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How to Make Distilled Water for Drinking at Home – Benefits & Costs

By Heather Levin

drinking waterHead into any gas station and you’re likely to pay $1.50 or more for 20 ounces of water. Some of this water is labeled “pure,” but such a distinction can be misleading. It might be spring water, it might have been purified by reverse osmosis, or it might have been steam distilled.

Not only is bottled water more expensive per ounce than gas, it’s also bad for the environment. In fact, according to Mother Nature Network, bottled water produces 1.5 million tons of plastic waste each year. All this plastic takes 47 million gallons of oil to produce, and only 20% of these plastic bottles are ever recycled.

Your best option? Stop wasting money on bottled water. Pick up a reusable water bottle, and fill it with perfectly pure, steam-distilled water that you distill yourself.

What Is Steam Distilling?

Many people don’t know they can easily steam distill water at home. Steam distilling is the process of boiling water in an enclosed container in order to capture the steam and reliquify it in a connected container. As the steam rises, it’s collected in a separate glass or plastic container. When the water in the first container has been boiled entirely away, all that remain are the minerals, chemicals, and other contaminants that were in the water.

The water that fills the second container is nothing but 100% H2O, with zero contaminants or minerals. Once you’re ready to make another gallon, simply clean out the minerals and chemicals that were left in the distiller, fill it with water again, and turn it on. In five to six hours, you’ll have another gallon of perfectly pure water.

Why Drink Steam Distilled Water

nutriteam water distillerMy family is genetically predisposed to get kidney stones. I got them as a teenager, but I’ve since learned to modify my diet so I don’t develop them. However, when we moved to our first home five years ago, I developed kidney stones within three months. A CT scan in the emergency showed plenty of the hard stones lurking in my kidneys.

A doctor told us it was probably the water, which was highly calcified in my new town. So I started buying steam-distilled water to keep all those minerals out of my body. But at $0.88 a gallon, it was an expensive addition to the grocery bill – especially since my husband and I both drink almost a gallon a day. And I hated using all that plastic.

Eventually, we researched steam distillers online, and finally bought a Nutriteam Countertop Distiller. After we made our first gallon, we discovered that the doctor was right: There was a ton of white powder left at the bottom of the distiller. This was very likely the debris that had caused my kidney stones.

Advantages

  1. Saves Money. If you don’t want to drink your tap water, distilling it at home is much cheaper than buying bottled water.
  2. Convenient. Before we purchased our steam distiller, we had to go to Walmart once a week for water (since they had the cheapest price). I didn’t like going because it was one more stop we had to make – and lugging around a dozen gallons of water in wintertime is just not fun. Now we simply distill two gallons of water each day right in our kitchen.
  3. Healthy. Steam-distilled water is completely pure; if you’re worried about chemicals or minerals in your water, you can eliminate these concerns with steam distillation.
  4. Great for Emergencies. If your tap water is tampered with, or your town goes under a “boil water” advisory, you’re covered. Steam distillers purify any type of water, including water filled with mud or even hazardous waste. As long as you have access to electricity or a generator, you have a source of safe, drinkable water.

Disadvantages

  1. Extra Work. Though minimal, there is some extra work involved in steam distilling. You need to clean out the distiller, and over time the steel canister can become crusty (at least, mine did). However, most distillers come with a rust-removing cleaner, and it’s straightforward and easy to do.
  2. Upfront Costs. Steam distilling costs money, especially up front. There are monthly costs too, as it takes electricity to run the distiller, and your break-even point could be years out if you don’t regularly make use of your machine.

steam-distilled water is free of impurities

The Costs of Steam Distilling

1. The Distiller
First, there’s the steam distiller itself. On Amazon, the distiller I purchased sells for $219, which is not cheap. It comes with a plastic collection tub, but if you want to upgrade to a glass collection jar (to avoid any chemicals leaching into your water from the plastic), this costs an additional $45.

Here’s the good news though: While I can’t speak for every steam distiller out there, I can tell you with certainty that the Nutriteam distiller I bought is worth every penny. We’ve operated this distiller for 6 to 12 hours per day for the past four years. It has never broken or given us any trouble. So far, four years of perfect operation has broken the cost down to $54 per year.

2. Electricity
There’s also the cost to run the distiller. My distiller uses 2.9kW of electricity to make one gallon of water. I pay $0.09 per kW, and it takes around five to six hours to distill one gallon. So it costs me around $0.29 to make a gallon. However, I was paying $0.88 per gallon at Walmart, so that’s a significant difference.

Breaking Even

My estimate, based on what we spent upfront and monthly on electricity versus how much we were spending at Walmart on water, is that it took us around 10 months to break even. But that was several years ago, so the steam distiller has more than paid for itself since.

Final Word

If you’ve never tasted steam-distilled water before, you should buy a few jugs at the grocery store to make sure you like it. Steam-distilled water is different because it’s completely pure. Most other waters, even “pure spring water,” have a distinct flavor because they contain trace amounts of minerals.

Personally, I love the purity of distilled water because I know I’m not getting any minerals or chemicals I’m not supposed to. It’s just pure water, and to me, all other water tastes strange now. I haven’t had a kidney stone since I began steam distilling, and I don’t think I will again.

Do you distill your own water? If not, have you ever considered it?

(photo credit: Bigstock)

Heather Levin
Heather Levin is a freelance writer based in Detroit, MI. She's passionately committed to living green, saving money, and helping others do the same in their life.

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  • StephenB

    You might wish to check your calculations for the cost as your units are not consistent.

    If you mean that the unit uses 2.9 kW of power (that’s about the same as one or two electric kettles, say 25 amps) and it takes 5 hours to make 1 gallon of water, your energy consumption is 5 * 2.9 = 14.5 kWh. If your cost of energy is $0.09 per kWh (NOT per kW), the cost is $1.30 per galllon.

    otoh, if you mean that the unit uses 2.9 kWh of energy over the 5 hour period, its power consumption is about 600W (close to that of a typical refrigerator); and indeed the cost of the water is approximately $0.29 per gallon.

  • Jazelle22

    I’ve read that distilled water draws out minerals from your body. I wonder if you have experienced any deficiencies after having consumed DW after so many years. I have been drinking DW for 4 days now and still continue to do research but some say its the best while others say its detrimental to your health. What have you experienced..truthfully????

    • Steve Marden

      Think about it. If you use distilled water to make soup, tea, coffee, boil legumes, or further process food, you are adding minerals and other “additives” to the distillate. Distilled water DEMANDS to absorb nutrients. And all those supplements in your body have already blended with the water in your system, which is 80+% of your body weight. I have been using distilled water for a very long time. I add Swanson minerals, but am convinced that adding brown rice or any other mineral absorbant substance will fill out the overall profile of minerals demanded by distilled water. It absorbs what we eat. Not what we theoretically need to finance a USDA daily requirement. Which is BS to begin with. You may disagree. So what? : )

    • Johnny

      yes, destilled water isnt as good as filtered water because it doesnt have the minerals that normal water has and destilled water is super-absorbed by your cells because of osmosis and thus causing a possible cellular explosion which in a big scale can cause a lot of problems

  • Dr X

    my personal opinion only but: drinking only distilled water will result in long term harm due to 1) lack of minerals and 2) the absorption of CO2 into your distilled water

  • Guest

    That’s an old wive’s tale about leaching minerals. According to leading health expert Andrew Weil, M. D.the amount of minerals leached out of your body in a day from drinking three quarts of distilled water can be replaced by eating a single grape. Some people add a small amount of dolomite clay powder or Celtic or Himalayan sea-salt to get a better mix of minerals than what you get in reprocessed tap water, and filters don”t get the drug and anti-biotic residues out, where distillation does.

  • Joseph de Nicola

    That’s an old wive’s tale about leaching minerals. According to leading health expert Andrew Weil, M. D.the amount of minerals leached out of your body in a day from drinking three quarts of distilled water can be replaced by eating a single grape. Some people add a small amount of dolomite clay powder or Celtic or Himalayan sea-salt to get a better mix of minerals than what you get in reprocessed tap water, and filters don”t get the drug and anti-biotic residues out, whereas distillation does. I have sold and installed 5-stage reverse-osmosis filter systems in people’s homes for years, and have used that same system in my own house for over 25 years. I have elaborate testing kits for determining hardness of water, chemical composition, and have just invested in testing for anti-biotic and traces of other drugs, and from my own test results have decided to switch to a distiller, though I will continue to sell the filter systems, because people have to buy filter refills every year from me. If everyone goes distilled, I’m out of business. Something to keep in mind when you see filter-system companies talking about distilled water leaching minerals. Just a tip.

  • Manuel de Moustache

    lol you’re supposed to drink minerals they are necessary for living. that is why you’re supposed to remineralize the water after distillation

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