Ultra-pure water can kill you

David Rees, author of How to Sharpen Pencils and creator of the Get Your War On comic strip, learns how to make ultra-pure water. He learns that ultra pure water does not like to be pure. If you drink it, it will try to grab electrolytes from your blood.

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  1. Thing is, there isn't pure water in nature - everything has minerals in it. So the only cases where creatures are going to have died from drinking pure water are going to be from cases involving humans, because that's the only place to get pure water.

    That said, it's a well documented fact that pure water leaches salts from the environment it is in. This is why drinking too much distilled water can be harmful - your body is sapped of minerals when you excrete the water. If you keep replacing it with pure water, you keep diluting your mineral content.

    Drinking a little bit of distilled water won't hurt you. Drinking only distilled water will. It takes time, though.

  2. I'm dubious that "ultra pure" water is much more likely to hurt you than regular tap water.

    It is possible to OD on regular tap water. Takes some effort though, something like 10% of your own body weight in a fairly short period of time. Still it happens occasionally.

    However just how pure is "ultra pure" water vs regular tap water vs blood?

    Regular tap water has 1-135 mg/L of Calcium. "Ultra pure" presumably has near 0. Human blood has 85-102 mg/L. Thus "Ultra pure" is hardly different, compared to human blood, from ordinary low calcium water.

    Tap water has 0-4 mg/L of Magnesium. Human blood has 17-23 mg/L of Magnesium.
    Again the fact that the "Ultra pure" has 0.00001% of the magnesium of human blood rather than 1% is not likely to be important in the short run.

    So let us say you have some regular low-mineral tap water. Like your city water is fed from rain/snow. Portland Oregon perhaps. Portland's water is pretty low in minerals. 1mg/L Ca 0.6mg/L Mg. In order to extract from the rest of your body as much Magnesium as a 1 L of 'Ultra Pure' water it would take about 86/85ths as much Portland tap water. AKA 1.011L.

    Now if you drink only highly purified water for a long time... maybe, eventually. But still it's hard to believe that the residents of Portland Oregon are 1% away from some bizarre deficiency diseases... or is it?

    Quick, get those people some minerals!

  3. I found a case report of three sickenings and one actual death following repeated accidental haemodialysis against distilled water (whoops! how do you make that same mistake four times?) - yet people who are receiving dialysis have pre-existing morbidity so it's unclear whether just drinking it would matter so greatly for an otherwise healthy person.

    ...and Heavy water is known to be toxic once it replaces about 25% of the body's total water content (and presumably that D2O was also distilled ZOMG!), but I'm not sure that counts.

    Some plants actually grow better in distilled water than regular tap water...

  4. Y'all are missing the obvious... Ultrapure water has been purified of all the nasty stuff, hence "science" tells us that the effect of all that nasty stuff has been greatly magnified!!!

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