Should You Cook with Distilled Water? What’s the Best Water for Cooking?

Posted by
John Woodard on March 22, 2024

Distilled water is excellent to use for cooking your favorite dishes. However, it has been the victim of many myths and misunderstandings, and using distilled water for cooking is no exception. Many online articles claim that distilled water strips minerals from food as it is washed or cooked, but many of these claims are not true. In fact, distilled water can greatly benefit the taste of your dishes over conventional tap water. In this article, you can learn about the advantages and disadvantages of using distilled water for cooking and making beverages.

Can I cook with distilled water?

Yes, cooking with distilled water allows the natural flavors and aromas of a dish to shine. Distilled water does not contain the minerals, chemicals, and other contaminants that tap water possesses, so it does not impart any unwanted tastes into foods as they are washed or cooked. However, because distilled water does not contain the minerals and other dissolved solids that tap water or other treated water contains, foods comprised of a large percentage of water may taste flat when distilled water is used.

One of the biggest disadvantages of using distilled water for cooking is the time the distillation process takes. Most countertop distillers take between 4 to 6 hours to produce one gallon of distilled water. If you use distilled water for drinking, then you likely have very little left for cooking. Regardless, you must plan much further ahead when using distilled water for cooking than if you use water from another type of treatment system, such as a reverse osmosis system or activated carbon filter.

Learn more: What is a water distiller and how does it work?

Advantages of cooking with distilled water

  • Does not impart unwanted flavors. Contaminants present in other types of water cannot transfer their flavors to your food.
  • Prevents discoloration. The lack of contaminants in distilled water means that the color of your foods will remain the same before and after washing and cooking.
  • Provides even heat distribution. Without minerals and other dissolved solids to alter the boiling point of water, distilled water boils more evenly at a more consistent temperature than other types of water.

Disadvantages of cooking with distilled water

  • Takes a long time to produce. A typical countertop distiller takes 4 to 6 hours to produce one gallon of distilled water.
  • Gives watery foods a flat taste. Because it does not contain minerals, distilled water does not contain the flavor profile of mineral-rich water.
  • Difficult to use for washing. Because water distillers are not connected to a faucet, they are not as easily used for washing fruits and vegetables as other water treatment systems.

What is the best water to cook with?

The best water for cooking is not the same for every food or even every person. As long as water is safe to consume, the taste of food cooked from different types of water is purely a matter of personal preference. However, there are some general guidelines to keep in mind. For example, foods like homemade soups that comprise of a large percentage of water may benefit from reverse osmosis or activated carbon water rather than water from a distiller. Other foods, such as pasta and rice, separate better and avoid discoloration when boiled in distilled water. In most cases, the difference in taste between foods cooked in various types of treated water is negligible. However, you should notice a difference between foods cooked with chlorinated tap water and those cooked with treated water.

Learn more: Reverse osmosis vs distilled water

Can I make drinks with distilled water?

Distilled water can be used to craft beverages, but it does not provide the best flavor possible. Two of the most important elements in water’s taste are mineral and TDS content. Distilled water contains virtually no minerals and zero TDS, giving water a flat, unsatisfying taste. Because water makes up such a large percentage of the makeup of most beverages, distilled water is not the best choice. For example, distilled water cannot extract all the flavors from coffee beans that water with minerals and TDS can, leading to an unsatisfying cup of joe. Other beverages, such as tea, also contain richer flavors when using other types of water.

Learn more: What is the best water for home coffee? | 5 tips for coffee and espresso water filtration

While many online sources claim that distilled water is unsafe to drink because it leaches minerals from the body, this is simply untrue. Distilled water is completely safe to drink, but it may not possess a pleasant taste. Another myth about drinking water is that it must contain minerals and nutrients to fuel your body. While tap water does provide some minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, it does not come close to making a substantial impact on your daily intake. You should receive your nutrients from food, not from your drinking water. If you need a supplement of electrolytes or other nutrients from a beverage, consider a type of drink that will provide the nutrition you need at the time.

Learn more: Is distilled water safe to drink?

pouring water for tea

What is the best water for making beverages?

Water that is void of chlorine and contains a fair amount of TDS and minerals is ideal for crafting beverages. Many types of water treatment systems improve the taste of water, but we will focus on two of the most common, activated carbon and reverse osmosis.

Activated carbon filters

CTO filters, short for chlorine, taste, and odor, reduce the bitter tastes chlorine gives to water. These filters use activated carbon to reduce levels of chlorine, mercury, foul tastes and odors, pesticides and herbicides, and other contaminants depending on what the filter is rated for. If you receive your water from a municipal plant, the water coming out of your tap contains chlorine. While it is effective at killing microorganisms, chlorine is not pleasant to taste or smell every time you take a sip. Activated carbon filters are an inexpensive and effective way to improve the taste of the water used for your home beverages. These filters also come in multiple forms. Refrigerator filters, water pitcher filters, and reverse osmosis systems are just some examples of water treatment systems that utilize activated carbon.

Learn more: Activated carbon filters 101 | Do refrigerator filters really work? | Do water pitcher filters really work?

Reverse osmosis systems

Reverse osmosis (RO) systems are point-of-use systems that remove a vast majority of contaminants from water. They utilize a multi-stage treatment method that includes sediment filtration, carbon filtration, a reverse osmosis membrane, and, in some cases, a remineralization postfilter. Reverse osmosis systems that do not contain a remineralization postfilter suffer from the same fate as water distillers; they simply remove too many of the minerals that enrich the water’s flavor. A remineralization postfilter adds these beneficial minerals back to the water, boosting its flavor with very little other contamination to compromise it.

RO systems provide consistent, high-quality water regardless of where the water is sourced from. This is a huge advantage over activated carbon filters. Because the levels of minerals, chemicals, and other contaminants differ from region to region, water quality output from a carbon filter varies from region to region and season to season. With an RO system, you provide a clean slate for whatever beverage you create.

Learn more: What is reverse osmosis?



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