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Dangers of drinking deionized water
Current postings:April 19, 2022
Middle of the night and stumbled across this thread.
I have access to DI at my job. I fill my 5 gallon jugs with DI and use it in my drinking water cooler, coffee machine, and ice maker. I also use it to cook often.
I've been doing this for 15 years straight. No issues with health (I'm 40) and it's the best tasting water imo.
- Scottsdale AZ
Closely related Q&A's, oldest first:2002
I have heard over the past several years that drinking deionized water is harmful. Potentially due to a high reactivity to surface tissues in our bodies. I have attempted to find information to corroborate or refute that statement with no satisfaction. Are you aware of any effects that would be created by consuming pure water and is there any written articles, reports, etc. that would further my investigation. Thank you for any assistance you may be able to give me.Michael M [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
- Cary, North Carolina
Deionized water is an usually pure form of water. Water actually is a very aggressive solvent. In our normal contact with water, it already has a lot of things dissolved in it, and is pretty tame. Deionized water is so aggressive that it will begin to attack metal, plastic, or even stainless steel. It will dissolve carbon dioxide in the air. If someone was to drink deionized water, it would have the opposite effect of a vitamin, drawing out the minerals and vitamins in your body. It is common knowledge that drinking deionized water is harmful, but I am not sure if there are any documented studies.
Rochester Hills, Michigan
Deionized water is harmless. Drink all you want. The water will quickly dissolve some sugars and electrolytes from your mouth and especially from your digestive system, and will become just plain water. The only potential harm from deionized water might come from the resin used to demineralize the water--not only are these resin beds somewhat limited in their capacity, but they are also hospitable breeding grounds for bacteria. In general, however, the bacteria which grows in clean water is usually harmless. The problem with deionized water is the cost--it is just not worth the price from a drinking water perspective when so many other, less expensive, water purification systems exist.
By the same token, mineral water, with a total dissolved solids of more than 1000 parts per million, is also no better or worse for you. From a nutritional standpoint, there are almost no nutrients or minerals in any potable water, certainly not enough to be nutritionally significant, including expensive designer waters.
Distilled water and deionized water do not taste very good straight from the treatment source. To make these pure waters more palatable, chill them and shake them before serving to aerate a bit. Store bought distilled water is usually shipped in high density polyethylene bottles which are permeable to oxygen, so this distilled water is pre-aerated. Regular bottled water from a reputable company and filtered tap water are still the best source for pleasant tasting water. Don't believe the hype; from a health perspective, distilled, deionized, drinking, demineralized, spring, mineral, fluoridated, tap, etc., are all about the same from a nutritional and health perspective. Taste is an issue, but carbon filtering will take care of the bulk of that item, and biologic safety is addressed by sanitation. As far as other contaminant issues in the western world, the water supply system is completely safe in almost all cases, and for the worriers, filtration and commercial bottled water can fill in the rest.Dale Woika
- Bellefonte, Pennsylvania
I am in this field of Manufacturing Demineralized (deionized) water for the last ten years. To my knowledge there isn't hard evidence about drinking deionized is good or bad. All I can say accidental consumption of small quantities has not caused any visible harm.Anand Jayaraj
- Chennai, Tamilnadu, India
I have been drinking distilled water for my entire life (I just turned 24) and there have been not bad effects. Recently I have been drinking DI water from our Elga Purelab water system we use in our lab; at least one liter per day, and have not noticed any problems. Recently I was told that DI water is harmful because it is so pure that it can cause cells to lyse. But I feel fine; however I have stopped drinking it until I get some more evidence.Yoyo Ma
wvu - West Virginia
Ed. note: We always knew there were two Yoyo Ma's :-)
Here is what JT Baker's MSDS on HPLC grade water has to say:
Potential Health Effects ----------------------------------
Water is non-hazardous.
Inhalation: Not applicable. Ingestion: Not applicable. Skin Contact: Not applicable. Eye Contact: Not applicable.
Chronic Exposure: Not applicable. Aggravation of Pre-existing Conditions: Not applicable.Joe Pons
- Greenville, South Carolina
When the Langlier Saturation Index reflects a positive value in a water, the water is said to be scale forming. This means that the water contains hard constituents such as Ca and Mg. To a certain extent, this is favorable in commercial water delivered from water treatment plants because of its tendency to form a scale around the inside of municipal and domestic plumbing thus preventing interior corrosion of water piping. When the LSI has a negative value the water then becomes aggressive. The lower the value (down to -5) the more aggressive the water. Aggressive water causes corrosion to all metals.
Water is considered the universal solvent. In its purest form having a neutral pH, the water has the most solubility. I don't believe deionized water is safe to drink because of its "leaching" ability's. Deionized water will strip CO2 from the air. When you drink it, this water will strip vitamins and minerals from inside you. Drinking small amounts of deionized water from time to time may be all right however, long term effects from consistent consumption may have adverse results on health.Lee Thorson
- Phoenix, Arizona
The WHO (World Health Organization) provides some scientific facts:
Ed. note: Thanks, Goshe--a very interesting paper that seems to dispel the complacency of the one side and the horror stories of the other side.
DI water in small amounts (<500 mL) usually has no effect on most people. It is, however, well known by the medical community that consuming large amounts of DI water (>2 liters) in a short time frame (8 hours) can disrupt the electrolyte balance sufficiently to show up in standard blood work. A common symptom is a headache which quickly dissipates as soon as the imbalance is corrected. Note, that certain (sensitive) individuals may experience headaches (and other symptoms) consuming as little as one 8 oz. glass of DI water.Mike Pawlik
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
My "science sense" tells me there is something wrong with the idea of DI water being harmful to drink. I have also heard the same about distilled water, but do not believe it either. I imagine it's an urban myth. If the "leaching" ability (or solvency) of water is increased, so is its efficiency in doing what it is supposed to do in the body. A "wetter" water that penetrates cells and tissues (hydrates) better is a healthy thing, especially for a living organism that is ninety-some percent water. The higher corrosive capacity of a purer water on metal is not a bad thing for a biological organism; in fact, it is only indicative of a better catalyst for carrying out all the complex biological reactions necessary for life. A large cause of many health problems and aging is chronic dehydration. A large purpose of water in the body IS to leach; to leach nutrients into usable forms and to carry them from one system to another.
If more particulates in water is better than less, then the same would hold true for air. I'd rather not breathe dusty or polluted air. How about you?
- Columbus, Indiana
OK, if DI water does aggressively leach minerals out of your body when you drink it, then where do they go? They're still in your body! You kidneys decide what is waste and what isn't, so it doesn't seem right that just because you drank DI water, suddenly all your minerals will be gone. Where did they go? I probably wouldn't want to drink the water from my Chem lab, however. It may be deionized, but that doesn't mean it's clean!Matthew Akin
- Kansas City, Missouri
I do not have hard evidence about if DI water does aggressively leach minerals out of your body when you drink it, but even if They're still in your body! You will not be able to micturate DI water and theoretically in this case by time you are losing minerals but the rate, dose and other factors will decide severity of the harmful effect, at end (God only Knows)!Mohamad A. Abdul Motagaly
- Cairo, Egypt
I use DI water for cleaning windows every day. I can tell you that if you decide to drink water this aggressive, you will end up ill.
If you take aggressive water, and rub it into your hands. You will notice that it strips all the natural oils from your skin, and dries out the surface. I know as every day when I come home from work my hands are really dry.
If you drink this water, you might feel ok. But you are effectively drinking water that can break down membranes and oils that the body needs.
PLEASE DON'T DRINK DI water.
Cleaning - England
What about using DI water for say....coffee? Would adding salt to the water change its so called leaching characteristics?Michael Smith
- Princeton New Jersey
If you add salt, it's not deionized water, Michael. Why would you want to make coffee with DI water :-)
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
I am a International Bottled Water Association Certified Plant Operator. We deal only in purified water. We use water softeners, carbon filters, reverse osmosis systems, mixed-bed deionizers and ozonators to produce very high quality water for human consumption. We have been doing so for the last thirteen years with not only the blessing of the International Bottled Water Association but also the National Sanitary Foundation, the Food and Drug Administration and the state health dept. All of whom inspect our plant at least yearly. The purified water we produce is also tested for purity by NTL every year.
We produce and sell and drink purified water for a very simple reason. Once purified water is exposed to air, like in a five gallon bottle, its aggressiveness is greatly reduced. However, if the water is produced correctly and the bottling is done according to accepted practices, the likelihood of recontamination of the water by bacteria or pollutants is extremely low. Therefore, purified bottled water is the safest water there is to drink.
If you wish to leach minerals from your body, drink carbonated colas. We used to use them to clean boiler tanks.
- Twin Falls, Idaho
Red, I appreciate your down-home approach and practical knowledge, but read the WHO article cited above. Having a commercial practice to defend doesn't exempt you from doing your homework and maybe learning about some new research and perspectives. Citing the known corrosive nature of carbonated water is a non-scientific red herring that isn't relevant to this discussion.Pete Retondo
- Oakland, California
It's my board / my rules, and they are: challenge any opinion you see on this board, but not the qualifications or motives of other posters.
I read from Red's posting an implication that bottled water does not significantly leach minerals from the body, whereas cola drinks do -- from which I inferred that if we're genuinely concerned about minerals leaching from the body we should be addressing that known major contributor, instead of the peripheral & debatable leaching characteristics of bottled water. I'm not claiming he's right, just that that is what he seems to be asserting, and I see nothing wrong with his asserting it.
He may have read the WHO article; it is a work in progress (a "Rolling Review") which itself requests that it be used only for review and comments, and should not be cited. I think we are all citing it :-)
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
What does deionised water do? I heard that deionised water is known as ultrapure water, where ordinary tap water is filtered to remove the charged particles- resulting in deionised water. However, lab/factory workers are advised not to drink deionised water. What is the likely reason for this? Is it because of the fact that the water filtering costs are very expensive, or is it because drinking too much/too pure water is bad for our health as it breaks down the essential nutrients and the tissues in our body? What is the likely cause for this?Dean [last name deleted for privacy by Editor]
Student - Singapore
Dean, I think people may be willing to help you with your homework after you demonstrate an attempt to do it yourself. But I can't see how you could possibly have even read this one page and yet still phrase your questions the way you did.
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
May 24th, 2006
Having read all this advice I have concluded that DI water is safe and so I am going to start using it to make my morning and afternoon cups of tea. If I die then I will hold you all responsible. Just kidding. Seriously, if I start experiencing side effects I'll post them here.John Smith
- Riverside, California
Once upon a time I used to consult for a small semiconductor fab in Indiana. They had their DI water piped directly into the top of their coffee maker, and people used to come from all over the plant to enjoy the high quality of their coffee. They had been doing so for years with no ill effects.
Altho I have no data to beck up my convictions, it appears to me that people have built upon the fact that there is no bacteriostatic chlorine left in the DI water, and therefore there may be a very small quantity of bacteria present in the water, and it would be the type of bacteria that would be quite happy to set up housekeeping in the human digestive system, with very negative effects. But for all of the warnings not to drink DI because it will strip ions from your body, I have yet to find any hard evidence of any negative effects.
- Lafayette, Indiana
Thanks for an interesting thread. According to Scorecard (www.scorecard.com), deionized water is listed as suspected gastrointestinal or liver toxicant, and neurotoxicant in NIOSH's Registry of Toxic Effects of Chemical Substances (RTECS). Unfortunately, I do not have access to this registry, so do not know what the ultimate source(s) of those findings are. Further science-based information on these suspected health hazards would be useful and appreciated.David Sonnenfeld, WSU
- Richland, Washington
I'm interested in this because my boss instructed us to use the tap water in our office not the deionized water (that has it's own faucet) to make coffee because of his belief that di water isn't safe. But the tap water in our system is loaded with minerals causing us to scrape out mineral deposits from our coffee maker every week or two! But, if we agree that deionized water is possibly unsafe due to a complete lack of minerals and the effects on gastrointestinal system. (although, even after reading the WHO paper, I'm not sure I agree with that), doesn't it seem to make sense that making coffee, tea, juice, etc with DI water is fine because you would be adding salts and sugars back in the process and the water is no longer "ultrapure"?Jessica Hornick
- South Bend, Indiana
It seems logical that using DI water as a mixer is not a problem. I think it would bring out the taste of the coffee. However, the question was about drinking straight DI water. I think too much of anything is not healthy.
I appreciate the information on this web page.
metrology - Woodstock, Illinois
I am absolutely baffled and dumbfounded by some of the information that people have posted here! Unless I have passed to the other side and am totally unaware of it, DI water is about the best tasting thing on the planet. I am an avid athlete - yoga, pilates, half marathoner, weight lifter, etc - and have been drinking about a half gallon to a gallon of it for over six years now. Did I mention that I am a vegetarian as well? Guess what? I get flagged for low cholesterol levels and my blood work always comes back exemplary. If I do not have DI water with me when I am out, the closet thing to it with regards to taste is Aquafina or Dasani. All of our employees drink and have done so for years, with no side effects.Mehling Gilbert
- Sunshine Ranches, Florida
I work at an optical fabrication lab and have been drinking about 1/2 gallon of DI water at work daily for about 4 months now. It tasted better than the stuff coming out of the drinking fountains and I was told it was
"cleaner". This morning, a gentleman passing by as I filled my glass from the tap told me that I shouldn't be drinking it due to the fact that it leached minerals and sodium from your body. Naturally, I did some research and found this page. I was fascinated by the WHO article posted previously and have learned a great deal from everyone--thanks!
Now, what I've experienced isn't scientific or factual, but these are my observations since I started drinking DI water. My thirst throughout the day seems to stay pretty high, despite the amount of water I consume. Additionally, about a month ago while receiving a facial, my aesthetician commented that the condition of my skin indicated that I wasn't drinking enough water. I, of course, protested, saying that I drank 1/2 gallon or more a day.
As I said, these are not scientific and I'm certainly not a chemist. I will, however, switch back to "regular" water and see what happens.
- Yorktown, Virginia
Drinking DI water is a waste of money! You're using up your lab's cartridges when you could just get a drink from the tap at the fountain down the hall. Buy a Britta instead!
Drink large amounts of DI water can be bad for you if you're not eating anything because it will deplete your body of electrolytes. So as long as you're having a snack, and not drinking liters of it in a day, it's harmless.
Oh, but drinking large quantities of any water can be harmful. The condition is called hyponeutremia, and is commonly the cause of death associated with abusers of the party drug Ecstacy.
DI water might actually lower blood pressure by diluting the salt in your body. So if you have low blood pressure, I wouldn't drink it. But if you must, eat a potato chip, ok?
- Troy, New York
We have been using DI water at our job to make coffee for about the past year and a half and were curious if DI water was bad for you. We stumbled upon this site for some answers and it seems like everyone is also curious too. The only reason we use the DI water is because the tap is closer than going to the water fountain and getting water. This seems to be a highly debatable topic. I think some scientific research needs to be conducted on this. A lot have talked about no short term effects but what happens in 15 to 20 years. Could this cause kidney failure or cancer? Just something to think about. I think we may switch over regular tap water.Roger Westerberg
- Charleston, South Carolina
I would like to point out that deionized water, demineralized water, and distilled water are NOT all the same. In fact these words refer to the process by which they are produced, and not a specific characteristic or purity. Based on the specific process or equipment used to produce any one of them, the purity will vary. Water that has gone thru a process that removed ALL other components is referred to as deionized. Within the context of high purity water, this water would be more pure than that that has been made by distillation or demineralization. However, it would not be uncommon to hear someone say that the have "deionized water" just because they have passed tap water thru a deionization bed.
I believe this is the main reason for the wide range of responses. I think that the original question of whether deionized water is harmful to drink was based on the highest purity deionized water. Distilled and demineralized water do not have that very high purity level,so experience with those waters is not pertinent to the original question. The question of what is best for health is another question.
I think that some of the bad experiences that people have had may well have been caused by improperly operated or maintained equipment that was producing the water.
I have not seen results of any study done on drinking exclusively very high purity water.
- Madison, Wisconsin
What happened to John Smith? John Smith from Riverside, California left a post on May 24th, 2006.
He said that he will start using DI water to make tea.
What happened to him? Is he still alive?
- Orlando, Florida
(poor old John Smith)
D.I. water in his tea fix,
since two thousand and six,
he's the man who never returned
(with apologies to The Kingston Trio)
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
I've read several comments that tap water is safe, but I've worked in water toxicology and sewage treatment for many years and can state with tap water is only safe to a certain degree and under certain circumstances.
If your tap water is recycled sewage water, it will contain contaminants that sewage treatment cannot remove such as pharmaceutical drugs that come through urine among others. These contaminants are too costly to remover from public water supplies and are not tested for for regulation purposes.
Your tap water will likely be fairly safe relative to bacteria and heavy metals in most of the U.S.
Chlorine is not safe to drink or shower in. Most people absorb as much chlorine bathing as they do drinking tap water. Filtered tap water does not remove all chlorine.
Spring water from known, uncontaminated sources would probably be best, but bottled water is not tested as vigorously as city water even, so it's hard to know without doing your own extensive research and testing.
Which leads me back to deionized water. I use deionized water that I remineralize with minerals taken from an ancient sea bed. But who knows, it could contain too much lead! Or the extraction machines could contaminated it with VOCs...
Plastic bottled water contains dioxins -- another modern nightmare.
Bottom line is that it's tough to live, eat, sleep and poop in the same place and not get contaminated. We live in our own garbage dumps essentially.
I used to identify homes in Florida with wells built next to "cattle dipping" troughs that were filled with arsenic at one time. Families, especially kids, would get extremely ill and have no idea why because glass and weeds had grown over the dipping tanks by then. The ground permeability if Florida is very high.
If I could get safe spring water in glass bottles, that would be best I think. Fresh, clean, "living water" is best.
For now, I usually use remineralized deionized water and have had no problem health problems from this approach. Many minerals are essential to health, and it has been demonstrated that people who live in places with hard water (like the mountains) generally have lower incidence of heart disease. Much of the farm land, and therefore vegetables and animals, is depleted of key minerals and trace minerals that have unknown effects on health when consuming products from this soil.
If you can't afford to remineralized deionized water, I would NOT drink it. Even taking a mineral complex will not cover all the trace elements that are essential in very small quantities.
One more thing about tap water. The chlorine kills bacteria; the bad AND the good. That will lead to stomach problems because good stomach health depends on a BALANCE of "good" and "bad" bacteria. The best protection against illness is a strong supply of "good" digestive track microflora. They kill the "bad" ones. Antibiotics often kill the "good" and "bad," leaving a dangerous state where reinfection or illness can occur if the "good" bacteria are not replenished properly.
hobbyist - Spokane, Washington
I found this thread interesting because in my search I have not been able to find anything very convincing on either side of the argument about consumption of DI water. I am a chemist at a community college and drink our DI water daily, despite warnings that it will deplete my system of vital nutrients. I understand the theory behind the leaching of minerals from our bodies to replace what is lacking in the water, but biochemically it doesn't make sense to me. I would think that the chemical composition of the water would be altered almost immediately either due to the presence of chyme in our stomachs or, in the case of an empty stomach, due to the chemical nature of our digestive juices. I would be so interested to hear a nutritionist's or biochemist's take on this topic. Does anyone have a chemical explanation of the processes that occur upon ingestion of DI water? Thank you, MargheritaMargherita Smith
Education - Paso Robles, California
Ed. note: We also have another thread on the same topic, letter 15665.
They say DI water is good. Can some give light to this article
student - Kolkata, WB, India
I must say it certainly interesting following this thread over the past few years. My understanding is that the risk with DI water is that it flows freely into cells, then pulls in nutrients so quickly through osmosis that the cell essentially bursts. In large amounts this could be a real problem, in small amounts it is probably no big deal. Moderation. Now that's my understanding of the risk...In reality, DI water may be altered very quickly in the digestive tract and blood that it simply doesn't have this effect on the cells.
I've just added this site to my favorites bin.
- Folsom, California
Thanks for your insight, Brett, as well as the kind words.
Ted Mooney, P.E.
Striving to live Aloha
finishing.com - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Does DI water have a specific pH? Mine is reading 10.68 which seems a little high. We are using this in a science lab. What is an acceptable pH?Bronwyn Duncan
- Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Is deionized water safe to inhale?
I am not even going to act like I know anything about this subject. I have not researched the subject much before posting my question but I run a medical equipment and supply company and I was just asked this question by a patient's family member. That, of course has brought me to the beginning of my research and thought while I was researching myself I could be waiting for answers from you folks who seem to be well educated in the subject. I thank you all for any information you could send my way.
healthcare industry - Salt Lake City, Utah
DI water has a pH of 7.00 ±.05, as pure water, by definition, has a pH of 7. Since DI water is *almost* pure, it should be close to 7. A pH of 10 to 11 would be like hand soap or ammonia. So, either your DI water is contaminated or your pH meter is not calibrated properly (probably the latter). Any good pH meter should give a pH very near 7.00 when measuring DI water. Those meters have calibration fluids that you get from the manufacture for the purpose of calibrating them. You can also verify this with a simple litmus test to eliminate the water as the problem. So check those out. Another issue with some electrode pH meters is that chemically pure water, like DI, has no ions (hence its name), and thus produces no EMF across the electrode (they become insulated), so the meter can give unpredictable results.
I used to work in a medical laboratory and we would actually use our in house DI water to do quick (and "dirty") calibrations of our pH meters for our HPLC instruments.
Hope that answers your question, and sorry for the tangents.
To everyone else,
Back to the main thread. In the medical lab I worked in, we were also told not to drink the DI water. Mostly because of cost. It is very expensive to maintain a reliable tap source of DI water in a building. The other reason is the UNPREDICTABLE health issue that may be caused but drinking said water. This also eliminates them from liability if you do get sick 20 years down the road after drinking water that came from their system. From a chemistry standpoint, the leaching of minerals in the body is definitely plausible and has been observed in laboratory animals and human subjects. You must be very careful when drinking DI water if you choose to waste your money. You have to be sure that you are intaking those electrolytes through food or other means that would normally be in the water.
In response to a few people who have raised the question of "Even if the water does leach minerals they are still in your body right?" Not true. Name one excreted fluid from the human body that is pure water. None. All excreted fluids from the body contain electrolytes or salts (Urine, sweat, tears, etc.) Unless you replace those excreted minerals, you can develop an electrolyte imbalance which can lead to all sorts of uncomfortable symptoms and even death.
That's said, why go through all the trouble? Just find the cleanest spring water you can and drink it. The bottom line is that there hasn't been enough research on human subject either way to confirm any sort of conclusion on this matter. We may have to wait awhile until "ordinary" water sources become scarce enough that wide spread desalination and demineralization of non-potable water occurs. Then, perhaps, more research will be done.
- Los Angeles, California
Regarding pH of DI water, my understanding is that by definition it has no pH. This is because pH is effectively a measure of the extent to which the molecules of water are disassociated into ions. That only occurs in the presence of salt/base ions. DI water has had it's ions removed (QED) ergo, no actual measurement of pH is valid. An experiment using a very clean pH probe can show that DI water exposed to the atmosphere will be very erratic, then stabilize, and slowly drop, due to the formation of very low levels of carbonic acid, as atmospheric carbon dioxide is absorbed..hope this response from a biologist can be endorsed or corrected by a chemist?Aaron Fielder
pharmaceuticals - Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
I am a mechanical engineer and by no means a biologist but we use both Deionized and distilled water in out facility I have witnessed the "Leaching" properties on DI water as opposed to distilled water in our systems. The DI water corrodes the hard piping (steel, copper, brass, stainless steel etc...) causing buildup in out closed loop system and raising the conductivity of our water system (which is critical to our process) and is recommended only to be ran in PVC piping. The distilled water seems to be harmless to the piping, though we have only been using it for a relatively short period of time (about two years). As far as being safe to drink the "industrial grade" we use is not suitable to drink because of contaminates left in the water in the deionizing process, however I am in the process of building a new home and one of the most prestigious upgrades is a whole home Reverse Osmosis system (A.K.A. Deionized Water).Roland Rodriguez
- Houston Texas
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