Many of us stumble upon the word “distilled water” more often than not. The phrase “reverse osmosis” is also becoming a buzzword these days.
Surprisingly enough, most of us tend to think both processes are similar; we couldn’t be far from that.
To be precise, both distilled water and reverse osmosis water have some striking similarities. But, there are far too many differences as well.
Today, in this article, we’ll be discussing everything about what this distilled water and reverse osmosis water is and how they differ from each other.
So, let’s begin.
Before we discuss the differences, let’s make sure we understand distillation first and some other related terms.
What is boiling?
Boiling is the process in which any liquid molecules attain the atmospheric pressure, or to put it simply, turns into gaseous form at a higher temperature.
In many countries around the world, people boil water to purify it. In this case, water molecules at the surface turn to vapor. In the process, microorganisms die, and water becomes pure.
What is the boiling point?
The boiling point is an inherent property of any substance. It denotes the temperature at which liquid turns into a gaseous state.
For example, suppose you’re heating a bowl of water. You have a thermometer inside the water. As you continue, the temperature will rise.
When the temperature rises to 100O Celcius, you’ll see water vapor coming out of the bowl. That means 100-degree Celcius is the boiling point of water.
What is condensation?
Now, let’s find out what condensation is. It is the reverse process of boiling. So, to define, condensation is when the vapor of a substance cools down and turns into liquid.
For example, when you keep a bottle of cold water in the open, you will see that it is sweating. There will be water bubbles at the surface of the bottle.
So, how are those getting here? We know there is water vapor in the air. When the vapor molecules come in contact with the cold surface, they lose heat and cool down.
As a result, you can see vapor molecules in the air condense and lead to these fine water bubbles around the bottle.
What is distillation?
According to physics and chemistry, distillation is the process of evaporating a liquid and then condensing the vapor to bring it back to its liquid form again.
Explaining Distillation with an example
So, let’s explain distillation with an example. Suppose you have a glass of water. In it, there are insoluble particles like dirt or sand and dissolved molecules like salt or sugar.
Now, how can you filter out only the water molecules from the solution? We will explain it in a laboratory setting.
In an earlier section, we mentioned the term boiling point. Now, here our water solution is a mixture of multiple elements- the sugar, the sand particles, and the water.
All these substances have boiling points of their own. So, if you pour the solution into a distillation flask and heat it with a bunsen burner, the temperature will begin to rise.
The distillation flask already has a water condenser attached to it. As a result, when the temperature rises to 100O Celcius, the water molecules will start to form a vapor.
The vapor will enter the condenser and cool down to create liquid water again. After some time, there will only be sand and sugar molecules left in the flask due to their higher boiling points.
On the other hand, you get pure water free from sand, sugar, or any other impurities. This process is called distillation.
What is distilled water?
Now, let’s define what distilled water is and where we can use it.
Distilled water is the purified water that we get from the distillation process. In the previous section, we explained how distillation works.
You boil the water, collect the vapor, and finally, condense it to produce liquid purified water. Due to higher boiling points, the impurities cannot follow the water molecules.
As a result, you get pure and clean water after distillation. As the distilled water is completely free from germs and other pollutants, you can drink it as well.
As it happens, you will find a variety of bottled waters that packs in distilled water. You can also find household distillers that help generate distilled water from tap water.
But, the primary use of distilled water is in industrial purposes. Various manufacturing plants require completely pure water at multiple levels of their production.
That’s when they resort to distilled water. Some industrial distillers take in tap water and produce gallons of pure and clean water without any impurities.
So, you see, the use of distilled water is not only limited to drinking but also for industrial processes as well.
So, now, let’s talk about reverse osmosis- what it is and how it works. Before reverse osmosis, you have to first understand some related terms about reverse osmosis.
What is osmosis?
Osmosis is the process in which the solvent molecules travel from higher-density solution to the lower-density one through a semipermeable membrane.
What is a semipermeable membrane?
Now, what is a semipermeable membrane? A semipermeable membrane is a membrane that only lets solvent molecules to move across it.
So, if you have two solutions with different density on either side of a semipermeable membrane, only the solvent molecules will pass through.
Now, to refresh your memory, a solute is a particle that remains in a smaller quantity. On the other hand, solvent molecules are abundant.
For example, in a sugar solution, sugar is the solute, while water is the solvent.
What is reverse osmosis?
From the name alone, you can easily guess what reverse osmosis is. It is the complete opposite of what happens in osmosis.
To define, reverse osmosis is the process in which solvent molecules travel from lower-density solution to higher-density one with the application of external pressure.
The definition might not be revealing. So, let’s see an example.
Explaining reverse osmosis with an example
For example, you have two glasses of water. One of those has four spoonfuls of sugar while the other has two. Therefore, the first one has a higher density than the other one.
Now, suppose you have a bowl with a semipermeable membrane set up in the middle. Water molecules from the low-density solution will begin to move towards the other side.
So, this is called osmosis. It happens due to osmotic pressure. Now, let’s suppose you set up a motor on the high-density side.
As the motor rotates, it will create pressure on the semipermeable membrane. And, if the pressure is higher than the osmotic pressure, the process will reverse.
That means water molecules will now start traveling from the high-density solution to the low-density one. So, this is what we call reverse osmosis.
If you would like to know more detailed writing about what reverse osmosis is and how it works, you should visit our recent article here.
What is reverse osmosis water?
So, what is reverse osmosis water? Reverse osmosis water is the purified water that we get when tap water goes through the reverse osmosis process.
From the concept of reverse osmosis, you can realize reverse osmosis can efficiently produce pure and clean water.
That’s why reverse osmosis water purifiers have become a very familiar household product these days.
In addition to the residential usage, RO purification plants are gaining popularity in industrial processes as well.
So, you see, like distillation, reverse osmosis is another widely used system to purify your supply water.
Also, if you’re looking for the best reverse osmosis water filters of the current time, you should visit our recent article here.
What are the similarities between distilled water and reverse osmosis water?
So, let’s find out what are the similarities between distilled water and reverse osmosis water.
Distillation and Reverse osmosis both purifies the water
The first similarity is pretty obvious. We use both distillation and reverse osmosis to purify our drinking water. These are also used for industrial purposes as well.
Both distillation and reverse osmosis can provide you drinking water devoid of germs and other pollutants.
That’s why these are well-known purification processes used all over the world. Also, both of these purify water at a microscopic level, almost toe to toe with each other.
Both Distilled and reverse osmosis water lacks minerals
Another striking similarity is that both distilled and reverse osmosis water would lack mineral contents.
During distillation, the water turns into vapor. But, the minerals or pollutants cannot follow through due to their higher boiling points.
On the other hand, during reverse osmosis, water molecules go through the RO membrane. But, the membrane automatically filters out the pollutants due to its selective nature.
So, you see, we get demineralized water in both distillation and reverse osmosis.
What are the differences between distilled water and reverse osmosis water?
As we’ve said earlier, although both distillation and reverse osmosis have some similarities of their own, these are not the same thing at all.
So, let’s see some of the aspects where they differ from each other.
Mechanisms are not similar at all
The first variation lies under the mechanism of the two processes. You will find nothing similar there.
In distillation, the water turns into vapor and then cools down to produce purified water.
On the other hand, in reverse osmosis, water passes through a membrane, and all the impurities in it get filtered out. In this way, we get RO water.
So, you see, both of the mechanisms have nothing in common.
Distillation requires more energy
One other major aspect of distillation is that it requires more energy. You see, here you have to boil the water, and then cool it down. Both of these require energy.
On the other hand, household RO filters would take in the tap water pressure from the supply to overcome the osmotic pressure.
Therefore, you see most RO filters work without any external energy source. In older RO systems, you might need to use a booster pump. But, even then, the energy required is low.
So, you can easily realize that RO systems are more energy-efficient and eco-friendly than any distillation systems.
If you would like to know more about RO booster pumps, you should check out our recent article here.
Innovation is more prominent in Reverse osmosis filtration systems
We’ve mentioned earlier, both the distilled water and the RO water lack vital mineral elements for our bodies.
But, most household RO systems have developed a way around it. Nowadays, those offer an extra alkaline filter or remineralizer that adds minerals to final product water.
As a result, RO filters are becoming more and more innovative. It also explains their growing popularity as household products.
On the other hand, most distillers, you will find in the market, don’t come with a remineralizer. That’s why their usage is limited to industries mostly.
If you want to take a look at the best RO purifiers with a remineralizer unit, you should visit our recent review article here.
Throughout this article, we discussed everything about two buzzwords distillation and reverse osmosis.
We’ve shown you how they work, what are their similarities, and what are the differences as well.
As we’re talking about purified water, we need to give more attention to these two distinct purification processes.
We’ve answered most of your queries in this post. If you still have some left, feel free to ask those in our comment section.
Also, if you want to get more informative and interesting articles like this, you should visit our blog page here. Finally, don’t forget to share it with your friends. Cheers!!!