Is boiled water the same as distilled water?

“Is boiled water the same as distilled water?” 

Boiled water is not the same as distilled water. Boiled water retains mineral ions like potassium, calcium, and magnesium, making it different from distilled water, which contains no mineral ions. Boiling water removes harmful substances like bacteria but does not eliminate mineral content, resulting in a different taste and transparency compared to distilled water. Distilled water, on the other hand, is pure and free from impurities or bacteria, making it suitable for various applications where high purity is essential. In summary, while boiled water is safe to drink after boiling to kill bacteria, it differs from distilled water in terms of purity and mineral content.

What is boiled water?

Boiling is as old as cooking, where water is heated until it reaches its boiling point (100°C or 212°F at sea level). When water boils, it undergoes a physical change from a liquid to a gas (steam). This process kills microbes such as bacteria, viruses, and protozoans that can cause diseases. According to a study published in the “Journal of Environmental and Public Health,” boiling is an effective method of water purification, especially in emergency situations. However, boiling water does not remove dissolved solids or chemicals.

A cup of liquid in a blue container

Water Boiling, Credit: Wikimedia/Alan Levine

Understanding distilled water

Distilled water, on the other hand, takes things a step further. Distillation involves boiling water to form steam, which is then condensed to get liquid back. This method is a simple and scientifically elegant process. The distillation process, studied extensively in works such as “The Science of Water: Concepts and Applications,” not only eliminates pathogens but also removes minerals and impurities. The result? Water that is as close to H2O in its purest form as most of us will ever encounter.

Comparing boiled and distilled water: purity levels

At first glance, boiled and distilled water seem similar since both involve heating water to its boiling point. However, the critical difference lies in what happens next. Once cooled, boiled water still contains dissolved minerals and impurities. Distilled water, in contrast, leaves impurities behind, as noted in “Water Chemistry: An Introduction to the Chemistry of Natural and Engineered Aquatic Systems.” Thus, distilled water is purer than boiled water.

A distillation apparatus with text on it

Double Distilled Water Unit, Credit: Wikimedia/Guruleninn

Taste differences

Have you ever noticed a flat taste in distilled water? There’s a scientific reason for that. The lack of minerals in distilled water, which many of us are accustomed to in tap and bottled waters, gives it a unique taste. A study in the “Journal of Sensory Studies” suggests that minerals in water can significantly alter its taste. So, while boiled water retains its mineral content and familiar taste, distilled water may taste somewhat ’empty’ to some palates.

Uses in daily life

Boiled water is often used in cooking and drinking, especially where water quality is a concern. It’s a quick fix to ensure water is safe from pathogens. Distilled water, however, finds its place in more specialized applications. It’s used in laboratories, automotive cooling systems, and in ironing clothes, as noted in “Practical Applications of Distilled Water.” Its lack of minerals prevents build-up and contamination in sensitive equipment.

Environmental impact

When it comes to environmental impact, boiling water is relatively energy-intensive but doesn’t produce waste. While providing purer water, distillation requires more energy and can lead to greater carbon emissions. A study in the “Journal of Cleaner Production” highlights the energy requirements and environmental impacts of various water purification methods, suggesting that both boiling and distillation have their ecological costs.

Health considerations:

Is distilled water healthier? Not necessarily. While it’s free from impurities and pathogens, the absence of minerals can be a downside. According to the “World Health Organization,” drinking water with a balanced mineral content benefits health. Boiled water, retaining its minerals, can be a better choice for daily consumption.

Cost and accessibility

Boiling water is cost-effective and accessible. All you need is a heat source and a pot. Distilled water, while available in stores, can be more expensive. If you’re distilling at home, the setup might be more complex and energy-intensive, as detailed in “Economics of Water Purification.”


In conclusion, while boiled and distilled water start with the same process, their paths diverge, leading to differences in purity, taste, uses, environmental impact, and health implications. Whether you’re reaching for a pot to boil water for your tea or using distilled water in your steam iron, it’s clear that each type of water has its unique place in our lives. Understanding these differences ensures that we make informed choices about the water we use every day.


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