Can Distilled Water Grow Bacteria?

close-up of bottle pouring distilled water on glass
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Water is a vital part of life, as we all know. But did you know that not all water is created equal? Distilled water has many benefits for household use, but can it sustain life?

This article will explore the question of whether or not distilled water can grow bacteria. We will examine the scientific evidence behind this phenomenon and discuss the implications of using distilled water daily.

Key Takeaway
  • Distilled water is pure water boiled and condensed into a liquid.
  • Drinking distilled water is considered safe. However, bacteria can still grow in distilled water.
  • If the container of distilled water is left open for an extended period, bacteria from the surrounding air may enter and grow in the water.

What is Distilled Water?

Distilled water is purified water that has gone through a distillation process. This process involves boiling water until it turns into steam, then condensing it into liquid form. The result is water free from impurities such as minerals, metals, and other particles.

The distillation removes most contaminants from the water, leaving only pure H2O molecules behind. As a result, distilled water has no taste or smell and appears clear in color. This makes it an ideal choice for many applications where purity is essential such as laboratory experiments, medical procedures, and industrial processes. Here is a list of the best water distillers that you can check out. 

However, if you drink distilled water regularly, it may not be ideal for everyday consumption because it lacks beneficial minerals found in natural sources like spring or tap water. Drinking only distilled water can lead to mineral deficiencies over time.

pre-packed plastic bottles VITA pure Distilled Water

Does Distillation Kill Bacteria?

Distillation is a process that involves heating the liquid until it vaporizes and then cooling it down to collect the condensed vapor. Many people wonder if this distillation process has any effect on the bacteria present in the liquid.

Heat is applied to the liquid during the distillation process until it reaches its boiling point. The heat kills most of the bacteria in the liquid by denaturing their proteins and breaking down their cell walls. However, some bacteria may survive this process if they can withstand high temperatures or are in spore form (a dormant state). 

Does Distilled Water Have Bacteria?

Water distillation removes impurities such as minerals, salts, and other organic compounds from the water. But what about bacteria survive? Does investing in a distiller worth it? Does distilled water have any traces of harmful microorganisms?

Pure distilled water does not contain bacteria or other microbes because the distillation process effectively kills all living organisms in the water. The high temperatures involved in boiling and condensing the water vapor are enough to destroy any bacteria or viruses present in the source of the water. 

However, it must be noted that if the water source contains heavy metals or other chemicals, these harmful contaminants will still be present in the distilled water. Thus, it is important to use distilled water for drinking only when no other alternatives are available.

While distilled water may be free from harmful bacteria, it may also lack beneficial minerals in natural spring waters.

Can Bacteria Grow and Survive in Distilled Water?

Distilled water is often used for laboratory experiments, medical procedures, and industrial applications where purity is essential. However, despite its high purity level, distilled water can still support bacterial growth under certain conditions. For example, if you store distilled water in unsterilized containers or the water comes into contact with contaminated surfaces, bacteria can enter and multiply within it. Additionally, some types of bacteria are known to be able to survive in extreme environments and may be able to thrive in distilled water as well.

Given this potential for contamination, storing distilled water properly is essential to prevent bacterial growth.

water bacteria

Can Distilled Water Become Contaminated?

Many people assume that distilled drinking water is completely sterile and free from any contaminants, but this is not entirely true. While the distillation removes most impurities, it does not eliminate all forms of bacteria and other microorganisms.

Distilled water can become contaminated if it comes into contact with dirty containers or equipment during the distillation process. Additionally, some types of bacteria can survive in distilled water due to their resistance to high temperatures. This means that even after distillation, contamination is possible if proper precautions are not taken.

To ensure the purity of distilled water, it’s important to take steps such as using clean equipment for the distillation process and storing the finished product in sterilized containers.

Does Open Distilled Water Grow Bacteria?

The lack of minerals in distilled water creates an environment where bacteria find it difficult to survive and reproduce. However, if the container holding the distilled water needs to be properly cleaned or sterilized before use, it can be contaminated with bacteria from the environment or previous usage. Additionally, if the container is left open for an extended period, bacteria from the surrounding air may enter and grow in the water.

Contrary to popular belief, distilled water doesn’t contain any bacteria or other microorganisms because it lacks the essential minerals and nutrients that these organisms need to thrive. Therefore, if the distilled water remains sealed in its container, it should remain free from bacterial growth indefinitely. 

However, once you open the container and expose the distilled water to air and other contaminants such as dust particles or skin cells – all of which are sources of bacteria – the chances of bacterial growth increase significantly.

To prevent bacterial growth in open distilled water containers, use clean and sterilized containers when storing your distilled water.

e coli bacteria on a glass of water

How Long is Distilled Water Safe Once Opened?

Typically, distilled water has an indefinite shelf life when unopened. This means the water can be kept in its original container for years without going bad. However, once the seal has been broken and the bottle opened, the clock starts ticking on its freshness.

The general rule of thumb for storing opened distilled water is to use it within a week or two. While distilled water does not contain any bacteria or contaminants that can spoil it quickly, it can still absorb contaminants from its environment over time. Therefore, it’s best to store your opened bottle of distilled water in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight and any potential sources of contamination.

Once distilled water has been opened, it should be stored in a clean container/bottle with a tight-fitting lid to prevent contamination. If stored properly in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight or heat sources, distilled bottled water can be safe to drink for several months after opening.

What Are the Side Effects of Distilled Water?

While distilled water may seem like an excellent choice for drinking and cooking, you should be aware of some side effects.

  • One potential side effect of drinking distilled water is the depletion of essential minerals in the body. This is because distilled water lacks essential minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and potassium for various bodily functions like maintaining healthy bones, and muscle contractions and regulating blood pressure.
  • Another possible side effect of consuming distilled water is its effect on pH balance. Distilled water has a neutral pH level, which means it doesn’t contain any acidity or alkalinity that can help balance the body’s natural pH levels. This can be problematic for people with imbalances in their body’s pH levels, such as those with certain medical conditions like acid reflux or ulcers.
  • Some studies have suggested that long-term consumption of distilled water could also cause dental erosion due to its low pH value. This acidic nature of distilled water can react with tooth enamel leading to enamel wear which may eventually cause cavities or tooth decay over time.
  • Another possible side effect of using distilled water is its lack of taste and potential impact on flavor when used in cooking. As distilled water does not contain any minerals or other substances that could affect the taste, it may result in bland-tasting dishes used for cooking.


Distilled water can and does contain bacteria. It is not sterile, as originally thought. Distilled water that sits for an extended period or is exposed to air and other microorganisms can quickly become contaminated. Understanding the risks associated with using distilled water as a drinking source and regularly testing it when used for this purpose are important steps to take to maintain safety and health.

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