Science & Technology

You Should Not Drink Ultra-Pure Water — It's Dangerous

The most refreshing glass of water would be filled with the coldest, clearest, cleanest, purest liquid imaginable. Nothing but two H's and one O, baby. Or so you might think. Turns out, ultra-pure water is not something you'd ever want inside your Nalgene. The stuff is so incredibly pure, it could actually be dangerous. Thirsty yet?

The Water With a Thirst of Its Own

Ever hear the old saying that there can be too much of a good thing? In terms of drinking water, excess purity is, counterintuitively, the enemy. Ultra-pure water is unfit for human consumption, despite its attractive title.

So right now you're probably wondering what's in the water you're drinking if totally spotless water is a no-no, right? According to a 2001 analysis published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, "water sources available to North Americans may contain high levels of Ca^2+, Mg^2+, and Na^+ and may provide clinically important portions of the recommended dietary intake of these minerals." The takeaway here: Minerals in your water aren't necessarily contaminants, but can beneficial, if not critical.

Let's say one of your friends double-dog dares you to do a shot of ultra-pure water. First, you hang with a weird crew, and we're into it. Secondly, if you accept the dare and down the liquid purity, you're not going to start violently writhing around like you're in "The Exorcist." What will happen, however, is the ultra-pure water will immediately begin stripping minerals from your body. Water doesn't necessarily like being pure and is basically a liquid sponge when it's in this super-pure state. If you drank enough ultra-pure water, you'd remove all the electrolytes from your bloodstream — which would be really bad. Ultra-pure water is the water that drinks you right back.

What's Cleaner Than Being Clean?

There is a point to ultra-pure water, we swear. C'mon, don't be so naive, thinking all clean water is for you to pour down your throat. Think of this super clean water more like a super cleaner. This immaculately pure water is used to clean sensitive parts of tiny electronics, like microchips. Because, as we mentioned before, ultra-pure water is like a liquid vacuum, it works to suck up the tiniest speck of dirt or dust from your computer's brain.

As reported by Fast Company, ultra-pure water "is a central part of making semiconductors, the wafers from which computer microchips are cut for everything from MRI scanners to greeting cards. Chips and their pathways are built up in layers, and between manufacturing steps, they need to be washed clean of the solvents and debris from the layer just completed." You can buy the stuff online if you really wanted to, but you'd have no use for it. Just stick to the tap.

Get stories like this one in your inbox or your headphones: sign up for our daily email and subscribe to the Curiosity Daily podcast.

Get a glimpse of all the weird stuff water can do in the photo book, "A Drop Of Water: A Book of Science and Wonder" by Walter Wick. We handpick reading recommendations we think you may like. If you choose to make a purchase, Curiosity will get a share of the sale.

Written by Joanie Faletto October 12, 2017

Curiosity uses cookies to improve site performance, for analytics and for advertising. By continuing to use our site, you accept our use of cookies, our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.