Nothing is more refreshing than a cold cup of water. Modern refrigerators tend to have a water dispenser. Sometimes, the water that comes out from it tastes better. So, it raises the question, is fridge water distilled or filtered? If that's your concern, let's discuss the details.
The water that comes out of your fridge's dispenser is filtered water. The fridge's water line will run water through a filter before dispensing it into your cup. Distilled water goes through a different process. It involves boiling water to remove minerals.
You might be wondering what's the difference between the two. Why would you want to remove the minerals in water? And, if distilled water is water without minerals, does that make filtered water dirty? These are some legitimate concerns. To learn more, keep reading.
What Is Fridge Water?
Before we distinguish the differences between the two types of water, let's discuss how water makes it through your fridge. If your fridge dispenses water, it connects to a cold water supply line. The pipe could be under the floor, behind a wall, etc.
This plumbing line allows water to travel into the refrigerator. However, before the water goes to the dispenser, it travels through a small filter. The location of the filter varies by brand.
You can typically find it near the top shelf or near the bottom. Here's a video demonstrating all the possible locations of a refrigerator filter:
Refrigerators will use activated carbon filters to remove particles and other contaminants. How well it filters these particles depends on several factors. In general, the filters in refrigerators mostly remove chlorine. It helps with smell and taste.
Additionally, it doesn't remove all the contaminants present in water. It only removes the harmful ones. Thus, fridge water will contain small amounts of calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
With all this information in mind, it tells us we're drinking filtered water. Do the minerals in the water make it dirty? Not exactly. Calcium, magnesium, and potassium are micronutrients. They're an essential part of our diet.
What Is Distilled Water?
Distilled water is a whole other thing. It goes through a filtration process. However, it doesn't use a filter to do that.
It contains fewer minerals than filtered water. Some people will claim it's water in its purest form. However, that's not the case. There will be tiny amounts of minerals present. Though, the quantity that lingers is negligible.
How Do You Produce Distilled Water?
Distilled water comes from a process called steam distillation. It starts with boiling water. Then, the water will turn into steam. Once it turns into steam, it leaves the minerals behind.
The steam eventually condenses back into liquid. As mentioned, it doesn't remove all the minerals. However, some estimate the process of distillation removes about 99.9%.
All in all, the result is a form of pure water. Distilled water will generally have a flat taste. The reason is that it has an absence of minerals. Since refrigerators do not boil the water before it goes through the dispenser, you can't consider it distilled water.
Is Filtered Water From the Fridge the Same As Bottled Water?
The whole purifying process of water might have you comparing the types of water. Distilled and filtered water isn't the same. But what about bottled water?
Will it be similar to distilled water or the water from your fridge? That depends on the bottled water. However, they all go through a purification process.
Manufacturers will typically use reverse osmosis or vapor distillation. It doesn't go through a filter like your fridge water. Generally, your tap water will contain more minerals than bottled water.
Accordingly, bottled water will have more minerals than distilled water. Is one better than the other? Your diet determines the answer. If you're not eating fruits and vegetables, you may not be getting the micronutrients you need.
Filtered tap water is a good way to include minerals like calcium, magnesium, and potassium in your diet.
What's the Difference Between Tap Water and Refrigerator Water?
The difference between tap water and refrigerator water depends on several factors. One that comes to mind is filtration systems. There's no variation in refrigerator filters. Most fridges will contain activated carbon.
However, you have several options for your tap water. Some of them can go directly on the faucet. Others can go under the sink.
Filters that attach directly to the faucet are activated carbon filters. If this is the only form of filtration for your tap water, the fridge water will be the same quality.
Under the Sink
If you have a filtration system under the sink, it's probably an RO filter. RO is an acronym for reverse osmosis. These systems use pressure to force water molecules through a semipermeable membrane.
RO systems move water through different levels of filtration. First, it filters any sediments out of the water. It's the pre-filter. Then, it allows water to travel through a carbon filter.
The carbon filter removes pesticides, mercury, chlorine, copper, etc. Afterward, it moves through a semipermeable membrane. The membrane removes smaller impurities.
Once it passes through the membrane, it travels into a storage tank. Before arriving at the faucet, it will go through a final filter. Since it goes through many levels of filtration, it will be purer than refrigerator water.
It will be similar to bottled water.
Are Fridge Water Dispensers Hygienic?
Filtration systems aren't the only factor to consider for your drinking water. The cleanliness of the dispenser should be concerning. It's not often you find yourself touching the faucet.
A faucet will typically have handles that open cold or hot water. The fridge's water dispenser does not. Hands will consistently come near it. That's not to mention the ice dispenser. Sometimes people can get lazy and grab a few cubes with their hands. It further increases bacterial exposure.
For this reason, it has the potential to grow mold. If you're not cleaning the dispenser routinely, it can be less hygienic. It's an area that's often overlooked.
How Often Should You Clean A Fridge Water Dispenser?
It's crucial to clean the dispenser routinely to keep the water from a fridge bacteria-free. Though, it depends on how often you use it. The people sharing the fridge with you also matter.
If the water dispenser receives a good amount of traffic, clean it once a month. Otherwise, cleaning it once every two months should be fine. Do this in addition to refrigerator filter replacements.
How To Clean A Fridge Water Dispenser
When you use a water dispenser, some water will linger behind. It may land on the dispenser lever, retainer cup, etc. Leaving the area wet is the first mistake you could make.
Mold thrives in moist conditions. If you let the area stay wet, it will promote mold growth. For this reason, wipe the dispenser dry after using it.
It's the most you can do to keep that area relatively clean. Now we have to find a way to deal with the constant bacterial exposure from our hands.
Sure, bacteria are everywhere. They're not all harmful. But, it's impossible to track where someone may have put their hands.
Disinfecting the Area
So, we'll need to disinfect the dispenser. You can do this by dipping a toothbrush in vinegar water. Scrub the area clean. Follow it up by wiping it dry with a microfiber towel.
Here's a report demonstrating how dirty the dispenser can be:
How Often Should You Change the Fridge Water Filter?
Filters keep our water clean. But, the contaminants it removes have to go somewhere. Refrigerator water filters don't dump it out. Activated charcoal filters have pores that catch impurities.
However, it has a limited surface area. Once contaminants clog it, the filter will no longer remove them from your drinking water. As a result, more contaminants will get into your water. Even if it tastes or looks the same, it's not.
It isn't a big deal if the water in your area is already relatively clean. However, states with more minerals in the water will notice a change in quality. Manufacturers like Whirlpool recommend swapping out your water filter every six months.
Cleaning the Filter
However, these filters can be expensive. If it's not within your budget, you could also flush the contaminants out of the filter. Distilled white vinegar is handy for this situation.
You can flush the contaminants out by soaking the filter in a container with vinegar. Let it sit in there for 24 hours. Afterward, rinse it under the sink a few times.
This way, you can flush out the white vinegar inside. Then, put your filter back in place. You'll need to remove the remaining vinegar by dispensing several cups of water.
Once you dispense a cup that no longer tastes like vinegar, the job is over!
Here's a video to guide you with the process:
You might think water is water. However, that's not the case. There are multiple ways to purify it. As we've learned, refrigerators filter water using activated carbon. Therefore, it dispenses filtered water instead of distilled water.
Before you go, do you have more refrigerator water concerns? Would you like to learn more about the filtration system? To learn more, check out:
Are you curious to find out if the filter affects the ice maker? For more information, check out: