What Is Filtered Water — And How Is It Different From Distilled or Purified Water?

They may all sound similar, but these common labels for drinking water aren’t interchangeable.

Photo: Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

We all know that we should be drinking water for the benefit of our overall health. Water intake is essential to the human body's functioning properly; every cell in your body needs water and it is important to stay hydrated throughout the day. Drinking water maintains energy, relieves fatigue, flushes the body of toxins, and contributes to gut health and a healthy complexion.

We often hear that we need to drink about eight glasses of water per day to stay healthy, but what is the "right" kind of water to drink?

Head to the local supermarket or corner store and you will find there are plenty of choices when it comes to bottled water — both in the refrigerated sections and on the shelves. The labels often tout words like "filtered," "distilled," or "purified." What exactly do these terms mean and should they impact your decision about what water to buy and drink? Is there even a difference? Read on to find out.

What Is Filtered Water?

Bottles of water bearing labels that say "filtered water" are what you are most likely to find on grocery store shelves. This water is usually sourced from municipal tap water, which is run through carbon filters. The filtering process removes undesired chemical compounds, organic and inorganic materials, and biological contaminants from water but leaves behind the beneficial minerals.

This filtering process aims to remove the chlorine, which improves the taste of the water. Filtered water is also commonly marked with the labels, "spring water" and "bottled water." Some manufacturers may deploy an added step of filtration by using a micron filter to remove chemicals and microbes.

Is Filtered Water the Same as Distilled Water?

Distilled water can be described with a process you might remember from your elementary school science lessons. It is water that has been boiled into a vapor, cooled back into a liquid state, and poured into a new container.

Impurities present in the water that do not boil below or near the boiling point of water will remain in the original container. This means that distilled water can be considered a type of filtered water. Many water enthusiasts consider distilled water to be the purest water you can drink.

No matter where it's sourced, water may have trace amounts of minerals, bacteria, pesticides, or other contaminants that are safe to consume. The distilling process for water rids it of essentially all impurities. It also removes 99.9% of the minerals dissolved in water.

So, both distilled and filtered water are safe for drinking choices. The most significant difference between these two options is that filtered water maintains the healthy minerals in the water while the distilling process removes them.

Is Filtered Water the Same as Purified Water?

Purified water is the mechanically filtered purification of drinking water or groundwater to remove impurities like chemicals and other contaminants.

The purification process removes:

  • Bacteria
  • Algae
  • Fungi
  • Parasites
  • Metals like copper and lead
  • Chemical pollutants

Methods for purifying water are used commercially and in the home through various types of water treatment systems.

Another benefit of water purification is that it removes unpleasant tastes associated with chemical treatments, organic matter, or metal plumbing. This means a bottle or glass of water with fresh, pure-tasting drinking water for your consumption.

Filtered water and purified water are often confused with one another but they are not the same product. Both types of water are treated with a filtration process, but purified water goes through an additional purification process. The result is water that has a higher purity rating than just filtered water.

When shopping for bottled water at the grocery store, it's a good habit to closely review the labels and see what manner of water filtration and treatment the water underwent prior to bottling.

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