If you are thinking of learning how to demineralize water at home, first you should understand the different ways to demineralize your water, and if the distillation process is right for you!
What is Demineralized Water?
Water naturally has bacteria, minerals, and various other contaminants. Demineralized water is just water in which all or most of the minerals have been removed.
In some commercial and industrial applications, demineralized is necessary, but the water coming through your tap still contains quite a few minerals that are dissolved.
Water naturally picks up salts, minerals, and other particles as it travels through the ground. The types of minerals found within the water will differ based on geographic location – different areas will see different minerals in their water. The measure of salts, minerals, and metals in your water is referred to as TDS or total dissolved solids.
If you live in a location with a lot of limestone, you may discover your water has a lot of calcium carbonate or high sodium levels.
Demineralized water is water with most or all TDS removed.
What Is the Difference Between Distilled and Demineralized Water?
First, distilled water is a type of demineralized water.
However, the type of distilled water you can commercially buy has fewer organic contaminants, as the distilling process does not remove organics from the water. Conversely, deionizing does not remove bacteria from the water.
Demineralized water has fewer mineral ions than distilled water, but the methods have different effects, pros, and cons.
Effects of Demineralizing Water
In an industrial setting, the minerals within the water can damage necessary and delicate equipment.
Untreated water can also alter the PH of the soil, which can cause unwanted agricultural effects or change the final product in pharmaceutical settings.
When you demineralize water, it sets it to “zero.” This neutral point allows for processes to start at zero without considering PH, minerals, or any other TDS that may be lurking within.
Something to keep in mind when you demineralize water – it will change the taste! You don’t usually notice the taste of water – we often find that it is tasteless. When you remove the minerals from water, however, it changes its flavor profile.
Why demineralized water is good for your home
When you demineralize the water within your home, you increase the lifespan of the appliances that use water.
Your coffee pot, dishwasher, washing machine, and even water heater will benefit from demineralized water.
The longer lifespan is due to how many the minerals found within the water are often left behind within the appliance during everyday use. The water leaves a white-ish gray deposit on the interior – an opaque film. Known as scaling, these mineral deposits break down the surface of your appliances over time.
Scaling also leads to soap scum, which is when the soap you use to clean things in your home reacts with the minerals left behind. A stubborn film will form that not only looks disgusting but also provides a breeding ground for mold and other toxins.
You may also notice that hard water, or water high in minerals, is not satisfying to shower in. Soap won’t lather well, shampoo won’t bubble well, and you will often find water spots on your glasses or clear dishes. Hard water also breaks down clothing faster, cause cloth – and even your hair! – to become brittle with exposure.
Ways to demineralize water – which is the best for my home?
The main ways water is demineralized are deionization, reverse osmosis, and distillation.
Distillation is the most common form of demineralization for industrial settings. Deionization and distillation are both used in commercial settings. Reverse osmosis is used mostly in specific commercial settings but is the go-to for residential.
Distilling water is the oldest method of purifying water. Distillation occurs by bringing it to a boil, capturing the steam, condensing it down, and then collecting it.
Distillation occurs within a still. These are similar to the stills used in making whiskey!
During the boiling process, water goes from liquid to gas to liquid. The process separates the minerals, salts, and other contaminants from the water, while also making bacteria inert (also known as making them harmless.)
Distillation also helps to remove harmful heavy metals, such as chlorine, from the water.
The downside of distillation is the time commitment – you need a specialized piece of equipment, and it takes so much time, it just isn’t useful for most homes! It’s also not particularly energy-efficient, as the boiling process takes a lot of electricity.
Deionization usually happens in very, very large quantities for commercial and industrial uses.
To deionize water, you must run the water through a particular type of resin. First up is cation resin, which has a negative charge, and then anion resin, which has a positive charge.
The resins are exchangers that remove minerals from water through an ion exchange.
While deionized water might be the most effective at removing minerals from the water, it doesn’t remove other contaminants, such as bacteria or other organic compounds.
Reverse Osmosis Basics
Reverse Osmosis is the most effective way to demineralize your water at home. Reverse osmosis happens through a unique filtration system to produce purified water.
Water goes through a semi-permeable membrane. The water moves through solutes, which changes how our body’s cells absorb the water. As the water moves through the membranes, the contaminants are basically trapped in an area with a high level of solutes.
Reverse osmosis is also the most effective way to turn saltwater into drinkable water.
Reverse osmosis systems can pack a big punch into a small appliance. Some systems can even create 75 gallons of purified drinking water per day, and some are small enough to be installed in your bathroom sink.
Is reverse osmosis water safe?
Reverse osmosis is very effective at removing salts, dissolved solids, and minerals from your water. If you use a system that also uses a water softener or carbon filter, it can also easily remove contaminants like chlorine and other harmful TDS.
In short, the water that comes from an osmosis system is a lot safer than regular drinking water.
Options for buying distilled drinking water
If you are looking for distilled drinking water, it is often more convenient and cost-effective to buy it from a distiller than to try to make it yourself at home.
The most common places to buy distilled water are:
- Grocery stores, big box stores, etc.
- Home delivery services (like the ones that come in the big jugs)
- Commercial distillers
How much does a reverse osmosis system cost for your home?
Depending on how you will use it, reverse osmosis systems can be a very cost-effective solution for your home.
Smaller, sink-adaptable systems can cost you as little as $50, whereas whole-whole systems can cost upwards of $5,000.
When deciding on your reverse osmosis system, take into consideration:
- Size: How much space can you dedicate to the system? If you are only using it for drinking water, a sink system might be better for you. However, if you have health issues or live in an area that uses a well or has high chlorine levels, a whole-whole system will pay off in the long run.
- Filtration: The level of system you need will depend on what contaminants you need to remove from the water. Some systems will have charcoal, carbon, UV, or other filters that filter a lot more.
- Features: The price tag of your system will vary based on bonus features. Some will need more water, some will soften the water, others have a PH stage, some will reuse the wastewater, and some will have better membranes than others. You will need to consider what additional features are most important to you.
Low use reverse osmosis systems cost range.
Low-use systems, such as countertop reverse osmosis systems, will cost anywhere from $25 – $300. These systems offer the least amount of TDS removal but also take up the least amount of space.
Medium use reverse osmosis systems cost range.
Medium-use systems, such as under-sink or standalone systems, will cost around $200 – $1,500. Some systems can cost up to $4,000, as they have less water waste and offer higher levels of contaminant removal.
High use reverse osmosis systems cost range.
Whole-home reverse osmosis systems are attached to your water supply. These will range from $2,000 – over $10,000, depending on the gallons used and the home’s size that needs to be serviced. That price does not include installation, which can add another $2,000 or more to the total price tag. High-end systems have zero waste by redirecting the water or cycling it back through the filter.
How to make my own demineralized water
You can very easily make your own distilled water at home!
You can create distilled tap water using a glass bowl and a pot at home. Fill a large, stainless steel pot with 2.5 gallons of water. (Try using a 5-gallon pot and filling it halfway.) Float a glass bowl in the pot, making sure it doesn’t touch on the bottom. Get the water boiling, and once it is at a boil, take the lid and invert it, placing it back on top of the pot. Put ice in the inverted lid, and watch as the condensation collects in the bowl! This water is now distilled!