Learn distillation basics and the answers to frequently asked questions
You would think that drinking water that meets Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards would be safe and healthy, but it's actually one of your biggest health risks. Even "safe" water may contain "acceptable" amounts of lead, arsenic, mercury, radioactive particles, and a long list of other poisons. To illustrate this point:
- There are more than 75,000 chemical compounds used by industry and agriculture, with thousands more added each year—many unregulated.
- Eighty percent of these chemicals have never been tested for long-term, chronic toxicity.
- It's estimated that 20 billion tons of chemicals, radioactive waste, and pollutants are introduced into the environment each year, and the belief is that most of these toxic chemicals eventually reach our water supply.
- In the United States, the EPA has evaluated and set standards for only a small percentage of the more than 700 chemicals found in drinking water supplies.
Distillation is the Only Viable Option
Because municipal water treatment facilities can't remove all toxins, the only solution is to take advantage of water filtration technology for your own home. My first choice for safe drinking water is distillation, because it safely removes all contaminants. It's a fairly simple process in which water is heated until it boils and turns to steam. The boiling action kills bacteria and other pathogens, and as the steam rises, it leaves behind waste material, minerals, heavy metals, and other heavier contaminants. The steam is then cooled and returns to water.
Distillation is effective because it removes the water from the contaminants, rather than trying to remove the contaminants from the water. Distillers have several major advantages over other purification systems. A good distillation system pretty much eliminates the need to ever have your water tested. It’s the only purification system I know that removes every kind of bacteria, virus, parasite, and pathogen, as well as pesticides, herbicides, organic and inorganic chemicals, heavy metals (dissolved or otherwise), and even radioactive contaminants.
One added benefit to having a distiller is that if your tap water supply is lost for any reason, you can safely distill water from a river, lake, pond, or swimming pool. True, distillation takes longer than other methods such as drip filtration, but I consider any inconvenience associated with distillation minor in comparison to the safety.
Frequently Asked Questions About Distillation
- Does distilled water contain harmful substances that have a lower boiling point than water?
- I've heard that distilled water is acidic. I know you prefer that we keep our bodies as alkaline as possible, so how can distilled water be good for us?
- I've read that distilled water leaches minerals out of your body. Is that healthy?
Does distilled water contain harmful substances that have a lower boiling point than water?
The only reliable way to remove chemicals in our water supply is through distillation. Distillation is a very straightforward concept: You boil off the water, and all the undesirable “extras” are left behind. To do the job correctly, however, takes a little finesse.
Some of these compounds are left behind during the distillation process, no matter how the distillation is carried out. These compounds and minerals make up the residue you'll see remaining in the tray or bottom chamber of your home machine.
The finesse part has to do with the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that boil off before the water. (More properly, the compounds have what's called a lower vapor pressure than water. The effect is the same—they evaporate before the water does.) In a properly made distillation unit, the tap water is preheated to just below the boiling point to drive off the compounds that are lighter than water. Once those compounds have evaporated, the water is heated just to the boiling point and is sent to the condensation chamber to return to its liquid state as pure water.
A unit that doesn't include the preheating phase will evaporate the VOCs along with the water, so they'll condense with the steam and remain in the finished product. While this won’t concentrate the harmful compounds, it will leave the purifying job half done.
If you don't distill your water yourself, you won’t know about the process used—which is why I recommend not just that you drink distilled water, but that you buy a high-quality home distiller unit and use that. Lower-quality units seldom have the preheating step, so I don't recommend them. The distiller I use and recommend is the WaterWise 9000.
I've heard that distilled water is acidic. I know you prefer that we keep our bodies as alkaline as possible, so how can distilled water be good for us?
It's true that distilled water is acidic, whether it comes from a store-bought jug or a distiller at home. The acidity occurs because carbon dioxide from the atmosphere dissolves in the water, creating a very dilute solution of carbonic acid. Distilled water in a container that’s been sitting open for a while could have a pH in the range of 6. (For comparison, vinegar has a pH of about 4, or 100 times as acidic.) Your body responds to this trivial amount of acidity by producing more stomach acid. So long as your digestive system is in good shape, and you're not taking any medication to block the production of stomach acid, then the amount of acidity from distilled water won't affect any body processes.
I've read that distilled water leaches minerals out of your body. Is that healthy?
This assertion is made because distilled water doesn’t have any minerals of its own. However, most of the minerals we take in come from food, not water. And the fact is that your kidneys do a fine job of keeping your minerals in proper balance. As long as your kidneys are functioning normally, you’ll have no problems drinking distilled water.