Deionized vs Distilled Water

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Looking for Distilled water? You may be surprised to find out how misunderstood that term is! White Water supplies Deionized water that is even more purified than what “distilled” water needs to be!

Distilled and Deionized water are both names for purified water. The difference between distilled and deionized water is the process that the water goes through to remove contaminants, particles, and impurities. In the distillation process, water is heated until it evaporates into a gas, which is then cooled into a liquid and collected. In deionization, water flows across resin beads that exchange ions for hydrogen and hydroxyl to form H2O. Despite popular opinion, neither of them claim to have a certain level of purity higher than just “purified”. This means that you could have one bottle each of purified, distilled, and deionized water all with the same purity levels. Ultimately, it isn’t the method that matters, but the specific characteristics of the water.

In the United States, the FDA has jurisdiction over the sale of bottled water. The FDA maintains the legal definitions of names for different kinds of water. Purified water comes from their reference to the US Pharmacopeia. This definition provides specific characteristics that water must meet in order to be sold as purified. In summary, if the water meets the definition of “purified water” and has gone through a deionization process, it can be called deionized.

For White Water specifically, our deionized water starts as purified water from our reverse osmosis system. From there, it is further purified of impurities and contaminants by mixed bed deionize tanks, to reach a target TDS of less than 1.0 mg/L.

Water Purity

When we talk about how pure water is, we’re saying how much of it is pure H2O. Imagine a glass of water: the more “other stuff” floating around in it, the less pure it is. These things floating around can be anything, and at the level of purity we’re discussing here, we’re talking about things you can’t see with the naked eye.

Because water dissolves and combines with so many things, we can’t say things like “this bottle is 10% pure water”. What we can do is test for specific types of things in water (e.g. calcium, iron, bacteria). The closest test to a simple purity level would be a test of the total dissolved solids (TDS). This test returns a value of the combined amount of organic and inorganic solids in the water in a way we can understand (like milligrams per liter). It is one of the best ways to tell how much “other stuff” is in a cup of water. This is also relevant for any processes requiring that the water not conduct electricity, as the TDS value directly correlates to the conductivity of the water (conductivity, resistivity, and TDS can all be calculated off of each other).

I’ve Been Told to Use Distilled Water

Equipment manufacturers and procedures commonly tell you to “use distilled water” over the regular form of water from your tap. The primary reason for this is the term “distilled water” being used incorrectly to describe a certain purity level in water. As we’ve covered above, the water produced by the distillation process isn’t any more purified than “purified water” made in any other way.

Bottom line: if you’ve been told you have to “use distilled water”, our deionized water more than meets your needs.

Have Deionized Water Delivered ( 1 and 5 gallons )

Deionized versus Distilled Water Comparisons

  • Distillation has been around for a very long time, as early as the 200s. Deionizing water is a fairly recent invention, only being available since the mid-1900s. This has contributed to the misuse of the term distilled on a global scale.
  • You can distill water with household items, but you can’t deionize water without special equipment. This makes distilled water much more readily available, and contributes to the overuse of the term.
  • Deionizing water is a far greener process than distillation. The difference between the energy requirement for the two processes is extreme. Deionization only requires water flow, while distillation requires massive amounts of heating and cooling.
    • This difference in energy is exacerbated in commercial applications, which is why White Water has chosen to create our most pure water using deionization, rather than distillation.
  • The resin beads used for deionization are reusable, making the process even more green than distilling.
  • Deionization itself doesn’t remove organics like bacteria and viruses if they are present. White Water supplements this by treating our deionized water with UV light and ozone injection after (and before) deionization.

The Deionization Process

Deionization can be difficult to understand at first. After all, we’re talking about altering the properties of water at a molecular level. The process itself is pretty basic, but the science behind it is incredible. First, let’s present the process in it’s most simplified form:

The deionization process exchanges minerals for pure water.

Considering we accomplish this just by passing water over some resin beads, it almost sounds impossible. In order to understand the process further, we need to break it down some more. The minerals we exchange out are things like calcium, iron, magnesium, sulfates, and chlorides. These minerals are all ions, which just means that they have a negative or positive charge. This charge is what is used to make the exchange happen. The resin beads themselves have hydrogen (positive) or hydroxyl (negative). When water with calcium in it passes over a bead with hydrogen in it, the calcium gets swapped out of the water and into the bead, while the hydrogen comes out of the bead and into the water. When hydrogen and hydroxyl from the beads meet in the water, they form H2O. This is how minerals are replaced by water during deionization.

deionize resin beads

The deionization process exchanges minerals for pure water.

For more details about the process, see this article from one of our suppliers.

Even More Extremely Purified Water

water in lab glassware

Water needing highly specific purity levels will not be referred to as “distilled” water.

It is extraordinarily rare to require the use of water that is even more pure than purified water. Generally, this kind of ultrapure water is for use in the industries of semiconductors, pharmaceuticals, or specialty research laboratories. In those cases, there are specific classifications of water for each type, created by organizations like ISO and ASTM.

These specific names exist to classify highly purified water (ultrapure water). For example, ISO has Grade 1, 2, and 3 (specifically for analysis of inorganic chemicals) and ASTM has Types I, II, III, and IV (for reagent purposes).

A process that requires water of a certain specification will use one of the names above (it won’t just say distilled).

White Water Deionized Water Applications

You can use our deionized water for anything, but it is better than other types of water at certain tasks. Get started with some of these ideas:

  • Ice and Drinking Water
  • Cleaning (won’t leave any residue like spots or scale buildup)
  • Batteries
  • Coolant
  • Cooking/Baking
  • Tea/Coffee
  • Diluting any substance
  • Household tools like irons and humidifiers
  • Commercial machinery like dental equipment
  • Any other equipment that uses water
click here to get Bulk deionized water delivered

Is Deionized Water Safe to Drink?

Short answer: yes. White Water’s Deionized water is completely safe to drink and tastes great too. In fact, our deionized water can even provide health benefits for some medical conditions. Drinking water this purified ensures you aren’t adding any impurities or anything you shouldn’t be into your body. This makes it perfect for people who can’t have things that other waters might have, like sodium.

There are a couple popular things people talk about when claiming that deionized water is not safe:

  • Nutrient / Mineral Depletion
    • Unfounded claims that deionized water actually leaches healthy nutrients out of your body are misleading. This is something that has never been proven, even with the most ultra pure water.
    • We have water that is focused on replenishing mineral ions in the body (like our electrolyte water), but you should know that you also get electrolytes from the food you eat.
  • While the deionization process itself does not disinfect water, White Water uses UV light and ozone injection as sanitizers to supplement this.