Reverse Osmosis System vs. Distilled Water| Comparing Water Purification Methods

Clean drinking water is fundamental to health. In this era, water purification technologies like Reverse Osmosis System and Distillation play a critical role in ensuring safe drinking water. While both methods are effective, they have distinct features and applications. Understanding these helps in choosing the right water purification system.

What is a Reverse Osmosis System

Reverse Osmosis uses a semi-permeable membrane to filter out a vast array of impurities, including particles, bacteria, and salts. This process works under pressure, pushing water through the membrane, trapping contaminants on one side and allowing pure water to pass to the other. This method is highly effective, significantly improving the taste and safety of water. However, it requires regular filter replacements and can result in water wastage, known as brine.

What is Distilled Water

Distillation, one of the oldest water purification methods, involves boiling water to produce steam. This steam, when cooled and condensed, forms distilled water, free from impurities. This process is effective in removing a wide range of contaminants. While it guarantees high purity, it’s energy-intensive and might strip water of beneficial minerals, which can be a concern for some users.

Reverse Osmosis System vs. Distilled Water

To compare Reverse Osmosis (RO) systems and distilled water, we need to consider their advantages, disadvantages, and applications:

Reverse Osmosis Systems


  • Efficiently remove contaminants, including bacteria, viruses, heavy metals, and chemicals.
  • Improve taste, odor, and appearance of water.
  • Convenient and can be installed directly to plumbing systems.


  • Require regular maintenance and filter replacements.
  • Can waste a significant amount of water (3-4 gallons of water wasted for every gallon of purified water).
  • Remove beneficial minerals from water, which may require re-mineralization.


  • Ideal for home drinking water purification (whole house water filter).
  • Used in commercial settings like offices, hospitals, and restaurants.
  • In industries for processes requiring pure water, like pharmaceuticals and food processing.

Distilled Water


  • Highly effective in removing contaminants, including bacteria, viruses, and chemicals.
  • Does not require installation and can be produced at home with a distiller.
  • Can be used in situations where absolutely pure water is needed.


  • Time-consuming and energy-intensive process.
  • Removes essential minerals, leading to flat taste.
  • Not practical for large-scale water purification needs.


  • Commonly used in medical and laboratory settings.
  • Suitable for use in lead-acid batteries and steam irons to prevent mineral build-up.
  • Often used in cooking and preparing food where pure water is required.

In summary, while both RO systems and distilled water effectively purify water by removing contaminants, they have distinct advantages and disadvantages. RO systems are more practical for daily household and commercial use, while distilled water is preferable for specific applications requiring highly pure water, such as in medical and laboratory environments.

Environmental Impacts

Reverse Osmosis Systems

  1. Reverse osmosis systems produce wastewater in the process of filtering water, known as concentrate or reject water. This wastewater contains high concentrations of contaminants that were filtered out.
  2. Modern technology has significantly reduced the amount of wastewater through improved design and increased water efficiency, such as the use of low-energy membranes.
  3. Environmentally friendly design also involves recycling and reusing wastewater to minimize the impact on the environment.

Distillation of water

  1. The distillation process requires a significant amount of energy to heat water to the boiling point and then condense it into distilled water. This process is energy intensive, especially in large-scale production.
  2. If the energy used comes from fossil fuels, it will have a larger carbon footprint on the environment.
  3. Choosing to use renewable energy sources, such as solar or wind, to provide the energy needed for the distillation process can significantly reduce its environmental impact.

Water Quality and Health Impacts

Reverse osmosis technology not only removes harmful substances from water, such as heavy metals, chlorine, and organic compounds, but may also remove some of the beneficial minerals in water, such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium.

Some advanced RO systems include a mineral re-addition feature to replenish the removed minerals, which improves the flavor and nutritional value of the water.

Because the distillation process removes nearly all minerals and impurities, long-term consumption of pure distilled water may result in the body becoming deficient in essential minerals.

The low mineral content of distilled water means that it may in some cases absorb substances from the storage container, which requires special attention.


Is it Healthy to Drink Reverse Osmosis Water?

Reverse osmosis water is generally safe to drink. There’s no substantial evidence suggesting it’s harmful. It’s perfectly fine for most people, especially those with a balanced diet. However, individuals with specific health conditions should consult their healthcare provider.

How Does a Reverse Osmosis System Work?

A reverse osmosis system uses a prefilter to remove sediment and chlorine, then forces water through a semi-permeable membrane to eliminate dissolved solids. Post-filtering polishes the water, delivering clean drinking water through a dedicated faucet.

Can You Make Your Own Distilled Water?

Yes, you can make distilled water at home. Boil water, then place an inverted lid with ice on top of the pot. The steam condenses on the cold lid and drips into a bowl, creating distilled water.

What is Distilled Water Used For?

Distilled water is ideal for applications where mineral deposits are a concern, such as in medical sterilization, lead-acid batteries, automotive cooling systems, and lab equipment cleaning. It’s also used in skin care products and canning.

Can Reverse Osmosis Soften Water?

Yes, an RO system can soften water. It is effective in removing minerals that cause water hardness, such as calcium and magnesium, due to its fine filtration capabilities. This makes it an efficient tool for reducing water hardness without the need for a separate water softener.

Can You Use Reverse Osmosis Water in a Humidifier?

Using RO water in a humidifier is generally safe and often recommended. Since RO water is free from minerals and impurities, it reduces the likelihood of mineral buildup in the humidifier, which can extend the life of the appliance and reduce maintenance needs.

katy petter

Passionate health content writer dedicated to simplifying complex medical topics and promoting wellness. With expertise in nutrition, fitness, and medical breakthroughs, I create informative and engaging content to empower readers in their journey to better health. Let's inspire a healthier world together.

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