Difference Between Distilled Water & Drinking Water

Choosing which type of water to drink might seem simple, but there are multiple types available -- and you might not like the taste of all of them. Drinking water encompasses a wide range of different waters, including distilled water. The term is most commonly associated with municipally treated water, however, meaning the water that comes from your tap.

Distilled water requires the steam from boiling water to be collected. (Image: pkstock/iStock/Getty Images)

Drinking Water

The Environmental Protection Agency defines drinking water as water intended for human consumption. Drinking water has no ingredients other than disinfectants at limits that are considered safe for people. Drinking water can include distilled water -- it is drinkable -- although distilled water refers to water that has met additional requirements. The amount of minerals available in drinking water depends on the type of water and filtration process it contains. Common minerals in water include sodium, calcium and magnesium.

Distilled Water

Distilling removes almost all microbes and possible contaminants from the water. The distillation process requires water to be boiled and the steam collected and recondensed, at which point it is collected and bottled. While distillation cleans the water of metals as well as viruses and organic compounds that may affect the safety of water, it also removes natural minerals, which makes the water tasteless.

Drinking Water and Tap Water

Even though tap water is considered safe for drinking, people will sometimes choose bottled water for its taste, extra purification and availability. Drinking water contaminants are closely monitored to follow the standards set by the National Primary Drinking Water Regulations to ensure public safety and health. The taste of tap water can be affected by the required decontamination processes, as the chemicals commonly used, chlorine and chloramine, can leave an aftertaste. In some cases, the pipes in a house or apartment can also leave an aftertaste. Tap water contains more fluoride than bottled water does. This mineral is added by municipalities to improve bone and teeth health.

Drinking Water While Traveling

Drinking water standards in other countries vary widely, so in some cases, tap water is not considered drinkable. Similarly, natural water sources, such as rivers, creeks, ponds and lakes, may appear clean at first, but they may actually contain harmful contaminants. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends not drinking tap or well water when traveling outside of the United States, as well as avoiding drinks and ice made with tap or well water.

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