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What happens if a water main breaks, and the authorities caution you to boil your water to avoid possible contamination? You may wonder, “What does boiling do to water to make it healthy to drink?” The answer depends on the type of contamination your local water department is fighting. Biological contamination, the type that seeps into the water reservoir in the form of bacteria and viruses, can be eliminated by boiling water and sterilizing it. The microorganisms are destroyed by heat above the boiling point, or 212 degrees Fahrenheit. But distilling water is a process that kills off additional contaminants, such as lead, heavy metals, salts and chemicals.

Naturally Distilled Water

Rain is actually water that’s been distilled. A hot day’s sun causes water on the Earth’s surface to evaporate, creating a vapor. Those vapors rise, they become clouds, and when the temperature cools, the clouds release the vapor in the form of rain. Unfortunately, by the time the rain gets to the Earth, contaminants, soot, dirt and pollen have attached themselves to the droplets, rendering the rain unsuitable for use as distilled water.

Making Your Own Distilled Water

Most supermarkets sell distilled water to use in steam irons and other machinery to prevent mineral buildup. But if you’re determined to make your own distilled water, it can be done. You’ll need a large pot, cooktop, a lid with a domed top, a glass bowl and ice cubes. Fill the pot with water, place the bowl into the water, making sure it floats. Put the lid on top of the pot in a reverse position, and fill the lid with ice cubes. Turn on the heat.

Slowly, as the water boils, condensation collects on the pot’s lid and drips down into the glass bowl. The ice replicates the cooling atmosphere, turning the released steam back into water. The glass bowl is your collection vessel. Be sure to keep an eye on the bowl so it doesn’t sink into the pot of water. Store the distilled water in a glass container.

Drinking Distilled Water

A steady diet of distilled water must be compensated with the minerals that have been removed by the process of distillation. You get those minerals from fruits and vegetables. You won’t get sick, but your health depends on maintaining a balance. When your body is deficient in minerals, it starts pulling them from other parts of your body. Your deteriorating teeth are a good example of the result of a diet of distilled water. Use distilled water for detoxification, but return to purified water for the long term.

Sterilizing Water

Sterilizing water is a simpler process than distillation. Boiling the water for 20 minutes at 250F kills off any bacteria or microorganisms that may be floating in the water but unseen by the naked eye. Medical labs and baby bottle preparations depend on sterile water. It’s also recommended for those with compromised immune systems.

Drinking and Using Sterile Water

While boiling the water at a high temperature for 20 minutes makes it sterile and safe for drinking, it doesn’t take it to the purity level that distillation does. Minerals, salts, chemicals and other contaminants are not killed off when water is sterilized. A simple comparison: Distilled water is sterile water, but sterile water isn’t as pure as distilled.

Possibilities of Contamination

Once water has been distilled, airborne bacteria cannot survive if it comes into contact with it. When water is sterilized, the dead bacteria are still floating around and can provide the nutrients for living bacteria that may invade the water. For the purest water, distillation is recommended.

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About the Author

Jann Seal

My seventh grade English teacher didn't realize what she was unleashing when she called me her "writer," but the word crept into my brain. I DID become a writer. Of advertising copy, dialogue and long-term story for several network soap operas, magazine articles and high-calorie contents for the cookbook: Cooking: It AIn't Rocket Science, a bestseller on Amazon! When I'm not writing, I'm cooking!