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What's the Difference Between Tap Water and Distilled Water?

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The main difference between Tap Water and Distilled Water is substance. Tap Water contains different minerals, ions, and other impurities that can both benefit and harm an individual’s health. Distilled Water, on the other hand, is free of organic materials and foreign contaminants making it pure, neutral, and potable.

What is Tap Water?

Tap Water is also known as faucet water or running water. It is the water that is being supplied, treated, monitored, and distributed mainly by the government through taps or valves. Tap Water is dispensed to homes, offices, or other establishments and can be consumed or used for other general purposes such as cleaning and toilet flushing.

In the US, Tap Water comes from three primary sources: lakes, rivers, and groundwater. This can also be the case for other areas but it can also vary from one location to another. Depending on the type of location, the quality of Tap Water varies. Some factors that can affect the quality of Tap Water are natural sources and human activities.

What is Distilled Water?

Distilled Water is a type of purified water that undergoes a distillation process. The distillation process is being done to water that comes from various sources to remove unwanted impurities, molecules, and other microscopic organisms that might affect the water’s quality or potability. Distilled Water can be found and bought from supermarkets, pharmacies, or even convenience stores.

Distilled Water has found uses other than drinking or hydration. Because of the water’s nature being neutral, pure, and clear, it is the go-to solvent in laboratories, research, and experiments. Distilled Water has a pH level of 7 where water is neutral, tasteless, and odorless. It is preferable in biological and chemical laboratories because unpurified water can interfere or react with certain processes.

Differences Between Tap Water and Distilled Water

Tap Water and Distilled Water can both be used as water should be under normal circumstances: hydration, general cleaning, and toilet flushing. Both of them are readily available for the public to consume or use. They are convenient to obtain and can be found in almost every residential or commercial establishment. However, some notable differences could be seen if Tap Water and Distilled Water are examined closely.

Treatment Process

Tap Water goes through a 4-step treatment process. The first step in the Tap Water Treatment Process is Coagulation and Flocculation. It is the addition of chemicals to clump small particles together. The second step is Sedimentation wherein the clumps bind together and settle at the bottom of the tank. It is followed by Filtration to remove dust, parasites and chemicals. Finally, Disinfection is done by mixing Chlorine to remove any remaining impurities.

Distilled Water goes through the Distillation process. It is the technique that is used to separate components in a liquid mixture through boiling and condensation. The Distillation Process involves boiling the water collected from a source at 100°C to let the water evaporate. The steam then would have to travel in designated tubes to perform the process of condensation. Then condensed water would drop into purified containers.

Sources

Tap Water comes from the surface or groundwater. Some examples of surface or groundwater are rivers, lakes, streams, reservoirs, and even seawater. Tap Water, usually, is being produced, treated, monitored, and distributed by the government to ensure its quality, safety, and portability. 

Distilled Water is proven and tested to be an effective way to eliminate impurities due to boiling. Since boiling can kill most microorganisms that can lurk in any source of water, sources for water distillation can come from well water, damp rock, seawater, or even snow. Distillation, however, is managed and distributed by private companies and they produce distilled water for hydration or laboratory uses.

Risks

Tap Water is generally safe to drink because it has already undergone the 4-step Treatment Process before it can reach homes, offices, and public establishments. However, possible risks of waterborne diseases such as cholera and thyroid depend on the natural sources of Tap Water or human activities near the area of collection of Tap Water.

Distilled Water is definitely safe to drink for it is pure and neutral. However, since it eliminates everything except water molecules, some beneficial nutrients and minerals such as magnesium, potassium, fluoride, and calcium are also removed. If a person only drinks Distilled Water holistically, it can lead to deficiencies.

Benefits

Tap Water could be beneficial if the treatment is done right. A lot of helpful minerals and ions are present in Tap Water. If an individual decides to make Tap Water the primary source of hydration, it is ideal to let the water boil, cool, or use a home filtration system to minimize the risks and maximize the benefits that one can get from natural minerals from Tap Water.

Distilled Water is generally safe to drink. Since it is free of impurities, foreign materials, and other unwanted organisms, it is safe to say that health-conscious people can find this type of purified water a neutral choice for drinking. Although it could lack natural minerals, ions, and electrolytes, people that need them can get them through other sources.

Comparison Chart: Tap Water Vs Distilled Water

SpecificationsTap WaterDistilled Water
Treatment Process4-Step Treatment Process: Coagulation and Flocculation, Sedimentation, Filtration, DisinfectionBoiling at 100 °C, Evaporation, Condensation
SourcesSurface or Groundwater (Lakes, Rivers, Reservoirs, Streams)Well Water, Damp Rock, Seawater, Snow, Groundwater
Risk and BenefitsRisks: Waterborne Diseases (Cholera, Thyroid)
Benefits: Natural Minerals (Magnesium, Calcium, Potassium)
Risks: Prolonged Consumptions (Mineral Deficiencies)
Benefits: Clean, Pure, Contaminant-free drinking water
PurposeHydration, Cleaning, FlushingHydration, Cleaning Flushing, Laboratory Experiments

Frequently Asked Questions

When did Tap Water Become Popular?

Before the 19th century, tap was just available to a few people. Back then, only a few countries had access to the tap. However, at the dawn of the 20th century, only a few countries had trouble acquiring tap water due to logistics, location, or poverty.

Is It Safe to Drink Distilled Water?

According to a study conducted by The World Health Organization, this is not always the case. In 1982, WHO investigated the effects of demineralized water. They found out that humans who consumed such types of water exhibited increased urination and dental fluorosis.

Which is Better to Drink, Tap Water or Distilled Water?

Generally speaking, they are both safe and available for consumption. They can also both be used for cleaning purposes. However, tap water contains more useful minerals and nutrients that help make the body healthy.

In the long run, it is dangerous to drink distilled water, precisely because of this lack of nutrients and minerals. Therefore, it is better to drink tap water or mineral water.

Conclusion

The quality of water that a person drinks can greatly affect his or her quality of life. Studies have shown that water is essential not only for human survival but for long-term health. It is always imperative to take extra precautions when it comes to preserving and improving one’s health. So, whether an individual drinks Tap or Distilled Water, boiling, cooling, or filtering it before consumption is ideal to make sure that what goes inside is clean as it looks.

References

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About the Author: Nicolas Seignette

Nicolas Seignette, who holds a scientific baccalaureate, began his studies in mathematics and computer science applied to human and social sciences (MIASHS). He then continued his university studies with a DEUST WMI (Webmaster and Internet professions) at the University of Limoges before finishing his course with a professional license specialized in the IT professions. On 10Differences, he is in charge of the research and the writing of the articles concerning technology, sciences and mathematics.
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