. And, it is easily available in every supermarket worldwide at an affordable price.
Since distilled water is a pure substance, it tends to absorb anything that it comes in contact with, even air. It absorbs the carbon dioxide in the air, making it acidic. This acidity problem can be easily remedied. You just have to neutralize the distilled water by using a simple method.
Here are two easy steps to do it at home:
- Measure the pH level of your distilled water by using a litmus paper. Remember your science experiment back in primary school? This is it. As a refresher, the pH level ranges from 0-14. In the pH scale of 0-14, pH 0 to pH 6.9 is acidic and pH 7.1 to pH 14 is basic. The neutral point is pH 7.
- Next, the EPA suggests adding 1/8 teaspoon baking soda or a drop of household ammonia. Stir well and check the pH level again. If the water is still acidic, repeat the process until pH 7 or alkalinity is reached.
Now that the water has been neutralized, is distilled water safe to drink? Let us answer this by learning about the two sides of the story.
To find out, let’s talk first about what’s not in this type of water.
Distilled water lacks some, if not all, beneficial minerals that are needed by the human body. This is true, but it is not something to be worried about. We primarily get the body’s needed vitamins and minerals from the everyday food that we eat. Hence, it is important to eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables to reach the daily recommended intake of vitamins and minerals. If not, there are a lot of certified vitamins in the market to fill in this need.
Remember to consult with a trusted physician first before taking any dietary supplements or vitamins. Also, have your liver and kidneys checked if they are up for the job.
How about the acidity? Is it alkaline or acidic? If you have certain medical conditions, it’s very important to know the pH level of the water you’re drinking.
Some say that distilled water’s pH level is acidic and is bad for the human body. That is true, but we can easily neutralize it by using a simple process. However, it is generally okay for daily consumption even though you do not neutralize it.
The human body is a wonderful creation. It simply adapts to any change to function normally. It is built to adapt to its surroundings and strive to survive. Therefore, the acidity of the exposed distilled water can be easily neutralized by the stomach acids and will not affect any of the body processes.
There is a possible increase in toxic metal intake. Since it absorbs other substances that it may come in contact with, this is one concern. It is an accident waiting to happen especially when the wrong container is used. Avoid using water storage tanks with pipe tubing, coatings, hose lines and fittings. The reason is that the water can easily dissolve the metals and some harmful organic substances like lead from the container.
Lead poisoning is a serious threat to anyone affected by it, especially to infants. Babies are small and it only takes a small amount of lead to build up in their fragile bodies to make it toxic for them.
It is advisable to have pipes checked and replaced in old homes to avoid this problem. It will also save you from a lot of trouble and keep your peace of mind to have your tap and drinking water checked for any hazardous chemicals from time to time.
Another problem is the loss of calcium, magnesium, iron and other essential elements in the food which is cooked using distilled water. Yes, this is a known fact but we need to cook our food to make it safe for consumption.
This is a case of choosing the lesser evil. The loss of these nutrients can be minimized by lessening cooking time and serving fresh fruits and vegetables with the meals.
Calcium is essential in the bone growth of young children. It is also essential to the elderly to minimize the risks of developing degenerative diseases of the bones like osteoporosis or bone loss, which is prevalent among 200 million women worldwide with ages 60 to 90 years old. It also affects men and cases are increasing among the younger women age group. Osteoporosis can lead complications like bone fractures and disabilities.
Magnesium is another essential element that is needed by the body. It works hand in hand with calcium to make bones strong, keep the blood pressure normal and heart rhythm stable.
Do you really know how distilled water is made? Where does it come from? How does the distillation process go about? Can humans drink distilled water or is it just fit for other purposes? Let us delve into this to understand it better.
The water being used in almost all the households around the world are from different water sources. They can come from rivers, springs, and lakes near your towns and cities.
The water goes through the water treatment facility where it is filtered. Then, a series of tests are done to make sure that the filtered water that is produced in the facility adheres to the standards set by the EPA before it is released for use to its consumers.
The agency has created a standard that the water should pass in order to be delivered into each home to be used in all ways. Yes, in all ways, even drinking.
The tap water that is coming out of our faucets is clearly safe enough to drink according to the EPA, but people think that it is still possible that it can be contaminated. Well, that is true. When it travels from the water treatment facility towards our homes, it goes through different pipes.
The problem lies here, because we are not sure if these pipes are leak-proof, sanitized and lead-free.
That is why some people prefer not to drink from the tap. They prefer to use other ways to make the water they use for drinking and cooking safer and potable. And, some people prefer to buy their drinking water from a trusted source.
Generally, water in its basic form is full of impurities. These drinking water contaminants are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in the United States of America.
When you drink from the tap, you run the risk of getting contaminated water. While the government assures us of tap water safety, you never know when there is a leak or problem in your pipes or system.
The following are the general categories of contaminants found in water according to the EPA:
These are mainly what you first see and observe when you look at the water sample. These can be in the forms of sediments such as soil, algae or any eroded material from the main water source.
These include pesticides, metals, calcium, magnesium, iron, sodium and various toxins produced by bacteria.
These are living organisms found in water that are responsible for most waterborne diseases out there. They are microbes, mostly harmful, and are very much capable of spreading diseases. These contaminants can be in the forms of bacteria, viruses, protozoans, and parasites. Some of the most commonly found microbial contaminants in water are:
- Escherichia Coli or E-coli is a bacteria which is normally found in normal human and animal intestines. It becomes dangerous when it is found in food and water, and is ingested. Most strains of this bacterium are harmless, but some are not.
Harmful strains of E-coli can cause acute diarrhea, abdominal pain, urinary tract infections, pneumonia, and other medical complications.
According to the EPA, water contaminated with E- coli is acceptable provided that it does not read as positive in more than 5% of the water samples taken each month.
- Amoeba are protozoan, which means that they are single-celled organisms. Entameoba histolytica or E. histolytica gets inside the human body through the ingestion of contaminated water and food.
This can cause acute to chronic diarrhea if not treated early, abdominal pain, dehydration, and weakness. In worse cases, it can cause bloody stools, amoebic liver abscess, and even death.
Amoebiasis is prevalent in most countries found in the tropics with poor sanitation.
- Adenoviruses mostly affect the very young, the very old, people with weakened immune systems or those with pre-existing diseases who developed complications caused by the virus.
It can be transmitted from one person to the other through close personal contact like touching and kissing, touching anything with adenovirus on it and then touching your mouth, eyes and nose or through the air when the infected person coughs or sneezes.
Once a person recovers from the sickness, he can still be carrying the virus for months without showing any symptoms. That person becomes a carrier without even knowing it and can still actively transmit the virus to other people.
That’s why correct hand washing is very important, it helps stop the spread of most transmissible diseases. Always remember that prevention is better than cure.
- Cyanobacteria are often called the blue-green algae, but this is a misnomer. It is not an algae, it is actually a bacteria that goes through photosynthesis to be able to survive. That’s why it is usually found floating on any form of water on earth.
Cyanobacteria produce cyanotoxins which can cause human poisoning if taken in large quantities. Cyanotoxins can be most toxic to the liver and can also affect the brain and skin.
- Helicobacter Pylori or H. Pylori is a type of bacteria which can cause stomach and duodenum ulcer formation. Peptic ulcer disease or PUD is common in the United States, affecting about 5 million people and reported cases are increasing each year by 2 and a half million. This type of bacteria causes 75% of stomach ulcers and 2 kinds of stomach cancers.
Once the H. Pylori attaches itself in the stomach lining, a person can still appear normal without any noticeable symptoms for many years. Because it is a slow process, the first symptom to occur will most likely be abdominal pain that is relieved by taking antacids or food.
Other symptoms are weight loss, heartburn, increased burping, poor appetite. Presumptive symptoms are sharp, sudden and persistent abdominal pain which may be caused by an old perforated ulcer.
Last but not the least, these can enter the water from the soil, from improperly disposed radiologic wastes from factories, laboratories or hospitals, and from mining sites where chemicals such as uranium and phosphorus are being mined.
These radiological contaminants are potentially dangerous to humans when ingested and can possibly even cause cancer.
The water being used in almost all the households around the world are from different water sources. The water goes through the filtration system, water treatment facility and series of tests to make sure that it adheres to the standards set by the governing bodies before it is being released for use to its consumers.
We have already established that distilled water is safe and is more or less good for drinking. It is also considered as one of the safest drinking water options out there that is fit for daily human consumption.
So... can people drink distilled water?
Yes, because people need to survive.
Distilled water can also be considered as demineralized water since it was stripped off of its naturally existing minerals and impurities during the distillation process. It is just pure and harmless water that has a myriad of purposes in different settings.
It is mainly used in homes for cooking and drinking, making coffee or tea, or making bottled milk for the baby. It is also used in laboratories where they need pure water to carry on with controlled experiments. By using distilled water, the errors that can be brought about by contaminated water which can affect the results are greatly minimized.
Another setting where it is used every day is in hospitals or other allied health care facilities. It is used to clean wounds, dissolve powdered intravenous medications, and clean surgical instruments. It is also used during surgical hand washing to ensure that microbes are kept to a minimum and as irrigation in selected surgeries.
According to a study published by the World Health Organization:
Demineralized water that has not been re-mineralized, or low-mineral content water – in the light of the absence or substantial lack of essential minerals in it – is not considered ideal drinking water, and therefore, its regular consumption may not be providing adequate levels of some beneficial nutrients.
While not ideal, it’s still considered safe. But if you’re in dire need of nutrients, ask your doctor on what’s the optimal type of water you can consume.
This study talks about the lack of mineral content in distilled water. But don’t we also get those beneficial nutrients from the food we eat and from the vitamins we take? Besides, distilled water can be fortified with calcium and magnesium to serve its purpose in making the human body healthy and fit.
Furthermore, research plays an important role in this aspect to start a ripple of wonderful discoveries that will be most beneficial to human survival in the future. It would also be a big innovative step for national and international authorities who are responsible for the quality of drinking water produced in the market to make guidelines and put up standards to ensure that people of the world are drinking safe, clean and healthy water everywhere.
Some cities and countries have established this already for sure. This may be a far cry for now for some nations, but it is surely doable if everyone would help in any way possible.
Thus, do you ask yourself, can I drink distilled water? Yes, you can and I certainly have been drinking it every day. Can we drink distilled water? Yes, because it is an intelligent choice. Can you drink distilled water? Yes, because you are alive and you have to keep living.