Difference Between RO and Distilled Water- Everything You Should Know

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Reverse osmosis vs. distilled water is a major debate when it comes to the purity of water. Reverse osmosis and distilled water both have their own set of advantages. But, there are a few major differences that determine which one you should get for your home.

Reverse osmosis water units are admittedly expensive, but they are quite easy to operate. You just have to open the faucet to get clean water.

However, distillation involves heating and cooling stages to purify water, which is why it can be a time-taking process. But distillation units are still less expensive than most other water purifying options. They also clean water more thoroughly as heat kills off organic impurities.

Reverse Osmosis vs. Distilled Water: First Things First

purified vs distilled water

The primary purpose of both reverse osmosis and water distillation is the purification of water. But, many factors differentiate distilled water and filtered water.

Let’s first have a look at the science behind reverse osmosis and water distillation.

Water processed via reverse osmosis units is basically filtered water. Fine filter membranes in reverse osmosis units remove impurities from water.

RO filters cause water to flow from an area of high concentration to an area of low concentration. This goes against the natural principles of osmosis, where water flows from areas of low concentration to high concentration.

However, water distillation involves complex processing, contrary to the belief that distillation is simple boiling. Boiling is just one of the stages of the water distillation process.

Water is first boiled to the extent that it evaporates. The evaporated vapor content is 100% water, so there are no chemical impurities in it. Then, water vapors condense and gather in a container. This water is completely safe to drink as it has no organic or inorganic impurities and contaminants.

Is Reverse Osmosis Water the Same as Distilled Water?

Both distilled water and RO processed water have a bland taste. This is because both remove minerals that usually impart a salty taste to water.

This is why many people assume that distillation and RO are similar as they remove impurities and salty taste from water.

However, reverse osmosis filtered water is not the same as distilled water. These two water purification systems have entirely different mechanisms of water purification.

RO filters physically eliminate impurities as the water passes through filter membranes. Reverse osmosis filter membranes are great at separating fine dust particles.

RO water is 90-99% pure as some RO filters have activated carbon.

But, distilled water does not remove physical impurities like dust particles on its own. It is simply condensed water vapors that do not pass through any filtration membranes.

Distilled water can have a higher proportion of chloramines and other volatile substances than RO water.

Reverse Osmosis and Distilled Water: The Uses

purified vs distilled water

Purified water is a necessity for a healthy lifestyle. But, the uses of purified water extend beyond drinking. Here are some common uses of reverse osmosis and distilled water.

Uses of Distilled Water

Distilled water generally has 100% water content as there are no dissolved minerals or salts in it. This makes distilled water great for use in laboratory settings where dissolved minerals can affect lab experiments.

Distilled water is also useful when it comes to cleaning hospital equipment and surgical tools. The lack of dissolved components ensures no hidden impurities when such sensitive equipment is cleaned.

Kidney dialysis machines also use distilled water to remove waste from the blood. Waste metabolic products from blood naturally flow to distilled water tubes because of a natural concentration gradient.

Automobiles also use distilled water as engines and metallic parts are sensitive to minerals in the water. They speed up the corrosion of metals, which can lead to serious damage to your vehicle. So, people prefer using distilled water to cool down the engine and clean automobile parts.

Distilled water is also highly reliable when it comes to the preparation of medical suspensions at home. People also use it to make infant formula as babies have weak immunity and cannot keep up with the dissolved contents of water.

People who use a CPAP machine also feel safe using distilled water for the humidification of CPAP. It helps the humidifier last longer while also making sure that you don’t catch an infection.

Distilled water is a great choice for steam irons as well since they rely on water for smoothening clothes.

Tap water can cause scale buildup on your clothes, making them look like they need washing. Distilled water does not have any salts in it, so it does not leave any marks on your clothes.

Uses of RO Water

Reverse osmosis filtered water has several uses in multiple settings.

It is used extensively in the agricultural industry. The sprays that farmers use consist of 95% water. RO water is suitable for insecticide and pesticide manufacture because it does not have any harmful components.

It also increases the solubility of water and nutrients in irrigation water. This makes the crops safe for consumption as RO processed water does not add any impurities to nutrients.

Breweries rely on RO filters for pure water as well. Beers and other drinks taste better when they’re made of filtered water.

Dissolved minerals and other impurities can affect the processing and taste of drinks. Heavy metals like iron also make beer taste foul, so removing them via RO filtration is better.

RO water is also important for fermentation, which is the final stage of beer making in breweries. Impure water leads to poorly fermented beer, so breweries use RO water.

Another use of reverse osmosis filtered water is for the formation of ice rinks. Ice rinks need a thick layer of ice so that skaters can have fun. RO water is suitable for ice rink formation because it freezes quickly and makes a pristine white rink.

RO water makes a significant contribution to the concrete industry as well. Water quality is important when it comes to cement and concrete formation.

Impurities in water can alter the chemistry of concrete, which can make it weak. So, manufacturers prefer RO water in concrete formation to balance the chemistry of elements.

Fish owners make use of reverse osmosis filtered water too. Aquariums need careful maintenance as ammonia, nitrates, and other alkaline components can endanger the health of fish.

This is why fish owners make sure to use RO water in aquariums. This helps them balance the pH of the water and keep it livable for fish for a more extended period than tap water.

Car wash facilities also rely on reverse osmosis water to clean cars. The engine and automobile parts are sensitive to corroding elements in the water, and minerals and other impurities can cause the engine and carburetor to corrode.

Contaminated water also damages car paint, which is why people avoid using it to wash vehicular surfaces. It is better to use RO water as it does not have any pollutants in it.

Restaurants need to ensure high-quality food. RO processed water improves the taste of coffee as it helps balance the ratio of oxygen and hydrogen. Minerals and heavy metals can also affect the taste of coffee. So, restaurants prefer RO water over tap water for coffee and drinks.

Reverse osmosis water is also great for washing expensive clothes. Wool and silk clothes need careful washing, and their texture is sensitive to hard water. So, people use RO for laundering delicate garments.

Residential Reverse Osmosis and Distilled Water: Differences

purified vs distilled water

Reverse osmosis and distilled water are safe for many residential purposes.

Here is a quick comparison of what kind of uses you can put RO water and distilled water to.

RO unit is more beneficial for residential settings than distilled water. You just have to install it in your kitchen to get pure drinking water from the faucet. You can use reverse osmosis water for watering your plants and washing expensive crockery.

Distilled water, on the whole, requires a long process, so it is not practical for use at home. You can use it for making medicinal suspensions, as tap water or RO can alter their chemistry. But, it is not an excellent option for daily drinking and cooking purposes.

What about Mineral Content?

The mineral content of both distilled water and reverse osmosis water is considerably low. RO filters remove minerals using physical barriers, so there can be a few minerals left in the filtered water.

However, distilled water consists of only pure water, so it does not have any dissolved minerals. So, if you want to get rid of minerals completely, you should go for distilled water.

Meanwhile, RO water is a better choice for drinking water as it retains pro-health minerals. Distillation removes useful minerals like magnesium and calcium from water as well, so it is not great for drinking.


Keeping all the important points in view, the choice of distilled water or RO water depends on your usage.

If you want a water purification setup for your home, then RO is better. RO units are also great for restaurants and laundry, as RO water is readily available.

But, distilled water is preferred for lab settings and hospitals. You should choose distilled water only if you need it in a small amount as distillation is time taking.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Distilled Water Safe to Use?

Distilled water is safe to use as it is completely devoid of impurities and hard metals. The taste might feel flat to you as there are no dissolved mineral components in it.

However, distilled water is not a healthy choice for daily drinking. It does not have the required minerals like magnesium and calcium that boost your health.

So, it is better to use RO water for drinking purposes.

Is Distilled Water the Same as Boiled Water?

No, distilled water is not the same as boiled water. Boiling is one of the stages of distillation, which is followed by condensation and cooling down processes.

How is Distilled Water Made?

Making distilled water is pretty simple. It begins with boiling water and converting it into vapors. Then, water vapors cool down and condense back into liquid form. The condensed water then gathers in a container and is good to use.

Are Distilled and Reverse Osmosis Water the Same?

No, distilled and RO water are not the same, although they are both purified waters. RO water is filtered water that passes through multiple filtration membranes whereas, distilled water is basically mineral-free boiled water.

What is Distilled Water Best for?

Distilled water is best for lab settings where experiments are sensitive to the chemistry of water. Any contaminants can alter the chemistry of solutions, which can affect results. It is also great for making medicines and cosmetic products.

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