Purified Water vs. Distilled Water for Humidifiers

If you’ve used humidifiers for any amount of time, you’ll be familiar with the age-old debate of purified water vs. distilled water.

This article delves into all the differences between the two, the pros and cons of using each and also aims to answer any questions you might have.

Put simply, both purified and distilled water are safe to use in humidifiers. Both are also safe to drink, so you don’t have to worry about using either in your humidifier.

If you aren’t familiar, purified water is water that has had all the contaminants removed but still contains minerals. Distilled water, on the other hand, also removes the minerals.

Below, we get into the pros and cons of using each, so you can choose the one that fits your requirements. We are all about humidifiers and other such appliances, so if you want the most informed opinion, leave it to us.

Keep reading for the head-to-head comparison of distilled and purified water for humidifiers.

At A Glance

It is important to start by reiterating that both distilled and purified water are safe to drink. It is safe for both to come in contact with your skin, and it is certainly safe to use either one in your humidifier. 

There are some interesting benefits and drawbacks to using either in your humidifier. For one, since purified water contains minerals, many people prefer it over distilled water, claiming that the minerals are essential for skin health and other health benefits. 

The distilled water camp counters by saying that the minerals in purified water can quickly deposit in your humidifier, requiring more frequent cleaning. 

At the same time, it is a fact that distilled water is more expensive than the purified alternative. 

With all of that in mind, it might seem like the matchup is pretty even. So let’s lay out the pros and cons and see what we can glean from them.

Purified Water For Humidifiers

  • Minerals in purified water can help improve skin health
  • Purification of water requires less equipment than distillation
  • Purification involves steps like osmosis, ion exchange, activated carbon, sediment filter, etc
  • Cheaper than distilled water
  • Free of microbes and bacteria
  • Won’t cause white dust
  • Does not cause irritation or allergic reactions
  • Humidifiers that use purified water experience mineral buildup in the reservoir
  • It may require a bit more cleaning than distilled water.

Distilled Water For Humidifiers

  • No heavy metals such as lead or copper
  • Does not contain any minerals
  • Free of microbes and bacteria
  • Won’t cause white dust
  • Does not cause irritation or allergic reactions
  • ‘Distillation’ boils water and collects the steam to remove impurities and minerals.
  • More expensive than purified water


Cleaning and Maintenance 

One of the first points brought up when deciding between purified water and distilled water is the ease of cleaning and maintenance, and the effect both have on your humidifier’s longevity. 

Specifically, since purified water contains numerous minerals and heavy metals, it tends to cause mineral buildup in your humidifier’s reservoir.

Realistically though, all this means is that you will have to clean the humidifier ever so slightly more often than if you were using distilled water. And if you ask us, you should be cleaning the humidifier regularly, regardless of the type of water you use.  

Still, this problem is non-existent if you use distilled water. The lack of minerals or heavy metals means there is no chance of buildup in the reservoir. You’ll still be cleaning the humidifier, just not as often. 

Point, distilled water. 

Health Concerns

If you’re using a humidifier, it’s probably to combat some health concerns. You might be experiencing excessive coughing, dry skin, an itchy nose, or other health problems. 

The good news is that both distilled and purified water are perfectly safe for consumption, for coming in contact with your skin, and for use in a humidifier. 

Here, the comparison is less cut and dried. While it is true that purified water contains minerals that are essential for our health, the fact is that if your daily diet has the recommended amount of water in it, you’re already getting all the minerals your body needs. 

On the other end of the spectrum, distilled water doesn’t contain any minerals at all. It is free of all contaminants and bacteria, just like purified water, but also eliminates heavy metals such as lead, chromium, and copper. 

So while the extra minerals from purified water don’t hurt, they are ultimately unnecessary. Overall, we’d say this one is a tie. The status quo is maintained. 

Still, if you ask us, there is something to be said about using distilled water, which is water, and nothing else. But that’s just our opinion. 


Considering the cost of distilled water and purified water for use in a humidifier is probably the most objective way of looking at this comparison. So let’s get into it. 

The process of purifying water comprises a number of steps. Furthermore, there are a couple different methods for purifying water. Ion osmosis, ion exchange, activated carbon, sediment filter, and the like are all things that are beyond the scope of this article. Suffice it to say, purified water is PURE!

But then we have distilled water. The process of ‘distillation’ is a bit different than purification. It works by boiling water and then collecting the steam, which is then converted back to water. This removes not only any particles and contaminants in the water but also any minerals or heavy metals. 

Boiling also works to kill any bacteria or toxins, though purification achieves the same effect with a different process. 

And while it may sound counterintuitive, purified water is cheaper than distilled water. The process of distilling water is still not as cost-effective as purifying it, so expect to pay a fair bit more than if you were buying purified water. 

Purified water is back in the race!

Effects On Surroundings

And finally, we have the effect purified, and distilled water have on their surroundings. 

Myth: Using purified water or distilled water in humidifiers causes them to emit white dust. 

If you were worried about getting mineral deposits on furniture or other fixtures by using either purified or distilled water in your humidifier, put your fears to rest. Neither purified water nor distilled water cause white dust, which also means you can forget about any irritation or respiratory problems.

Purified Water vs Distilled Water For Humidifiers: The Winner

It seems that the choice between purified and distilled water is even less clear than when we started! Both parties make some valid points in their favor, and the competition is stiff. 

So maybe that’s the conclusion. That you can use either one and have a good experience. 

To recap, purified water is cheaper and has essential minerals that promote better health. But you will have to clean the humidifier a bit more often if you use purified water. 

Distilled water is more expensive, sure, but it removes all the minerals and heavy metals from the equation. That means less cleaning and slightly better humidifier longevity in the long run. 

Who’s It For?

Purified water is for the person who wants perfectly clean, relatively inexpensive water for their humidifier that is also rich in minerals essential for health. Just be prepared to clean your humidifier religiously!

Distilled water is for the person who wants water, plain and simple. No minerals, no heavy metals, no contaminants or toxins. It does cost more than purified water, but such is the price you pay…literally. 


Can I just use tap water for my humidifier? 

Depending on where you live, the tap water may contain many minerals and contaminants that are unfit for human consumption. 

Using tap water in a humidifier is generally not recommended. Usually, the mineral content of tap water is higher than even purified water. Not to mention, tap water could have some contaminants such as sediment deposits, bacteria, and the like. 

Furthermore, using tap water could result in mineral buildup in your humidifier, which is a pain to clean and reduces the efficiency of the humidifier. 

Can I use boiled water for my humidifier?

Boiling water is a popular method of ‘purifying’ it. However, the process of boiling is not nearly as effective as actual purification. 

It does neutralize a small percentage of toxins and pathogens that are sensitive to high heat, but other contaminants will remain. So boiled water is also unsuitable for use in a humidifier. 

Can I use bottled water in my humidifier? 

You might be tempted to use bottled water in your humidifier. Bottled water is not suitable for use in a humidifier as it also contains excess minerals. 

These minerals are great for human physiology but not so for the inside of your humidifier. Mineral deposits can wreak havoc on the reservoir, the filter or wicking system, and other components inside the humidifier. 

If I use distilled water for my humidifier, do I still have to clean it regularly? 

Cleaning your humidifier regularly ensures that it stays efficient and performs well. 

Both purified water and distilled water contain no contaminants. Distilled water also eliminates the minerals and heavy metals that are present in purified water, which leads some people to believe that they don’t need to clean the humidifier as regularly if they use distilled water. 

This is completely false and could result in the humidifier underperforming or even becoming permanently damaged over time. So clean your humidifiers regularly, regardless of which type of water you use. 

Is boiled water the same as distilled water?

This is a common misconception. While the process for distilling water does involve boiling, it is actually when the steam from that boiled water is collected and then converted to water that you get distilled water. 

So, to sum up, boiled water is not the same as distilled water.


Shawn Willis is all about humidifiers. After working for some of the biggest names in the industry, he started HumidifierGuys with Scott Dawson. Now, the dynamic duo helps others figure out what they need in their next humidifier.

Shawn is an avid sports fan, motorcycle enthusiast, and has two dogs named Whiskey and Boba.