These days it’s becoming harder and harder to get pure water for your houseplants.
Tap water or municipal water often contains unwanted contaminants, and even rainwater is less than perfect.
What can you do?
In this article, we discuss using distilled water for plants and explain how to make your own if you are so inclined.
Read on to learn more.
What Is Distilled Water?
Distillation is the process of condensation and evaporation to assist in removing chemicals and minerals from water.
Distilled water is completely pure and free of these substances, like bacteria, viruses (and nutrients), and many people think it’s better for plants.
This is especially true of indoor plants with a small amount of soil that are badly contaminated with chemicals and mineral content buildup.
What Makes Distilled Water A Different Kind Of Water?
Tap water from your kitchen water faucet is sure to contain fluoride, chlorine or chloramine, and other chemicals used for water purification and make the water quality of your drinking water safe.
Unfortunately, these chemicals are very bad for plants.
NOTE: Many greenhouses and hydroponic systems use water filters to clean water prior to irrigating their crops.
Outdoor plants can handle some chemical impurities in the water because their effects are diluted by rain, but houseplants must simply make use of the water you give them.
If the water always has chemicals in it, these will build up in the soil over time.
Tap water and well water are often hard types of water, and this is very bad for plants.
Hard water is water full of minerals or heavy metals.
There are some plants (e.g. the Venus Flytrap) unable to tolerate this.
Hard water is difficult for people to deal with because it interferes with the efficacy of shampoo, soap, and detergents.
It is quite damaging to appliances and leaves stains in the sink, tub, and shower.
The solution to these problems is to install a water softener, but this is not a good idea for water used for plants.
Water softeners work through the addition of salt creating salt water, and this will kill your plants. A reverse osmosis system is another option.
Softened water is low in calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
How Does Distilled Water Affect Plant Growth?
Distilled water is a soft type of water, but is not made soft by the addition of sodium.
Instead, it is made soft by the elimination of chemicals and minerals.
Many people use tap water and find it is all right for many plants, there are some plants unable to tolerate the minerals and chemicals it contains.
In side-by-side comparisons, plants watered using distilled water tend to grow faster and stronger than those watered with tap water.
Plants watered with distilled pure water usually produce more leaves and grow more vigorously.
Even so, it’s important to remember distilled water only adds hydration.
It doesn’t add any nourishment at all.
If you are watering with distilled water, you must take great care to fertilize your plants appropriately according to type.
Why Is Distilled Water The Best Water For Plants?
Some people water their houseplants with tap water left to stand overnight.
The reason for this is chemicals tend to evaporate from the water as it stands.
Unfortunately, excessive minerals will not evaporate from the water.
Another option for watering plants is to use melted snow or rain water.
Generally speaking, this water is chemical-free, natural, and free of heavy metals. However, if you live in an area with a lot of industrial activity or heavy traffic, rainwater and snow are not pure and may be very acidic.
Distilled pure water is chemical and mineral-free and usually has a neutral pH level.
This makes it ideal for the regular watering of houseplants.
How To Distilled Water For Plants?
The distillation process and distilling at home is an intensive, costly, and potentially dangerous process.
Generally speaking, you’re probably better off purchasing distilled bottled water for about a dollar a gallon at your local market.
If you do want to make distilled clean water on your own, here’s what you’ll need:
- One large pot with a lid
- One small heatproof container capable of fitting inside a stainless steel pot
- One block of ice
Here’s what you’ll do:
- Fill the large pot about halfway with tap water.
- Float the smaller container on the water in the pot.
- Put the lid on the pot upside down.
- Put the block of ice on top of the upturned lid.
- Place the pot over a medium-high flame.
- Bring the water to a low boil.
- Reduce the heat to keep the water at a simmer.
- Keep a close eye on this setup and empty the melted water from the top of the upturned lid carefully, as needed.
As the steam rises from the water, it will collect on the cold lid and drip into the floating container.
The water collecting in the container is distilled.
This method of water distillation is demonstrated in this video.
It’s worth noting although all instructions and this video call for the use of a block of ice, the ice is actually unnecessary.
The boiling water will condense on the underside of the lid and drip into the receptacle without the ice.
Is DIY Home Distilled Water Worth The Trouble?
As the video above and the two below demonstrate, making distilled water at home is a costly, time, and resource-intensive activity.
To create an amount of water equal to 16 oz it will take you 2 hours.
It takes 1.5 hours to make a quart of water.
In light of this, it’s safe to say, generally speaking, if you want to use distilled water for your garden, you are much better off simply buying spring water at the grocery store instead of using your own water distiller.