Re: A few words about water
I'll give you a few words about water and what's in it, then answer your
Things that are commonly dissolved in water:
1) Salts/"minerals". Things like sodium chloride, calcium chloride, etc. are
almost always in water. Lots of dissolved salts makes the water "hard".
Divalent salts (e.g. Ca ) will often precipitate out and cause "water deposits".
Iron salts can make water taste rusty. Heavy metal salts will give you
lead poisining, etc.
2) Gasses. There's plenty of nitrogen, oxygen, carbon dioxide, etc. dissolved
in water. Carbon dioxide in particular is important since it readily turns into
carbonic acid, making the water slightly acidic. (This is entirely normal. As a
matter of fact, water tastes "funny" without the dissolved gasses.)
3) Chlorine. 75% of municipal water has chlorine in it to kill off the microbes.
It makes the water taste a bit like a swimming pool.
4) Misc. chemicals. Other junk... everything from hydrogen sulfide to caffiene
to ethanol. Generally only parts per trillion.
Your question specifically asked about distillation. So...
1) Dissolved salts are not volatile, so distillation will get rid of all of these.
2) When water is boiled, all dissolved gasses are driven off.
3) Chlorine is driven off as well.
4) The misc. chemicals will only be present in trace amounts, and the ones
that aren't stripped off by distillation don't matter all that much in terms of
taste since there weren't that many in there to begin with.
So distillation can basically clean up any water source...
The direct answer to your question is thus:
Drinkable spring water and municipal water will taste identical after distillation.
Is distilled water 'totally stripped' after it has been distilled?
Not neccessarily. Anything that has a boiling point near that of water
will be carried over in the distillation, but 99.9% of what we call drinking
water has so little of this stuff that it's pretty much untastable. (The human
tongue can't really detect parts per trillion).
As mentioned before, distillation requires a lot of energy, and is thus too
expensive to be a commonly used water purification method.
Filtering water (i.e. ion exchange resins and activated charcoal, like your
average Brita that you'd buy at Wal-Mart) will clean up chlorinated municipal
water nicely and make your coffee, tea, and bourbon taste much better.
Drinkable spring water and municipal water will taste "nearly identical" after
Much of the character of "branch" water, spring water, well water, etc.,
comes from the impurities... some people (myself included) like the taste
better than "clean" water, so we don't filter it. The tastes of these various
waters obviously depend on their source.