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Are Distilled, Filtered, and Purified Water Really Different?

Filter system of water purifier with two glasses of water one filled until middle with a lemon inside and an empty pitcher on wooden table.

We all know that water is the best possible beverage you can put in your body, and we all need to drink at least 8 glasses a day. If you’ve ever bought your drinking water from a grocery store, you’ve probably noticed that some of those waters are labeled as “filtered”, “purified”, or “distilled”.

These three terms are often used interchangeably, but while they’re similar they aren’t exactly the same thing.

So what is the difference between these three types of water?

Filtered water is water (usually regular tap water) that has been run through some sort of carbon filtering system. This process removes most chemicals like chlorine, germs, and debris, which makes the water taste better and gets rid of potentially harmful elements. Grocery stores sometimes also label filtered water as “spring water” or just plain “bottled water.”

Brita Basic Faucet Water Filter System

You don't have to buy a water pitcher to get filtered water at home-- this filtration system allows you to get it right from your tap.

Purified water is also water that’s been filtered. The difference is that it’s filtered mechanically instead of with a carbon and/or micron filter. It removes not only chemicals and bacteria but algae, metal debris, molds, and other fungi, and will make the water taste even better than regular filtration does.

Distilled water is water that’s been boiled to the point where it becomes steam, then is cooled back down into liquid water and stored in a fresh container. This process also gets rid of impurities, but distilling even more effective than filtering. The heating process gets rid of basically all bacteria, minerals, and extra debris– though this means it removes any helpful minerals in the water as well.

Though the way they’re processed is slightly different, all three types of water are safer to drink and better for cleaning than plain, unfiltered sink water.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and How-To Geek and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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