The Truth About Distilled Water For Plants

Whether indoors or outdoors, plants need to be watered. Unfortunately, the water that you're using to fill up your watering can, that is from the tap or from your water softening system isn't exactly the best solution and we’ll touch upon that in greater detail in this article.

So how do we water our plants without feeding them all those harmful chemicals? One answer to that is distilled water. But is distilled water good for plants? You're about to find out right here in this write-up.

What Is Distilled Water?

Distilled water is the result of a process known as distillation where evaporation and condensation occur to separate unwanted impurities and chemicals and produce water in its purest form.

But what about tap water? Well, that’s a big no-no. That's because tap water is filled with fluoride, chlorine and a host of other chemicals that can harm plants.

Besides tap water, hard water can also pose a threat to plants, especially those that are sensitive to minerals in this type of water. Hard water is typically a well water issue but it can also be a municipal water distribution issue as well.

So if you get your water from a well, then you might need to install a water softening system for your house. These systems remove the hard mineral buildup from your well water. As such, you’ll be able to use your shampoos and soaps for bathing and it won’t stain your sinks or appliances.

Unfortunately, water softeners aren’t exactly good for plants either. The reason for that is because water softener systems use salt like potassium or sodium to reduce hardness in the water. These types of salts can damage your plant if used consistently over time as they can trick your plants into believing that they absorbed water, which ultimately leads to dehydration. And since often water contains high levels of sodium, you must avoid watering your plants with it. Another reason why water softening systems shouldn’t be considered is because they get rid of two of the most important nutrients plants, including magnesium and calcium.

Distillation also occurs in nature when water from the river or ocean evaporates from the ultraviolet rays of the sun and then condenses in the air, creating rain clouds. Through this process, the following impurities for contaminants are removed:

  • parasites
  • bacteria
  • organic chemicals
  • inorganic chemicals
  • viruses
  • volatile gases
  • heavy metals
  • and other contaminants.

As a result, you are provided with something that is close to pure water from nature which is natural, clean, but most importantly healthy. 

Using Distilled Water for Your Plants

Whether you're using tap or distilled water, proper watering of plants is highly essential. If you don't water the plants properly, then it could lead to a weakening of the roots which deteriorates the plant, making it susceptible to diseases. That's why you need proper instructions and guidance on how to water your plants, whether indoor or outdoor.

Houseplants usually come with directions about proper care from nurseries. These directions are also printed on the plastic stakes which have been placed in your plant's pot soil. But not every plant comes with nurturing instructions, so you must look that information up in either a book or better yet, online. Some plants require more water than the others, such as blooming plants that have plenty of foliage on them. Of the ones that require less water are woodland and tropical plants than those in the dryer regions.

Seasons also affect the amount of water that your plants require. For instance, during warmer seasons, plants require more water. That’s because the hot temperatures evaporate water much more quickly. Plants are also impacted by temperatures indoors and also outdoors. Indoor plants, for example, will require more water even during the winters as the heating system in the house will cause the water to evaporate quicker.

If you’re going to use distilled water on plants, make sure that it is of room temperature. And If you're making your own home-made water and are leaving it outside to distill it, be sure to get it back inside your house and then have it adjust to your room's temperature. But make sure not to give your plants distilled water or any type of water of extreme temperatures, which is either very cold or very hot. Giving your plants extreme temperature water would not only shock their roots, but could even damage, or worse, kill them.

You can also acquire freshwater from a process known as reverse osmosis. To understand the differences between this process and that of distilled water, head on over to American Home Water and Air.

How to Make Some Distilled Water of Your Own

Getting your hands on distilled water isn't really hard, in fact, it is possible to make some of your own from the comforts of your home. Either boil tap water or catch rainwater in a barrel or bucket. By far the best candidate for naturally distilled water is rainwater, so long as it isn't too acidic. And if you find that the rainwater in your area is indeed acidic, then tapwater is your next best option as the acid can obviously damage the plants.

To make your own distilled water, you need to boil it in a closed vessel with a smaller bowl that's either floating or suspended above the water. You can cool the lid of the vessel using ice or cold water. From this process, the tap water that you collected will boil and evaporate, which forms a steam that rises to the lid. When the steam touches the cool lid, it will condense, forming pure water droplets that are then collected within the bowl. And voilà, you have your own distilled water. You can even use a chemistry lab distilling apparatus (tube) to achieve the same results.

So can you use distilled water for plants? Yes, you can. Even though plants require some minerals to grow helpfully, there isn’t much hope that we can put in the hands of the modern world where pollution runs rampant. So it’s best to take your chances with distilled water.


Amelia Robinson is a lover of plants and gardens, as well as an educator on this topic. It’s her goal to make sure that you get the chance to learn what you need to about gardening to succeed with your own home garden at the blog You’re not going to find just a collection of basic articles about gardening here. Instead, she wants to answer the difficult questions for you. She tweets at @robinsonplants

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