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Dental Autoclave: Deionized vs. Distilled Water

Q. As a dental assistant, we are told to use distilled water in the autoclaves. We have been approached by company that can supply us with deionized water for half the price of distilled water. Can deionized water be used instead of distilled water. The autoclave manufacturers specify distilled water but cannot say if deionized is ok to use. Can deionized water affect the autoclave in any way?


Angela Plowman
dental assistant - Kyneton, Victoria, Australia

A. There should be no problem using deionized water, but you should contact the manufacturer of the auto clave to verify. You may also want to consider installing a small RO system which would make water of quality comparable to distilled water, and in many cases would be more cost effective than using deionized water.

Chad Dannemann
- Houston, Texas

A. Here is the definition and difference between Distilled and Deionized Water

Deionized water is made by exposing tap or natural spring water to electrically charged resins, which bind to the mineral ions or salts in the water, including calcium, iron, copper, sodium, bromide and chloride, and remove them.

Distilled water is also demineralized water, but the minerals are removed through distillation, which involves converting spring water to steam. Since the minerals are too heavy, they remain behind while the vapor or mist is collected as it cools and condenses to create distilled water. If distilled correctly, the water should contain only oxygen and hydrogen molecules, have a pH level of 7 and contain no other minerals, contaminants or gases.

In order to produce high quality deionized water for your autoclave it is recommended to first run your water through a Reverse Osmosis and then through a Deionized filter and then into a storage tank. You have a upfront cost but over time it is far cheaper to maintain a Deionized system than using Distilled water.

Reed Taylor
- Salt Lake City, Utah, USA
April 18, 2013

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