The Unexpected Way Distilled Water Gets Its Taste

While you can certainly drink distilled water, its primary purpose is not for drinking. The Food Network writes that distilled water is used for irons, clothing steamers, and nasal rinsing. Healthline includes car cooling systems, aquariums, and laboratory experiments in their list of uses for distilled water. In short, basically any other possible use than for a glass of water.

The reason why distilled water is used in these ways and tap water is not is due to the treatment distilled water gets. Distilled water is a form of water that has been purified via steam distillation. As Elisabeth Barnes, MS, RDN, explained to the Food Network, "Steam distillation is a process of boiling water and collecting the steam that then condenses back into a liquid. Distilled water only contains hydrogen and oxygen." It is the lack of anything other than the pure chemical components of water that make distilled water ideal for things like engine maintenance and nasal cleaning, as undistilled water may contain minerals or bacteria.

You can still drink distilled water. After all, it's pure water. However, because the distillation process removes the minerals we are used to tasting in water, distilled water tastes like a relatively bland version of water.

Distilled water can still develop a taste

"People often find that distilled water doesn't have a great taste," Barnes said to the Food Network. "Minerals are what give your water flavor, so no minerals mean bland water." Often, minerals are reintroduced to a purified water to return its flavor and so can be sold later. However, water that is explicitly sold as distilled water can develop a flavor due to contamination.

The contamination doesn't even have to be something scary like a disease. Science ABC explains that once the distilled water leaves the distillery, the carbon dioxide and oxygen in the air dissolve into it. Similarly, if distilled water were poured into a glass, the glass's impurities will be reflected in the taste of the water.

Still, you probably won't want to drink distilled water as the flavor would still be bland even after contamination. What we think of as regular drinking water has a larger amount of substances that are extraneous to pure water. Healthline describes how tap water gets its flavor from fluoride and the type of pipe used, spring water reflects the minerals of its lake's natural surroundings, and sparkling water delivers the taste of the CO2 that causes the water's carbonation. Best leave distilled water to do what's it's meant to: clean your nose.