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Reverse Osmosis VS Distilled Water: What You Must Know (2024)

Reverse Osmosis Vs Distilled Water

If you are looking for the latest research on the dissimilarities between reverse osmosis and distilled water, then you are in the right place. 

Reverse osmosis water is deionized and demineralized, contains no harmful molecules or heavy metals, and is clinically proven safe for human consumption. Modern reverse osmosis systems offer remineralizing options to improve water taste and mineral content.

Distilled water is purified, demineralized water free from chemicals and metals with high vapor pressure. It is almost colorless and tasteless and is more suited for sanitizing medical equipment and storing reagents for lab experiments.

Continue reading for detailed reverse osmosis vs distilled water comparison to find which is best for home consumption.

Reverse Osmosis VS Distilled Water: Main Differences

Factors RO Water Distilled Water 
Process Impure water molecules are passed through multiple semi-permeable fine membranes to remove all their contaminants and impurities, including solid particles.An impure boiling water sample is set to evaporate its contaminants which are later condensed and distilled.
Uses Simple and accessible options for drinking and cooking in households. Also used in manufacturing bottled water and maple syrups. Used for sterilization, automobile batteries, deodorant, and infant formula.
Accessibility Reverse osmosis systems are easily accessible for individual and public water systems and come in different versions at affordable prices. Not easily available as the process is time-consuming and requires electricity. The public water system does not use it.
Cons of using it It results in water wastage and can be costly to maintain.It doesn’t have beneficial minerals, is more acidic, the process is energy-intensive, and can comprise lower boiling point contaminants.  
Taste differences It tastes better because the process adds extra minerals to the pure water.It tastes flat because of the absence of minerals in it.


Distilled water and reverse osmosis water come from different processes. Distilled water comes from distillation, whereas RO-purified water comes from reverse osmosis. Both distillation and reverse osmosis have unique steps and filters for water purification. 

Distilled Water

Distilled water comes through a method in which you evaporate contaminated water into gas and then return it to its liquid state through condensation. 

After condensation, the water is distilled and separated from the contaminants, solid particles present within it, and finally, purified water. 

The water distillation process eliminates every kind of chemical, mineral, and other inorganic substance from the water, including

However, the pure water in this filtration process lacks essential minerals, which makes it unsuitable for drinking if taken regularly instead of normal tap or faucet water. 

So, will you drink distilled water regularly instead of reverse osmosis-processed regular tap water? Think again! 

Reverse Osmosis Water

It comes through the reverse osmosis process. In this filtration process, water is passed through semi-permeable RO membranes (each RO membrane removes some contaminants or the other) that eliminate the tiniest impurities, dissolved solids, and heavy metals in your faucet water.

As an outcome of the RO process, you get healthy water and fit for drinking. 

The reverse osmosis system uses multiple stages of filtration:

First, the pre-filter captures large dirt and dust particles from the water, thus purifying water from your tap. Next, the UV and activated carbon filter trap the other impurities, and finally, the reverse osmosis filter provides contaminant-free water. The result is that you get remineralized pure water. 


Distilled water and reverse osmosis water have unique benefits and use cases.

However, even though distilled water is safe from harmful and volatile chemicals and pollutants, essential nutrients such as calcium and magnesium are not present in this water. 

So in the case of pregnant women or people suffering from mineral deficiency, drinking distilled water as being “purified” won’t help them in any way as they need calcium and magnesium for health improvement. 

On the contrary, drinking reverse osmosis water benefits them as it comprises a sufficient quantity of essential and hydrating minerals. 

Distilled Water

Here are some uses of distilled water:

  • Doctors recommend distilled water to kidney patients to detoxify their bodies and eliminate excess calcium or other minerals.
  • It is used to sterilize medical equipment and maintain and store reagents in lab tests because it is free of all kinds of microorganisms, including bacteria and viruses.
  • This contaminant-free water is good for your skin as it is free of chlorine, fluoride, and other impurities and can be used to wash your face. 

Reverse Osmosis Water

Here are some uses of RO water:

  • This water purification method gives purified and remineralized drinking water for human consumption.
  • Used for operating personal water purification processes through Handy RO water processors in bottled mineral water production.
  • Purification of storm drains assembled rainwater using RO water processors.
  • It helps in concentrating food liquids in the food industry. The process is much cheaper than the traditional heat-treatment methods. 
  • It is the go-to choice for professional window cleaning. 
  • Reverse osmosis is a great choice for aquariums and fish tanks.
  • It prevents mineral deposits on the electrodes’ surface during the process of hydrogen creation (on a small scale).
Also Read: Best Fluoride and Chlorine Water Filters 


There are significant differences in the accessibility of distilled and reverse osmosis water:

Distilled Water

Distilled water comes from specialized water dispensers or distillers. These treatment units can cost anywhere between $200 to $1200. The factors that decide the cost of the distiller are its size and performance level. 

However, the electricity rates in the USA are as high as 10 cents/kWh, and each gallon of water requires nearly 3 kWh of electricity. So, you must spend nearly 30 cents to get 1 gallon of distilled water.

Also, the process is possible only when electricity is available. Moreover, it’s a time-consuming process. So, considering all these things, we can say that distilled water is not easily accessible for domestic use. It is not used by the public water system either.

Reverse Osmosis Water

Reverse osmosis water is attainable from reverse osmosis water filters, ready-to-use (as they remain connected to your tap water), easy-to-install, and affordable (through purchase or rent) units for domestic and commercial use.

Also, it’s available in various forms, and you may fit it under your sink, on any countertop, or anywhere else you want. Moreover, it can give you both hot and cold water (whichever you want) if you use dispenser-enabled systems. So, reverse osmosis water systems are easily accessible. 

The public water system does not use the reverse osmosis filtration method directly. However, you can use it to purify your faucet water from the public water system. 

Also Read: Best Arsenic Water Filters 

Cons Of Using Them

It’s time to discuss the disadvantages of distilled and reverse osmosis water for domestic and commercial uses.

Distilled Water

  • Distilled water doesn’t comprise the beneficial or healthy minerals essential for our body; thus, its consumption may further trigger nutrition deficiency and dehydration.
  • The process of distilled water formation is more time-consuming than any other common purification method. So, it can’t be provided to anyone instantly without prior knowledge of his quantity requirements.
  • It is not environmentally friendly as the plastic bottles in which this water is sold aren’t environment-friendly.
  • Distilled water is low-pH, and regularly consuming such acidic water may cause weak immunity. 
  • It can contain organic impurities like toluene and benzene as their boiling point is lower than that of water (100°C).  

Reverse Osmosis Water

  • It is dispensed from a reverse osmosis water filter which can be costly to install and maintain. Reverse osmosis filtration systems can cost anywhere between $600 to $4000, depending on their GPD rating and the number of filtration stages. 
  • Depending on the filter model, you must buy new filter cartridges every 3-6 months. Besides, replacing carbon filters in a year will cost $100, and replacing the reverse osmosis membrane would cost anywhere between $50 to $200.
  • If the reverse osmosis filter generates 1 gallon of drinking water, it wastes nearly 2 or 3 gallons of water. So reverse osmosis water filtration system involves notable wastage of water.

Pro Tip:

You can obtain reverse osmosis systems on rent with a free filter replacement guarantee and yearly maintenance.

Taste Differences

There is no competition between reverse osmosis and distilled water when it comes to taste: 

Distilled Water

Distilled water tastes flat and bland because of the absence of minerals. 

Reverse Osmosis Water

Reverse osmosis water tastes better because modern filtration units use remineralization to add extra healthy minerals to filtered water after removing dissolved solids, impurities, and contaminants.

RO vs Distilled Water: Pros And Cons

Reverse Osmosis Water


  • Easy to access without quantity limits 
  • Better water taste with remineralization (healthy mineral content) 
  • Better suited for home consumption and related products


  • A Reverse osmosis water purification unit requires regular maintenance
  • It can be costly to install, and with a periodic requirement of cartridges 
  • Results in water wastage 

So, reverse osmosis water is healthy for your family. But, the filter’s maintenance, repair, replacement, or installation may be time-intensive and costly. 

Distilled Water


  • No need for any connection with the water line
  • Doesn’t need frequent maintenance 
  • Good for sterilization and cleaning


  • Devoid of essential minerals present in RO water
  • High electricity consumption
  • Time-consuming 

Distilled water is not a healthy option for regular consumption as it is acidic. However, it is purified from organic contaminants and pesticides, which makes it a good choice for infant formulas. 

It is cheap to buy distilled water bottles, and you may install a distiller or distillation system that requires occasional maintenance. 

Also Read: Deionized vs Distilled Water 

Distilled vs Reverse Osmosis: Which Is Better? 

Both reverse osmosis and distilled water are purified water and thus free from various contaminants, bacteria, chemicals, dissolved solids, and pathogens.


You have to understand that both of them have different purposes. For instance, reverse osmosis water is better for drinking, whereas distilled water is better for medical purposes, cosmetics, automobiles, etc. 

Also, no treatment unit gives both reverse osmosis and distilled water. Again, it’s because reverse osmosis and water distillation processes are entirely different. 

Drinking reverse osmosis water will protect you from harmful contaminants and enrich your body with essential minerals. Also, you will like its taste, and the added minerals will quench your thirst well. 

So, when it comes to drinking water, reverse osmosis water is the best.

Difference Between Reverse Osmosis and Distilled Water: FAQs

Is Distilled Water The Same As RO Water?

No, producing distilled water is entirely different from the reverse osmosis water generation process. The former uses evaporation and condensation to remove dissolved solids and impurities with boiling points higher than water’s, while the latter uses a reverse osmosis membrane with semi-permeable nature for separating finer impurities from the water supply.

Both purification methods can effectively remove microorganisms, volatile organic compounds, and heavy metals, but it’s safe not to use them interchangeably. Distilled water stuns your plant’s growth, and reverse osmosis shouldn’t be used for deodorant production. 

It’s better to use reverse osmosis water for drinking and watering plants and water produced from distillation for sterilization and other relevant manufacturing processes. 

Do Plants Like Reverse Osmosis Water?

Reverse Osmosis water is best for delicate plants like orchids, where you need to control their nutrient flow precisely. But, for non-delicate plants like aloe vera, you can use normal tap water.

Can I Use RO Water In A Humidifier?

Yes, you can use reverse osmosis water in a humidifier as it is free from impurities. But it’s best to use distilled and treated water for better humidity control and longer life of the device. 

Can You Use Distilled Water for A CPAP Machine?

Yes, it’s great to use distilled water for a CPAP humidifier machine. It’s because the distillation process produces distilled water (sterilized water) without any microbial contamination. Also, distilled water prevents limescale buildup on various machines, including humidifiers.

For this reason, distilled water is used in CPAP machines in hospitals, labs, and factories.

Can I Use RO Water In Fish Tank?

Yes, you can use reverse osmosis water in aquariums. However, remineralization is mandatory before you pour reverse osmosis water inside the aquarium tank. Reverse Osmosis is a good way of filtering the contaminants in aquarium water, thus making it clean from harmful heavy metals.

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