How to Make Distilled Water for a Humidifier

leave water boiling humidifies a room without a humidifier

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The best clean air tip we can give you is this: learn how to make distilled water for humidifier use. This is one of those tried and true tips that truly does make a difference in how clean the air in your home can be. Knowing how to make distilled water for humidifier use will allow the humidifier to produce cleaner mist and save you money in the long run. This guide on how to make distilled water for humidifier use will teach you what distilled water is, why distilled water is necessary for humidifiers, and how to make distilled water at home.

Distilled Water 101

pouring water in a pot

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You’ve probably seen distilled water in jugs at the grocery store, tucked between cases of spring water and liters of flavored water. Distilled water is the most basic kind of safe drinking water available. But what is distilled water?

The short answer is that distilled water is a type of purified water that is free of chemicals and minerals. The long answer is that distilled water is water that is purified through a long process which involves being boiled into vapor and condensed back into water. The process of boiling the water into vapor is to remove all impurities and minerals from the water so that the distilled product is pure H2O.

Buying Distilled Water

bottled water

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Distilled water is just about the purest water you can find, which is why it’s on supermarket shelves in the first place. However, you might have noticed that distilled water tends to be pricier than other purified or spring waters. Sometimes, a gallon of distilled water can cost more than $10; a fact that is both baffling and distressing.

Why is distilled water so much more expensive? It isn’t necessarily because distilled water is so much better, but more because the cost of producing distilled water is much higher. If you think about it, the cost of production for distilled water includes paying for a lot of energy in order create a heated environment that turns water into vapor. When buy distilled water, you aren’t only buying the water: you’re buying production costs, as well.

By learning how to make distilled water for humidifier use yourself, you can save yourself a lot of money, especially if you use your humidifier frequently.

Why Distilled Water for Humidifiers

pot with boiled water

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Distilled water is safer to drink than tap water, so you can extrapolate that distilled water is also safer to breathe than tap water. Better yet, distilled water is better for your humidifier, too. You can think of using distilled water as another way to maintain your humidifier.

Lack of Contaminants

Tap water is not the best water around. It’s good for washing clothes, dishes, and you, but it isn’t so great for drinking. Tap water is very rich in minerals, some of which can be harmful, like lead. Tap water is also vulnerable to bacteria and other impurities that can make you sick. Even if you are just using tap water for your humidifier, you aren’t in the clear in avoiding those impurities.

In fact, using tap water in a humidifier is a risk all by itself simply because of how humidifiers work. Because you don’t know what kind of bacteria is in your tap water, you could be introducing that bacteria into your air and breathing it into your lungs. Moreover, if tap water gets a chance to linger in the water reservoir of your humidifier, you are inviting more bacteria and potentially mold to settle into your machine.

Distilled water, on the other hand, is completely free of impurities that can make you sick, which means that your humidifier won’t play host to disease, mold, or anything else that could undermine the purpose of using a humidifier to improve respiratory health.

Lack of Minerals

glass water and faucet

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Tap water is called hard water for a reason. Have you ever heard someone talking about “hard water” build-up or stains? That’s because tap water is so filled with minerals that it actually changes the structure of the water on a molecular level. Mineral-rich tap water can introduce sodium, calcium, phosphorus, lead, and magnesium to things that do not necessarily respond well when exposed to those minerals.

Humidifiers, for example, do not do well when exposed to any of those minerals. Calcium in particular is a culprit involved in hard water build up that makes it more difficult for a humidifier to work properly. In fact, calcium deposits within your humidifier can damage or block the internal mechanisms enough that your machine will cease to function at all.

By using distilled water in your humidifier, you are removing the risk of damaging the machine with minerals hidden in the water. Distilled water will not cause any kind of hard water build up, which means no harm to the internal mechanisms of your humidifier.

How to Make Distilled Water for Humidifier Use


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Learning how to make distilled water for a humidifier at home is actually much easier than you think. The process is not complicated or time consuming and can easily be integrated into the regular cleaning of your humidifier. You can even make distilled water in bulk to use over the course of the week so that you aren’t having to make distilled water multiple times. There are three easy methods of how to make distilled water for humidifier use at home.

Method One: Traditional Boiling Method

This first method will give you enough distilled water to use once or twice on a humidifier. This is the most traditional method of creating distilled water at home, but be forewarned that it involves a lot of waiting and watching water boil. This is a method that could probably be completed as you are cleaning your humidifier.

boiled water

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  1. Using a 5 gallon stainless steel pot, fill the pot with water a little more than halfway.
  2. Place an empty glass bowl in the water, making sure that the bowl is floating and not touching the bottom of the pot. Usually a quart sized glass bowl will work.
  3. Turn on heat and allow water to boil. Allowing the water to rapidly boil will rid the water of chemicals.
  4. Introduce a hot-cold barrier to create a condensation effect. Invert the lid of the pot and fill it with ice to create the condensation effect. 
  5. With the inverted ice-filled lid, boil the water in the pot. The steam from the boiling water will rise and condense on the lid, which will then drip into the floating bowl. This is the main distillation process.
  6. Allow water to boil until the bowl is filled with water. Do not allow the water in the bowl to boil.
  7. Once bowl is filled with water, remove the steel pot from heat, take off the lid, and allow water to cool.
  8. Allow distilled water to completely cool before storing it in plastic jugs or glass bottles.

Method Two: Glass Bottles

This method of how to make distilled water for humidifier use is actually very similar to how distilled water was first purified. To some extent, this is a small-scale recreation of the method some factories today use to create distilled water. This method will make enough distilled water for one use in a humidifier, unless you use multiple glass bottles at once time.

2 glass bottle

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  1. Find two glass bottles and make sure they are clean. This method works best if one of the bottles has a curve away from the neck to prevent freshly distilled water from sliding into the other bottle. However, if you cannot find a glass bottle with a curve, you can substitute with an open-ended glass tube or curved PVC pipe.
  2. Fill one bottle with tap water, leaving just about an inch of space empty from the top.
  3. Join the two bottles together at the neck by using duct tape. If you are using some other curved tube to create the neck connecting the bottles, make sure that you are taping the bottles in such a way that the neck curves upward.
  4. Fill a 5 gallon stainless steel pot with just enough water to cover the bottle filled with tap water.
  5. Tilt both bottles at a thirty-degree angle both inside and outside of the pot. You can lean the top of the bottles against the rim of the pot to find a good angle.
  6. Bring water in pot to a rapid boil.
  7. Place an ice pack or a bag filled with ice on the bottle outside the pot to create the hot-cold barrier. As the water inside the bottle in the pot continues to heat, it will create steam that will rise toward the connected necks of the bottle, which will then be condensed by the coolness of the bottle outside of the pot.
  8. Continue to distill water until the bottle outside the pot is filled with freshly distilled water.

Method Three: Rainwater

This is a bulk method of making distilled water. With this method, you will learn how to make distilled water for humidifier use by the gallon. The larger the container you use, the more distilled water you will be able to collect. This method is as low-tech as it gets and creates enough distilled water for several weeks to use in a humidifier.

rain drops

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  1. Keep an eye on the forecast, and when there is rain predicted place a large, clean container outside to catch rainwater. You can use any kind of metal, wood, or plastic container as long as it is clean. Make sure to place the container in a spot that will recieve plenty of rain and won’t be disturbed.
  2. After it stops raining, allow the container to sit outside for 2 full days – 48 hours – to let the minerals in the water dissipate. Usually this means that the minerals in the water will settle at the bottom of the container. 
  3. Store the distilled water in clean jugs; or, if you would prefer the water be even more purified, you can use a 5 gallon stainless steel pot to boil the water before storing in jugs.


cat and himidifier

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Let’s review! We know that distilled water is much better for you and your humidifier than tap water. Distilled water is free of pollutants, contaminants, and minerals, and, unlike tap water, distilled water won’t cause damage to the internal mechanisms of your humidifier. Water that is not distilled carries minerals that can make deposits on your machine and cause the humidifier to not function properly or produce steam that is harmful.

If you plan to use distilled water for your humidifier, there are many ways you can do so. You have the option of buying water distillation kits, or buying distilled water at the store, although both of these options are more expensive than learning how to make distilled water for humidifier use at home.

There are three tried-and-true methods of distilling water at home, which will save you money in the long run. Depending on how much distilled water you need, some methods might be easier than others. No matter which method you choose to obtain distilled water for your humidifier, know that using distilled water is the safer and healthier choice for making sure you have clean air.