Doctors at Cornell University On Distilled Water: “It is safe, and it does not leach out minerals” (The New York Times)


Source: The New York Times

Q. Is it safe to drink distilled water? Does it leach minerals out of the body?

A. It is safe, and it does not leach out minerals, two experts on water quality and nutrition at Cornell agree. But they questioned drinking distilled water when water can be made safe with far less energy than distillation takes.

Joseph H. Hotchkiss, professor of food science, said that accepting the idea that distilled water could draw minerals out of the body would mean assuming that it was not actually absorbed into the body.

“The inside of your body is a lot like a tube,” Dr. Hotchkiss explained, with membranes inside to isolate what you eat from the body. The membrane controls what crosses it, and if water did not cross that membrane, it would pass directly through the body, causing diarrhea. Instead, distilled water is absorbed like other water, and its excretion is controlled by the kidneys.

Distilled water lacks minerals and has a flat taste, Dr. Hotchkiss said, but he pointed out that except for iron and calcium in women of childbearing age, minerals are not in short supply in the United States diet, and water is not a significant source of minerals anyway.

The water-quality expert, Ann T. Lemley, a professor in the College of Human Ecology, agreed that distilled water was safe. Most dissolved substances get removed when water is distilled, Dr. Lemley said, including salts and most potential contaminants.

“The high temperature of distillation kills microbiological content,” Dr. Lemley said, “one for-sure advantage of distilled water.” It might be valuable for an immune-compromised person, she said, but advanced filtration would also work.

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