Read the labels on bottled water, and you will notice that one of the most common methods to purify the water is distillation. This is an extremely energy intensive, wasteful process and it’s not as healthy as you might think. Additionally, because this water comes in single-use plastic bottles, distilled water is not a responsible choice.
Bottlers start with tap water, boil it and collect the steam. The steam is condensed back into water. What are left behind are heavy metals like lead, arsenic, and mercury, along with trace minerals that must be disposed of. Under-developed nations with contaminated or untreated drinking water often use distillation as a necessary method of water treatment. But here in the US, distillation is very undesirable for normal routine drinking.
Water becomes a vapor before some of the other ingredients. However, the boiling temperature of most synthetic chemicals, including pesticides, herbicides, and chlorine solutions is lower than the boiling point of water. Therefore, all these chemicals are vaporized along with the water. Distillation will not remove these harmful chemicals. Check the label to see if other filtration methods were used before drinking distilled water.
Distillation strips water of natural trace elements that occur naturally in fresh water. When these elements are removed, the water becomes very acidic. Some authorities such as the World Health Organization have performed studies showing that long term consumption of distilled water is harmful to our health. However, there are others who disagree. We suggest that you look into it yourself before making a decision. What is clear is that the environmental impact of distilling water is great.
Distillation requires five gallons of tap water to generate one gallon of purified water. It also requires huge amounts of energy, supplied by the burning of fossil fuels.
Most of the one gallon and five gallon choices of bottled water on the market use distillation as a component of their purification process. Since pure spring water is so much harder to get to and there’s less of it, that water is saved for the premium, single serving size containers. Read the label!
To give you an idea of what typical distilled drinking water has to go through, the Arrowhead website explains the process.
Tap water is brought into their facilities by stainless steel pipe. They pass it through a carbon filter to remove chlorine and other organic chemicals. An ion exchange process is used to soften the water. Then it is distilled by boiling and condensing the vapor, and then it passes through a micron filter and ultraviolet light to disinfect it. The water is treated with ozone to disinfect it again, and finally it is poured into plastic bottles. Millions of bottles are then shipped, trucked, and railed all over the US and the rest of the planet.
The beauty is you can filter your own tap water. You don’t have to boil it or buy a Reverse Osmosis filter. You don’t have to contribute to the plastic contamination of our oceans and lands. We are very lucky in the US that we have an unlimited supply of decent drinking water coming out of our taps. Take advantage of it. Filter it if you must, but don’t buy plastic bottles of water! Their water isn’t any better for you than your water and the impact is too great.
by John Messerschmidt