Alkaline water has grown in popularity over the years because of its supposed health benefits.
Essentially, it’s a type of purified water much akin to another of its kind: distilled water.
With their similarities, it isn’t uncommon for many to wonder and ask, “Is alkaline water the same as distilled water?”
We’ll answer that question today, see how they’re made and why you should or should not use them for washing or drinking.
Is Alkaline Water the Same as Distilled Water?
Alkaline and distilled water are different kinds of purified water. But where do they differ?
As the name implies, alkaline water is rich in alkali minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, manganese, iron, and potassium.
Typically, it has a pH level of eight or nine, classifying it as hard water.
Moreover, alkaline water is characterized by its antioxidizing properties due to its negatively charged ions, making it potentially beneficial to your health.
On the other hand, distilled water is another type of purified water that’s been boiled, evaporated, and condensed back into its liquid form.
While alkaline water retains nearly all the beneficial minerals, distilled water removes all alkali metals.
Moreover, a University of Georgia study found that distilling water can get rid of up to 99.9% of impurities in your water supply.
They include volatile compounds, dangerous germs, biological pollutants, and other impurities.
However, distilled water is not typically considered healthy to drink long term.
Water Alkalinization Explained
To help you better understand alkaline water, let us discuss how it is made, and why you should or should not use it.
How Is Alkaline Water Made?
Water bodies that pass through minerals naturally create alkaline water. For instance, adjacent rocks are the primary source of freshwater springs’ and rivers’ mineral content.
However, bottled alkaline water from grocery stores is often just tap water that was processed using a water ionizer.
Essentially, water ionizers use electrolysis to separate alkaline minerals from the more acidic water components.
First, the source water flows through an ion-permeable membrane. Note that this membrane only allows ions (strongly charged atoms and molecules) to pass through, hence the name.
Since carbonate and alkaline mineral ions in the water have electrical charges, the membrane allows them to pass through.
On the other hand, atoms and molecules with neutral energy, like water (H20), cannot do so.
After this, the sifted carbonate and alkaline minerals attach themselves to two electronically charged plates: negative and positive.
Since the acidic carbonate ions have a negative charge and alkaline mineral ions have a positive charge, they get attached to different plates.
The positive plates attract the acidic carbonate, and the negative plates attract the alkaline minerals.
Once the ions get attached, the neutralized water will go to two chambers, one for the acidic side and one for the alkaline side.
The water on the acidic chamber gets flushed, while the water on the alkaline side eventually turns into alkaline water.
In short, regular water typically has dissolved carbon dioxide or carbonates and alkaline minerals. These carbonates can be removed from the water using a water ionizer to produce alkaline water.
Pros of Alkaline Water
Here are some advantages to using or drinking alkaline water:
1. It can strengthen your bones.
According to a 2009 study, drinking alkaline water high in bicarbonate has beneficial effects on bone resorption, the process that happens when old bone cells decompose and are replaced by new ones.
By drinking alkaline water, you can lessen bone resorption and increase mineral density.
Moreover, the study cautioned against drinking acidic water that are typically products of certain filtration process, such as reverse osmosis.
2. It can help soothe acid reflux.
Acid reflux occurs when the stomach’s acidic contents overflow upward the food pipe, causing pain or vomiting.
Fortunately, according to a 2012 study, drinking alkaline water can assist in deactivating pepsin, the enzyme that causes acid reflux, because of its inherent ability to neutralize acids.
People with GERD and other reflux-inducing disorders will find this extremely beneficial.
3. It has better thirst-quenching properties.
According to a 2017 study, subjects who drank alkaline water saw an improved hydration status following highly intense anaerobic exercises by significantly increasing lactate efficiency.
Lactate is one of the main substances responsible for the body’s energy production.
On the other hand, subjects who regularly drank normal water showed no changes throughout the same period.
4. It may aid in cancer prevention.
Thanks to the presence of negative ions in alkaline water, it becomes an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals, one of the main causes of cancer.
Antioxidants can effectively “switch off” free radicals by giving up some of their electrons.
This process helps halt a chain reaction that could affect different cellular molecules and cells all across the body.
Cons of Alkaline Water
Here are some disadvantages of drinking or using alkaline water:
1. Your kitchenware will have water stains.
Alkaline water is not recommended for cooking or dishwashing because it’s technically hard water and can also stain your goods.
Additionally, hard water minerals build up in appliances, especially those with heating elements.
2. It can cause itch or skin dryness.
The minerals in alkaline water can result in dry or irritated skin when used for bathing, just like with any high-pH or hard water.
That’s because calcium and magnesium are easily bound to soap ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and sodium lauryl ether sulfate (SLES).
For this reason, soap can remain on your skin for longer as it’s more challenging and time-consuming to wash off.
That is especially problematic if you have eczema or skin conditions that make you sensitive to dryness.
3. Drinking too much may lead to an alkaline imbalance.
Alkaline water is hazardous when consumed in excess, just like anything else.
Metabolic alkalosis, a condition brought on by an excess of bicarbonate in the body’s fluids, can result from consuming too much alkaline food or drink.
It could also be due to a drop in stomach acid or particular electrolytes.
However, note that it would take drinking huge amounts of alkaline water for such conditions to occur.
Drinking a similar amount in normal water can also lead to complications.
Water Distillation Explained
Now that you know more about alkaline water, let’s examine distilled water and see how it compares.
How Is Distilled Water Made?
Distilled water is made using a process called distillation, which is a purification process that involves the boiling, evaporating, and condensing of a liquid to remove impurities.
While you can easily make distilled water by collecting condensate off a pot’s lid, a more efficient way to do it is by using a water distiller.
A water distiller is a specialized machine that uses the distillation process to purify water for drinking, household, or medical purposes.
Essentially, it’s a self-enclosed system that boils contaminated water, converts it to vapor, condenses it, and returns it to a liquid state.
This time, though, the contamination level is almost zero.
Heavy metals, bacteria, sediments, and other pollutants are eliminated during distillation because they cannot turn into steam due to the evaporation process.
When the water turns from a liquid to a gas, these contaminants stay in the boiling chamber.
The evaporated water is then cooled in the distiller, which leaves only pure, safe drinking water behind.
Pros of Distilled Water
Below are some reasons why you may want to use distilled water:
1. Your body can absorb it more easily.
According to an article from the Journal of Applied Physiology, distilled water is more easily absorbed by the body compared to regular water.
That’s why athletes may find drinking distilled water beneficial, especially after exerting themselves.
It is hypothesized that since distilled water has no minerals and other pollutants, the body finds it easier to absorb it.
However, note that due to its absence of electrolytes, drinking only distilled water during high-strain exercises can be harmful.
2. Distilled water is the purest form of water.
If you’re looking for the purest water available for consumption, you’ll like distilled water.
Using distilled water dramatically reduces your risk of contracting waterborne infections.
Removing pollutants from your water supply is vital since most of the impurities included in unfiltered tap water are dangerous at specific amounts when consumed or come into contact with your skin.
Additionally, since distilled water is soft, unlike alkaline water, it doesn’t include any minerals like calcium or magnesium that could block pipes or stain your kitchenware.
This makes it the ideal kind of water for delicate machinery like electrical and medical equipment.
3. Drinking distilled water may prevent diseases.
Doctors generally advise patients with weakened immune systems or at high risk for certain diseases to drink distilled water.
This is so that the patient’s condition won’t worsen due to certain minerals and trace pollutants present in non-distilled water.
According to some sources, drinking distilled water can prevent mineral buildup and remove calcium deposits that cause arthritis by washing them out of the joints.
Additionally, drinking distilled water is thought to reduce your risk for kidney stones brought on by mineral buildup in the kidneys since distillation removes all the minerals.
Cons of Distilled Water
Below are some reasons why you may not like distilled water:
1. Distilled water has no beneficial minerals.
Distilled water is not recommended for long-term consumption since it might lead to an electrolyte imbalance that can be harmful if not corrected right away.
This is because distilled water lacks even the essential minerals your body needs due to extreme purity.
Even if you can add these minerals to your diet through food or supplements, it may be best for persons with particular dietary needs to stick to filtered mineral or alkaline water.
2. Distilling water can take a long time.
If you need water immediately, distilled water might not be your best choice.
Although there are self-filling water distillers, they only produce about 12 gallons of water per day and cost more than $1000.
The alternative is a cheaper manual distiller, which costs about $100 and typically only distills 1/3 gallon each hour.
Although this might meet a single person’s drinking needs, it is not practical for daily household activities like bathing, washing dishes, or laundry.
3. Distilled water may have a weird taste.
When someone drinks distilled water for the first time, they frequently complain about how strange or bland it tastes.
It may be because they’re used to the subtle taste of minerals in tap water.
The Two Types of Purified Water to Consider
So, is alkaline water the same as distilled water? No. The two are different types of purified water.
While both alkaline and purified water have a high rate of removing harmful contaminants, alkaline water keeps the important minerals to keep the body healthy.
However, you shouldn’t use it for cooking since you’ll stain your kitchenware or over time, clog your appliances.
You also shouldn’t use it for bathing since it may cause dryness and itchiness.
On the other hand, distilled water has almost no contaminants thanks to its purification process.
However, you also won’t get the essential minerals your body needs.