In the past, we have written all about how distilled water is a favourite across many industrial applications. But this purified water product also finds several uses in your own home. However, despite what many may think, it isn’t suitable for every domestic application.
Distilled water is many peoples’ preferred water of choice because of its lack of things like bacteria, minerals and other chemical impurities. These contaminants are removed via distillation, a process that separates the water from its impurities by causing it to vaporise.
From laboratory applications to pharmaceutical manufacturing, distilled water is used across many industries because of its lack of impurities. But this high-purity product also serves many uses in the domestic home.
Home Uses for Distilled Water
While its lack of mineral content makes distilled water not recommended for drinking, it isn’t a dangerous product and can be used at home.
Using distilled water to make ice cubes is beneficial for two main reasons, the first being that distilled water will make the ice cubes freeze faster. This is because, with little to no impurities inside, the water molecules are able to stick together much more effectively.
The purity of distilled water will also make your ice cubes as clear as they look in your favourite restaurant. You may not have given it much thought, but home-frozen ice cubes often appear cloudy or opaque. This is because tap water contains dissolved gases. While this isn’t harmful, it can have an impact on the melting time of ice cubes.
When tap water is frozen, the dissolved gases inside get trapped as air bubbles. Not only will this make the ice cubes cloudy, but it will also make them dissolve faster in your drink because the trapped gases prevent the water molecules from sticking solidly together.
Ice cubes made from distilled water, however, will last much longer because the water molecules aren’t disrupted by impurities. This trick will also work with any form of purified water, like filtered water, bottled water or even just boiled water.
Did you know that distilled water can be used in your garden to help plants flourish? This purified water product is excellent for plants and seed germination because it will prevent unwanted minerals, organic and inorganic chemicals, heavy metals and much more from building up in the plant soil. This is important as the presence of these deposits can impact the growth of a plant.
In this way, the same principle that makes distilled water well-suited towards many industrial applications, like cleaning laboratory glassware or being used in automotive parts, is also the reason why it is a great gardening hack: no impurities equals no nasty build-up.
While its lack of nutritional minerals has led to several debates about the effectiveness of distilled water in gardening, there have been several studies that show it facilitates faster seed germination than tap or saline water.
Another popular use of distilled water shared by industrial and domestic applications is as a glass cleaner. Since it is almost totally pure, distilled water won’t leave behind any salt residue on most surfaces, but this is particularly useful when it comes to cleaning glass.
In the lab, this application is very important to ensure that chemical solutions kept in glass containers are protected from contamination. Using non-purified water to clean things like beakers, ampoules or test tubes could easily render data unreliable by contaminating the chemicals, experiment or reaction.
While you don’t have to worry about this at home, using distilled water to clean windows, glasses and mirrors is a great way to make them streak-free and squeaky clean. It will also mean that you won’t be leaving a bacterial residue behind, but you can also achieve this by using boiled water.
First Aid Kits
Distilled water is used a lot by doctors when treating wounds, administering medicine using an IV and even during surgery. This isn’t only because distilled water will protect against infection by being incredibly pure, it is also because the pH of distilled water is almost identical to the pH of our blood.
Keeping some distilled water in your at-home first aid kit is a great way to ensure that any cuts and scrapes are kept clean and sanitised. Distilled water won’t introduce any harmful bacteria into open wounds and will keep the injured area clean and fresh.
Busting Common Myths
Because it contains little to no impurities, many think that distilled water should completely replace other types of water and should be used for absolutely everything at home. But this isn’t always the case, and in fact, a lack of impurities can actually do more harm than good in some cases.
With distilled water becoming a popular trend in healthy lifestyles, the process of distillation has led to many misconceptions about boiling normal tap water. The fear is that by boiling tap water, all the pure vapours escape as steam and leave a concentrated amount of organic toxins, like bacteria, in the water you cook with or make drinks with.
However, this is not the case because boiling water does not have the same effect as distilling water. Distillation involves boiling water past its boiling point, causing all the good bits to vaporise. Boiling water involves heating water to its boiling point, not past it – so it doesn’t vaporise in the same way.
The boiling point of water is 100°C. Organic impurities like germs, bacteria or viruses can’t survive above 48°C. So when you boil your kettle for a cup of tea or for cooking, any bacteria is immediately killed off, making boiled tap water completely safe for cooking with. The only impurities that will be left behind are things like mineral salts, e.g. calcium or magnesium, which are actually very beneficial to your health.
Another myth about distilled water is that it should be exclusively used in steam irons. The logic behind this is that it will safeguard against mineral buildup that is likely to shorten the lifespan of the iron.
However, distilled water can actually cause steam irons to spit and leak. While you should always check your manufacturers’ guide to see what water they recommend, the common rule of thumb is that you should use a 50/50 split between tap water and distilled water.
Drinking Distilled Water
The next and perhaps biggest misconception about distilled water is that it has amazing health benefits when drank. The fact that it is the purest form of water has made it revered as a nutritional and logical replacement for bottled, filtered and tap water. But this is one of the most widely believed myths of all.
While drinking distilled water won’t harm you, it won’t do any good for you, either. Paradoxically, this is precisely because of its lack of impurities. Although industrial applications view minerals as impurities, the body does not and needs them to be constantly replenished. By drinking distilled water, you won’t be giving your body any of the nutritional benefits it gets when you drink bottled or even tap water.
This is also why distilled water leaves a strange taste in your mouth and makes your tongue feel furry – its lack of impurities may make it safer to use on cuts, but it doesn’t make it taste all that good. Drinking distilled water won’t give you a mineral deficiency since we get most of our essential minerals from food, but it won’t be any more beneficial to the body.
For comprehensive information about distilled water, check out our Complete Guide to Distilled Water resource.
ReAgent sells high-purity distilled water in a range of pack sizes. All of our products are meant for industrial uses and shouldn’t be used at home. Order online today or contact a member of staff for free technical advice on this product.
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